Dear Ilana and Jess: My daughter, Kelsey, is in the 5th grade. I want her to be independent, but if I don’t make sure she does her homework, it won’t get done. How can I manage both? -- Angela
Dear Angela: It may seem counterintuitive, but you have to step up the supervision before you pull it back. Any good habit is built from strong foundations, and those have to be laid first. In order to help Kelsey work independently, you first have to figure out why she’s not getting things done on her own. Whether your daughter is struggling with organization, academics, or self-discipline, she’ll need to build new skills to move forward.
When Kelsey gets her next homework assignment, have her read the requirements aloud with you. Take note of the due date and have Kelsey write it down. Then, ask your daughter to outline: what she’s going to do first, how much she hopes to accomplish by the end of the night and the end of the week. If Kelsey is unsure, create goals with her. For example, if she has to write a book report, the goal for day one might be to write her thesis and three topic sentences. By the end of the week, she’ll finish the whole outline. Each day until then, Kelsey should assign herself one section of that outline. By having Kelsey lay out a plan, you’re teaching her to how to set pace, create momentum and find direction.
If Kelsey usually has a plan, but doesn’t stick to it, create guidelines for her. Communicate clear expectations. For example, “Take 15 minutes to write a rough draft for your introductory paragraph. We’ll review it together when you’re done.” Have Kelsey set a timer to track her pace and set your own, so you can track as well. When the timer sounds, regroup to confirm that Kelsey did the work.
If Kelsey is struggling to retain what she’s learning, help her improve comprehension. For example, if she can’t remember what happens in The Lightning Thief, have her read a paragraph aloud and explain the main ideas. If she can’t do this, scale it back to half a paragraph, or even a sentence. After this, have Kelsey try reading a different paragraph to herself before listing the main ideas. Take note of whether she remembered more after reading silently or aloud. When you find the method that works best for her, stick with it. Have Kelsey practice it every day, for at least a week.
Once you’ve helped your daughter create goals, set timers, or introduce any other study strategy, turn these skills into habits. To increase independence, ask questions that allow Kelsey to lead. For example, if you’re helping Kelsey with planning, ask her, “For this assignment, what should you do first?” Do this continuously, until Kelsey can put each skill into practice, without help.
After your daughter has developed a rhythm, start to pull your presence back. Use a common area of your home and work alongside Kelsey. For example, if you’re making dinner or have work of your own, have Kelsey work beside you in the living room, or sitting at the kitchen counter. Don’t intervene unless you’re asked for help. At this stage, Kelsey should work near you, but not with you. If, after a week, Kelsey is consistently on top of her homework, step out entirely!
Say This: “We’re going to figure out what you need to get things done on your own. I’m going to help you help yourself.”
Not That: “It’s not done? Why didn’t you do it?!”
A word from the authors, for all parents: If, in the end, our suggestions are ineffective, it might be time to take a closer look at the learning challenges your child is facing. You may want seek the help of a tutor, or another educational professional. Each child is unique and our recommendations may not suit all learners. Above all else, when your child asks for help, be sure to listen.
Say This, Not That is based on the work of Cognition Builders: a global, educational company headed by Ilana Kukoff (Founder & CEO) and Jessica Yuppa Huddy (Chief Learning Officer). Everywhere from New York City to California to Shanghai to Zurich, the Cognition Builders team is called upon by A-list entertainers, politicians, CEOs, and CFOs to resolve the conflicts that upend everyday life. When their work is done, the families they serve are stronger than ever. With their new book, “Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter” Kukoff and Yuppa Huddy have selected the most common conversational mistakes parents make, and fixed them. For more information, please visit: https://cognitionbuilders.com. To purchase Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter visit: http://publishing.andrewsmcmeel.com/books/detail?sku=9781449488055.
DISTRIBUTED BY ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION