Thursday, January 26, 2012

On being homework trapped?

I've been using the concept, homework-trap, quite freely. Perhaps, I haven't made it clear the difference between having ordinary homework problems and being truly homework trapped. Reading Etta Kralovec's review of my book reminded me that there are differences between kids and that my concept applies to about 10 to 25 percent of all kids. There is a general homework debate. And there are kids who have occasional homework problems. These are not the homework trapped kids. The difference lies in the enduring and persistent nature of the problem, and the way in which it accumulates from one year to the next, and, the way in which parent-teacher efforts to solve the problem only makes matters worse. There are lots of kids with occasional homework problems. There are kids who have had a bad year at school. There are kids who have trouble in one or two classes -- perhaps they don't like the subject or they class with the teacher. Possibly, there are things going on in their lives at that particular point in time which make it hard for them to focus on school. These are not homework trapped kids. The kids I'm discussing are in a downhill slide which starts in elementary school, proceeds into middle school, where they lack the skills to manage multiple demands from several different teachers, and eventually intrudes into high school life -- often taking them away from the vital activities we want our high school children to enjoy. The implications for adulthood can be severe, as teens are prone to risk-taking behaviors, and homework-trapped kids gravitate toward less school-oriented peers. So, if you just had a fight with your kid, who usually does his work, because he had a bad night, don't go out and buy my book. But if you are having persistent problems, day after day, then you and your child may be homework-trapped.

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