A couple of days ago, I posted the Table of Contents for my book, The Homework Trap, on my website. Here, I'll give a further explanation about the book and why it is organized in these particular chapters. The Homework Trap addresses a problem that affects anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of all kids. These kids flounder in such significant ways that homework is doing them much more harm than good. At this time, there is an active debate over homework policy. There are several excellent books on the market that question homework's value for kids in general. For the most part, I support the positions of those authors. Yet, regardless of what society, as a whole, decides do about homework, these particular kids are being seriously harmed. If you are the parent of one of these kids, you cannot wait for educational philosophy to change or for your school to figure things out.
The first chapter of The Homework Trap is called "The Core of the Problem." Here, I explain why, for these children, difficulties with homework is a lifespan problem, one which affects the child at every grade, into adulthood, and is worsened, not helped, by joint parent-teacher efforts. The second chapter, The Myth of Motivation, addresses a fundamental misconception that homework non compliant children are lazy or unmotivated, and that they could do the work if they just tried harder. It is critical to understand that these children cannot do their work, at least not enough of it to get out of the homework trap. The next three chapters, Behavioral Factors, Modeling and Maturation, and The Systems Effect, apply concepts from psychology to explain why standard approaches don't work. After all, I'm a psychologist, not an educator.
The sixth chapter is The Learning Problems. Here, I highlight two major reasons why otherwise bright children cannot handle their homework. The seventh chapter, What to Do, offers strategies that the parent can use at home, can propose to the school, and can share with other parents who are in similar binds. Chapter 8 summarizes the book.
The Homework Trap is a reasonably short book. It does not address everything you wanted to know about homework, but were afraid to ask. Rather, it enlightens parents and teachers about why certain children chronically fail to do their work. It's not that their behavior interferes with learning. Rather, they start out motivated, cannot handle the assignments, feel frustrated, and only then become problematic in their behavior.
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