Let’s talk about HOW to get kids to do homework, but ALSO how to help YOU know exactly WHY you are doing homework, so that you can be a more effective advocate, cheerleader and helper, when homework comes.
This episode has my friend JoAnn Crohn on. She is the mom behind No Guilt Mom, a former teacher, and the smartie behind Drama-Free Homework. She is also the creator of Homework 911 to help kids (yup,the course is FOR your kids) get better at homework. My daughter took it, and it’s GREAT!
This post was inspired by this post on homework. If you liked the episode, that post just talks more about my feelings and what I learned during my talking with the teacher, and principal. You can find it here: https://www.pullingcurls.com/homework-and-stress/
This episode is sponsored by Family Routines: How to automate your housewife life. I must say that 90% of homework is just getting into a routine of it (and when you do, it makes high school SO much easier). I have a whole chapter on what we do, along with some helpful tips to make it work for your family. I’d love to see you inside! Be sure to use the coupon code mentioned in the episode.
In this episode we are talking:
- What teachers WANT parents doing with homework (and how to find out what that is)
- What DOES homework do in the younger grades?
Items mentioned in this post:
- An awesome timer to do homework with.
- Homework 911 Course
Producer: Drew Erickson
Check out my other parenting podcasts:
Hilary Erickson 0:00
Hey guys welcome to Episode 11 of the Pulling Curls podcast today we are talking about one of my least favorite things homework – homework get you right where it hurts doesn’t it? I gotta say guys I’ve already recorded the episode and there is a big aha for me inside this episode and so I am super excited for you guys to hear that my friend who is a guest She’s a former teacher and a parent and so she’s talking for both ends of the spectrum which is awesome and she’s going to give you how to know when it’s becoming a real problem and when to talk to the teacher and how best to talk to the teacher so let’s untangle it
Welcome to the pulling curls podcast where we untangle everything from pregnancy parenting home routines, even some family travel because heavens knows our lives are tangled. I’m your host Hilary Erickson.
Okay, you guys, I have a post that I did when I was PTA president, which was not the best timing of my life about how much I hated homework, but I had a kid who was in kindergarten who was way past kindergarten skills Not to brag or anything but she didn’t need the kindergarten homework and it was painful every day. She really just wanted to get into the the fun of playing after school, which is fair when you’re a kindergarten or you’re five years old, and you’ve been at school already from seven to three you should be able to play but I wrote this post and I kind of got in trouble at school, but boy oh boy, did you guys get behind my back. It seems like you guys really hate homework too. I gotta admit that as my kids are getting older, I’m starting to like it a little bit more. I feel like I just admitted to like watching porn but like when your kids in calculus. They really need that homework after school. But I needed more than Hilary in this episode today. So I’m bringing on a good guest. She is actually the blogger at no guilt mom we actually met at a blogging conference even though we only live like a couple blocks from each other. She is the writer of drama free homework, and she’s also the course creator of homework mastery, which my daughter just took which was really awesome and gave her a lot of tips and ideas in order to really master the homework domain and you can find her on Instagram at no guilt bomb. I’ll put all the links in the show notes. I want to welcome today’s guest – JoAnn Crohn
this episode of The pulling curls podcast is sponsored by family routines how to automate your housewife life ever wish life was more like you pictured it would be before you had kids. Being able to spend less time at the mundane tasks and more time teaching kids the fun and valuable life skills you know they need family routines teaches families to simplify daily tasks into routines that help them feel more peace and joy. Save 15% with a coupon code untangled. You can find it at pulling curls calm and the menu under courses or in this episode show notes.
Hilary Erickson 2:38
Hey, Joanne, I’m so excited to have you here today.
JoAnn Crohn 2:41
I’m excited to be here. Thank you so much.
Hilary Erickson 2:43
Yeah. Okay, Joanne. So as a mom and a former teacher, what do you think of homework now.
JoAnn Crohn 2:48
So now like homework is one of those things where kids need to practice the skills that they learn in class, as a teacher, I assign homework with the anticipation that yes, kids will do it, and they need to do it. And if they don’t do it, it’s like a lack of responsibility on their part. However, when I when my daughter entered kindergarten, and she brought home her very first homework packet, and she just sat at the kitchen table crying, I changed my homework views a little bit, I realized that homework was something that was incredibly hard for families, it was hard for kids to sit down and do they did not want to do it. And it’s not that they couldn’t but families needed some way to approach homework that as a teacher, I never gave them the tools to do it that way.
Hilary Erickson 3:40
Yeah, that makes sense. I think sometimes they just give you homework and they don’t really explain like, what they expected out of it. In fact, I think most often that’s what they do.
JoAnn Crohn 3:49
Yeah. And I have like, as a teacher, I thought that my students knew everything they needed to know to complete their homework at home, and they didnt. Seeing that with my daughter and seeing that with so many of the parents that I work with, like parents feel like they need to reteach what was taught in class just so their kids can finish their homework. And that’s not something that should be happening. It’s not the parents job to reteach, what was taught in class, and teachers don’t even want that to happen. They don’t intend for that to happen. So they’re really like there’s a conversation that needs to happen around what homework expectations like there are, and what parents are responsible for at home with homework because really, homework is kids responsibility. It’s not the parent.
Hilary Erickson 4:31
Yeah. And I think that’s so hard, because a lot of teachers kind of expect you to be responsible for them, or they’ll talk that way back to school night. So that’s really interesting. And I think something parents could email a teacher and just say, hey, what, what is my role in this?
JoAnn Crohn 4:45
Right? Totally, because teachers don’t want parents to reteach the homework assignments. What teachers are saying when they want parents to be responsible, they just want them to kind of look over their shoulder and make sure that they are like doing the correct thing assignment or have a quiet place to work at night, or that the parents available to ask an answer to answer questions. They don’t want parents sitting beside the kid having to cheerlead them through every single question that’s exhausting as a parent, and that’s not what teachers intend when they you know, give those instructions at back to school night.
Hilary Erickson 5:20
That’s awesome. That’s really helpful, I think. So what kind of benefits do you see from homework, both in your kids and from your students.
JoAnn Crohn 5:26
So what homework does is, especially in the elementary school levels, like research has shown that when homework is elementary school students, it doesn’t benefit them at all, like an academic testing, they don’t have a percentile gain in their academic scores. But what homework does do at the elementary school level, it is practice. It’s showing the kids that learning takes place at home and at school. And what’s really funny is that it’s supposed to encourage and foster the love of learning something that I think most parents agree is not happening right now with homework, like homework is drudgery for many families. So homework really can do is starting where the kids are, and starting, where they’re able to focus, it can help them improve that focus and stay focused for longer periods of time and have that feeling of like responsibility over their own work.
Hilary Erickson 6:17
I like that. Yeah. And I guess that’s something you could email a teacher to, like, what are the benefits? you’re wanting to come out of this? Because if it’s the love of learning, and your kid absolutely hates it, then you’re not getting what the teacher wants either. Right?
JoAnn Crohn 6:29
Right. Right. And it’s it changes as kids go up into middle school and high school, like the research has shown that and they’re assigned homework in middle school, especially in math, where it’s something that you have to practice it every day to get better scores. And like the students, academic achievement in math has gone up. But it’s a fine line. I mean, my daughter last night came home with six pages of math homework, which, looking at what was assigned, it was an extraordinary amount. And that kind of workload on kids really, like affects their love of school and their confidence and having them struggle through that. It’s so hard as a parent to watch that.
Hilary Erickson 7:08
Yeah, I will say that now that I have kids in calculus and stuff in high school, I have had two kids in calculus, they can’t possibly go through those calculus problems frequently in class, because they do take so long. So I have started to notice in the upper grades, you just have to do it at home, because you have to practice through it,
JoAnn Crohn 7:26
you have to practice through it. And also, it’s not expected, especially in the higher math levels, that you get everything right all the time. I mean, it’s something that a lot of engineering students in college complain about that the workload is simply too much. And you’re not expected to get A’s like a C or B is considered good because of how much they’re expecting from you. Right? Yeah. And that’s kind of a perception that needs to change. Because I think we’re really focused on being perfect and having everything done when really we need to shift our focus to Okay, what can we do well, what do we enjoy doing? And what we say, Okay, I’m going to best effort, but I’m not going to stress over this part.
Hilary Erickson 8:02
Oh, I like that. Because teaching kids to put in their best effort, but not stress about the outcome. I know what a good life skill that is, right?
JoAnn Crohn 8:10
Yeah. Because I mean, just like you and I, like we, we don’t do everything perfectly their stuff. We’re like, no, can’t do that. And we shoved to the side, or we we have someone else do it. And we focus on what we really excel at and teaching kids that, hey, there’s going to be areas that you really enjoy and really excel at. And then there’s going to be areas that you don’t like at all, and that’s okay.
Hilary Erickson 8:34
Yeah. And even as a blogger and a business owner, you kind of aim for the B
JoAnn Crohn 8:37
Yeah, yeah. And I mean, there’s probably some areas that you love, and like you could spend all your time there, and you will just like our total rock star in and then there’s the other areas where you’re like, Okay, my business to run. So I’m going to do it not going to do it well, but I’m going to do a passing grade and it’s going to be okay.
Hilary Erickson 8:53
Yeah, cuz honestly people expect C work. Yeah. When you provide a be there like, wow, strong work. Yeah.
JoAnn Crohn 8:59
Lot of things. Yeah. And be there. It’s okay. But kids are so obsessed over these As and being perfect. And I think I think that’s really the bigger problem when it comes to homework is that they think they need to be perfect and get everything right away. And that’s not how life works. And that’s not how learning works.
Hilary Erickson 9:16
Yeah, that’s awesome. Okay, so I know you have the book that I’m going to will put the link in the show notes. But give us one quick tip the parents can use when kids are avoiding homework.
JoAnn Crohn 9:24
So like the tip that I always use, if I’m avoiding work, and that so many kids as well is using a timer, just put them on a timer. Because sometimes when you have all this work in front of you, you get completely overwhelmed. And it just becomes this huge mountain. But if you say okay, well, this is as much as I can and say two minutes, you put two minutes on the timer, and then you work for those two minutes. Many times after kids do that they’re so surprised that the amount they have done and so proud of themselves that they willingly like go back and they try it again. And you’re able to up your time, which with each success. So the timer is really, really a game changer when it comes down to homework.
Hilary Erickson 10:02
That’s awesome. Yeah, the girl whose workouts I do say just start for 10 minutes and see where you’re at at 10 minutes. And if you’re still miserable, then stop. Yeah. But my daughter took your course. And she that was the thing she pulled out of it was I’m going to use a timer when I get frustrated. So that’s awesome. Yeah, the timer is great. Yeah.
Okay, how do you know as a parent, when homework has reached like a problem zone where you need to talk with the teacher. It’s not facilitating what the homework was meant to be
JoAnn Crohn 10:25
when kids break down, like it’s crying on the floor, it’s refusing to do the work. It’s refusing to even get out the timer and try as well as if they’re continually like down on themselves and saying everybody else is getting this, im stupid, I should like, I heard this from my daughter last night, I should be in below grade level math, then I reach out to the teacher. I mean, we transitioned into middle school this year, my daughter went to middle school, I’ve talked with three of her teachers so far, about kind of making them aware how hard on herself she is. And they have been a great help in encouraging her in the classroom, especially to come to them for help. If she doesn’t understand something and giving me like things to say to her at home, just just being able to point to your email and being like, Look, your teacher says that you can stop right now. And she’s going to check with you is so powerful for kids who think they have to get everything done. So anytime you have a problem at home, and it’s a constant problem, I would say reach out to the teacher because they are more than likely able to help
Hilary Erickson 11:29
Yeah, do you have any tips and how to reach out to teachers,
JoAnn Crohn 11:31
I do emails, and I do voice. If it’s a really touchy situation, I’ll do a voicemail so people can hear in my voice that I’m not like blaming them, nor am I angry, I am just looking for a way to figure out the problem. So I’ll be like, Hey, you know, it’s JoAnn. Listen, I’ve noticed that my child is having a problem in this. And I just like list the problem and I’m looking for ways to handle it like what ideas do you have, I would love to brainstorm ways that we could fix the problem? And usually, they’re very receptive to that and come to me with all sorts of ideas and suggestions, and they’ll be on board as well.
Hilary Erickson 12:10
That’s awesome. Yeah, I think teachers really want to help parents, they want to make it a positive experience for kids, but they also assign homework because it’s an expectation.
JoAnn Crohn 12:18
Yeah. And sometimes they don’t know the problems that homework is creating at home. Many I find I get really quick email responses from teacher because many parents are hesitant to email the teacher like teachers do not get many emails in their inbox from parents.
Hilary Erickson 12:31
Interesting. I always thought they were flooded with complaints about homework.
JoAnn Crohn 12:35
As a teacher, like Ben where I was teaching to, but I did not get that many emails from parents. And the ones that I did get I was I was able to fix immediately because it’s like the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Like you need to tell the teacher when there’s a problem else. They will have no idea how to fix it.
Hilary Erickson 12:53
Yeah, she can’t read your mind. So all right. Well, this has been awesome. From a former homework hater. I’m just slowly growing to like it. I still don’t love homework in kindergarten. I don’t think you can ever convince me that a kindergarten really does need homework. But
JoAnn Crohn 13:07
yeah, I’m on that fine line to
Hilary Erickson 13:09
getting them in the routine. And there’s only so much you can do and I have emailed teachers before and just been like it’s not happening tonight. Thanks so much. Yeah,
JoAnn Crohn 13:17
that’s totally okay, too.
Hilary Erickson 13:18
Yeah. So thank you so much for coming on. I know a lot of parents, this is a hot button issue with them. But I will say that I hated homework early on, and I’m slowly becoming a fan. It’s my kids get older because you need that good. ACT score.
JoAnn Crohn 13:31
Hilary Erickson 13:34
Thanks for coming on. We will see you later. Thanks so much, Joanne.
JoAnn Crohn 13:37
Thank you for having me.
Hilary Erickson 13:38
Oh, my gosh, you guys, I really enjoyed talking with Joanne today. And I hope you guys enjoyed it too. I gotta say that my one big takeaway, which sounds so dumb, because all of my life is built around, like, what is the benefit of this? Why are we doing this? I’ve never thought to email a teacher and say, so why are we doing this homework? This doesn’t seem to make much sense to me. I’ve emailed complaining about homework, but I’ve never really asked why. Why didn’t I do that? I don’t know. But hopefully that gives you guys some tips, especially people who have younger children. That is a great thing to ask your teachers because maybe it’s to foster a love of learning. And if that’s not doing that, then you need to let your teacher know. So I would definitely ask your teacher why you’re doing it.
Anyway, I hope this gave you guys kind of a new context and taking homework. Thank you so much for joining me on this week’s episode. If you guys would like to learn more about getting on top of homework I have tons of awesome posts and so does Joanne and I’m going to put them in the show notes at pulling curls calm backslash podcast
Big thanks to our sponsor family routines for making this episode possible. If you’re looking to get your family in a routine I actually have a whole section on doing homework and how how to get your kids to do homework without you being the master of homework. So check that out in the show notes.
Big thanks to Joann for coming on. Remember you can find her at no guilt mom on Instagram and also at her blog. I will put all the awesome things including her book and her course in the show notes.
If you liked today’s episode, I’d really appreciate it if you’d Share, Subscribe and review. It really helps us out especially when we drop episodes every Monday. We’d love to have you here. Hope to have you with us next time and until then I hope you have a tangle free day.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Jennifer E Rose says
Hi, after reading through the transcript…I really want to thank you for addressing this, and add my opinion, as a public school teacher and reading specialist in especially working with k-3 students. Sometimes, homework is VERY beneficial. If a kindergarten student is still struggling with phonemic awareness skills such as sounds of letters, words, or word parts (NO PRINT) just the sounds…they need accurate practice to help them “catch up” to grade level so they can learn what they need to be ready to learn to read. By the end of kindergarten if they know all their letter names and sounds and a few “sight & high-frequency words” it really helps facilitate the reading process in first grade. (some states begin this the last half of kindergarten…partially dependent on all day versus 2 1/2 hours per day of kindergarten). If they don’t know their letter names and sounds, it does them no good to try to sound out letters in words when they are constantly stuck and confused. If they learn the sounds and letters as well as a few of the high-frequency words, then it is much much easier to help them learn to read. By the same token, it is much easier to help a child in first grade that has learned the basic skills of blending and segmenting, etc. sound out the words and begin to read sentences. Where I’m going with this is…if they keep trying to stop and sound out words like “the” & “was” it doesn’t work. They just need to memorize them and spend their time and energy on decoding words that can be decoded. So homework at the K-3 level that reinforces “sight and high frequency words” and other basic word family skills and decoding skills, really helps a child with automaticity so they can as they begin to read, make sense of what they are reading, and build comprehension which is our real goal of reading. Automaticity with common words frees up their brains to concentrate on the important contextual harder vocabulary and words that support meaning. Also it applies to math….building math fluency helps them with being able to use those simple math facts to solve problems that begin in 3rd grade. As long as a child is performing at or above grade level they most likely don’t need much homework…with the exception of reading each night for 15 minutes in kindergarten and working their way up 30 minutes a night by 3rd grade. Reading fluency & math fluency (fluency-loosly speaking is speed and accuracy with prosody or expression to enable comprehension). This also helps with stamina or sustained focused reading etc… which is a big issue as they progress towards upper grades. Most kiddos make the transition between 2nd and 3rd grade from learning to read and learning math facts, to readin to learn and doing math facts in order to solve problems. Most states now require 3rd graders in public schools to pass a standardized achievement test in order to progress to 4th grade. Whether you agree with this or not, in order to help us help them, they need that daily practice to build fluency so we can focus more on comprehension by 3rd grade in both reading and math. That is my humble opinion from raising 7 children and teaching at a Title 1 school for over 20 years from preschool to college, with the majority of those years focusing on K-3. I just wish truthfully that every parent would sit down with their kids every night for a few minutes and read with them, listen to them read (and provide positive corrective feedback if needed) and praise! Maybe even discussing the text. Besides, most younger kids spell love=TIME (with mom & dad), whether they are struggling, gifted, or in-between like most of us!=)
As a side note…some of my own struggling kiddos “earned” things by cheerfully or at least willingly doing homework. Yes we used a timer, yes we chunked homework, yes we had time limits or frustrational limits (when it was so hard that I said…ENOUGH), yes we gave food-time-muscle-breathing-brain breaks, (LOTS of redirecting to stay on task for my ADHD kiddos) & yes I bribed them with (for example)… for every 20 minutes you practice spelling, or sight word flashcards, or multiplication flashcards, or reading aloud to me, you may earn 20 minutes of videogame playing (with me helping select the game of course). We also had the A (or for 1 kid a B) club….for every A they earned they were able to earn a $1 toy or put it towards a more expensive toy as credit earned. Some kids need those extrinsic rewards as young children. And, it sometimes even works for teenagers for calculus homework or getting done with that research paper early…(with of course more expensive or desirable rewards such as earning car time to borrow the car….or that pair of jeans, or a friends night out, extra minutes of gaming or tv or social media viewing,…or whatever works.) These are few things I found that helped over the years as a parent and as a teacher! Most importantly, listen to your child, listen to the teacher, and ask questions to try to understand both sides if they are different. Then decide what is best for your child and let your teacher know in a kind way and most teachers will try to support your decisions if they are reasonable. (understanding that some things are beyound a teachers’ scope of control-such as mandated state testing or district benchmark testing.) We also want children to learn and be happy because it is difficult to teach a sad overwhelmed child and meaningful learning does not really take place. We like happy students & parents and they like happy teachers!
Hilary Erickson says
What a thoughtful response, thank you!