Thursday, September 24, 2009

Homework and Potholes for Failure Part II

Part one discussed why homework does not need to be a painful experience for childrne. Instead of 'no pain no gain' parents can employ strategies that will not only address the pain caused by potholes of failure they can use strategies designed to increase a child's homework success.

Part two: Homework and Potholes for Failure

We need to look carefully at the pothole called curriculum that feeds into all homework assignments. It is a known fact that most homework lessons are slanted to the linguistic, mathematical and logical intelligences
. Howard Gardner, who broadened our understanding of intelligence by recognizing eight types of 'multiple intelligence' believes that children on average could be using two or three types of intelligences at any given time. However, parents of those children whose preferred intelligence is not of the linguistic, mathematical and logical worlds need to know when and how to merge the homework more successfully.

For example, learning the math facts or times tables has always been difficult for most children. Gardner's theory would suggest that children with a strong kinesthetic or musical intelligence could learn the times tables more successfully by rhythmically tapping out the times tables with their hands or feet or singing them, thus using their bodies and their kinesthetic or musical intelligences for successful homework achievement.

Your child's learning style can also affect successful homework achievement. Once I worked with a 10-year-old client who was driving his parents up a wall because he took too long to complete his homework assignments. It wasn't that he was not completing the homework assignments or that his work was not excellent, but the parents felt he was procrastinating, and simply needed to work faster like his older brother.

According to the experts, there are at least eight different learning styles that can affect homework achievement. This boy was a 'reflective learner'; someone who simply needed to digest information slowly to complete his homework assignments. Instead of one hour, he needed two hours, but always his work was of the highest quality.

Ultimately, his parents supported his specific learning style and homework became a more harmonious experience for all involved.

In short, no one ever said that homework would be easy. It is filled with potholes and we as parents and teachers must either help children to fill these potholes or teach them how to successfully navigate around them.

My suggested strategies are but a few of many that parents can use to help make the child's road to homework achievement successful.


  1. I read this post last night and realized my daughter might have musical intelligence. So I suggested that after she did her advanced Spanish homework that she listen to some of her favorite songs and movie musicals in Spanish.
    She jumped onto YouTube and in minutes was singing away (she sings all of the time). She sang the English version and read the Spanish subtitles and she was happy, very happy.
    I'm hoping she will start singing along with the subtitles and that should really help her grasp colloquial nuances.

  2. Excellent-Assuming her preferred intelligence is also musical, it is a great strategy of merging the linguistic with the musical intelligences etc. Next time she should try and merge the kinisthetic as well by dancing to see where that goes. Good luck and let me know how it turns out.

  3. Thanks.
    Ironically, she does dance/move to the music, even if she's sitting in the chair. Her arms, feet and head are all moving... and you can tell (at least I can) that she's really in a happy place!

  4. Addressing the musical/kinisthetic learner. Sounds like the correct approach. Children generally will exhibit their preferred intelligences
    in areas and at times when they can be most spontaneous. Remember J. Pearce's theory( Magical Child) that true learning and intelligence will go through the heart first, then the mid-brain. "Hence, I learned it by heart." Bottom line -- expose, allow and the child will follow the lead.

    Good luck!

    David Sortino