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Thu, 14 Feb 2013 10:29
Worried about how to get your child to do their homework? Then you might need the help of parenting expert Noel Janis-Norton whose new book Calmer, Easier, Happier Homework has just been published. With 40 years of experience working with children and families, Noel finds that she's asked the same questions by anxious parents time and time again. These are three of the most frequently asked questions....
Q: My daughter says her maths homework is too hard, and she wants me to tell her the answers. How can I help her without doing it for her?
A: When a child wants to be told the answer, it is probably because the parents have done too much for her in the past. We must not fall into the trap of doing our children's thinking for them. Homework is meant to be done by the child! So whenever you feel the urge to reteach what your child should have learned at school, do the following instead:
- - Ask leading questions rather than telling your child. Only when her brain has to come up with a sensible answer is she really learning.
- - Draw pictures and diagrams, using a minimum of words. If you are talking, it is too easy for children to nod wisely while their attention is drifting away.
- - Reflectively Listen * to her frustration and confusion. This will help her to feel heard and is likely to defuse her upset.
- - Descriptively Praise * her whenever she is brave and takes a sensible guess. Over time this will lead to increased confidence and motivation.
- - Talk your child through several examples. These should all be different from the sums she has to do for homework. That way, once she understands the principle or procedure from your explanation, she will still have to use her own brain to work out the sums she was given for homework.
- - Give examples that use much easier numbers so that your child can concentrate solely on the principles and procedures.
* Descriptive Praise & Reflective Listening are two of the strategies that I explain in detail in my new book, "Calmer, Easier, Happier Homework".
Q: It's always a battle getting homework done before bedtime. How can I persuade my son to get started earlier?
A: Parents want to know how to motivate children and teens to take homework seriously. One aspect of this is starting early enough in the evening that their brains are still alert so that they can do their best. One thing parents can do is to make, and then to enforce, a new rule, that homework and revision need to be completed to the parents' satisfaction before leisure activities can begin, eg:
- - Screens of any kind - television, computer, phoning or texting friends
- - Playing music
- - Going out.
This rule, sometimes called "Worst first", helps ease children into the habit of earning the goodies in life, rather than expecting instant gratification.
At first, your child may complain bitterly, "But when I come home from school I need to relax. YouTube (or Facebook or computer games) is how I relax!" Certainly children do need to unwind before they plunge into their homework, and it is understandable that they would prefer to do their relaxing in front of a screen. However, this option does not refresh or motivate; in fact, screen time saps enthusiasm for any other activity. So remember that people managed to relax without the help of screens from the dawn of time until only a generation ago!
A healthy snack and an active break is what will relax and refresh your children and teens, increasing the chances of their doing a good job on their homework. An active break could be a short bike ride, a quick game of catch, trampolining, star jumps, etc. This will help to prepare them to do their best on their homework.
Q: My children often complain that homework is "soooo boring". How can I get them motivated?
A: My book, "Calmer, Easier, Happier Homework" explains how parents can guide children into more enjoyable and productive homework habits. Until that happens you are likely to hear the word 'boring' quite a lot at homework time! Often 'boring' means that the homework is not entertaining, not particularly interesting, not what children would choose to do if they had a choice.
That is a legitimate feeling, but calling homework 'boring' is misleading. When your child says, for example, that maths is boring, the implication is that it is a fact that maths is boring. But it's simply not true. Some people find maths boring, and some people find maths fascinating. That is true of every school subject.
The word 'boring' in relation to homework can mean that it looks confusing or difficult. 'Boring' often means that your child has been sitting and listening and writing for hours, and his body is now itching to move and play. So when children say homework is 'boring', let's think about how they may be feeling:
"Maybe it feels like there are too many sums on this page."
"Probably you'd rather be outside on your skateboard."
"It's been a while since you had fractions, so maybe you're worried you've forgotten how to do them."
I am not suggesting that we correct our children when they use the word 'boring'. What I am recommending is that we do not use the word ourselves, ever. Let's set a good example. And let's remember to listen to the uncomfortable feelings that are often lurking below the surface.
Wed, 13 Feb 2013 10:44
Jonathan Phang grew up in a hectic Chinese/Caribbean household in London that was always packed with waifs and strays as well as the wonderful, rich smells of the next delicious meal. The Pepperpot Club is a stunning collection of Carribbean recipes and Jonathan recounts his childhood which was defined by tales from the homeland, loud music, booming laughter, and his mother's spicy aromatic cooking. Jonathan's Nanny Phang had a theory: if you cook food people love to eat, you will gain all you want from life. In this book he shares recipes from family and friends from all six races of the Caribbean - East Indian, Chinese, Mixed European, African, North American and indigenous Amerindian - are celebrated and include Meatball and glass noodle soup, Chinese ribs, Jerk Chicken, Coconut cream pie and a kicker of a Rum punch. Peppered throughout are Jonathan's family photographs as well as stunning shots of the Caribbean.
Here's a little video of Jonathan introducing the book.
Fri, 28 Dec 2012 11:10
So, time to look back over the year that's been and every year we take our top 1000 bestsellers and arrange them by colour and tone to see if we can spot any trends...
This year, if anything, we'd say that there's a good bit more lightness than current economic trends would indicate! Or does this just mean that in time of hardship, a good book with a nice bright cover is just the ticket.
Wed, 28 Nov 2012 09:31
Most definitely Not For Parents, publishers Lonely Planet have given us a few sample pages from Extreme Planet for you to download and enjoy! Here's their description of the book:
"A whirlwind tour of the globe, seeking out the highest, deepest, scariest, smelliest... Things on the planet. What's the longest place name? The oldest fossil? Each page is dedicated to a theme: Animal Experiences, Deadly and Dangerous, .. Quirky graphics, illustrations and photographs capture these extreme themes from a child's point of view."
So just click on the button below to sample Planetary Extremity!
Wed, 24 Oct 2012 10:26
Since her debut novel The Country Girls, Edna O'Brien has written over twenty works of fiction along with a biography of James Joyce and Lord Byron. She is the recipient of many awards including the Irish Pen Lifetime Achievement Award, the American National Art's Gold Medal and the Ulysses Medal. Now with Country Girl, in prose which sparkles with the effortless gifts of a master in her ninth decade, Edna has recast her life with the imaginative insight of a poet. It is a book of unfathomable depths and honesty.
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