Not long ago I got remarried. At the time, my wife’s son was three, he is now nine. My wife has been doing an exceptional job staying on top of his academic development. I pitch in when I can, but because of my hours of work, I have not been as able to work with my stepson as much as I would like.
“ What kind of day are you going to have today?” He would respond, “A great day!” my wife or I would then ask why? he would say, “Because I am going to try my best!”
In the first and seconds grades the information that he was getting was basic and easy: learning the alphabet, the difference between upper case and lower case letters, addition, and subtraction.
During the third grade my wife started seeing what I would describe as learning blocks to our son’s development : His handwriting is so awful that readers of his work can not decipher it, he is a social leader wannabe and spends a lot of time entertaining his friends in class instead of listening to his teacher, he thinks that his time is best spent competing with friends with video games, bicycling, tag, etc. so when he gets to school his focus is on his friends instead of his work.
HE IS SOCIALLY COMPETITIVE!
Recognizing the direction that his academics were headed, I started instilling in him daily recitations to bring about better behavior: Before he would leave the house for school my wife or I would ask,
“ What kind of day are you going to have today?” He would respond, “A great day!” my wife or I would then ask why? he would say “Because I am going to try my best!”
In situations where an instructor or teacher is about to start a class a question like that usually works. The reason is that the “asker” of the question stays right in front of the student so the student commits to trying to please the “asker” of the question.
Another instance where a question like that works is when the recipient of the question is about to work alone undistracted from the impulse to please a neighbor or themselves with the comforting effects of conversation.
Children by nature are curious creatures who get distracted easily by things like someone entering the room, babies crying, unexpected noises like cough, etc.
The same way that kids are curious by nature they are hugely competitive by nature also. Enter the “Homework Club”. After banging her head against the wall trying in vain to get our son to respond to her style of teaching, my wife all but through up her hands and gave up. I would come home and walk straight into complaints and verbal assaults brought on by frustration. She o literally resigned herself to the thought of our son becoming an academic failure because of his resistance to instruction to her form of teaching.
One day, I sat her down and talked to her about how I was encouraging kids in my karate class to develop “Homework Clubs”. As I was talking to her, I noticed a glazed look in her eyes and was sure that she was giving me the, in one ear out the other, courtesy listening routine but a few days later, when I came home, she told me that she had spoken with several parents of children in our development and was able to get a few of them to agree to the “Homework Club” concept .
The way it works is, each week the children do their homework at a different member of the clubs house (this spreads out the problem of supervision). It also allows protective parents to know that their child is, in fact, doing their homework and not horsing around. Parents anti up and buy pizza, chips, sodas, etc.
In our development, there is a super-smart nine years old who happens to be in my son’s class. She scores A’s on every quiz and test that she is given. She’s a literal child-size female Einstein. When my wife brought this to my attention I said, “Hold on things are about to get interesting.” And sure enough, they did.
After about a week my stepson started competing with her. (Remember that I said that he was very competitive.) His teachers are reporting that he is no longer spending his time horsing around with his friends. As soon as he comes to class he sits next to his new female friend whenever possible, he raises his hand and asks questions when he doesn’t understand something, he and his friend takes notes on subjects and compares them at home, and he is making a real effort to clean up his handwriting so that his friends (not his teachers) can read his notes.
As of this writing, I am pleased to report that he scored one hundred on his last three tests. I learned about the “Homework Club” concept from a millionaire friend of mine years ago after my kids from another marriage had already become adults, so I wasn’t able to see it in action for myself.
I gotta tell ya, this is one of the best ideas I have ever come across and highly recommend it.
As an aside I’d like to say that, the holiday season will be on us soon. As you know by now I have committed myself to the betterment of children. PLEASE CONSIDER THE PURCHASE OF MY BOOK DAGPAW Means Success A Parent’s Guide to Instilling Martial Arts Success Skills Into Their Child At Home AS A GIFT TO SOMEONE THAT YOU CARE FOR. It could help your friend or loved one help, someone, they care for getting everything out of life that they want.