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How to Make Homework Fun for a First Grader – and Beyond

Updated on January 23, 2017

Yes I reckon all those fancy pantsy diplomas kind of give away the fact that i love to learn

I like my pigsty (I always thought that was Pig stye oh well I learned something.)
I like my pigsty (I always thought that was Pig stye oh well I learned something.) | Source

Love life including your child's

Homework is not just for kids anymore. Parents and other folks taking care of a child should hop on aboard the homework train. It is not just a job it is an adventure. Everyone can find something worth learning in reading, writing and arithmetic. Interactive engagement is an opportunity to really get to know a child. And just as cool is that it is a great opportunity for a child to really get to know you. Interactive engagement with homework/homeplay is an amazing opportunity for the adult to learn what they already learned and forgot. 83 x’s 39 anyone?

Time for true confessions. Most children grow up knowing their parents as parents. Somehow, and we blame this on the parent, the child is denied the great pleasure of knowing their parents as persons. Warts and all. Truth be told it is generally a concealment of traits, habits and shortcomings of the parent. Let us call it as we see it – it is less than honest. Parents take on a role of know all and be all. Does this create in our children a self-vision that anything less than all-knowing is failure? We believe it does.

The cure is to show some vulnerability. If your first reaction is that the child will no longer robotically follow your every command then think about that. Your child should understand the why’s of your commands. But the best part for you is that you get to say “I don’t know let’s look it up”. And don’t tell anyone but I have real paper books that may have the answers using an index and glossary instead of a Google search, though we use both.

Try this one on for size; Why is the sky blue and the clouds are white except during sunset?

So I taught her how to learn.

Berkeley taught her.
Berkeley taught her. | Source

Sorry for the break here but my son and I were having a dance party to this. Makes him giggle.

That unwritten and unspoken communication, so cool.

And here is where you say “wait a second here, I do not have the time to do that”. That is fair, we all make our own priorities. Paying rent or putting food on the table would be a higher priority. Buying a new car, spending hundreds on Christmas, fancy vacations and the best gadgets, handbags and internet connects would, I hope, be a lower priority. So sometimes we catch ourselves saying I am working extra to pay off my high credit card debt. Probably an indication that your values do not really place your child first. But don’t be hard on yourself just realign and move forward. I always like to laugh about parents using guilt to motivate their children, but it is often a crippler for a parent. Self made guilt that prompts us to go grand rather than pick it up at the beginning, is more crippling. I really hope you tackle that idea. Parents screw up. A cover up is a road to problems. Acceptance is critical. And go ahead and share it. They will learn responsibility for actions without any harsh words.

Can we be honest without being vulnerable? It would seem that we cannot. The big “hold back” or secrets deny us the beauty of honesty with ourselves. If I say “you would not understand” then clearly I do not understand. I think Einstein said, to the effect, that if you cannot explain something to another then you do not understand it yourself. Perhaps more precisely “If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.” And I add that if you do not “have the time” to explain it, don’t say it.

There was a guy that once told me to do as I do not as I say. Certainly being able to do both is optimum. And I just can’t see a true justification for not doing both with a child.

Here is an interesting concept of battle. The Officer barks out orders. They must be followed. But they have this thing called chain of command. The guy that graduated from a military academy gives the order. But a highest ranking enlisted man translates it into what he has trained those under his command to do. Minimal explanation is necessary. There is no blind obedience because in training all eyes are opened as to what means what and why and how to carry it out. This concept is so cool in Professional Football. The coach calls in a play. The QB translates it into action by his team, and variances occur for many reasons but the QB and the wide receiver do not need to explain to each other it is in sync. I beg of thee to be in sync with your child. Or should we do less than what the handler does with a dog.

I tell my son to kick off his shoes before tracking dirt into the house. The why has already been asked, the trust and mutual understanding is like a ballet of two minds working as one. It is really a beautiful thing if you slow down and appreciate it. We act like the pair of ballet dancers. Or the friend that finishes your sentences.

She is my child with the most degrees, and who works 200 yds from the Capitol.

Labeled "extremely bright" in about 3rd grade. Boy has she taught me a whole lot.
Labeled "extremely bright" in about 3rd grade. Boy has she taught me a whole lot. | Source

Maybe I made some mistakes -- all my children can sing this song. Maybe to show them daddy was not always a preacher man.

If I will my house to my children I give them a fish for the day, if I teach them to fish they will even provide for others.

Back to homework. One time my brother just like in Mark Twain got me into painting this picket fence. He ran off to go do whatever. So he taught me not to be a sap again. Next time I insisted he teach me how to paint the fence right. We had a blast and I stole his next customer. Fine on him he took a percentage. I think that we did real work together.

Now one day I kind of really wrecked my bosses van. Sentence was meted out. When we had not seen above 20 degree temperatures in a week I was handed a pick axe and told to dig up sewer lines of 30 ft apiece. That danged rocky top soil was frozen down 20 inches and it was like concrete. That was work. Learning something is fun fun fun.

I had been reading some deep stuff about being in the moment and yet it bent it’s way toward empowerment and cognitive dissonance. So then I was reading Seuss with my son and feeling all in the moment helping him and teaching him and I dang well felt queasy. What happened? I was wrapped up in me!

Perhaps think this way; I am driving home and have to get the dinner on and make my son do his homework. Can you see your thought turning fun into “shoulds”? Therein lies the trap of homework. Where did this all too common concept come from?

Now we do not recommend totally reframing our perspective. What we are looking for is you having as a relaxing learning time with your child where you also learn and you learn with. I had a nine year old, Hayley a 6 year old Brooks and a 3 year old Addy. The story of the Cat in the Hat was read by Hayley and I, with brooks picking out word and wild faces thrown at Addy. It was not a have to it was a get too. The shark was marinating, the potatoes were in the oven and the salad was ready to be torn and corn was soaking in sea water ready to come out to broil and of course all of those were our science lesson for the day. (oh yea baby if you live right on the ocean you just get sea water and soak the corn husk and all then barbeque with the husk on and – oh baby that is some great corn)

I have been very fortunate to learn with my children early. I was blessed when my daughter studying for her masters called me up with a hypothetical to debate.

We reap what we sew, I beg of you do not sew have to’s and shoulds. Sew get to’s and I can’s. Perhaps some efforts yield food and shelter, but nothing yields like helping a child to enjoy learning. This is truly the greatest gift on earth – don’t miss out.

OK I admit it this was a lullaby for my children. At least no princess dies.

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I learned early on in teaching that there are some questions I simply can't answer, and the best response to give is "I don't have a clue, let's find out together." And it worked!

      And damn if you didn't say the same thing here.

      No wonder I like you!

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      It is one of those wondrous things in life to learn with a child. Hmm, seems to me that you are a great teacher now, at least I learn a lot from you Bill. Have a great day.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 3 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, it has been two decades since I helped with homework. Reading together was always fun--and I nice way to wind down at the end of the day. Cooking and baking are (as you said) great ways to teach scientific and mathematical concepts. All of us have the same amount of time--how we choose to fill those hours is the answer. Taking time to work with a child is never time lost.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 3 months ago from Southern Illinois

      I like this. I only wish I'd had more patience when I was younger. Great message..

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Linda, we have a new routine down. When I am playing in the kitchen he sits at the kitchen table and reads to me. I get excited and run over to check out the story and he gets excited and runs over to do great things like measure ingredients and stir stuff. And we are starting to incorporate dancing into chores. Sometimes we have to be serious though because mom thinks all this playing means we are not learning ;-) But we caught her laughing at us - so progress is being made.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 3 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, I love this. So much love in your house. I wonder if perhaps you and I are having an easier time of this parenting thing because we didn't do it in our 20's?

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ruby, I had a great time and still do with my adult children. Before we even had them we had very much helped raise a few others. So I was all done with the everything is drama concept. But having one much older is just a wonderful wonderful thing. I heard it said that having kids is wasted on the young man and sports cars are wasted on the old man. Just saying.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Linda since I have done both I guarantee we do it better and get a lot more out of it. My adult children often chide me that they wish that I was old when they were born.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 months ago from SW England

      I totally agree with you, Eric. I've done this with all my grandchildren because I learnt from not doing it well with my own children, for which I'm sad. I also learnt from teaching that children who realise that you don't know everything will work WITH you. You're right, it's so much fun to learn with children and, what's more, to learn FROM them, from how they view the world. It's humbling, it's wonderful and it keeps us young too!

      Well said, Eric; more words of wisdom which keep us on our toes.

      Hope all's going well in your world. Enjoy the rest of your week.

      Ann

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ann, I was just on an outing with my young son. Everything seemed new. Well it was in fact with him. But just the other day as I picked him up from school he saw what I saw as trash in the parking lot. He grabbed it before my maladjusted mind yelled that it was garbage. It was a beautiful piece of Quartz Chrystal. What we just scan over because "we know so much" yet a child sees so much more.

      In my funny little home we pray "Lord let us be as children".

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 3 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      I'm still trying to figure out how to "Make Homework fun for Adults!" I love to learn but I hate math. I keep going to school even though math drives me crazy!

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Dana it is so cool I am learning things I have no thought about in years and I forgot so much. I like watching reruns of shows I adored 10 years ago. I kind of remember but have no clue as to the ending - still a mystery to me -- AGAIN ;-)

      These double digit multiplied by another double digit is killing me but I will get in down before my lessons end for this year,,, oops I mean my son's lessons.

    • bodylevive profile image

      BODYLEVIVE 3 months ago from Alabama, USA

      I love learning with my granddaughter, that's right learning. It seems like it's been ages since I was in junior high and the stuff they're studying, either I didn't have it or I've forgotten it. Anyway, it's an enjoyable experience and one I'll never forget. Hang in there, you're in for a ride! Great hub, thanks for sharing.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Eric, recently, I was trying with some neighborhood kids. I think they had fun but I didn't. I'll have to try harder.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you, definitely a ride. We are really doing a lot in reading. I think he is ready to start reading "how things work" books. So we will get a jump start on science. We are about to delve into piano. I am looking into learning there that is not just boring as hell for the beginning. Have a great day we will at this end.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Dora, that is not unusual. My wife's culture is such that a smile and happiness just means you are not suffering and you must suffer to do well. Some kind of leftover from a communist regime.

      I think in my case my priority is fun. Joy in learning is so much more important than learning.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 2 months ago from San Diego California

      Kids need a father figure, but they also need someone to talk to. It's a fine line. I have so many warts I can't see my face, so I am in no position to give anybody any advice. But my kids treat othere with respect, so I consider that a victory.

      Another victory is that yesterday my son was showing me dank memes on Facebook and we were having a good laugh together. The lols inspire serious discussion. Although he used to take my word as gospel, we learn together now.

      Beautiful, brilliant words, as usual.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      The best friend and father concept works for me and basically has for 34 years with my eldest. Here is a thought along those lines. I have two friends that I have known for 35 years. I have been the boss of both of them, and both of them have been my boss. Every time it has worked out well and mutually beneficial. So all those roles played and here we are still best of friends. Interesting stuff.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 months ago from southern USA

      Dear Eric, this is so awesome ...Yes, learning should be fun, even homework! I do so much better now with my four grandchildren than I did with my children, but I tried my best back then. It shouldn't be a chore to learn what your children are learning ...seems the math is different these days hahaha. I remember my dad helping me in high school with Literature. Boy, I did not get it, but after he helped me, I loved it.

      Looks like you didn't do a bad job with your older children either!

      Peace and blessings always

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Theresa, I have 5 siblings. 3 of us got degrees and three did not. We all prosper just the same. I think this has two major components. Reading and joy of learning. A thirst. Some kind of notion that "winning" was learning and that ignorance was losing.

      I get the phrase "do as I say not as I do". But to me learning must be the other way around.

      Today will be great. For his 7th birthday he wants a turtle or tortuous. So for his birthday he gets a membership to a rescue society. Oh boy we are going to learn so much and then adopt one. I think the bigger gift may be the learning -- but don't tell him that.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 months ago from southern USA

      Awwww, that is so awesome, Eric! You are a great dad. Today I am having my birthday celebration too, but it won't be as interesting as your sweet boy's no doubt. I will get to see my four grandchildren, so that is always a joy!

      Enjoy and learn!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 months ago from SW England

      It's great reading all these responses and dialogues. Learning is a joy, the more so if we do it with others. There is a premise that if you teach someone else what you've just learnt, then you 'overlearn' and it sticks in your own mind all the more. You're right, Eric - if they don't realise they're studying/learning, then the more fun they get! What a wise Dad you are!

      Ann

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ann that is so cool you mention that "Learn to Teach and Teach to Learn. One of my favs I forgot. And I add to that -- write it down and then learn from what you wrote. That putting it down on paper just does wonders for our brain. Visual, auditory, read-write, and kinesthetic concepts are awesome to pay attention to. I learned them teaching 4 year olds how to snow ski.

      Hey extra thanks, I would love to learn more about that and relate it here.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 months ago from SW England

      Yep, multi-sensory teaching - it's what I've done for years with my dyslexic students. Great fun! It's always difficult trying to find a way to use smell though!!

      Ann

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      That is awesome Ann. My youngest daughter has decided to go back to school to become a teacher for children who may need special needs. She is classic, held back a year and tutors through about 12. President of her academy by a Senior and a dual degree from Berkeley. Her mom a 28 year teacher of severely emotionally disturbed lock down youths.

      My son and I do smell through 3 areas of study. Of course cooking and nutrition, botany and biology and small construction projects. But it would be a challenge for dyslexia. Interesting to look into.

      I am online a lot today. We are not supposed to do any chores or "work" today. Happy Tet!!!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 months ago from Shelton

      Eric this was academically useful, I like how you Bring professional development events to life with Interactive Learning Challenges, which merge collaboration, interactivity.. and goof around fun.. This should be shared with young educators ... thumbs up

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Frank, we took Extra Virgin Olive Oil and mixed it with stuff like pepper, mustard and milk the separation was very cool. We then froze it to 7 F., no more separation but the oil never froze. I still don't know what we learned from it ;-) But I am sure the knowledge will come in handy.

      Thanks for coming by. It is great to hear from you again. It is our big church day today. We are mixing the tradition of Tet with our Judeo-Christian traditions. We love the dragon dancers!

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 2 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Your first photo made me smile. We have a similar computer desk setup. Wow! Except in between the desk and the top shelf I have two flat screens. I do agree that when children realise that us adults don't know everything, they will accept that.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Hi Nadine, it is great to here from you. Just lately my son has become grumpy about doing so much learning stuff. I expect a short lived phase. I look forward to helping him get over it.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 months ago

      You have the right attitude on teaching your kids. Make it fun!

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      We have a great potato in water deal going right now. And our rock & stone hunting and polishing has taken on the turn of naming and classifying.

      Dianna we are really blessed.

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