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53: Top Homework Tips and Raising “Readers”

By March 5, 2019November 9th, 2023Mastermind Parenting Podcast
53: Top Homework Tips and Raising “Readers”

In this episode, I share my opinion on your role when it comes to your kid’s homework. I discuss some mindset shifts around learning differences like ADHD, anxious kids, dyslexia and dysgraphia. I also share my top tips for helping your kids to become lifelong readers. I think you might be surprised by some of my experiences and how my approach is different than what you might be hearing from “the educators”.


If you find yourself feeling defensive about why their learning difference justifies the need for you to sit with them day in and day out and manage their workload, I’d like to invite you to explore a few questions:

Is your child in the right school?

Have you communicated with the school/teacher and advocated for the right kind of support for your child. Remember, they are spending 7-8 hours a day at that school and if your child is not spending that time learning the way their brain requires, well that’s a helluva lot of wasted time.

Think back in your own life to the things you’ve accomplished and feel proudest about. Was there a challenge involved that you overcame? How did you do it? Were you scrappy and resourceful? Was someone holding your hand helping you figure it out?


Stop sitting with your kids while they do their homework. If you’re doing this, it’s a sign that things need to shift.

If your child has a learning difference, advocate by communicating with their teacher that they need to get the resources during the 7-8 hours during their school day.

If your kid is in the wrong learning environment and homework is the bane of YOUR existence, find a better situation. It’s 2019 and we have this awesome resource called the internet – there are many different virtual educational options…

Turn off the screens at night and read with and/or next to your kids and stop timing them!

As always, thanks for listening, and be sure and head over to Facebook and you can join my free group Mastermind Parenting Community, where we post tips and tools and do pop up Live conversations where I do extra teaching and coaching to support you in helping your strong-willed children so that they can FEEL better and DO better. If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it!

About Randi Rubenstein

Randi Rubenstein helps parents with a strong-willed kiddo become a happier family and enjoy the simple things again like bike rides and beach vacays.

She’s the founder of Mastermind Parenting, host of the Mastermind Parenting podcast, and author of The Parent Gap. Randi works with parents across the U.S.

At Mastermind Parenting, we believe every human deserves to have a family that gets along.

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0 (0s):
You’re listening to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast with Randi Rubenstein episode 53,

1 (7s):
My name’s Randi Rubenstein and welcome to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast where we believe when your thoughts grow the conversations in your home flow.

0 (21s):
Well, hi guys, how are you today? Today? I have a topic that I know is going to interest a lot of you guys, and it’s all about Homework and my thoughts about Homework, how we should manage it, the mindset, the mindset mastery piece around Homework, which is so important. I think, as parents to really just have clarity about what your role is when it comes to your kid’s homework and how to kind of keep yourself in check so that you don’t accidentally add to their overwhelm. And, and I think it takes practice.

0 (1m 2s):
And I don’t think that we necessarily have gotten the right messages about what our role is as a parent, when it comes to homework, and this is completely a subjective. This is all my opinion. I, my kids are 21 junior in college, 17 junior in high school, and 13, seventh grade. I have three different kids, three different learning styles, three different temperaments, and they are all very similar students. And so I’m now kind of at a point where I’m like, I think R I think we kind of have it down in terms of how we’ve managed to a Homework situation.

0 (1m 48s):
And, and I just think that, that it’s, you know, the goal is we want our kids to own their work. We want them to be self motivated. And I do have three kids who, all our readers, who all our self motivated. I don’t think I’ve looked at a report card in years. Like if they get a grade that they are not particularly thrilled with how they’re going to beat themselves up, they tell us about it. My husband does kind of look at progress reports in informs me of them, but I, I don’t feel the need to cause my kids tell me about it just as like a side note, because if they got a grade that it, that they don’t really feel proud of, of like they’re already beating themselves up.

0 (2m 39s):
And it’s really just information of how we can show up and help coach and support them. And so they informed me have it. So, you know, I think that many of us grew up and like when I was growing up, like, I don’t recall a time ever where my parents help me with my homework, like ever. And I was a good student. I didn’t have any learning differences. I, I, I had this drive and determination to be a good student from, I don’t know, as far back as I can remember. So I do know that, that there was that going on, but I don’t, I mean, there was never, ever a time.

0 (3m 25s):
My parents helped me with that with my homework. And I grew up, you know, in the seventies and eighties. So I just think it was just kind of back then. It was kind of the thing, but we were more parents than not, we’re pretty hands-off, it was just kind of a sign of the times. But I do remember having certain friends or knowing certain people whose parents were super involved and just on top of whatever was going on for them in school, volunteered at school and maybe like, Oh my gosh, like the parents, they even knew the teacher. Like I don’t even know that my parents knew my teacher’s names.

0 (4m 6s):
And so I do as a kid, remember wishing that my parents were more involved. And it’s interesting because as I’ve talked to air quotes, those kids with those parents, it’s pretty interesting because most of them say that that constant hand-holding and involvement was, was really not the way to go either. They felt like it was, it was like helicoptering before helicoptering was a thing. And so a lot of those kids I know were resentful. And though I’ll hear them say that they think it enabled them, maybe not to be as responsible as they wish they’d been.

0 (4m 48s):
And they thought it was kind of a crutch. And so they there’s that. And then a lot of times they, they are doing the same things with their kids and they just kind of, it’s just kind of almost like a, what I call limiting belief. Like they believe that that’s your job as a parent. So even though they didn’t necessarily feel like, ah, it was a good thing for them. They repeat the pattern and do the same exact thing with their kids because they think that’s what you’re supposed to do as a parent. Like that’s your job as a parent is to sit with your child day in and day out and do their homework and check their homework.

0 (5m 31s):
And, and that’s part of the responsibility. And so what I wanna kind of really tell you today is that I think there is a happy medium when it comes to our role as parents, when it comes in terms of Homework and it’s about being supportive when our kids need some extra help, while also fostering independence and responsibility, because the truth is like, we’re not going to college with them, right. If they really do need to learn how to be independent students, and if you feel like your child’s homework is your homework.

0 (6m 12s):
Mmm. It’s a sign, it’s a sign that something needs to shift because you aren’t in second or fourth or 11th grade, your child is right. Like they are a separate person from you. And you’ve already gone through all of that. It’s now their turn. It’s now their experience. And like, I like to say, Hey, we don’t own our kids write like owning people as called slavery. They are they’re own people. We don’t have the right to try and control them. And to, to behave in a way where we think we’re responsible for their experience, their experience has to be their experience.

0 (6m 59s):
And yes, your child may have learning differences. I have kids with learning differences. And if you find yourself feeling defensive about why they, why or why they are learning differences, justifies the need for you to sit with them day in and day out and manage their workload for them. And I’d like to invite you to explore a few questions, right? I’m doing this all. I’m not doing this from a preachy place. Honestly, I’m doing this from a place of it’s so exhausting to take on your child’s workload as if it’s your own. Like you have a life and you’ve got a lot going on.

0 (7m 40s):
So to take on their homework and the responsibility of their homework, it’s too much. You guys, it’s it’s you. This is why you’re going to find yourself in the parent gap where you’re yelling or berating are doing things that you saw, or you are never going to do it. And adding to their workload, adding to their overwhelm because your, your you’ve you’ve crossed the line into things that are really their business and not your business. And so when you do that, that’s when you find yourself just completely mentally drained and exhausted. So I wanted to invite you guys to ask a few questions.

0 (8m 22s):
If you are feeling defensive, or if you are feeling like it has your job, two sit with your child day in and day out because they have such tremendous learning differences, but they need that level of support. So, number one is your child in the right school, number two, Have you communicated with the school and teacher and advocated for the right kind of support for your child and the way their brain is meant to learn, because Remember, they’re spending seven to eight hours a day at that school. And if your child is not spending that time, learning the way their brain requires, like that’s a hell of a lot of wasted time. So it’s really, really important to understand how your child has meant to learn and, and, and helping advocate for them to be in the right learning environment.

0 (9m 12s):
So if it’s not the right school, right, like exploring other options. I mean, we live in this day and age where there is. So I was just talking to them on the other day, who is telling me that her child is in a phenomenal school, a N D C, but, but unfortunately it’s not the right school for his learning. Stout’s too big. There’s just a number of reasons. And so he comes home at the end of the day and he’s just melting down and falling apart. And so all this time, this little boy is spending, sitting in a desk and at it, it’s just like wasted time. And so she said, she’s exploring some different options. There’s some cool Montessori’s and things around.

0 (9m 53s):
And she said, and I’ve locked. So it looked into the homeschooling community. Like we live in DC, there’s museums that have specific classes for people that homeschool their kids. There’s lots of moms who homeschool their kids that a hire, you know, hire babysitters to drive them to. And from the zoo offers like a half day program for homeschooled kids. There’s this other cool program where you literally it’s like, like an entire day, eight to five, where you sign your kids up, you drop them off. And they like have a day exploring in the woods and, and learning out in nature, like all of these super cool things.

0 (10m 35s):
And so she’s like, so basically you’re just, you know, instead of dropping your kid off at a school, you develop the curriculum and there’s all these cool programs. I, I was like, wow, that is very, a very different idea than what I thought homeschooling was, because this is a woman that runs her business. So it was like, how are you going to have time to be the teacher to, she was like, it doesn’t, it doesn’t have to work like that. So there are so many options to think outside the box. And, and I think it’s really important to do so if the homework is the bane of your existence and you know, it just seems like your child is not getting what they need to accomplish during those seven to eight hours a day.

0 (11m 19s):
Like really we live in this day and age where we don’t have to waste that time anymore. We, if we’re willing to think outside the box. So think back in your own life to the things you’ve accomplished, right. And felt proudest about the Was there a challenge involved that you overcame and how did you do it? Were you scrappy and resourceful, or with someone holding your hand, helping you figure it out. So if your child is constantly challenged by school and your feeling like it was your job, too, sit with them day in and day out doing their work as if it were your work ’cause they need that support.

0 (12m 1s):
I just want you to consider in your own life, when you have accomplished something that you feel really proud of, like, did you have to rely on yourself more? Did you have to find the resources? Because when we deny our kids that same success story that they get to look back upon by constantly coddling and handholding, we’re not building them up. We’re not helping to create resilience in them. Right. We’re, we’re accidentally enabling them to stay stuck. So we’d like the other thing I want to talk about is about reading.

0 (12m 43s):
I have people all the time and my daughter tells me this, how people just Marvel. She was on a school trip recently. And, and it was at this camp and it was really cool. It was gorgeous. And she’s reading, she’s reading a couple of different books right now. She’s a major reader. And so she’s reading pride and prejudice right now. And it is like, I mean, if it doesn’t look like a school book, it was like the tiniest print. And she was sitting out under this tree and she was just kind of just enjoying just a minute and reading. And she’d sort of, some of her friends come up and they’re like, what are you doing? And she was like, what do you mean? I’m sitting here reading. And they were just like, they thought it was the oddest thing in the world. And let me tell you, my daughter, she knew they couldn’t have cell phones, which was so awesome.

0 (13m 28s):
She loves all things, teenage girl Snapchat and all of the social media. And you can do all that stuff, but they didn’t, they weren’t able to do that. So she was like curled up with a good book and, and the other kids thought that it was like bizarro. Okay. So I think that the whole thing that comes from the best of intentions were teachers are telling kids that they have to read for 15 minutes a night. And then there’s that AR program accelerated breeding program in elementary school. And they’re keeping track of the points in all of these ways of incentivizing kids’ to read and then putting it on the parents played to make sure they get their reading in and all that stuff.

0 (14m 15s):
I think at sabotaging and accidentally sabotaging our kids love of reading because a good book think about it. Like we all are wired for story. It’s why we love movies. And we’ve many of us who have been Readers in our lives, like to think about when you get into, when you’ve gotten into a series and it’s like, you just, you’re so sad when the series is over. It’s, there’s nothing like a great story. So our kids, especially kids, they learned so much through story. So all of these ways that next, that we were putting in these external motivators, we sabotage their intrinsic love for a story for reading.

0 (15m 2s):
You know, that’s the best way I’ve seen to foster a love for reading is to not keep track of that and just get your kids hooked on a series. Like all my kids, the first series, any of them were hooked on was a series called the magic tree house. And, and they’ve just gone from series to series to series. And that is how you foster a love for reading and when they are reading and you’re having to tell them lights out, it’s enough with the reading like that. I mean, think about all of the skill building they are doing from that. So that’s one of my pointers that I would say is Stop keeping track of how many minutes they read.

0 (15m 44s):
And if you want your kids to read, like, be consistent from the time they’re early with bath books bed and get rid of the screens in the evening, like go hardcore on the quality and connection time and have a hard stop of like a PM, especially when you’re kids are a little bit like in my household, 8:00 PM has always been when the adult time started, period, period, period, period from 8:00 PM till 7:00 AM. That is my time. That is adult time. And when my kids, when they were little, we would read to them and we read next to them. And then when they started to read, they would read and we would read.

0 (16m 26s):
And then when they were full-fledged reading to themselves, we are the, the, the books before the actual going to sleep part Was they laid next to us and like, they read something and we read something to ourselves and like, we just enjoyed independent reading time together. So, and the another thing is, is if you have your older kids that start to read, read to their younger siblings, let them have that quality connection time without you, but really making it a beautiful time. Like, it’s always so fun when my kids were Head started to read and I would sit, I remember I used to be a big people magazine reader, so it’s trash, but I, I loved a good people magazine back in the day.

0 (17m 11s):
And I would sit and I would just read by a magazine and it was a special treat. They’d got to lay in my bed and they would lay in our beds and they were all showered and delicious smelling. And they would lay next to us. They would read their book and my husband would be reading his thing and I’d be reading my people magazine. And there was no talking. It was just like quiet connection time. So, so that’s the, that’s what I have to say about reading, stop doing your kids’ homework with them. And when you stop doing it and they become more responsible, then you can show up for periodic and be the hero that swoops in.

0 (17m 51s):
And when they really need you, right? Like once you’ve really fostered that responsibility, like have a few rules in place. I think mine was like, don’t ask me to quiz you for a test until you realize, you know, it so well that you’re convinced you’re going to get a a hundred. So when I’d start to quiz them, if they miss one, I’m like, Oh, it looks like you need to go back and study some more comeback. When you think that you’re all studied up. I’m not like I’m there as an extra checks and measures if they need me, but they’re fully responsible for preparing themselves. And then I’m there. If they want just too, you know, have a, have an extra quizzer and I’m not against tutors or resources at all.

0 (18m 33s):
I’m against needy, overly dependent kids. So, and the other thing I wanted to say is like, why does everyone need to be in a student? Like I know a lot of successful people that were straight up C students, and, you know, y’all remember our art world is changing so fast. So your kids that have learning differences, we need to build them up rather than tearing them down by over coddling them and pushing everyone to be, you know, an, a student or an extraordinary students, right? Because those over coddled kids that are going to end up possibly getting into a college.

0 (19m 14s):
And I’ve seen this many times that is actually academically too difficult, too difficult for them. And you’re not going to be there with them to catch them when they inevitably fail. And so, you know, Matt, you might still continue to hire tutors from afar and help manage them and, and be completely stressed out. But then your kid is going to be left, feeling like they’re going to see all the other kids around them. And then inside their feeling like a less than cheater, like, wouldn’t it just be better to teach them to advocate for themselves and to believe that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with them, because there are a non-traditional learner and two embrace how they’re wired into understand that its their super power.

0 (19m 57s):
I, I really believe this ADHD. Hm shiny object syndrome. Guess what? Those people are there. The solution people on the team, they are the ones who don’t live in complacency. They are the ones that are constantly are searching for better engagement and something to be more interesting. And what it, why don’t we try this and why don’t we try that with people that struggle with anxiety, the nervous kid? Well, I’ve never met anyone that has struggled with anxiety that isn’t highly intuitive and feels energy and has a good read on people. So we need to teach our anxious kids that that’s actually their superpower, dicks, dyslexic, or dysgraphic kids out of the box, thinkers, creative, gifted, and able to see patterns that other people miss in life.

0 (20m 44s):
So where else are they able to see patterns that can’t be seen as like where’s the metaphor are there for our kids that are the out of the box thinkers. And what about our kids that are the black and white thinkers or super high functioning, straight a spectrum kids. Like there are the ones who seek order and hold others accountable about order and rules and how things needed to be followed. Maybe they are the ones that bring into civility. So I think that when it comes to Homework, it serves our kids’ to bring back some of that old school mentality that many of the parent’s of yesteryear had like allow them to figure it out, stop being overly invested in it.

0 (21m 27s):
And remember this is your kid’s life. Not yours. Your job is to be the guide on the side. And yes, this might involve a few bad grades or missed assignments, but I promise a zero on a homework assignment in a second or fourth or seventh grade does not equate to not going to college because there’s a 5,300 colleges. That’s 5,000, 300 colleges alone in the U S it’s going to be fine. Your kid is going to go to college and who even knows of college is going to be a necessary thing 15 years from now. So that’s what I’ve got for you on Homework stop sitting with your kids while they do their homework.

0 (22m 8s):
If you’re doing this, it’s a sign that things need to shift. If your child has learning differences advocate by communicating with their teacher, that they need to get the resources during the seven to eight hours a day during their school day that they’re there. And if your kid’s in the wrong learning environment and homework’s the bane of your existence, find a better situation because it’s 2019 and we have this awesome resource called the internet and there are many different virtual educational options. Turn off the screens at night and read with and, or next to your kids and stop timing them on how long they read for. And if you don’t have to, if you don’t know how to make these shifts or have these hard conversations, reach out to me for support you guys, because it’s really, this is all so figure out-able like it.

0 (23m 2s):
That’s what I wanted to say. We can completely change the way it’s going right now. And I now can speak from a place of I’ve been there. I get it. And there’s a better way. If you’re stressed out about your kid’s homework, it’s not your homework. It’s there. Okay. Have a great week. Bye bye.

2 (23m 28s):
Hey podcast listeners. If you happened to have a strong-willed Kidd who is kind of pushing everyone of your buttons lately, I’m a resource for you. I made you guys a free dive where you’re going to get some tools and tips and strategies to quickly get on the road to creating a happier household. I know you’re pulling your hair out. I wanted to make you something so you can start giving some quick wins and building some momentum. So if you want to grab your copy, just go to Mastermind care forward slash Free Guide and, and have you enjoyed it.

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