Honey asks: I’m a nine-year-old girl. How can I both do my homework and play, after I get home? I don’t have time!
Hi Honey –
Oh I hate this! I certainly understand why schools assign kids homework – it gives the students a chance to practice what they’ve learned, and builds habits that will help you a lot later in your life – but I’m a huge fan of play! I play all the time, and I think kids learn as much from playing as they ever can learn from homework. So while I want you to do the work you have to, and stay out of trouble (!!), I sure want you to have time to play as well.
What it sounds like you’re really dealing with is what adults call Time Management. That’s a fancy term for planning out your day, to make sure you get what you care most about done.
So let’s try a pretend day, for an example. Let’s say you get home at 4:00 in the afternoon. And your teachers have assigned you an hour and a half of homework (which is TOO MUCH for a nine-year-old, in this puppy’s humble opinion!). I’d argue that the best time to play is when you first get home, so let’s say you play from 4:00 to 5:00. Then you do homework for a half hour, till 5:30. Then you do whatever your family wants you to do, to get ready for dinner at 6:00. Then at 7:00 you sit down and work for another hour, and at 8:00 you’re done.
Now this is easy for me to say, sitting here and scratching my collar. But the important, and difficult, part of this is for you to stick to your plan. What happens if a friend phones you during that homework hour? What if there’s something great on TV?
This is when you have to (another big word) prioritize. That means that you have to decide, before that night, what’s going to be most important. So maybe you say that, because there’s going to be this great show on TV that night, you’ll only play from 4:00 to 4:30 that day, so you can get your homework done on time. And maybe you tell your friend that you can only talk for five minutes, because you have to get back to work.
Now of course, other things will happen that will mess your plans up even worse. Your sister will have a birthday party, or the power in your house will go out! And you have to work around those things. But in general, if you can start now at developing good time management skills, you are going to find the rest of your life SOOOOOOOOOOO much easier!!!