Do Your Homework, Don’t Do It With Others: The Secret Life of Homework goes a long way toward answering a fundamental question for every classroom teacher: how to motivate your kids to do homework. Ms. Johnson knows from personal experience that the best way to motivate students is to show them that others are working hard to do it too. She takes this approach throughout the text, making sure to encourage her readers to engage with the text at its core. This is achieved through a series of vignettes, each with a lesson intended to ignite conversation and discussion between classmates.
Through engaging dialogue, students begin to identify with each other and with their teachers. This leads to a significant increase in student self-discipline. Students who begin the process of doing their homework independently soon discover that the process is far more enjoyable than dealing with a rigid teacher who is constantly interrupting them with unrelated instructions. By participating in group activities, students also quickly realize that the quality of their work improves when they have a say in how the work will be done.
My Posse Don’t Do Homework starts this process off by introducing a core conflict. Ms. Johnson admits she “wasn’t completely happy” with the result of the book until she realized that her daughter had a genuine problem with homework. The author wisely maintains her tone of sympathy throughout the text. In fact, she repeatedly reminds the reader that while her daughter may have a difficult time concentrating, homework is something she needs to do. She shows how her daughter’s lack of compliance reflects a broader unwillingness on her part to do homework as well.
Following the initial revelation about homework, My Posse Don’t Do Homework goes through the process of how kids should do homework. Each step is illustrated with a citation of research that backs up the claim. The book then examines different strategies for teaching kids to do homework, including multiple process models. The final section considers tips for homework success, which includes a helpful checklist that parents can use to ensure that kids really do understand what is being asked of them.
Ms. Johnson provides very practical advice. She encourages parents to use multiple process models to promote a consistent approach to homework and to develop a system that works. She makes the case that kids who are given an expected set of homework activities should be able to anticipate what will occur next, so that they aren’t surprised when it comes. She also offers information on how kids can develop skills that make it easier to complete homework on their own. Finally, she acknowledges that encouraging kids to do their homework on their own can be a very effective way of reinforcing this critical learning process.
However, the bulk of the text takes a positive look at what can go wrong when kids don’t do their homework. Ms. Johnson offers several strategies for making sure this doesn’t happen. She emphasizes the need to create an environment that is encouraging, inclusive, and interactive. She even offers a very practical tip for making sure this happens-get a babysitter! Kids will do better if there is someone reliable to help them process homework, whether that is a parent or a reliable sitter.
As a parent, I’m very excited about Ms. Johnson’s book because it nails the process down to practical tips. In fact, I believe her book could serve as a “must have” resource for many families. The reality is that homework can be hard. Students sometimes resist or cannot handle the homework process. This text offers a simple and straightforward way to make sure this doesn’t happen.