We encourage our tutors to be broken records with their students, especially when it comes to attitudes about homework. We want tutors to help their students define the right attitude and create a mantra to help their students believe in its purpose and significance. An effective homework mantra and resulting attitude adjustment can have real long-term benefits when it comes to homework completion.
While students are told that homework matters, they tend not to believe it. I’m sure you’ve heard about teachers who quickly check homework just to see that it’s done – the “effort” grade. So students rush through the assignment to have something to show, but they’re not really using homework as an opportunity to practice and master skills. Their attitude is that homework doesn’t really matter. We want their attitude to be that doing homework thoroughly will help them truly understand concepts and processes, that it will help them do well on the test, and that it will help them down the road when they use that foundation to learn a new skill. So a mantra to reinforce this attitude might be “Trying really matters.” Homework is a great place to learn from mistakes, so another mantra may be “Mistakes are good.”
When I meet with students who are ready to start ACT prep, I talk with them about the importance of homework. I tell them that in the beginning homework is important so they can practice using new skills and strategies independently. Once they get the hang of it, they must continue to do the homework so the processes become automatic and they can open up space in their brains for doing the trickier work. With some students, I make a sports analogy: Tom Brady doesn’t quit going to practice because he’s a really good quarterback; he’s a really good quarterback because he keeps going to practice. Think about what analogies you may use with your students or children to help them understand that effort and practice will lead to improved performance. And then remind them of that analogy often!