Practice Makes Perfect

American parents and their children are a dedicated bunch! They think nothing of picking their child up from school and taking them to soccer practice, gymnastics, football practice, taekwondo, or some other extra-curricular activity. I took my son to Pop Warner practice for two hours a night, five nights a week for all of August. Then when games started, we practiced three nights a week with the games on Saturdays. We certainly were dedicated. In fact, one of my son’s football teams won the Southeastern US Championship. Quite a big deal.

I am very proud of my children and all of the children who make this sacrifice to be excellent in some activity. I imagine this verifies the 10,000-hour rule, which was popularized by Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers.” As Gladwell tells it: it takes 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery of complex skills and materials, like playing the violin.

Thomas Edison quote "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work"

The part I don’t understand is when the parents complain about homework. There is even a group who think that there should be no homework. They think nothing of having their child practice soccer every night but complain when they have to practice their multiplication table for 30 minutes. Why? You can’t do arithmetic without timetables and you can’t do algebra without arithmetic. I have even had a parent complain about her son’s summer reading requirement. She told me that it took away from his baseball pursuits. Really?

I believe in homework for students and summer reading lists. Not busy work, but real practice and learning. The repetition teaches students how to think the right way and to remember how to apply the information to unfamiliar situations. It also teaches students how to be their own teachers. They are able to be self-driven learners. In life, this is needed. If you want to read smoothly with good comprehension, you have to read nightly. If you want to be an excellent writer, able to communicate thoughts and feelings with the written word, you have to practice writing. All of this takes time.

So schedule two hours every night for homework, reading, and writing. If the schedule is too full, cut out the soccer. Have a quiet place for your child. Comfortable and studious with lots of room. I did not allow my children to have any electronics in their bedroom, no phone, no TV, The bedroom is a quiet place for sleeping, contemplation, reading, and homework. Do you want a well-educated and successful adult for a child or not?

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