Get your homework done

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“You have to do your homework before you can go outside and play.”

I say this every single day to my 7-, 5-, and 3-year old (the 3-year-old doesn’t have homework, but wants to be included).  

Each day after school our routine is to open their school bags and see what “MY” homework is.

I feel like I took a job bookkeeping for NASA sometimes with the amount of tasks and paperwork that comes home with my kids. I am reading projects that have been done throughout previous days, signing agendas and field trip forms, figuring out when the deadline to sell trash bags for a fundraiser ends, and all of that is before we even get to the actual homework.

“The first thing you do is put your name on the page,” my 5-year-old sings as she begins her homework. My son typically grabs my phone and puts two minutes on the stopwatch timer. This means that he is ready for his math speed test. By this time, my 3-year-old is usually doing her “homework” which consists of climbing on the table and trying to make words on her face or mine with markers and stickers.

The basics are taught this time of year and I love it. One reason I love it is that I can actually help them with their homework. I am a proud recipient of a master’s degree in communications from Marquette University, but have significant limitations when it comes to diagraming a sentence for my second grader.

Their curriculum includes and depends on them mastering the basics before progressing. They drill the basics every single day. The basics are what you should be coaching this time of year as well.

I enjoy seeing my children put their name on the top of the paper every day along with moving on from addition to subtraction. Seeing them spell words now that don’t “sound” like they look is impressive. I enjoy being part of them making a mistake, but not quitting until they get it right. That is why I have a passion for coaching. That is why every coach who is coaching for the right reasons should be drilling the basics this time of year.

School has been in session for about a month now. This is usually when things get a little stagnant. I see it with my own kids. My son is making more mistakes because he is rushing through the basics to get to the ‘new stuff’. He is excited, but sometimes sloppy.

This is OK. I would rather turn down the flame of someone I am coaching than have to light the fire every day.

Good players want to challenge themselves, but great players won’t shortcut the process. It goes for coaches as well. The best coaches take time to build a culture instead of creating a fad.

It is difficult to slow yourself down in a world that is only trying to get faster. One reason I love coaching so much is because it challenges me on so many levels. It is the ultimate juggling act and at times coaches may drop a ball. Coaches must be willing to pick the ball up, make adjustments, and begin juggling again. Parents must do the same.

At least once a year (if not 100 times) coaches are saying in staff meetings that they need to get “back to the basics.” It is important to evaluate yourself and your team to see if there is a proper base established.

A difficult and rewarding part of coaching is the challenge to push a player to become great while also teaching patience in the process. It is a fine line between getting better or staying the same. I relate coaching to how a track athlete runs the 400 meters. The entire race is a sprint, but there is a definite patience and build up within those 400 meters.

Next time you are writing up a practice plan or moving on to unit 3 of your child’s learning lab, make sure you analyze if you and your team are truly ready.

Just remember that before you let your team go outside to play, they better have finished all of their homework.

Brian Barone played basketball at Texas A&M University and Marquette University and holds a master’s degree in communications. He now coaches men’s basketball at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

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