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Get a handle on homework in a way that best suits you
Scripps Howard News Service


October 19, 2005

DEAR DR. FOURNIER: What in the world do you mean by the title of your column, "Hassle-Free Homework"? How can anything you don't want to do and most of the time find stupid to do be hassle-free? Besides, with all the advice you give, how can you say it's hassle-free for people to do everything you tell them to do? Homework is the work that is constantly getting in the way of my life. In fact, all it creates is hassles. And I hate it; I put it off and get into trouble. And then if I do it, I either get something wrong or the teacher doesn't even look at it.
jpg Dr. Yvonne Fournier

THE ASSESSMENT: You can either fight homework and let it get in the way of your life, or you can learn to use your individual strengths to come up with innovative learning strategies that work for you. My message is simple: Homework can be hassle-free if you are a "strategizer" - a person who can anticipate and be ready to come up with new solutions when the unexpected arises. To become a strategizer, you do not learn a set of one-size-fits-all study skills; you learn the processes that make you the decision-maker, which leads to your own unique success.

I have often heard, "I tried a study-skills course and it didn't work." Too often, a rigid program of study skills does nothing to help develop strategies to cope with the unanticipated.

Success is based on being able to redirect ourselves when things don't go as planned. That is what learning is all about - learning lessons from the unexpected to make us stronger.

In my work with students - and parents - I first teach core learning strategies and then help individuals learn to customize the learning process to suit their individual talents and strengths. Some of the components are goal-setting, self-assessment, long-range and short-term planning, organization, time management and other skills that you will need not just for success in school, but for success in life.

WHAT TO DO: To help create a good homework environment, begin by avoiding rigidity. Homework is not intended to teach you how to live with the rigid schedule of a jailhouse. It is intended to teach you to live with independence and freedom by being in control of all that you can anticipate. You do this by making decisions every day that make you successful based on the conditions of the moment - not what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow.

A good strategizer strategizes daily. In other words, never anticipate that what worked yesterday or in another situation will automatically work today.

Every day, ask yourself these beginning questions:

- Do I have all future responsibilities planned in such a way that they will not become a hassle later on?

- How do I complete all school and personal responsibilities I have for today in such a way that whatever is asked of me tomorrow can be completed without any hassles?

- If my report card came out today, what would it look like? What would I want to change? What can I do today to make that happen so that the future can also become hassle-free?

This is just the beginning of a thinking process that can help you avoid hassles as you face up to your personal responsibilities - not by using the skills someone else intended, but by making unique decisions for a hassle-free journey to success.


Write Dr. Yvonne Fournier, Fournier Learning Strategies Inc.,
5900 Poplar, Memphis, Tenn. 38119.
E-mail YF7thsense(at)


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