Homework With an “I can” Mindset


Homework can be challenging and we want children to be able to work through difficult challenges. 

Sometimes time is limited: family obligations, places to get to, plenty of life stuff!  Getting the homework completed in a timely manner is necessary. 

On a “not-so-crazy-day” make homework time an opportunity to help a child learn HOW to learn, so they can have an “I can do this” mindset.

Be a helpful supporter…a coach who:

  • doesn’t get caught up doing most or all of the work.
  • remains emotionally available – non-stressed and atuned.

(That’s why I recommended starting on a, “not-so-crazy-day”!)

HOMEWORK SITUATION: Your child is overwhelmed by the math homework –  the problems are challenging – there’s lots to do!   You hear:

“These are hard.  I’ll never finish!” or

“I don’t understand what I’m supposed to do.”

As their coach show them HOW to deal with the challenge: 

  • Help your child find one small doable part to begin with.
  • Use a blank sheet of paper and cover most of the page – so that only one problem is showing. 
  • Say, “Don’t think about anything else – just this one problem –  or –  one step of a problem.” 
  • Say, “Can you find an example of what you did in school – or  think of how it was done in school?”
  • Be sure to say, “I am proud of you for trying to find one small part that you can do.”

Breaking down the work into small achievable pieces is an important strategy!  Working at one small piece helps them feel capable. Even if your child doesn’t complete the entire problem, or the entire homework assignment…

they are learning a life skill to use with any challenge!

Your child begins to realize:

  • When the work seems overwhelming, I need to take tiny steps. When I do I am trying… and that counts!
  • If I don’t get it right, I can show how I tried.
  • I may need more time to understand it and to practice. 
  • Thinking “I can do this” helps get the work done!
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SUMMER of 2013 – “PROUD OF Scorecard”

Assessments are used to learn how a child is doing academically.  How about something even more personal – a positive way for young students to express achievements they are “Proud Of” and a way to connect, encourage and support a child when new challenges are presented.

The I Can Do That! Kids “Proud Of Scorecard” 

Very often time is not set aside for children to think about what they have
accomplished AND to have the opportunity to say, “I am proud of what I did.” As
children think about or write down their accomplishments, ask , “Are you proud
of yourself for what you accomplished?”  Then remind children that you are proud of
what they achieved as well.  This is an easy and positive way to help children
feel capable and ready for undertaking new challenges.

For some children it may difficult to recall achievements or success stories
that you felt were important and significant events in their learning and
development. Help them recall those special times and to use the PROUD OF
Scorecard as a journal or portfolio so they will be remembered. When new
challenges come up they can read their PROUD OF Scorecard and think, “If I did
that, then I can handle this challenge.”

It is important that children write what they feel they achieved and that they
are PROUD OF those achievements. If, for example, a child writes that they
earned a good grade on a three digit subtraction test, they should be able to
say, “I’m better at subtraction”, and, “I’m proud of myself for getting that

With this activity educators and parents can tune in to how capable, confident
and ready a child is for undertaking new challenges. Some of their responses
may become useful information for planning how to deliver a new lesson or activity.
Acknowledge your students for what they achieved to help prepare them for new challenges that will come their way!

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“I Can’t”, “I’ll try” and “I Can Do That!”

When a new school year begins we hope that children are re-energized and ready to learn.  Staying energized throughout the year will be the real challenge. 

Three typical responses to challenges children will face as they are learning will be, “I can’t”, “I’ll try” and “I can do that!”   It’s their attitude, and they are indicators of how much learning energy they have for working at those challenges.  It will either keep them energized and moving forward, or have them working at a slow crawl. 

Helping children realize how their learning energy affects their progress is as important as all the other preparations being made, so they are able to get off to a great start.  

Make time to talk about how thinking “I can’t do it” is a common reaction when something is new and difficult or when efforts fail.  We sometimes think it automatically.  However, it’s important not to get stuck there! 

Adding just one word to that thought can make a huge difference, and get us on our way to thinking, I’ll try”.  

Think, “I can’t do it, YET!” 

Go ahead, say it a few times.  It doesn’t sound final.  It’s a way to “jump start” learning energy because there’s opportunity looming. 

Children should start the school year expecting that challenges -“hard stuff”- will be coming their way.  However, one of the best things they can do for themselves whenever they are “losing learning energy”,  is give themselves a boost by saying “I can’t do it yet!”.  It will help to propel them towards thinking, “I’ll try”.   And, trying is the surest way to make progress, and to eventually think, “I can do that!”   

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I never experienced what teachers are experiencing!

I taught for 33 years and have spent the last few years working with teachers, yet when that comment was said to me recently by a district administrator,  I realized how true it was.  It is difficult to fully grasp the scope of challenges teachers been presented with this year.

I do know that the next doctor who will find a cure for a deadly virus may be sitting in your classroom.  Each one of your students is worth the energy you are spending to help them fulfill their potential.

In light of all the recent initiatives teachers are faced with,  I thought I would share this timely quote.  Perhaps it expresses what many of us are feeling:

“What we want, is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child.”  ~ George Bernard Shaw

Pre-Schooler with book.

Angelo Truglio, Founder / www.icandothatkids.com

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Are you a ROLE MODEL?

Are you a ROLE MODEL?

“If your actions inspire others to dream, learn and become more – you are a leader.”  – John Quincy Adams.

Being a role model is very challenging, which is why this 5th grader created her own I Can Do That! Action Star, worth 4 points toward Outsmarting OBST, (as in OBSTacle),  the character that makes things difficult!  Children track their progress by tallying 1,2, or 3 points when they use an I Can Do That! Kids Action Star.  They Outsmart OBST every time they reach 25 points.

Next to Role Model is written, “My reason Role Model is worth 4 points is, not everyone can be a role model”, meaning it is a title for those who work hard to do their best, AND, are supportive and caring of others.

Melanie’s Action Star can remind us of what it takes to inspire others and become a ROLE MODEL!!

Are you ready for the challenge?   See www.icandothatkids.com for more about OBST and the I Can Do That! Kids Action Stars.

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Thanks for visiting! 


When children face difficult or challenging tasks they can learn how to do their best if they have the tools to do so.   This blog will feature tips and thoughts centered around providing children with what they need to help themselves succeed and develop lifelong  positive character traits to:

  • focus,
  • work by taking small steps,
  • deal with mistakes,
  • build confidence,
  • find answers,
  • manage their time,
  • keep track of their successes, and
  • stay energized for challenges!

The website, www.icandothatkids.com is recognized by educators as a“kid-friendly” way to help children learn how to learn and provide skills for a life time of learning!  

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