Make healthy homework a habit

Column by Michael Norton


One of the questions my kids dreaded throughout their education was when I would ask this, “Do you have any homework tonight?” Of course they hated that question, I hated it too when I was growing up and my mother would ask me the very same thing.

Well it's that time of year again when kids of all ages are settling back into the school routine and homework will be inevitable. And I think that many students get uncomfortable about the question because they would much prefer to say that there was no homework assigned or just a very little bit so that they can spend time with friends and doing anything other than their assignments.

At the end of the day the only person who really suffers is the student. Surely as parents we agonize over it a little too, but we can only do so much in the way of accountability. The student has to want to succeed and be an active participant in their own learning and growth.

Homework is perceived as a “thing” that has to get done, when at the end of the day it's really about work ethic and attitude. Homework is a behavior that drives success whether we are in school, at work, or trying to grow personally or professionally. You see, we can't manage results, we can only manage behaviors. And it is in our school days that we develop this work ethic and positive habits that will propel us in our future endeavors.

Anyone reading this column can probably look back at a time when you or your child procrastinated or just avoided a homework assignment or maybe a few consecutive assignments. The outcome was that we fell farther behind and playing catch-up was infinitely harder. And we can also look back at a time when we took the time to do the homework, and how amazing it felt when we breezed through a quiz or test. Again, it's about the behaviors that deliver results.

And as we fast forward past our school years and evaluate where we are today in our career we can probably point to specific times when we fell behind at work because we didn't do the little extra things at the end of our day such as planning and preparing, making lists, looking at our goals, or checking off what we had accomplished. When we view this kind of work as productive we can view our homework as being healthy. It's when we have the attitude that we would rather avoid the behavior of a little extra work that we deprive ourselves of the feeling of accomplishment and we erode our beliefs in our own capabilities and what we can truly achieve.

Learning and growing is something that is a constant part of our entire lives not just during our years of schooling. We should always be “on the grow” as we look to raise the bar a little each and every day. And healthy homework whether we are a student or enjoying a career is a great way to ensure our future success.

Are you keeping up with your healthy homework? I would love to hear all about it at and together let's continue to learn and make this a better-than-good week.

Michael Norton, a resident of Highlands Ranch, is the former president of the Zig Ziglar organization and CEO and founder of


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