When I was in school, I didn't view homework as a complete drag. Of course it wasn't the most exciting thing I could've done with my time, but I completed it with little-to-no help from my parents and somehow managed to graduate. Man, how times have changed. Now, the frequent struggles of having kids with homework too hard for me to adequately help with are a daily challenge and boy, oh boy, the struggle is so, so real it almost hurts to type.
My oldest is in fourth grade this year and, for the first time, she's failing. Another first for her? She actually hates school and, at this point, I'm pretty sure the two are related. In previous years she excelled in all subjects (except listening, but that's nether here nor there) and maintained a chipper attitude in regard to homework, school work, and all things school-related. Now? Now I have to practically drag her to the table where her homework is located, sit down with her, and, eventually, we both find ourselves in arguments and tears for one reason or another. I hate it and she hates it and every day, Monday through Friday, this is our life.
She recently brought home the latest "progress report" and in it we discovered the reason for the tears and the procrastination and why she doesn't want to go to school, let alone complete the homework that's frequently sent home with her. It's because it's hard. It's not sort-of hard, like, for a fourth grader, but hard as in I'm unable to get through it. So, if this is the way a kid's education has to be and I want her to succeed, what's a mother to do? No, really?
The reality is, she has to go to school and get good grades to (eventually) graduate and move on with her life and accomplish whatever it is she wants and sets out to accomplish. However, getting from A to B sometimes seems impossible, especially when the homework is way too hard for her (and me). With that in mind, here are some struggles every parent can relate to when they have a kid with homework that's just way too hard.
When You Just Stare At The Homework For Far Too Long
There have been times my daughter and I have passed the same homework back and forth over the course of an hour (or more) because neither of us either wants to actually do the work and/or has a freakin' clue how to do it. While I agree some homework is beneficial, a lot of what I've seen my daughter bring home is, in my opinion, best described as a "time suck."
When You Start To Doubt Your Intelligence
I admit, I wasn't the best student in school. Some kids are natural learners while I was a daydreamer, doodling stories into my notebook all day. I have a feeling my daughter is taking after her mother which is why, when it comes time to do the work, she lacks the confidence to complete it (even if deep down, she knows the answers).
Then, when it's time for me to help or check things over, I , too, start doubting my own capabilities, so we're really just exchanging a cycle of insecurity. Neither of us want her to fail but the pressure can be too much.
When You Start Getting High School Flashbacks
Thinking back to all the times I failed at math, how can I possibly help my daughter with Common Core — the new standard I definitely wasn't taught? Sure, when I went to school math was different (easier even) and we believed it was all stuff we had to know in life (false).
Now that I'm an adult who has never used most of the math some teacher convinced me I had to use (without the help of a calculator or computer) it's difficult for me to convince my 10-year-old daughter (or myself) that her homework is even worth it. I get that kids are learning differently now but, you know, come on. She's a kid.
When Examples Don't Help. At All.
Yes, I see the little example box on the front page and no, it doesn't freakin' help. When it comes to her math and the little blocks or images my daughter is meant to use as a way to multiply, add, or subtract (Common Core), I could pull my hair out.
Homework shouldn't be so stressful, you guys. Can't we just subtract the normal way?
When You Can't Understand Your Kid's Instructions
My daughter has what we call a "listening problem" and though she's much better at school, instructions articulated by the teacher verbally aren't necessarily relayed properly to me. Therefore, if I don't know what the hell we're supposed to do, and neither does my kid.
When Homework Takes Forever
While I'd love to see my daughter succeed in life, I don't have two hours to stare at her homework every day and, if we're being honest, I don't want to. As a SAHM who works from home, with another child in pre-k and a partner who works second shift, the struggle to help with math becomes moot if we've wasted more than, say, 20 minutes. Life is happening, and she already learned for eight hours today. Let her be a kid and let me, you know, have a life.
When Your Kid Refuses To Do Their Homework At All
Every day my daughter comes home with work and we go through an intricate sequence of her procrastinating, grabbing a snack, chatting with friends or whatever, until the time comes to sit and do what needs to be done.
Then we inevitably get into an argument about something she's confused about, so she cries and I cry and she protests doing her homework at all. Every day is Groundhog's Day. Every. Single. Day.
When Your Kid's Teacher Seems To Be Part Of The Problem
I don't want to be "that parent," but there have been times when my kid hasn't had the best teacher for the job. Every child learns differently and a lot of really amazing teachers recognize that and plan accordingly.
The ones who don't, however, can cause a kid more frustration; both in the classroom and at home. My daughter has comprehension issues and is slightly dyslexic. If she's struggling with written instructions or work, it's not because she's not capable, but because she has other challenges that make it difficult if not, at times, somewhat impossible. When you have any type of learning disability or are hindered in the way you learn, the only way to get through it is with the help of a supportive school and teacher and parents. So, if I'm doing all I can to help, I need her teacher to do the same. We're supposed to be in this together, right?
When You Find Yourself Easily Distracted
Between kids knocking on the door to play, cats meowing for food, a ringing phone, and a toddler who wants to show me what he made with his Legos, I can see why my daughter can't sit and do homework after school and why I struggle giving her my full attention.
Maybe if the work she brings home wasn't so stress-inducing, the distractions wouldn't matter. But they so do because it so is.
When You Just Want To Do The Homework Yourself
There's comes a moment when — eureka! — you finally get some of your kid's homework. Naturally, instead of just showing your child how to do the homework, you wonder if it wouldn't just be easier to do it yourself. Then, while you calculate how long it would take to finish the page, you realize she'd probably be better off doing it because, you know, she's the one who has to learn it.
Getting through all those painstaking years of school is hard. Getting through fourth grade? Even harder, apparently. With all the pressure put on our children these days, it's no wonder they're stressed. With all the homework that's too hard for you to help with? It's no wonder we parents are, too.