The war against homework is real. While I totally agree with the argument that homework is not entirely beneficial for children, I do like the idea of my kids spending some time, every day, doing an appropriate amount of homework for their ages. I feel it teaches them responsibility. When I was a kid, homework time for the kids was housework time for the parents; we all had our respective work to get done. Still, when I would ask for help with assignments my parents obliged, and I'm sure my parents had those thoughts every parent has when helping kids do homework. The thoughts I'm, you know, having now.
I remember some of the battles my dad and I would have over homework. He had his own ideas about seventh grade math, and those ideas were frustrating for my 12-year-old self. Now, as a parent, I can imagine it was even more exasperating for him and I know I didn't make it easier and, well, you know what they say about Karma.
I am not typically the person supervising my kids’ homework, since they get it done (mostly) before I come home from work. But, occasionally, I am home with them while they attempt to tackle math (always math), word work, science and social studies. My son, in kindergarten, has about 15 minutes of homework to do, and I think that is just the right amount of time for him to sit and get it done before he starts getting antsy. My third grade daughter has closer to half an hour of work, not counting reading (which we do at bedtime). Are they enthusiastic to dive in and complete their assignments? Not really. But they are both motivated to get it done so they can have playtime afterwards.
Rarely does homework time go smoothly; they're rushing or I'm mixing up their sets of sight words and snacks are spilled and pencils get broken and my use of the phrase "good job!" is usually rendered meaningless.
Bottom line, homework is definitely a test of any parent's patience as much as it is that of a kid's mastery of the day's lessons. Here are a few things going through my (and probably every parent's) head when I'm helping my kids with homework:
How Can You Not Know This?
"The answer is right there. It’s so obvious. Oh come on, I know you know the answer. Are you kidding me? How are you not seeing it?! Are you faking ignorance right now? Is this a game? Do you think if you hold out long enough and simply play dumb, I’ll just give you the answer?"
But I say nothing, and keep all frustration to myself because the last thing that’s good for a kid with homework is to be yelled at about their homework. Plus, perhaps my kid really doesn't know the answer or has forgotten the answer or just can't seem to pin-point the answer.
How Can I Not Know This?
The other day, my 8-year-old showed me a diagram of an earthworm she was to label and color. “Which is the mouth and which is the butt?” she quizzed me, knowing full well I had no idea. I knew she was not using the scientific terminology, though, and I will cling to that.
So. Much. Erasing.
Which will lead to so much vacuuming. I can’t believe they haven’t improved upon the pencil to make sharpening shavings and eraser debris a thing of the past!
I Want To Fix This
I won’t give my kids the answers, but it is all I can do to control myself from pointing out any mistakes. Admittedly I sometimes ask, “Do you want to check your work there?” and then they usually see the error of their ways and make the correction. But sometimes I’ll get a, “No, I’m good,” and I have to let it go. I’m not doing my kid any favors by dropping hints about wrong answers. It’s the only way their teachers can accurately evaluate their understanding of the material.
Wait, There Is A New Way To Math?
I’m still figuring out the old new math. My daughter stares at me like I’m an idiot when I show her how I used to find the area of a polygon. It’s a little embarrassing, I must admit.
Wow, This Is Really Interesting
I remember being so bored learning history in school. I could never relate to any historical figures, at least not how the subject was being taught back in my day. But now, the curriculum embraces a kid’s mindset. My daughter is learning about tween entrepreneurs, edible insects, and relevant, cultural icons like Misty Copeland. Is it okay if I say I'm a little jealous? Yeah, I'm a little jealous.
OMG, This Is Really Boring
But sometimes, you can’t avoid the tedium. Like when my 5-year-old has to write his sight words three times each and it’s like he has to remember how to spell them every single time.
Sharpening Pencils Is The Best
Such a satisfying feeling, to grind that lead to its sharpest point. It also makes me realize that my kid is definitely procrastinating by insisting on sharpening all the pencils.
Just this year, my children's school issued a “no homework on weekends” policy for all grades. It’s terrific. Gone are the Sunday night blues cramming work in that everyone procrastinated doing for the past two days. It has definitely lifted our spirits and made it possible to have more family time during the weekend, without the cloud of homework hanging over our heads.
Impressive, Most Impressive
I have no idea what goes on in my kids’ lives all day. They’re not particularly forthcoming and by the time I get home from work at 7 p.m., nobody in our house is in the mood for a full debriefing of the day’s events. They just want to Pokemon and chill, and I just want to hang with them before bed without a fight breaking out.
So, most of the time I am not present when they tackle their homework. After they’ve gone to bed, I check the homework folders to see if there is anything I need to sign. Looking through that evening’s work, I usually feel proud of my kids for solving math problems and making an effort to write neatly. Sure, there are mistakes, but perfection isn't what I strive for with homework. Mostly, I’m impressed that they learned some things and they did completed something, without me (sniff).