The Homework Struggle

When my oldest was a kindergartener, homework was a snap. My only issues involved what to do with my youngest. I bought a workbook for the youngest. Both girls “worked” together as I made dinner or cleaned the kitchen. My oldest would drag her feet on her writing homework, but she knew that she needed to do her homework.

Fast forward to 2010… Homework is a nightmare… not becoming a nightmare…not progressing to nightmare status. No…homework for three children is a full-blown nightmare. I’ll break it down for you. Two middle schoolers with homework every night of the weekend including weekends. Two middle schoolers who play travel volleyball, which means each girl must juggle homework with volleyball practice and all day tournaments. One middle schooler who swims 3 nights a week with a swim meet once a month. Throw in clarinet practice to add to the fun.

During the school year both are super busy. My job is to keep track of what homework is due (in the kids’ defense the older two know what assignments are due), give them a quiet place to do the homework, and follow up with them and their teachers if needed once grades come out.

Now, I am not just talking about homework, but also about the book reports, long essays, poster projects, movies, and any other thing a teacher flings at them.

And then there is my cherubic 1st grader. This child is turning my already gray hair white. Seriously! The tantrums. The tirades. The pouting. And that’s just me. The school year has been a struggle. I believe that I could have recorded the following sentences for use during homework time — I say these phrases MANY times during homework:

  • Find your backpack.
  • Take out your composition book, agenda book, and poetry journal.
  • Get a pencil.
  • Your pencil is sharp enough. Don’t sharpen another one.
  • Why are you out of your seat? You need to work on homework.
  • 3-4 sentences means 3-4 sentences!
  • You can have one sentence that says: “I like [fill in name of favorite action hero].”
  • I can’t read what that says. Erase and rewrite.
  • We will sit here all night.

And lest you think I am a complete Negative Nelly, I constantly praise him. Frequently compliment him on sentence choice. Tell him he used a great word in his writing…a $5 word!

As the school year winds down I am struck by how far each child has come this year. Good progress in some areas. Amazing progress in other areas. Gains made in math for both. A confidence boost in reading for one. The oldest is now writing college-level essays. The middle is now more confident speaking in public. The youngest who struggled all year with writing ANYTHING wrote a 45-word poem for last night’s homework. 45 words I am still reeling and very proud!

What does homework look like in your house? Do your kids get their homework done independently? Are you a drill sergeant?

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