Sunday, December 11, 2011


*Clunk*  That's the sound of my head hitting the table after a grueling afternoon of homework.  It happens often.  It probably also explains why I can't remember what I ate for breakfast, but that's not what I want to talk about anyway.

Homework.  I didn't particularly care for it as a kid and I don't particularly care for it now.  I mean, if I didn't actually have to do any homework these days, it probably wouldn't bother me a bit.  I fantasize about days like that.  Friday is my favorite day of the week!  Not only is it the start of the weekend, but it also the end of a school week and there is no homework!  Wahoo!

I do a lot of homework these days.  Even in 4th grade, my extra-special girl, K, needs guidance and assistance to complete her homework.  Sometimes, I simply need to be sitting next to her while she works (aaahhhhhhh).  Other times, I have to work with her step by step, reteaching every concept, trying to come up with ways to help her understand what she is supposed to be learning. *Clunk*

Those days are exhausting for both of us.  She has already spent the day at school and then has to tackle homework.  Most of the time, she didn't get a good grasp of what was expected while she was in class, so it really does involve starting as though she has never seen the work before.  This takes a long time.  Make that a double-clunk - one for me, one for her.  Most likely, her homework will always take her longer to complete than her peers, but some days it is exceptionally longer.

S, on the other hand, has been doing her homework independently for several years now.  All I have to say is, "Did you finish your homework?" and then watch the grades get posted online.  Recently, though, that wasn't the case and it was a real challenge for all of us.

S sustained an injury at school that left her unable to use her writing hand for almost 6 weeks.  All of a sudden, I'm now on double duty when it comes to homework!  I became her scribe.   However, her homework is more complex and sophisticated, so while I'm proud to say that I can, actually, still help her with Algebra and Language Arts (Science and Social Studies are 50/50 for me), it does require me to be fully engaged in what she is doing.  Unfortunately for both of us, I can't switch my brain back and forth between 4th grade and 7th grade for any sustained length of time.  I'm better with one thing at a time.  Neither girl wants to wait to finish their homework because that just means a longer time before they can get on with the work of being a kid.  Someone has to wait, though, because Mom can only focus on one at a time.

Often, S is the one doing the waiting.  I know that my window with K is a small one, since she is going to be tired more quickly.  That which can be completed in 30 minutes at 4 p.m. will take 60 minutes at 6 p.m.  S doesn't always like to wait (who can blame her).  She's developed a consistent study and homework routine and waiting isn't usually a part of that.  She's really mastering that wounded, "I think you love her more than you love me" look. *sigh* and *clunk*

We got through it and when she was able, S went back to doing her homework independently without skipping a beat.  I don't miss having to juggle all that work, but I can say that there really was a blessing in the situation.  Because I had not done homework with S for a long time, I didn't have as deep of an understanding of what she was doing.  I only knew that whatever it was, she was doing it well.  Working through pre-algebra was not only reaffirming (I actually caught the very few mistakes that she made), but it was fun to do those problems with her and really see what she can do.  Language Arts involved an essay that had to be written and the process was very thorough.  She and I discussed the topic thoroughly and with my more experienced perspective, I was able to challenge her with questions, making her think more and do more than she had done before.  I give high marks to her teacher for the excellent job she does and the high standards she sets for her students.  I found those days with S to be stimulating and satisfying for me, rather than exhausting.  By watching her think, it made me think in ways that I haven't in a long time and it was great.

I still don't like homework.  It's a daily grind and I often question the reason for it or the benefit of it.  Still, there are moments, no matter how brief where the task requires creating another connection with both of my kids and that is a good thing.


  1. Oh no no. This post makes me scare, Elise! They do not have homework right now..but I was never any good at school excpet for English and Science. I fought every day with my parents over Math. I am NOT looking forward to homework at our home! Good thing my husband is super smart, or my kiddos wouldn't have a chance with just me around!!


  2. I can only attribute my abilities to two teachers who made all the difference for me. Mr. Swinth, my 9th grade algebra teacher, who spent nearly every day before school or at lunch helping me with algebra. I hated every minute, but I did get it eventually and it stuck! Mrs. McCue, my 9th grade English teacher, taught me all I ever wanted to know about grammar and she got me started with critical thinking. Oh, how I hated reading Watership Down, but she managed to get me thinking, no matter what.