Friday, March 20, 2009

How Much is Too Much?

Where do you stand on homework? My kids’ school advocates a hands-off approach for parents, but this doesn’t work for me.

It’s not that I want to do their homework for them, but Mon. thru Thurs. the Mango Tribe doesn’t play and the routine is as follows---- once we arrive home after school, everybody sits down and gets to work on homework and there’s no T.V., computer time, video games, etc. until the day’s homework assignments are done and most importantly, done to Mango Mama’s satisfaction. Each child has a homework box with all of the necessary tools (dictionary, pencils, erasers, etc) to assit them in getting the job at hand done. Some may think this is a bit heavy handed, but I don’t know how kids can develop good school/studying/homework habits without ongoing parental involvement.

It’s even a bit harder for Loverman and me because both kids are in a Spanish immersion program and to be honest, half the time we don’t understand the assignment. I sometimes have to use the Spanish/English translator on the computer and now and then, I’ve even had to email their teacher for more detailed instructions. When I’ve done this, the reply is to simply leave it to the kids, they assure me that Olivia/Yannick have received ample instructions and really do know what to do. If I insist this isn’t the case, I’m instructed to tell the kids to pay better attention when the assignments are being distributed.

As Olivia gets older, she requires a lot less assistance, and handles her “homework business” quite well. Yannick’s in 1st grade and has a lot more work to do when it comes to retaining his focus. Olivia’s a big help in making sure he’s following the Spanish directions, but I have to be the taskmaster and make sure his handwriting is neat, legible and he’s completing each assignment. Lots of time, I act as the boy’s personal cheerleader, but fortunately, it seems to be paying off because his teacher says he’s doing well. I’m not sure she’d have the same assessment if I let the boy handle is own “homework business.”

When I was growing up, homework time was no joke. I remember doing homework at the dining room table with my dad as he did his assignments as a college student at Temple University. I saw him putting in his time and energy to do good work and therefore it then made sense for me to have to do the same.

I’m not sure if I believe kids will find their way in this area without parental involvement. Isn’t this part of laying a strong, firm foundation?

1 comment:

Angella Lister said...

Oh my gosh, do I remember this stage. Boys in particular are challenging. For a few years there in middle school, our entire evening routine revolved around how much homework our boy had (and it was always too much by far!). There was a period when my husband would literally stand at my son's elbow as he did his math homework, and say "next", "next", "next", to keep him going as he did his math problems. And I did not dare let him turn in a paper without a proofread from mom! I am so happy to report he is going off to college in the fall, he got into the college's prestigious scholar program, and he is now a perfectly fine writer with real "voice" (though he's still not a great proofreader). I also haven't had anything to do with his homework for many years now. They say boys don't really come into their own until 10th grade. I think it's true. All they need are more birthdays.