Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Need to Wean

We take homework very seriously in this household--- come in the house after school, grab a snack and get down to the business of homework before any other activities commence.  This has been the Mango Tribe’s m.o. since Olivia started kindergarten six years ago. 

At first, I’d sit with Olivia and make sure she was following directions, completing the assignments neatly and had comprehensive understanding of the concepts being presented. It offered me and Loverman an opportunity to keep abreast of what she was learning in class. Olivia excels in school and now rarely needs the assistance of either Loverman or me in completing her homework.  When Yannick started kindergarten three years ago, he fell lockstep into our established homework rhythm. But, unlike Olivia, he hasn’t weaned himself off of needing my full attention in finishing his homework.  Olivia seemed the make a seamless transition from needing our help, to wanting to prove that she could do it well, all by herself.  Yannick on the other hand, acts as if beyond writing his name on his homework sheet, he cannot do one single thing unless I’m sitting right next to him and his little co-dependency act is getting on my nerves, because I’m confident brother-man can competently do his homework without mommy’s handholding and cheerleading. 

Now, if I mentioned this issue to Yannick’s teacher, she would encourage me to simply walk away from him and let him sink or swim, because their school’s always telling parents that the kids should be doing their homework with very little parental involvement.  But, I believe both Olivia and Yannick’s success in school to date has a lot to do with the expectations and support we provide as parents.  There is absolutely no way in hell I’d let Yannick turn in homework Loverman or I hadn’t reviewed. He’s 7 and his goal is to just get it done, whereas Loverman and I want it to be done well.  

Yannick’s daily demand that I sit with him during his homework ordeal is wearing me out.  When I ask (or sometimes bark) that he must do as much as he can before I’ll sit with him, he resorts to whining and that really works my nerves. It’s starting to become a battle and Lord knows, that’s not the vibe we want to set, because he has years of homework ahead.


Angella Lister said...

Oh Mango Mama, how well I know this dance! Girls and boys are just different when it comes to homework. It might have something to do with the testosterone coursing through little boys, making it hard for them to sit still. I'm afraid, in our house, this homework thing didn't start to improve until (wait for it) ninth grade. Our son wasn't fully on his own, with no oversight from us to make sure the work was done right, until tenth grade. From tenth through twelfth, I'm happy to say, he totally owned it. I know some boys just sit and do it all on their own from the get go, but the vast majority, I am convinced, from my own experience and that of my friends who have sons, need just the kind of focusing support that you are giving Yannick. Truthfully, homework was the single most stressful aspect of raising my son, who is now doing well in college. I look back and regret many of our homework fights, and realize that they were rooted in my secret anxiety that he would never be able to manage on his own, and what would become of him. Maybe I should have let him sink or swim. I'll never be sure. But I promise you, Yannick will be just fine. But you or his dad just might have to hover and oversee for a few years yet. Don't let it stoke any secret fears. It's this way in households across the nation where boys reside!

Mango Mama said...

Angella, Thanks so much for the heads-up. I'm starting to sense it is simply about the difference between boys and girls. O.k., I guess Loverman and I need to just put our nose to the grindstone and be ready to work through this homework stuff with Yannick for the long haul.

Angella Lister said...

Lol. After I wrote that comment above, I recalled the many nights when my husband would sit at my son's elbow during math homework, not helping him solve the problems, but literally saying, "okay, next one...okay, next one...okay, next one," just to keep him going. You are good parents, you and Loverman, I can so tell. Yannick and Olivia are in great care.