Homework never ends. Every day, there is more and more, everyday there is stress and needs and missing pencils and complicated French words and higher math. And that’s just in grade two.
Homework duties are weighed down by fears of future failure and incompetence. A common thought is: if my son doesn’t finish his math homework today he will miss out on the next big concept which will mean he will not understand anything that happens in grade five and then in high school he will drop math, he will not get into university and he will be pulling caramel macchiatos until he gets repetitive strain and is unable to work at all.
Worries that morph into fears of future failure produce the strongest reactions from parents akin to a screaming banshee somewhere along the lines of: do your homework or else!
In order to ensure a consistent and peaceful approach to homework (can you say delusional?), we dutifully clear out a “homework spot” in the house, sharpen the pencils and hover at a safe distance until we are pulled in and find ourselves erasing their mistakes and trying to reprint the correct answer in a child’s handwriting.
I know the official advice is not to do our kids’ homework, but it’s hard. Especially when so many other parents are staying up late finishing up their kids ‘country in a box’ project. Nobody wants to be the one with the mismatched corners and badly drawn maps, do they?
The New York Times ran an interesting article on homework, questioning much of the standard notion of the “homework spot” and test cramming. It seems letting our kids do a little studying in the dining room, and lying on their bed is a good thing. And the fact that they forget how to spell ‘musician’ one day and have to relearn it the next is actually good for their brains as well as the outcome of their spelling test, and also does not mean they suffer from low I.Q.
I wish the article did question the value of making the daily spelling test on a Monday, because then I wouldn’t have to spend Sunday night after a busy weekend cramming words into my son’s tired brain. Of course, if I followed the article’s advice I would do a little bit everyday. And I’m sure there are good parents out there who do that. They are also probably working on their kid’s terrarium too.