The homework crisis that we face.
I got home, put my bag down, greeted everyone, and immediately started with supper. It was one of those days when I was extremely busy at work, traffic was a tad bit more hectic than any other day so I only got home at about something to 6 as opposed to something passed 5 (every minute counts in my world). All I could think of was getting done with supper, playing with my kids for a few minutes, a half an hour at least, and then getting into my pj’s and chill, maybe even get into bed a little early.
I just managed to get everything in the pot when I realised it’s teacher & parent evening! Really Tracy why wasn’t this on your calendar!? It was most probably was one of those moments where I thought “oh I don’t need to write this down, I got this!” Hahaha, I lose everytime! So off I go to Liam’s school. At this point it’s too late to pack up baby and everyone so I end up going alone to try and make it in time for our scheduled appointment.
Just to give you abit of a background, firstly, Liam has been blessed with an amazing teacher this year! You know the kind of teachers we had when we were in school, the ones with passion for their jobs, the ones who loved their kids and had our best interests at heart? Well, this is the kind of teacher Liam has been placed with this year. He is new at the school, and Liam being Liam, he struggled to settle in immediately. During the second term he started making friends and feeling at “home” in his new school.
With that said, he didn’t start off the first term very well. His teacher gave him and us alot of support and helped me help him. We worked our asses off. By working our asses off I simply mean we tried really hard to just get through the daily homework tasks given. Homework is NOT what it used to be. I don’t remember having homework in primary school. And when we did, it was probably once a week or less. And we were less stressed as kids. Today, homework includes work on each subject, every day of the week. And we talking about Grade 2 here, or Sub B as you will know it.
Now coming home from work and having other kids to see to, dinner to see to, makes homework really difficult. I am mentally exhausted from the day I’ve just had. Liam has switched off the minute he left the school yard so now I need to try and get him to adjust his entire mind set into school work mode. That can take some time. And then we sit and sit and sit and eventually get through his homework. By the end of it, we are all tired and frustrated.
No matter how easy the task is, neither one of us actually feel like doing the work at that time so the entire thing is doomed before we even begin. It’s really not productive at all. But hey, this is the schooling system we’ve been given. Too much work, not enough time for the teachers to get through it all, so the parents need to sit with it. And the entire family suffers as a result. The child, the mother, the father and the siblings.
So when do I get to sit with my kids and enjoy them? I really really dislike the fact that my child has to do so much work after school. Kids should have loads and loads of play time. Play time is their learning time. I firmly believe this. They spend most of their day learning at school, so the rest of their day should be spent playing and exploring and gaining life experience while doing so. This is what builds our characters, this is what moulds us. I have fond memories of my childhood.
Playing hopscotch, marbles, tops, 100 stones, rollerblading, bush chows, falling on my bike a million times and getting right back up, and the list goes on and on. That was the time of my life where I played with many kids and learnt many things. These days, the life of a school going kid is pretty much school then screen time and more school work. Screen time does not count as play time. You cannot socialise with your screen.
There’s not many things you cannot do with a screen. Research shows that as soon as you watch something on a tv, there’s pretty much no activity going on in your brain. And you’re just sitting there. No brain exercise and no body exercise. It’s no good!
Furthermore, the amount of homework given for each day, takes up our family time. Liam is in Grade 2 so it’s best for him to do homework under super vision, and most times requires my input. Did you know that Finland has a 93% pass rate AND their students have little to no homework? It can’t be a coincidence that they have both. The little to no homework surely has some impact on the pass rate.
Well I don’t live in Finland and so I have to get through homework every evening. We do manage to get through it most nights. There is probably one night per week where I literally just can’t! One night where I just need to come home and just do the bare minimum. It happens, can you blame me? And, despite the amount of time we put in, and the amount of effort Liam put in as per his teacher, I still had to sign a letter stating that I am aware that Liam’s marks are not so good and could possibly face staying behind if his marks don’t improve. What?
I never in a million years thought I’d have to sign something like this. According to his teacher, he is now settling very well, and quite keen to learn but his marks were still not good enough. I believe the first term set him back quite abit. Nonetheless, I had no idea how to deal with this. His teacher made it clear that he put in the effort, I can see that he put in the effort. So I can’t possibly punish him. As I drove home that evening, I thought of how I’m going to tackle this. I came up with a strategy.
- I decided that I wasn’t going to be hard on him. In a very loving way, I would thank him for trying really hard and let him know that his teacher felt the same.
- I made it clear that we needed to work a lot harder next term and reinforced some positivity into him assuring him that he can do this.
- The holidays just started, so I’ve made sure he has homework to do every day, specifically on the subject that he is struggling with the most. This way his school work will stay fresh in his mind when the holidays are over so he will have a good start from day one of being back at school.
- I made a conscious decision to improve in my involvement of the happenings at Liam’s school by getting through every letter, every day and checking the school calendar every day as well. Yes you can miss one letter which can mean not knowing about studying for a test, a test that might be the most important test of the term.
Furthermore, I decided to make some personal changes in my approach to Liam’s homework. The evening before, I will make it clear of what Liam needs to do before I get home, so that at least a portion of his work is done. If I find myself getting frustrated, I will take a break. Just a minute away, outside, or in another room, with some fresh air, can make a huge difference. I will make an effort to ensure I have the right mind set before we begin with homework.
Instead of teaching him my way and insisting on him learning a particular subject or racing to get through, I will ask him whether he is happy with the way things are going. Whether he understands what he’s done. And whether he needs further help from me.
Honestly, I have no experience in this and I don’t know if it is going to work. My goal here is to try and make homework time a little less stressful for us, reduce the time spent doing homework which will give us more family time, and inevitably help Liam improve in his marks at school.
I know there are many other moms/families going through the same thing. How do you do it, what is your approach and what works for you? Add your comments below.
PS, you can find my follow up post on this here.