Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The homework question


I am not homework's biggest fan. I'll spare you my sociological thoughts on homework. It's impact on equality. Family life. Attitudes in society. And stick to my personal experience as a mom.

It's meant many a fight for us in this family over the years. But Finleigh's taken it to a whole new level. The yelling. The fighting. The running away.

The ripping of paper. The scribbling. The broken pencils. The crumpled books.

It's exhausting and we're wondering if this is something that is worth the fight.

She does well at school. She generally only needs a little coaxing to get her schoolwork done. But at home, it's a fight. Almost everyday.

We decided to talk to our behavioural consultant about homework routine and he wrote us up a lovely little paper that gave us some great strategies, which has improved things in that we always get it done now. And I don't yell.

But it hasn't stopped the fight. Three months of this and the fight is not gone. We still deal with it at least half the time. Maybe more. Some days are worse than others, seemingly dependent on invisible factors that I'm not really aware of until we start into the homework. And then I realize… oh, she doesn't want to do this… still ignorant to the antecedent factors. Or… well that was easy. Because sometimes it is. Easy.

Form to be filled out for behaviour therapist.
Like yesterday. She came home happy as a clam. She'd had a good day at school. Life was grand. Until… homework.

And 25 minutes later she was still crying about it. She'd read a couple lines in her book but was still crying every time we turned the page. And so I'd sit there and wait. And then she'd be ready and read a couple words and burst out into tears again and run away. Unless I held her there, which I'm not really supposed to do.

Then, for the first time in months, I gave up. I just didn't care. "No more homework today", I said. Which, after a few minutes to calm down, suited Finleigh just fine. Two hours later, she was still asking me, "No do homework today?"

Two hours later.

So, here's the question: Is homework worth it? I mean, really? Is this fight worth it? What is she really getting out of it. And why is it my job as her mother - when she's in school 7 hours a day - to be ensuring that she's reading and counting. Is that not why I send her to school? Would she not be better served by me (and her father) concentrating on life skills? Playing a board or card game? Maybe reading her a story for fun, so books are about entertainment and enjoyment rather than a fight?

As much as I hate homework, I do realize the importance of it in that as children get older, homework becomes a necessity to get by. Learning how to study on one's own is crucial in high school and college. And as a family who values higher education, with aspirations for our boys (and me), it's hard to give up that dream. But who are we kidding here? Finleigh will not be an academic. I'm not trying to limit her. But expecting that out of her is just. not. fair.

And besides, emotionally, she's still closer to a two or three year old, than a seven year old. Would we make a toddler or a preschooler go to a full day of school and then come home and do more schoolwork? Not typically, no.

And then I think. Dammit. This child just needs to learn to do what I tell her to do. Period. End of story. Do what I tell you to do! When I tell you to do it!

WHY won't you just listen me meeeeeeee?!?!??!!?!?!?!?!?

But, that's not a reality, my friends. With a child like Finleigh, we really have to carefully chose our battles. And this one? Right now? Not my biggest priority. It took me three months to realize this. But it's true.

So, now that I've gotten this all out in writing. Now that I can see the words I type. I think it's decided. No more homework for us.

I think.

1 comment:

  1. We have barely ever had to do homework with Aiden until this year (grade 6) and I think it is insane that you have to do any with Finn. Seriously. Just stop. She does enough at school. The fat that she makes it through a day is enough. There is no need for you to be fighting for hours every night.

    And yes, I had to fight this battle on Aiden's (and our) behalf as well just to save our sanity.

    It is NOT worth it.