Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Buried in homework – and it's only second grade

The single-most difficult task in our family, without a doubt, nothing even compares ... is our second-grader's homework.

It shouldn't be that way. The homework assignments should take, at most, 30 minutes. But they don't. They can easily take more than an hour, and that's not the biggest problem. The worst is the agonizingly painful process – the huffing, the groaning, the whining, the fidgeting, the complaining, the sighing, the slamming and yes, the crying – actual tears hitting the homework sheet – that accompany each night's homework.

I can't imagine he behaves this way at school. In fact, I know he doesn't, because we asked his teacher and she was stunned to hear our description of the Josh homework session. "I can't even imagine it," she said. "That does not sound like Josh."

Well, that's Josh. He detests doing homework and rails against it every day after school. It's so bad, Jenn and I dread the hours after the boys come home, because we know we have to jam in homework, dinner and bedtime, and the homework will consume all time, energy and patience we have available.

The biggest problem is that we can't walk away. Leave his side for 15 seconds, and Josh is dropping his pencil, slamming the table, yelling, walking away, or all of the above. So we can do virtually nothing else, other than supervise and coerce the homework. We can't work on dinner, play with another child, soothe the toddler's tantrum or talk on the phone. Imagine the challenge when only one adult is in the house, as is the case this week, with Jenn working late three nights.

Last night, Josh came home with two significant assignments, as did Matthew, the kindergartner. So I was juggling the agony of homework from two children who needed one-on-one attention, dinner preparations, and the charming toddler who kept driving his four-wheeler into every immovable object in the house and screaming for me to extricate him.

This sounds like one long complaint – which it is – but it's also a plea for help. Do other parents struggle with the same challenges? How do you deal with it?

With the guidance of Josh's teacher, we've established a routine with a week-long reward structure. If Josh gets started on his homework right after school, follows all the steps and finishes it, he earns a checkmark on the sheet taped to the refrigerator. A week of checks earns TV on Friday evening. Nonetheless, the homework requires constant urging, constant encouragement, constant reminders, constant threatening.

What will this look like in five years? If the family is already overwhelmed by a 7-year-old's homework routine, how will we deal with three boys bringing back homework? Will we have time to help Josh if he can't help himself?

I'm worried. This homework is brutal. And it's not even brutal yet.

What do you think? Tell me below in the Comments.

1 comment:

  1. First- Do some Crockpot Cooking and make the peripherals in your life easier, since homework is a disastrous focal point of the evening.

    Incentive, incentive, incentive.

    Get a timer and tell Josh he gets to go out and play when the buzzer goes off if his homework is done.

    Do NOT say: You can't go out until the buzzer goes off/homework done.

    Other than the check marks, give Josh *social rewards for incremental success. Make a Homework Club, with a friend, with snacks. Make learning fun.

    Social reward works well because children like to be elevated in the eyes of their peers. Therefore, he can't act up if he is the Homework Club founder, because he's the leader.

    Worry not, young children are just now learning the work ethic that will carry them through their school years.

    Join Cub Scouts so Josh may have his own identity in the family, for now anyway. He will learn the ethics of a lifetime, but from my perspective, Josh needs to find his inner leader in the ideals of the BSA.