Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Homework, Homework...Gimme a Break!

My daughter, Melody, is struggling with one aspect of school; something that has not been too big of an issue until this year:  homework.  She is being hit hard by the amount of homework she has this year.  My rule is for her to complete her homework right after school lets out and get it out of the way before she goes out to play with her friends.  She's a very good student, and she almost always finished her homework in about an hour, sometimes less.  This year, fourth grade, has seen a dramatic increase in the amount of homework she's doing, so it's taking her a lot longer to finish.  By that time, many of her friends have already gone in to eat dinner, or can't play outside anymore, or some other reason.  And then she dejectedly comes back in for her dinner, usually later than what I had planned.

Now we've fallen into that trap of making deals.  "Daddy, if I finish my math and spelling homework, can I do my reading later so I can play with my friends?"  Big-hearted Dad, whose heart melts when she begs like that, has been allowing it.  Now it has become a regular thing, and I've had to put a stop to it.  I get it.  I know she likes to have time for her friends, but I didn't want to just let her have her way without there being consequences.  And that consequence is that her homework is pushing her bedtime later and later.

It's a tough balance, and I honestly can't remember having this kind of problem when I was her age.  I always seemed to have time for my friends, and we were always out playing until dinner or darkness, whichever was earlier, and I was able to finish my homework, eat dinner, watch TV, and go to bed by 9, and I got very good grades.  My parents told me they didn't even force a bedtime on me.  I enforced it on myself.  "Mom, Dad, I'm tired, I'm going to bed now," I said at 8:30 many nights.  I was told I seemed older than I was.  I guess they thought I was in my 60s or 70s and needed my sleep.

This early to bed, early to rise philosophy would grate on my younger siblings.  As the oldest, I kind of set the bar.  Angie and Darren could never quite reach it, and they took this shortcoming out on me, after Mom or Dad would yell at them for not being more like me.  No wonder they hated me.  Like me, both of them had Mr. Ennis for 9th grade math and Mr. Ennis was always asking them why they weren't more like their brother Eric.  My young cousin, Jennifer, had Mr. Ennis six years after me, and he told her the same thing.  "Why can't you be more like your cousin, Eric?"  No wonder Jennifer hates me.

Anyway, I don't know how to handle this situation with my daughter.  Is this really the way it is?  Do kids really get this much homework?  It seems a bit excessive to me.  Her social time has dropped to almost nothing, and we used to go out once a week to get groceries and dinner, but there just isn't time for her to do it all.  By the time we get home, it's time for bed.  Her grandparents don't understand why they don't get to see her as much.  Even Macy the Hamster is getting less playtime (and exercise).  She's about as long as she is wide, and she uses her exercise wheel about as much as most of us use our treadmills.  I saw her laying her wood chips out to dry on it.

Planning our schedule becomes a real challenge now, too.  Because of all of her homework, we have to pile more and more things on the weekend.  I don't know what I'd do if she actually wanted to play sports.  There are times I wish she was more athletic.  I mean, I hate to say it, but she throws like a girl.  I had dreams of her one day playing for big money in the WNBA (Women's National Basketball Association), but she's not much of a dribbler and she doesn't run very fast.  She IS tall, though.  Still one of the tallest in her class, male or female, and she has a pretty good touch on her shots.  But I think she'd rather play soccer than basketball.  What is it about soccer that makes kids want to play it?

The other new thing is her clarinet.  I really like it that she's playing an instrument now, but I worry that it's going to take up even more of her already precious play time.  It hasn't become a problem yet (they've only had two lessons so far), but I see it becoming one.

Oh, well.  Hopefully she'll start getting into a groove and the homework will get finished fast, just so she can fit everything in.  I know that would make both of our lives get better.  I want her to enjoy her childhood, and not have to worry about school all the time.  I think she's a bright girl and I know she's got a lot to look forward to.  We've just gotta get that homework done.

Have a great evening, everybody!

1 comment:

  1. Man, I hear you about the homework and fourth grade is when it really kicks in. It gets more intense from here on out. Unfortunately, the schools push the kids really, really hard to get their test scores and IMO it's the kids paying the price.

    My eldest graduated from a Christian school in the area and I have my sons there now (freshman and sixth grader.) One of the things that I love about the school is their emphasis on middle school kids being allowed to be kids. Yes, there is homework but an extremely moderate amount. For my sixth grader, I'd say he averages about half an hour to 45 minutes. The kids are taught in a step by step, developmentally appropriate way. Things are kicking up with my freshman but he's still finished most nights after an hour to an hour and a half, and that's with honors classes to boot.

    I love that they preserve the right to childhood. And the kids still do well- my daughter did fine on the SAT, was accepted to every college she applied to but one, and got offered scholarships to all but one.

    Might be a school you want to check out for your daughter as she approaches middle school!