September 21, 2017

Overwhelmed by Homework

When I enrolled Nicole into kindergarten, I read through the kindergarten handbook cover to cover. (Yes, I am that kind of parent.) I loved their stance on homework: No more than half an hour any school day, never on the weekend or holiday, and at least twenty minutes of that half hour was to be reading time. We already did bedtime stories, though they usually weren’t twenty minutes long. We could stretch it. That only leaves 10 minutes of potential “work” time. It felt very reasonable for a kindergartner!

For years I’ve been seeing other parents share the overwhelming amount of work their elementary school age kids brought home. It seemed excessive, especially for working parents. There just aren’t many minutes left in the day between the end of the work day pickup, dinner, bath and bed time. But 10 minutes? Doable.

Homework started with a calendar – choose any 12 tasks in a 4 week month, 3 per week. Since homework was due back Friday, we’d have a “skip” day should things get to crazy.

Then there were sight words that needed to be gone over daily, in addition to the homework calendar, until they were memorized.

And then additional reading. Along with the 20 minutes of parents reading to Nicole, Nicole had to read two “readers”, paper back books designed to emphasize one or two sight words a piece. Then two “readers” and her “bag books” (4 total, albeit short, books) so she could also practice reading at the right grade level. And then yet another form of reading for Nicole to do.

Before I knew it “10 minutes of extra work” was a half hour or more per night, and we’d often have to skip or greatly lessen the amount of time spent on bed time stories because the kids were just so exhausted by the end of the day.

I started photo copying the homework calendar so we could work on it on the weekend. Sight words, too, got relegated to the weekend, but that was too spaced out for us to really learn them. I started picking Nicole up from the after school program a couple hours early on Wednesday, just so we could have time to get it all done.

I don’t know how parents with traditional 9-to-5 jobs do it. I feel like we’re barely fitting it all in, and only because I can be as flexible as I need to be with my schedule. So much for my let-them-play-not-work parenting philosophy. Perhaps if I started earlier this wouldn’t seem so overwhelming now. At least she doesn’t seem to feel overwhelmed, even if I do.

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