Homework Never Ends For Parents

Mathematics homework

Mathematics homework (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My parents lied to me about homework and they did it more than once. They told me that once I graduated from school I would never have to do it again.

They lied.

Sorry mom and dad, don’t mean to air this dirty laundry in public but I just can’t help it.

You didn’t tell me that when I became a parent I would find myself doing homework again. Only this time around it is not mine, it belongs to my children.

I suppose that I ought to clarify something. I am not doing the homework. My kids are the ones who are doing the actual work, but that doesn’t mean that I am not called upon to help.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t sit down at the kitchen table and pull out a math book and curse new math the same way my father did a quarter of a century ago. It doesn’t mean that I don’t spend time reading over essays to try and help catch spelling mistakes or factual errors.

Nor should you take this to mean that I don’t want to help my children or that I don’t enjoy it.  Truth is that most of the time I do like sitting down to go over things with them, but that is just most of the time.

Sometimes I Grit My Teeth

Because some of the time I grit my teeth and roll my eyes because I can’t figure out if the teachers have given an assignment that makes sense. I am not a fan of teaching kids how to regurgitate facts and numbers.

I want them to understand what they are reading and why. I want them to learn how to think. I want them to use logic and reason- sometimes homework seems to skip over these things and it frustrates me.

Don’t get me wrong I am the first to say that teachers are underpaid and that I question forcing teachers to teach our children how to pass government mandated tests.

I know that teachers work hard but I would be remiss if I didn’t question what happens in the classroom and why.  I spent enough years as a student and as a parent to know there will be a mix of great teachers and others who are…not so great.

That is a part of why I pay attention to what sort of assignments are being given to my children. I want to see if it is linked to what they learned in the classroom and can be viewed as complementary or is it just busy work.

Busy work makes me crazy in large part because I smile when I tell the kids to do their homework and that smile sometimes hide the questions I hold about the value of the work.

Most of the time I feel pretty good about what I see but every now and then I begin to wonder.

I’d share more with you but break time is over. I have to go round up the children and help see that they finish up the few remaining pieces of homework that was assigned for this weekend.

P.S. that laughter you hear now is coming from my parents who are probably giggling about payback or some such thing.  It is ok, you deserve it.

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11 Comments

  1. highlyirritable September 8, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Ugh. I feel for you. I’ve been lucky so far – my son only ever has spelling homework thus far (grade 3) and my 13yo daughter knows full well that if I help her with math she’s bound to fail. Luckily her teacher offers homework help if they need it before school, and the only homework their school assigns is what they are not able to complete in class.

    • Josh September 9, 2012 at 12:56 am

      That sounds like a pretty good deal. The schools my kids attend are pretty good about providing assistance and answering questions.

      Most of the time my irritation lies in the amount and how long it takes to complete, but other than that…

  2. Morgan September 8, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Ugh. I am guilty of actually helping my children get the wrong answers when they have to use some “new math” strategy. But I guess they are learning to double-check their work and discover mom is way off … which proves they are indeed learning the material! Visiting from Write on Edge.

  3. Kaarina Dillabough September 3, 2012 at 9:54 am

    I remember those days:) Cheers! Kaarina

  4. Bill Dorman September 3, 2012 at 4:46 am

    My kids got way beyond me quickly; luckily their mother was the smart one.

    I remember going to ‘open house’ when my oldest was a senior in high school and you visit all the classrooms. His course load was more rigorous than anything I had in college; any one of his classes would have probably blown me away.

    I too loathe the fact we teach kids to take tests and minimize the emphasis on ‘real’ learning.

    Good luck w/ your homework assignment.

    • Josh September 3, 2012 at 6:19 pm

      I think it is smart to push our children and help them excel. I don’t have a problem seeing my kids do more advanced math at a younger age than I did because we could have done it too if we had been given the opportunity.

      The thing is that I wonder about balance and I ask questions. Why was your son’s schooling tougher than yours and what sort of difference did it make.

      That doesn’t mean I immediately conclude that there was/is a problem because we can’t just say that but we need to look at things.

      We could argue that part of the reason for the economic issues we are seeing is because too many people chose not to think and just went along for the ride.

      Our kids need to know that 2+2 equals four and why. I want to see them understand how to apply things….

  5. Vidya Sury September 3, 2012 at 1:20 am

    Sorry, Josh – you are also hearing my laughter – but just a little bit. Because, like you, I am a parent with an oh-so-crucial-time-of-his-life tenth grader. ‘Xcept, I am glad to say, I am married to a mathematician…um…I mean a terrific guy who handles that stuff. I manage the back end. For the first few years, I managed a different type of back end – but now, I’ve transcended to just ensuring that Vidur (my son) eats well, has fun, gets everything he wants :-). For, you see, he is one of those pressure-from-within types, just as I was/am. Still, I think it is gross how much homework they bring home. In fact, the teachers insist they hand-write 20 page project text instead of telling them to finish it on their comp and email it to them. That’s my only grudge. And the peer pressure? Urrrgh!

    Hugs, my parent-in-arms!

    • Josh September 3, 2012 at 6:12 pm

      Well I survived fifth grade math but there is no telling what happens this year. 😉 Back in my school days math was a bit of an issue, but I did get an A in Algebra so…

      Why would Vidur’s teachers insist on a 20 page handwritten project. That makes no sense to me.

      But I am on the same page regarding the amounts of homework that are sometimes issued, it seems to be a bit crazy. Sometimes there is a lack of balance.

  6. Gina September 2, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    For some reason, I don’t think my/our parents were as “involved” in our homework the way we are now. I remember always telling my kids, re: paper, I am editing for grammar and spelling, not content. But from the time they were in grade school, the teachers drew us in. You have the whole year ahead of you now. I hope your kids are doing well in their new schools!

    (glad you went back to Comment Luv.

    • Vidya Sury September 3, 2012 at 1:24 am

      You’re right, Gina – my parent was not involved in my school work either. I also confess to only telling her certain things on a need-to-know basis in high school. 😀 But my fantastic teachers loved me, I topped my class and yes, I also wrote their notes for them. But fast forward to enrolling son in school – and we’re also like a second set of students. Can’t say I’ve not enjoyed it though, because I am a pretty laid-back parent, lucky me – as my son handles his stuff on his own quite happily. My job is only to keep his happiness in balance.

    • Josh September 3, 2012 at 6:06 pm

      Well the line about my father cursing “new” math is accurate. I don’t remember exactly what I was learning but I remember asking him for help. He got the right answer but he didn’t do it the way we were taught so I couldn’t make any use of it.

      But overall the level of parental involvement was different then. We had more freedom and our parents had less fear about what could happen.

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