The Homework Wars: Stuck in the Trenches

Posted October 16, 2009 by

The school year is in full swing now, and we are back to three hours of homework every night, various physical and mental antics done in order to avoid homework, and the kids calling each other names. That encompasses the majority of what back to school means for this mom.

What That’s not normal What is normal, anyway The only normal that I know of is a setting on a dryer. That’s about as much familiarity as I have with normal. And when it comes to kids and homework, I feel like I’m the clothes tumbling in a dryer.

I have two sons: a 1st- and a 4th-grader. Both boys are rambunctious and both sometimes find focusing a challenge. I am a female and the eldest of two girls. Now I am no saint, but I don’t recall needing to have a parent hover over me to do my homework or feel a sporadic need to wallop my sister on the back for no apparent reason. Yet this is my lot in life — my job in dealing with it is just one big growth opportunity.

Battle-weary from last year’s homework wars, I have resolved to try something different this school year. I am currently working out a homework schedule for both kids — a schedule that is based on expectations, rewards, and consequences. This is new territory for me. I do not remember being on any homework schedule growing up. And rewards Hmf. My rewards as a child were avoiding the negative consequences of not doing it — usually in the form of removing certain privileges such as, say breathing. (Okay, that’s not really true.) But the consequences — called punishment back then — were still quite palpable. Mind you, this was before computers and cell phones governed our lives — they simply were not available or were so big and slow that using them was a painfully arduous endeavor.

And the name-calling issue Less than two weeks back into the school year and my 9 year-old is already being called a scaredy cat. Precisely what he’s supposed to be afraid of remains a mystery — my son could not come up with a reason why he was being called a scaredy cat. Either he doesn’t know why, doesn’t remember why, or simply doesn’t want to tell me. So, there you have it: a great example of fantastic parent-child communication to start off the new school year.

I hope that our new homework schedule will increase my sons ability to focus on the emotional and tangible rewards of scholastic achievement as opposed to say playing whomp-my-brother-on-the-back-and-run-to-avoid-doing-homework game. Wish me luck.


Susan Engel is a mother of two, writer and parent blogger for Empowering Parents.

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