Friday, September 4, 2009

Handling Homework

I've had some Q&A sessions on my blog lately, and I thought this post about school and how to handle homework would be appropriate here as well.

Do you homeschool your children or send them to public school and why?

It's probably obvious by now that I don't homeschool my children. We live in an area with very good schools with great and dedicated teachers who have always done a great job nurturing and loving my children. I could see situations where I would want or need to homeschool and I think I could do it if necessary, but I'm grateful I don't need to. My children are getting a wonderful education and I'm very thrilled about it. I've mentioned before that they go to a charter school, which for us means homework, strong emphasis in academics, uniforms (eh -- not my favorite thing, but not so bad either), and lots of great programs. My daughter's been involved in early morning orchestra for three years, my son was able to do track after school, and in general, we love our school and we love our teachers.

Even if the charter school were not an option, I'd still send my kids to school. The local elementary schools are very good as well, and Lillian spent two years in our regular school before we moved her to the charter school. Our main reason for moving her was that she needed to be challenged more, and the only way to do that at the other school was to have her skip a grade. Our charter school allowed her to be challenged while remaining with her peers. For one thing, the whole school does math at the same time and the children are divided by ability, not grade. There are no slow math classes, just each child learning at his level. For another, the strong academic focus was a great fit.

Oooh- give me [homework] tips! We start Back to School next week, and I'm not ready for the Homework chaos! We have a snack after school, then they do homework. they used to sit together at the kitchen table, but then they started poking each other and writing on each other's papers, and,chatting instead of working. Now they each go to a separate room, and I rotate if they need any help. One of them still sat there for literally hours not getting it done!
Remember, I don't have five boys, but I do have five kids in school this year. This is how we've made homework work at our house:

* Homework is done right after school. To do it later is just not an option. This gives everyone an incentive to get it done in a decent amount of time. There are no battles about this, because we've had this as the rule ever since we had a child in school.

* Homework is done at the tables in the kitchen. This year, I added another table so the kids could spread out a bit and work.

* Kindergartners (I have two this year, can you believe it?) do their homework with the other kids. This way, they get to come home, put their things away and have some play time before focusing on school again. They also get to feel part of something, as they sit at the table doing homework with their older brothers and sister.

* Like Jacki, we give out "homework snacks." I think it's important that they be called "homework snacks" so that there is at least one positive thing associated with homework! I've been making a small batch of cookies a lot this year for snacks, or we have crackers, fruit, granola bars, or whatever they can find.

* As much as possible, my kids are responsible for their own homework. I don't hover and I don't help unless they absolutely need it. Unless I'm asked by one of them for help, I don't check over their math, I don't correct their spelling or grammer, and I don't concern myself with their grades being perfect. The teachers at our school are all really good at expecting the kids to be accountable, so I leave most things between my child and the teacher. For instance, if my child forgets their homework at school, they are responsible for figuring out a solution to the problem.

* Going along with the above, one of my gripes about homework is when the teacher expects the parent to do too much. Except in the early grades, when perhaps they'll need help reading the directions, or in the cases of a child struggling in a certain subject, I really think homework ought to be something that children can do independently. I'm still trying to figure out why I have to sign my fifth grade daughter's planner every day, but I guess that's a small annoyance, and since it's my daughter who finds me a pen and shoves the planner in my face every day, I guess it's still her doing the work.

* As for fighting and poking and gabbing, I don't really have that problem right now, so I don't have any advice for it.

Anyone else have some suggestions?


Denise said...

I've only got two who are at home & in school at the moment, but we've been back in school for a full month now & so far no homework troubles. One of my son's is in middle school this year, so he gets home about 45 minutes after my oldest daughter, she tries hard to have all her homework done before he gets home. Staggering homework time really helps to avoid fighting & bickering.

My little two, who aren't in school yet, LOVE to sit at the table & color while the bigger kids do their homework.....I think they are looking forward to going to school just so they will have homework too.

Hua said...

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Don Kimrey said...

I would have great difficulty telling you how I stumbled upon your site. I believe I started with A Robert Brault Reader. I have a blog of my own and was actually "cruising the net" to get suggestions and ideas about format. You seem to know what you're doing, but you also seem to have your hands full! Don't know if I could manage to get nearly as much accomplished. Good job!

Maria said...

N I C O L said...

We have a family homework policy in our family, too. HW is done immediately after school if they didn't already do it in study hall. Most do finish all HW in study hall. We don't help unless asked. We've had the kids explain to their teachers that unless it's a test, I'm not signing anything every day. THEY are responsible for their grades, not me. When the report card comes home A's and B's earn full privileges and any C's, D's, or F's revoke privileges. They're all capable and that's the deal. They get to make the decisions and reap the rewards. HW is done at the kitchen table. I hear too often parents complaining about doing HW WITH their kids and all the begging and pleading.... OMG, no way! They'll have their grades drop at first, but they'll learn fast! Great to know someone else does this, too!!!