Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Making Homework Work...

Parenting is hard! Can I get an AMEN to that?

There is this one particular issue that keeps rearing it's ugly head in my house (or more precisely, in my car) everyday after picking Sweetpea up from school.

Sweetpea is turning in 8 in just about a month.  For the most part, she doesn't have official chores.  Granted, there are things we expect from her and her little brother at home but there are no official chore charts or anything. I am starting to wonder about her level of responsibility; I know full well what she is capable of.  The issue is, she isn't doing what I know she is capable of.

Here's the issue: more times than I count this year, she has left school without something she needed to bring home. I can handle leaving the lunch box or jacket at school, but you can't come home without your homework! The first few times it happened, I succumbed to her teary eyed pleading and turned around to go back to school and get whichever book or workbook she had forgotten.

About the third time this happened, I told her, "no more! If you forget your homework again, there will be consequences and you will just have to accept them.  NO HOMEWORK PASSES! You will have to tell your teacher you forgot your book and couldn't complete the assignment, taking whatever grade she gives you."

{Sweetpea is TOP in her class for AR- accelerated reading program- and she frequently earns prizes and homework passes.  Another blog post for another day, but REALLY, why do 7 year-olds need homework passes???!!! Homework is practice for skills they are learning in class! Foundational skills like multiplication tables and other things they will continue to build on throughout their educations!}

Anyway, last week, she didn't forget her book at school, she brought it home and did all but one of her spelling/vocabulary exercises.  She set it to the side during dinner because we were both stumped (and by the way, I have a hard and fast rule: I NEVER give her the answers! I try to help her think about it another way or give her hints, but I don't give answers.  I don't think that is helping a child with homework- it's doing it for them!) She never went back to it or put it in her book bag, so she left for school the next morning without it and it was counted "late."  
Now, I don't really know what that means in second grade.  My best guess is, her teacher takes off a few points, but still assigns a grade for the assignment once it's turned in.

In her class, there is a designated time when students go to a board or calendar and write down that night's homework in their own student planners (or "agendas" as her teacher calls them). 
For whatever reason, yesterday she just didn't do it.  When she got in the car, I immediately asked if she had homework because she also has gymnastics on Monday nights.  It's a tight fit to get home at 4:15pm, do homework, change clothes and re-fix hair and get back out the door by 4:45!
She immediately let me know her homework wasn't written in her agenda, but I told her we were not going back to the school.

I tried to help her figure out what pages might be her assigned ones for that night.  Math was pretty easy because she spotted a new subject they'd talked about in class, plus it was the next page after her last math assignment.  What she didn't know was she was supposed to do 2 pages of math :-)

Spelling was a different story.  We couldn't figure out what page to do.  I couldn't figure out what to do about the situation; be tough and let her suffer the consequences or try and help in some way? Eventually, I called a classmates' Mom to ask her what the assignment was.  

I'm not sure I made the right call.  Sweetpea was upset tonight when she realized she'd not done page 2 of the math assignment and gotten a "late" comment in the top of the page.
She also realized her classmate gave the wrong spelling page number, but her teacher allowed her to do that one during morning work. 

She seems plenty upset by the consequences of all this, but not to ready to accept that it's her responsibility.  I can't help but wonder if I'm doing something wrong? Or as Jennifer asked today, are we doing our children a disservice?  

So what do you think?
How do I let Sweetpea learn this lesson when she seems to not be learning it so far?


  1. Cady is still just in first grade so her homework isn't as important as it will be next year. I'm really worried about this transition because we already have fights almost nightly about the non-important stuff. How much worse will it be next year?

    Maybe you could think of another alternative to the homework grade. For instance if she turns all her homework in on time then she gets a treat (we do donuts on Fridays for staying on green all week).

    1. Thanks, Jennifer!
      I realize as she gets older I'll have to be more consistent with both rewards and punishments. I know that's part of the problem; I haven't been the greatest with following through.
      Thanks for the idea!