No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers....


Now that I am all growed up, I thought I was truly done with that childish childhood rhyme.
Then I had my own kids and became a SAHM.   Well, that was a completely different kind of "home"work.....the never-ending, always tired, sucking stale coffee grinds, matted hair and smelly kind.
The the day came - HOORAY! - I could send one off to school.   One gone = less work.  right?
oh, nay, nay.
He doesn't return home alone.   He brings much dead tree with.

Permission slips, milk order forms, book order forms,  Support our Fundraiser/charity/Building Fund forms.  (except the Terry Fox Run...complete support there!), Volunteer Forms, School Newsletter, and just plain ole We Think You Need to Know forms.   I swear, some nights, it takes me 20 minutes to sort through both my children's bags.  And of course, then there is the "Have Your Little Honey Do List".    The actual homework.

This is actually a tough Coffee Chat for me to write.  I am probably going to say some things fairly badly (besides the horrible grammar of this sentence).  My feelings may seem somewhat negative, and I do I feel really bad about that.   Because .....allow me to make myself very clear on a most important thing.  I do not hold this against the teachers in any way.   Teachers probably have one of the toughest jobs there is.  They deserve the utmost respect for taking on the responsibility of teaching/training the minds of the future.  I don't know how much say they have in the curriculum.  THUS -- I ensure my son is NOT aware of my feelings regarding homework.   Whether I agree or disagree with what is requested, respect for his teacher comes first, and he will do it.

That all being said, personally, I guess I don't really see the point of homework.   At least not at Primary Grade level.   Character or responsibility building?  Is it because he didn't finish at school?  Then make him miss recess, or gym.    My son's teachers claim it should take only about 15 minutes.    All he has to do is read a little book, and write a few sentences.  Do you know how long it takes a 6 year old boy to write one sentence?  Like....a month.   Forget the basic principle that he simply doesn't want to do it, but what if it actually is a bit difficult for him?   (I blame Montessori for throwing the bell curve: would be a great thing, IF we all could afford it.)
 
You see, this is the thing.  I send him to school from 9:15 am to something after 3 pm.  THOSE are the hours he is yours to teach, train and mold into a fine intellectual being as you see fit.   But after 4 pm?  That should be my time with him.   In fact, since he is at school all day - that is my only time with him.   And I really don't want to spend it standing over him with my cooking spatula threatening to return the 3 day old Nintendo DS if he doesn't do his homework.   Neither do I want to see my son reduced to tears, already forming the impression that he is stupid because he is having trouble with the math questions.  7 just seems too young to be dealing with that kind of emotional struggle of self worth.  Dontcha think?

I am sure there must be valid reasons.   I am sure it will teach good study habits.  To learn something, you gotta do the work, right?   I am currently involved in a Ladies Bible Study.  I wouldn't learn too much if I didn't actually read the Bible, now would I?   But I am an adult.  I choose this Bible Study to help me grow spiritually.   That was my choice.  I find my own time to do it, and no one is going to threaten to take away my computer and suspend blogging privileges if I don't complete the work.
But homework....does it exist because the curriculum is so over-loaded that the teachers simply don't have enough class time to actually teach it??   Does anyone else see a big assumption here?   It would appear that the education board is expecting me to teach my son, what it does not allow teachers time enough in class to accomplish; when I have 2 other children, one of whom also has homework, a supper to cook, a kitchen to clean,  perhaps a program to get everyone too, and all by a 7:30 pm bedtime.   Heaven forbid my little darling comes to you the next morning cranky.   

Hmmm.....I would have liked to get the memo on that decision.  And um, I'll just say the other obvious thing here:  what if I am stupid?  I mean, truly not the brightest Crayola in the box.   I'm talking, fell out of the stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down kind of dumb.   And you want Me, to help my son, with his homework? 

Perhaps I am also wondering if we are pushing too much, or too soon?  In our quest to have the brightest offspring, are we asking too much of our children?  I know parents whose children ended up in therapy for anxiety at age 5 or 6.    They were causing problems at school, refusing to do any work.  Why?  They had already learned everything in Montessori.   They were bored out of their minds All Day Long.   "They're just too smart, I gotta keep them busy and occupied, " was mom's solution.  Hence the weekly swimming, skating, piano, horseback riding lessons.  Oh, and since JrK is too easy, give them Grade 1 work and send some home too.  She couldn't understand why they didn't sleep well and were always whiney.  Well, I'm no rocket scientist, or parent of the year for that matter, but I am pretty sure I can accurately suggest:  Slow the Hell Down!

I KNOW.....I just proof-read that and I sound incredibly judgemental of the parents.  but I don't actually blame the parents. I blame a superficial society that has deceived us in to believing we must measure success in our children via the future pay cheque they will earn.  An idea born of greed that causes to make our children into almost bionic little men and women.  We can make them stronger.....faster....smarter.   For what?  Because ask yourself honestly; why else the hard push?  Sure - we want the best for our children.  Whatever happened to "I just want them to be happy?"

Well, my son ain't happy.   Right now, school just serves as an obstacle which separates him from "Fun."    Absolutely not an attitude I want to see continue.   Yet, I feel torn.   While I am not one that is afraid of a little hard work, I am not happy either.   I want him to enjoy school.  I want him to enjoy learning; not just for the intrinsic value, but also the confidence that comes with learning new things, or solving difficult tasks.   Does one obtain a "thirst for knowledge" via genetics or environment?   nature or nurture?  I don't know.  I wish it was as easily passed along as the baby blues he inherited.    Sure, I can (and will) continue to force him to do homework every night and endure the nightly struggles.   Give up the dream of  nice evenings where we talk about the fun things learned today, and all that we hope for tomorrow.  Time to snuggle under blankets and read a book....simply for the love of a well told tale, and not because he has to.

But I can't help but wonder.  Why should I have to give that up?

If you have a child, or children that sit at a table when asked and complete their work in a pleasant and timely fashion.....go hug them.  Right.Now.  Then by all means, come back and share your secret, tips, threats or bribes.  Anything.  If like me, you have nightly struggles....come, first - a hug.   Then, tell me your troubles.

And most importantly.....If you are a teacher....please, please share your thoughts.  I so admire the awesome task you have accepted.   I really want some insight.  How can I make this homework thing work to both our best interests?

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