The homework battle lines

homework picture

I dread it each weekend, I really do – knowing that my 7-year-old has three sets of homework due the next day and that the only way it’ll get done is by brow-beating him into it, breathing down his neck and practically jumping up and down with excitement when he completes each task.

Quite honestly, extracting his teeth would be easier (and quieter).

Back in the dark ages, when I was 7, I’m sure we didn’t have homework. Maybe there was a library book each week, perhaps a reading book too, but I really think that was about it until secondary school (or did I completely miss something?).

But times have changed, it seems, because children these days, even those who are only knee-high to a grasshopper, have enough homework to sink a mummy ship. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, just that if you have a son who’d rather scoop his eyeballs out than sit down and do homework, it becomes a tedious – indeed painful – chore.

BB is in grade 1. Today, I got emails with his French and Maths homework. There’s English language homework each week, too, and Arabic, which we can’t understand and can only watch in amazement as he forms Arabic letters in front of our eyes. On top of all this, they have spellings every week that they’re tested on in class, and they bring reading books home.

It feels like A LOT – and I’m beginning to realise why I’ve heard mums say full-time work is impossible, because managing this kind of homework load in such small children is a job in itself.

I have to admit that, if BB is cooperating, I rather enjoy the spellings and language homework, and have to practically sit on my hands to stop myself grabbing the pencil and scrawling a sentence myself – but I’m no teacher, and the frustration I feel when BB writes backwards / will only write sentences with the word poo in / or can’t be bothered is off the scale.

Behind every little boy doing homework there's a mummy working three times as hard

Behind every little boy doing homework there’s a mummy working three times as hard

And I also grimace with frustration when the homework requires items that I never seem to have to hand. Glue, highlighter pens, newspapers, dice, flash cards, different coloured biros – my stationery supplies always seem to let me down.

So, imagine my dismay when I opened the homework book last week to discover the treat the teachers had set us:

“Make a tornado”

“Please help your child make a tornado by following the instructions…”

Yes, really.

You will need: a water bottle, clear liquid soap, vinegar, water, glitter and food colouring.

I won’t regurgitate all the instructions, but they involved shaking the bottle to mix up the ingredients, swirling it in a circular motion, and adding the food colouring and glitter.

Is it just me, or does anyone else see the mess potential here? (and wonder if perhaps the teacher was getting her own back?)

Bring on the spellings, I say – I’d rather drill BB in spellings than unleash a tornado at home any day.

About Circles in the Sand

Sun worshiper, journalist, mother, pilot's wife and distracted housewife living in the land of glitz and sand
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18 Responses to The homework battle lines

  1. Linda Storey says:

    You would not believe the relief when I checked my 5 year old’s bag and there was NO homework (apart from spellings and reading) over half term. Thank god! Their homework goes on for ever and she’s the co-operartive one. I don’t think I’m going to have enough patience for Amy’s as well. Now there’s a market…. After School Homework Services Ltd.

  2. I hate projects like that. The other day we had to make something that illustrated the number 100. Not draw, make. We did pumpkin seeds glued to a piece of construction paper, but it was messy and impossible to transport to school. The boys have lots of homework – at least 30 mins per day – at ages 6 and 7.

  3. MsCaroline says:

    I remember that tornado assignment – but all I had to do was send in the plastic bottle, and the project was done in class, thank God. I was staying home with my boys during the elementary years, and I remember thinking how difficult it must be for the moms who had to work all day, come home, fix dinner and wrangle a few hours of homework out of an already-overworked (in my opinion) kiddo. In the German school where I teach, the ‘real’ lessons for our first and 2nd-graders end by about noon and they have a supervised period after lunch where they do their homework under the care of their teacher, so they really don’t have much to take home at all. Seems much more humane to me!. On the plus side – I found I didn’t have very many battles when the boys got to their teen years (as I’d anticipated) because they were already well-conditioned to having to do so much homework. Chin up!

    • I love the system your school has. I know I have to make him do a little each night, rather than it all getting left till the weekend – and I really hope I’m also pleasantly surprised when they’re older! I was such a girly swot when I was young – boys are just so different!

  4. Aaargh! I feel your pain. Tornado, smornado! What does that teach a child?!!!! I dare you to turn up to school with glitter and food colouring in your hair, with tears in your eyes, and cry dramatically “IT DOESNT WORK!” 😉

  5. Pia says:

    I know, it’s crazy! Elias came home with French; conjugate och translate five verbs and read a text in French and find all the verbs!!! Not to mention Arabic that comes with no instructions whatsoever!!! And where are the books??? The teachers seem to randomly go through the internet on Saturday evening and just pick some topics for next weeks research!! I’m frustrated, it makes no sense to me!

    • We just managed to successfully persuade the teacher to not email the homework and make us print it out – it’ll all be in the homework book now at least. The truth is when it’s emailed, it just gets lost in my in-box!

  6. Dubai Mum says:

    Love the drawing! Feel your pain re: homework. With DS1 I sound like a ‘Tiger Mom’ at homework time….getting him to sit at the table in the first place to start the work takes at least 20 mins, 3 bribes and a lot more threats! Getting him to stay put for the duration has often proven to be mission impossible!

  7. Sarah says:

    The drawing and explanation are hilarious! Re the homework it’s just as intense here, minus the Arabic, plus the French. When we add this to piano practice for the next grade, R is doing homework 6/7 days a week. And I agree, when I was that age I think the only homework I did was reading Mallory Towers and St Clare’s!

  8. Iota says:

    I love that drawing and explanation!

    Homework is every parent’s nightmare.

  9. Pingback: Kid Versus Homework: Our Music Of Homework Battle Royale 2 « Swim In The Adult Pool

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