Homework

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It’s back.  That little red pouch.  It seems so innocuous – the directions to return assignments on Friday, Robert neatly written across the top.  The promise of a whole week to complete the assignments.  What could possibly go wrong?

It’s a delicate balance, this homework pouch.  Doling out the homework assignments, knowing what our schedule holds for the week.  Do we get all of the math finished in one night?  Could we get a jump start on that over the weekend, since it’s all online?  Maybe we get the reading journal out of the way early in the week?  And the sight words?  Lord, help me.  The sight words.  They have to be able to read them, well, on sight and write them in five seconds or less.  And Robbie’s interest has waned after the first night of reviewing them.

I’m stuck in this limbo of wanting my kid to be the best he can be, not wanting to push so hard that school isn’t fun, and letting him be a kid.  But to be the best?  Not really.  There’s so much pressure in trying to always stay on top.  Somewhere in the middle?  Yeah.

Did I do flash cards and math skills practice over the summer like I should have?  No.  Did I read to my kid every day?  You bet.  Make sure he was playing outside, catching crawdads in a creek, building forts, and coming home filthy?  Absolutely.  He’s not going to be little forever; all too soon, that will give way to test prep courses, jobs, and real life.

Tonight was a battle.  There were no sight words to contend with, but we had to get our first reading journal entry, literally, in the books.  I’m at school for open house until 7:30 tomorrow night, and trying to finish this at 8:00 the night before the little red pouch gets returned to school after a 12-hour work day didn’t seem like a good idea.

There was crying, avoidance, begging, and, finally, submission.  It took 30 minutes to get three sentences and an illustration out of Robbie.  In between his distractions, he focused so intently on being perfect, using his finger to space his words and erasing letters that weren’t perfectly formed.  Ultimately, we got three sentences down about Man on the Moon, even though Robbie would have preferred to stop at just one.  Or, even better, just the required illustration at the top of the page.

I struggle with this – the mother and the teacher in me are at odds.  I tell students in my class, “You think these three paragraphs are awful to write?  Wait until high school.  I’m just trying to prepare you for what’s to come”  But when Robbie asks, “Mom, what is homework for, anyways?” I just don’t have a great answer.

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