Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Homework Drama

Tessa forgot to bring her homework home last night.

I told her that we could go into school early so that she could do it. We got our carpool in early, and we went into the classroom, and tracked down her forgotten folder. I read her the instructions, showed her the example, and set her to work.

Questions. Complaining. Distractions. Talking to students coming in and out of the classroom.

The bell rings. No surprise - it's not done.

The school consequence for not doing homework is missing recess.

Tessa starts to cry, to cling to me, to say, "Talk to Ms. H! Tell her I tried!" I gently but firmly said, "No, you need to tell her. I did what I could to help you, but if you didn't get it done, that is something you need to tell her." More crying. Then, the punch:

"It's all your fault!" What?! "You didn't help me!"

Ms. H heard this and was NOT impressed. Tessa was sobbing and clinging to me and Ms. H just said, "Tessa, I'm counting to five and you'd better be at your desk." She got to 4 before Tessa let go, and I left the classroom.


Ms. H told me that I should let Tessa fail - if she doesn't do her homework, she does not get to come in early to do it. Okay, lesson learned. She seemed peeved with me for offering that as a choice for Tessa.

I feel like a D- parent right now.

Deep breaths.

I have moved Tessa's homework station into her bedroom; previously, she was doing it at the kitchen table so that I could be there with her. Me being with her is NOT an advantage, it seems: she has to do it on her own so that she is not tempted to ask me simple words that she already knows. She's got a beautiful desk, right under a window, with a drawer full of pencils and sharpeners and the like. She needs to do her work independently - maybe this will help?

I also created a homework contract with a list of responsibilities for parents and Tessa:
1. Will set aside time each day for homework.
2. Will make sure you have the right tools (pencils, papers, etc.) for homework
3. Will help you to read the instructions and answer questions about the instructions prior to beginning homework.
4. Will review homework when it is completed to help you with anything you struggled with.

1. Will bring home homework each day that it is assigned.
2. Will do homework independently.
3. Will finish homework promptly.
4. Will bring homework back to school and turn it in.
5. Will work with Ms. Hils if she does not understand how to do the homework.
6. Will miss recess if she does not turn in the homework or does not complete it in a prompt manner.
I created room for all three of our signatures, and tonight after dinner we'll go over it as a family.

I thought we'd been through all of this about 1000 times, but it is the first time I put it in writing. Will that make a difference? We will see.

Tessa thinks that I am somehow responsible for her success or failure. I am determined to be the best parent I can for her, to nurture her, but not to coddle her.

Parenting is hard! Homework is absolutely wearing me out. I thought we'd be having these battles in middle school....but apparently we're having them now.

I am determined to get this working. Determined.

P.S. Last night during her reading time Tessa read four chapters of "Mercy Watson" on her own, asking only for help with words like "absolutely" and doing the rest on her own. Why is she struggling with homework if she can read this well? I think it's discipline, not ability, or I'd feel much less frustrated. I don't care if Tessa is getting it "right," only that she works hard, and that is where she is failing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Parenting IS hard, and sometimes feels (to me) like a series of mess-ups (I'm using the nice word). I'm curious to hear if writing down the h.w. plan works, since I imagine that in two short years I will be in a similar situation. You are a fabulous parent, so ready to learn and grow. Hang in there!!!!
Lynn Herink