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Homework headaches

Posted August 31, 2010

Homework headaches. Most moms know what those are. For me, they're about teaching my nine-year-old daughter self-responsibility.

At what point do I stop hounding her and does she actually remember to do her homework on her own? I'm pulling my hair out way too early in the school year!

One night last week I had to work late. Before I left, I reminded my daughter at least twice to work on her project and that I expected her to do it when she came home from school. She said she would. In the early evening, I sent a text message to ask my husband to remind her about her homework. He did.

Sure enough, I came home and her homework wasn't done and it was nearly bed time. At that moment, I realized she was relying on me way too much - not to do her homework but to hold her hand through it.

I had two options: make her stay up late and get it done or send her to bed and give up on the assignment. The latter didn't sound appealing since it was only the third day of school. So I made her stay up late to finish it. Was it the right thing to do? I'm not so sure. Perhaps, the only way to teach that lesson is to send her to school with her assignment incomplete.

The homework fiasco ended up creating a ripple effect. I couldn't spend quality time with my other children. I didn't finish the remainder of my work that I reserve for after bedtime. I also didn't get anything done the night before, like pack lunches and snacks for the children to guarantee a smooth morning.

I told another parent what happened the next morning at the bus stop all the while feeling thankful I managed to get there on time and was wearing matching clothes. She recommended something like a daily conference call when the kids get home from school. On the call I could ask about homework assignments, see if they have any trouble understanding them and finally, remind them they're expected to get things done! I'm willing to give it a try.

I'm sure this won't be the only homework headache of the year. It looks like I'm going to have to keep a healthy supply of aspirin.

Aysu is the busy mom of three girls and assistant news director for WRAL-TV. She's making a mid-week appearance on Go Ask Mom. But you can usually find her here on Sundays.


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  • -Enter Screen Name- Sep 3, 2010

    Sorry, I'm more in bjupton's boat than kittiboo's boat.

    IMO, homework is the equivalent to a kid's chores (though likely the highest priority one). If it's not done, you lose privileges (TV, phone, games, etc.)

    I completely disagree with kittiboo's take, and feel it is this opinion as to why our education system sucks. It truly *IS* the parents' responsibility to ensure their child's education is taken seriously - with homework being part of it. Why would someone make the conscious decision to let their child's education suffer just because they didn't feel like pushing their kid to do their homework?

    Unfortunately, like momnay pointed out, there are no more consequences at school for not doing your homework, so that incentive is pretty much gone. The incentive has to come from somewhere, and it should be at home.

  • lilypony Sep 2, 2010

    Everybody needs to remember that nobody wants to do work outside their job. The kid's job is school, and homework is overtime. Yes, required overtime but overtime nonetheless. Think about how you feel at the end of your work day, and how you feel about bringing extra work home to finish later. There is never any point in your extra work that you can say "wow, that's done, I feel good about myself". No, you do it because you know there isnt' time to go to bed (your reward) until it's done. And if you put it off too long, there won't be time over the weekend to go do fun stuff (another reward). You are also rewarded for your extra efforts by your paycheck. I am against paying children for their homework or grades, but there needs to be some sort of payoff for making the appropriate effort. Day-to day payoff is privileges: games, phone, etc. Weekend payoff is the big stuff: out with friends, movies, etc. Consistency and fair enforcement of the homework rules is the big thing.

  • theartistformerlyknownasspeedy Sep 1, 2010

    and your husband didn't supervise/enforce because.....???

  • leeandkaren2 Sep 1, 2010

    For us, I started my kids with nothing happens until homework is done (other than a snack). This way if they want to play, do extra activities, they know homework must be done or else nothing will be allowed. It has worked so far because it is just the routine and expectation they have known since they started kindergarten.

  • mrschizzy Sep 1, 2010

    I can completely sympathize. My son is 10 (almost 11) years old and he still has problems doing his homework independently. He is a little on the immature side for his age, so I'm sure that is a contributing issue. He can do the assignments, but he needs someone to sit with him and keep him on task...and some things take him FOREVER to complete so we have also had many nights where we have cut into bed time to get the work done. Instead of putting him in traditional after school programs, we hired an after school sitter to pick him up and work with him on his homework after school and this seems to be working well!

  • Twittyfan Sep 1, 2010

    Last fews years have been a struggle but now she is in Middle School I sat her down and gave her my rules and I told her they were going to stick this year. I told her no friends would be able to play during the week. If she can remember what time her favorite shows are coming on then she knows at 8pm she needs to go get a bath and 930 she needs to go to bed. Decide what she is wearing the night before. If there is a project to do it will be completed a little each night and finish on the weekends. If she has any homework on the weekends it will be completed before any playing or friends come over. She completes all of her homework after school and I check it when I get home and ask her if she needs help or did she understand how to do it etc.I know some people will say wow this woman is mean but it is really working.

  • momnay Sep 1, 2010

    As the working mom of a 8 and 10 year old - I struggle with the homework thing. Tried the - you do it or bear the consequences of not getting it done - trouble was - there was little or no consequence at school. Either the teacher doesn't check it or they get sent to the computer lab while the class reviews it and then they are supposed to do it the next night. I even talked with one teacher about it and she said her hands were tied because of the grading system parameters and "positive discipline" policy. Very frustrating.

  • aysutv2 Sep 1, 2010

    Great ideas/comments! Keep 'em coming! Thanks!

  • kittiboo Sep 1, 2010

    As a teacher, I am all for personal responsibility. I'm also a mom to a toddler, so I haven't had to deal with homework yet, but I don't believe it is the parents' job to hound their kid about homework. I think, like anything else, you should let your child know that you will remind him/her ONCE to do homework and tell him/her the time you will have available to help with the assignment (if needed). If the homework doesn't get done, the child suffers the consequences at school- loss of recess, loss of Fun Friday, poor grade- whatever. My mom set the standard when I was very young that it was MY job to do my homework, and I always did. If I didn't for whatever reason, I knew what would happen at school. I think that by 4th grade kids should take homework into their own hands. Now, if your child's learning begins to suffer because he/she isn't getting the practice that homework provides, then it becomes an issue at home.

  • bjgupton Sep 1, 2010

    Homework not done? No privileges - the reward should be in getting the work done and feeling good about yourself, not in working for a reward!