I hate homework!

“I hate homework,” my second-grader declares as I call him into the dining room to begin our Monday afternoon ritual.

And honestly, I hate homework too. I find the afternoon very frustrating. In fact, I will be thinking about how much I despise doing homework as my daughter spends twenty minutes drawing cows and chickens for a simple kindergarten math question.

homeworkEvery Monday, homework comes out. Each child must choose three homework “squares” to complete. Kindergarten gets nine topics to choose from, and second grade gets six. Each grade has a certain “square” that is required.

In the beginning, kindergarten homework took maybe 15 minutes. But now they have to do a simple book review each week. This involves writing the title, author, and illustrator. (Don’t even get me started on how long it takes my daughter to copy those words and names and how many times I have to correct her letters and spacing.) They then have to write a sentence or two and draw a picture. Yes, simple but not quick.

The other homework squares for kindergarten are usually easy – spend 15 minutes on a website, draw a picture, search for shapes in your house, write sentences with their “popcorn” words and simple tasks like that. Most of them should take perhaps five minutes each – unless you are Lexie, who wants to draw detailed cows for the math problem.

On this day, her homework took an hour. This would be okay if she were my only child. But I also have Jase to help. He is in second grade and is not at the point where I can have him do his homework without some guidance.

His first task is the required math “square.” It states he should be able to do these thirty subtraction problems with a goal of having them done in two minutes. We set the timer. Eight minutes later, he is half way through. After fifteen, he is only two-thirds done. Now I know Jase doesn’t do well under pressure. The timer is not his friend. I am already short-tempered after dealing with Lexie and her slow cow drawing episode. It was pure frustration talking, but I announced to Jase that he would be redoing this test the next day and perhaps the next until he can do this better.

Of course, later I felt bad for adding to his stress of math homework. I know I have thirty years more experience doing math than he does. But he does seem to be slow when it comes to basic math. (Don’t even get me started on the stupid COMMON CORE math they do nowadays where you do 18 steps to answer a basic three-digit addition problem.)

I discussed my frustration with homework with my husband. He pointed out that I have a set expectation (it should only take X minutes to do homework), and I am frustrated when that expectation isn’t met. He of course is right. I have tried to lower my expectation, but that hasn’t helped. I guess I am going to have to realize that we can no longer get homework for the week all done in one day. I loved being able to get it done on Monday and then only doing Jase’s reading homework on the other days.

The only way for all of us to stop hating homework is to take some of the stress and frustration away. I need a better attitude. I don’t need to take my frustration out on the kids and have them even more stressed and worried about doing their homework. Oh, and I think I need to talk with Lexie about timeliness. Just because you can take twenty minutes to draw cows, doesn’t mean you should. Actually, not staying on task or finishing in a timely manner have been the two most common complaints her teacher has about her. (Another one would be not listening. I feel for her teacher here and completely understand. Lexie does a lot of “selective” listening.)

I began this post in March right before I began the A to Z challenge for April. Since then, homework has gotten a little better and less stressful. None of us still enjoy doing it, but I am looking forward to next year where I help Jase less and perhaps Lexie too.

The excitement and nerves of the first day of school

IMG_1277Today is the first day of school for Lexie and Jase.

Jase is beginning the second grade. He is excited though I am sure nerves will begin to hit as we walk through the door. Last year, I didn’t even walk him to his class. He said good-bye at the front door. But this year, his baby sister starts kindergarten. I figure he will want to walk her to her classroom.

Yes, my youngest is starting kinder today. And while I know some parents will shed a tear as they drop their “babies” off at school, I won’t be one of them. I have never seen this as a sad day. I am excited that she is entering this next stage of childhood. She has gone to preschool for the past two years so really school is nothing new to her. But this year she is at the “big” school with her brother.

Lexie is sure they will see each other throughout the day. All summer she has been asking if they will play on the playground or sit together at lunch time. Jase has patiently been telling her that no, those things won’t happen. He will be with the second graders, and she will be with her kinder class.

I am unsure how this morning will go. For the past two weeks, we have been trying to prepare the kids for getting up early but have yet to make them get up at 6:30. Lexie loves her sleep, so I expect it to be difficult to wake her up. Or she could be excited about Kinder and pop awake.

I don’t imagine getting them ready will be a problem. They will be excited and we walk with friends from the neighborhood, so there is that motivation for getting out the door on time. What I wonder about is how Lexie will do when I leave her in her classroom? She is typically an out-going, friendly girl. She has no problem introducing herself to other children. But when she sees the other nervous kindergartners will this cause her to worry too?

I am not one to stay long at the school. I will walk Lexie to class and see that she is settled in her assigned seat. As I said, I imagine Jase will come with us. After a quick reassurance that I will pick her up on the school patio at the end of the day, I will have to walk away. No, not a tear in the eye but with the knowledge that Lexie is ready for this new challenge.

That isn’t to say that I won’t be a tad sad when I walk in the door to the house and realize the kids are gone all day. Heck, who am I kidding? I have too much to do to worry about the kids.

Giving the Gift of Time…delaying the start of kindergarten

School starts next week and my seven-year old will be starting the first grade. Yes, you read that correct. He is already seven and no, he did not have to repeat kindergarten. Jase is typically older than most of his classmates because we chose to hold him back a year.

When Jase was born, I just assumed that when your child turns five, they start kindergarten. The first time I heard about holding a child back was when he was two. We had a school counselor speak at the Mom’s Club I belonged to, and she mentioned the possibility of holding back those kids who had summer birthdays. But I didn’t think it applied to Jase as his birthday is in mid-May and I don’t consider that a summer birthday.

Jase has always been a smart boy but reserved. Even around my parents it took him a while to warm up each time we visited them, which was often since they only live twenty minutes away. When he started preschool, he rarely spoke to the teacher or director. It was his preschool teacher who suggested that we hold him back. They offered a class called “A Gift of Time” which was designed for “younger” five-year olds that might need an extra year to mature before going to kindergarten.

I did what I normally do when presented with something I know nothing about – I began full research mode. I scoured the internet looking at the pros and cons of holding your child back. I spoke to friends and neighbors about it and found out that it was quite common here in San Antonio. No one I spoke to that had held their child back had regretted it. There were a few who wished they HAD done that with their child.

But still I hesitated to do it. Sign up for kindergarten is in March, and he could change a lot in the five months before school started. I didn’t want to regret our decision. It was also hard because many people I seemed to believe that at five he should be in kindergarten no matter what. By holding him back, he would be the oldest kid in his class. When I was in kindergarten, I was the youngest. I started when I was 4. My September birthday was past the cut-off date to attend that year but my mom had me tested, and I was able to start early. Yes, academically I was probably ready. But I am not sure that I was socially mature enough. I was a shy child. Most of the time, I didn’t feel like I fit in. Now I am not saying that starting kindergarten early was the sole cause, but I am sure it contributed to it.

Finally, I just decided to do what was right for Jase. There really was nothing to lose by holding him back a year. We would be giving him a year to grow and mature.  And you know what? It has been totally worth it. In that extra year, he blossomed into a confident student. When he entered kindergarten, he was ready for any of the challenges his new school offered. He was a top student in his class. Would this have happened anyway? I don’t think so. If he had started when he was five, I think he would have been very shy and very overwhelmed by his surroundings. He grew a lot in that extra year. And I don’t regret our decision at all.