Homework Rant

When my virtual pal Donna wrote this homework post, I read it and smiled and went on with my day.  I mentally compared our children’s schedules and deduced that her daughter was way more involved outside of the home than our girls are…so, her rant comes from trying to juggle her academic, athletic and social engagements.  Her daughter is a gymnast and trains hours on end each day.  My daughters are not involved in any extracurricular activities save for their Wednesday evening church classes.  Her daughter is an only child, meaning she needs to have outside activities (structured and unstructured) to make up for the lack of siblings at home.  I have four kids, and the good Lord knows that they can get on as the best of friends and the worst of enemies – but, outside social activities are not really necessary on a continual basis as they have each other and can pick and choose who they want to play with on an hourly basis.  And Donna lives in the metropolis known as LA … while we live in the country, nine miles from the berg formerly known as the apple capital of Texas.

Now, the homework shake has never been really fair in our house, since we moved back to Texas.  Remember, we homeschooled the kids for the last semester in 2006, therefore they really didn’t have anything but homework.  But, they learned quick that if they stuck to their books, they could be finished with their schooling by lunch (around 1 pm) every day … and they didn’t have to pick up another text book until the next day!

Last year, the kids’ first year in school here, DD#1 had the most homework, sometimes three hours a night.  But, she loved it and I don’t recall ever hearing her complain about it.  She enjoys learning and the challenges that each course brought with it.

This year, though, our pokey puppy (DD#2) is the one with mounds and mounds of homework.  And it’s not just one subject – I swear she has homework in every single subject that she takes.  What in the world is her teacher doing with the six hours we leave them in school each day???

We’ve made in-house complaints about homework hours.  One day, JD asked her teacher something about why our daughter repeatedly comes home without some of the books that she needs, even though the teacher signs off on her homework list to say that it’s complete.  Her teacher said it was ridiculous for him to expect her to be able to keep up with one out of nineteen students.  That just wasn’t possible.

Mind you, I’m ok with homework – to a degree.  I think that adults learn things all the time – and research indicates that if we keep our brains active in this learning stuff, we have a higher probability of staving off some elderly issues, such as brain atrophy.  So, by making a child do their homework, we are helping them live by example.  I also think that making a child sit down to do homework is almost like an act of contrition, there’s always things that we’d rather be doing … but, it’s important to remember that even the not-so-pleasant daily, mundane tasks have to be accomplished every single day.  Perhaps it’s doing the dishes, perhaps it’s putting your clean clothes away … or perhaps it’s doing your homework.  And then homework also keeps kids out of trouble, so goes the argument.  When mothers returned to the workforce in the 70’s & 80’s, the schools found they had way too many latch-key kids who were getting in trouble – so, they developed the homework requirements, to attempt to keep kids busy while they were home alone.

But, yesterday took the cake at our casa on the hill.  This is Catholic schools week across the nation, so special activities are planned throughout the week – to celebrate the parochial school education that we pay dearly for.  Yesterday, the two little girls had to sing during a candlelight vigil, to honor the military…while our oldest daughter read names of fallen solders.  The program was scheduled to run from 6 pm – 9 pm.

Think about that for a minute.  My kids normally go to bed about 8:30 pm.  Last week, I got a report that DD#2 fell asleep during class, despite the fact that she got nearly 10 hours of sleep the night before.  We live a good 45 minutes from school … so, if we stayed until 9 pm, we would get home around 10 pm.  And then there’d be dinner, showers & prayers before bedtime. 

Feeding them before 6 pm is a mute point – they’d be starving by the time we got home.  Not to mention that they get home from school at about 4:15 each day, and yesterday I had to turn around to get them back to school, leaving here at 5:15.  There’s no time to eat dinner in that hour!

And last night, the loving middle daughter had homework.  I *almost* told her not to worry about it, that I’d write a note to her teacher and explain how it was with homework on a night when they were REQUIRED to attend this vigil.  But, alas, I needed her to fill up a half-hour of her time (so she wasn’t fighting with her siblings) so I could cook dinner.  And she got the homework done. 

We’ll see what the rest of this week brings by way of homework, as the girls have school celebration activities nearly every night.  You can bet I’ll be one of the first moms in line, pounding on the door of the classroom, if I’m to try to force my child to sit down and get her homework done while the rest of the kids are off playing and celebrating.

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