Making Time: Homework
Teaching my boys to avoid my mistakes (fingers crossed)

“Daddy, I don’t want to draw my letters or work on math now, can we do homework later?” The short answer was no. We were going to get right to it.

Kindergarten brought so many new things for Brandon. Making new friends, taking a bus to school, and of course the start of homework. That brought the need for establishing a set time to do homework, because we want Brandon to start developing good habits as early as possible – unlike his dad.

The first assignment that came home wasn’t due until Friday, which meant Brandon had a few days to complete it. He came home, had a snack, played inside and outside, and didn’t even think about doing his homework. After dinner, we encouraged him to sit down and do at least one page (of over 8 pages!) and got a full meltdown midway through page one. So clearly doing it after dinner wouldn’t work. We needed to try something else.

I’ll admit, Sarah was more adamant about time management with his homework than I was at first. But if I’m being honest, I’m probably not the most qualified of the 2 parents in our house to be giving homework advice. She pointed out that since none of it had been done that day, there was already less time left to finish the assigned work. She worried Brandon would get overwhelmed by it all.

I wasn’t as concerned. Then again, I wasn’t what you would call the best student growing up. I was a crammer. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do homework. I wasn’t a bad or disruptive student in class. I just waited until the last possible moment to finish almost anything I was given. Many times, I finished my work as they were calling attendance before class. That was the problem (well one of them): I was smart enough to get it done, just not organized enough to use the full time given. And it wasn’t my parents’ fault, they tried. I was just stubborn.

So how could I make sure the boys aren’t too stubborn to listen to me? I don’t want them to follow in my footsteps with this. I finally learned to study the right way toward the end of college (something that still bothers my parents who wanted me to stay home and grow up before going away to school). Sarah made sure to point this out when we started homework time for the boys. “We want him to learn how to manage his time now, not like you did, so it becomes a habit, and he doesn’t struggle later when there’s even more to do.” That one hurt, but only because it was true. At least she didn’t bring up returning some of my books in college at the end of the semester for a fraction of the price paid – still wrapped in plastic.

The next day, when the boys got home, we let them know we had a schedule. First came snack time. Then, homework time. And after that came playtime followed by bath. Surprisingly, there was little pushback. Actually, since Adam wants to do everything that his big brother does, we decided he would have homework time too. We made sure there was no TV to distract, and he joined Brandon to sit at the table to color, draw or sticker. Better to get him in the habit of doing things in the same order early too, right?

So, when Brandon asked about doing homework later than our scheduled time, I reminded him of our schedule. We sat down at the table together and while Brandon practiced writing his letters and his numbers, Adam took out crayons to do his own “homework” drawing a firetruck. When Brandon finished his letters for the day, he picked up the paper to proudly show me his work. Not wanting to be left out, Adam jumped in and said, “Look at my homework too daddy.” After we were done, Brandon looked at Adam and said, “See we can make homework fun!” I was glad the boys were excited about getting their work done. I’m just hoping that lasts for, oh, another 12 or so years.

Read More “Making Time” by Jason Springer

 

November 2022
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