Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rant of the Mommy Homework "Helper"

In Confessions of a Mommy Homework "Helper", I wondered just how much homework help is appropriate. But that's just a part of the big problem, which is, how the heck is a parent supposed to find time to help with hours of homework a day?

I work full-time and am in school myself, my husband works around the clock, and my three-year-old is desperate for attention at all times, especially when Theo's getting all of mine during homework.

Not to mention the small details of getting Theo fed and cleaned after school. A bath is considered a triumph in this house. Keeping up with laundry and housecleaning are fantasies long since forgotten.

And because I'm a ridiculous mother who insists that Theo should have some fun in his life, he's in play rehearsals after school twice a week, which means by the time he gets home at 5, homework hasn't started yet. Theo must be in bed by 8 because he's on the school bus at 6:30 a.m., so that gives us three hours to make dinner, clean up dinner (ha! sometimes), do homework, and stumble through bedtime. And bedtime often isn't quality time with fun books and cuddles like it should be.

If we do get to read, it's usually one of the boring books he's assigned, since that's the only time we can squeeze them in. There are a few Roald Dahl books I'm dying to read to the kids that keep having to wait. And my toddler gets shortchanged, because I don't have time to read to her as much as I'd like.

I used to savor weekends for family time, but as the NYC Board of Ed views the weekend as two days that serve no purpose but 48 hours of available homework time, the assignments double and triple. (Notice I'm not blaming teachers.)

I thought homework was supposed to reinforce what was learned in school. So how did I end up giving my son a 3-hour lesson on Ben Franklin? And apparently not very successfully. If I -- a mom who works with words for a living -- can't get my kid to do a writing assignment, how are the non-English speaking parents doing it? Which is 90% of the parents in Theo's class.

Google tells me that plenty of other parents of third graders are fed up at the amount of homework their kids get and the help required from the parents.

I'm lucky to at least have a little guy who likes homework and who is always compliant. He even asks to do homework Saturday so he can play all day Sunday. I know many parents in my boat have kids fighting them every step of the way.

To all of you parents in homework hell, my heart goes out to you. And so does this rant. 

Did you know it's possible to learn stuff outside of school and homework? Here's Theo with the Metrocard train he, er, engineered at the Transit Museum.

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