Monday, February 11, 2008


I don't remember having homework as a 1st Grader.
Or as a second grader.
In fact, I don't remember having daily homework until about 4th grade, and even then, it was mostly reading.
Aidan has homework everyday - math and spelling.
He hates it.
Wait, no. That's not a strong enough word.

Last week, after protests and bargains on his part, bribes and promises on mine, he stopped whining and completed his math homework. But he wouldn't be silenced about his animosity towards it:

For a minute, I considered making him recopy the math problems on a clean sheet of paper since he defaced the one his teacher sent home. Then I thought about just making him erase what he'd written. Then I decided that he had a valid point, and it should be heard. He likes to learn. He really likes school. He just hates homework, and that's okay, isn't it?

What he hates about it, I've learned, is that it's just busywork. He knows the stuff. He thinks it's a waste of time to do it AGAIN when he could be riding his bike or paying Star Wars on the Wii or even feeding the cat. ANYthing but boring ol' HOMEwork.

Today, he brought home his weekly spelling list, and the assignment on Mondays is to write each spelling word three times. We battle with this every week. He hates writing those words. He's a natural speller, so he sees no point in writing the words three times each. He might as well be writing 10 paragraphs three times each. His protests are loud and lingering. He's gonna make a great attorney someday, or a tenacious reporter, or a rabid investigator, because the kid just doesn't give up when he has a point he wants to make.

Today, he made his point, and I heard him.

"Mom, I just HATE writing the words three times. Can I do something else instead? Can I think of other words that follow the same pattern?"

There's something to be said for learning to follow directions. I'm a big rule follower myself so it's hard for me to be okay with Aidan not following the directions clearly written out for him. But there's also something to be said for LEARNING. And if he has a clearer understanding about what will actually benefit him, and it's not exactly what the teacher had in mind, isn't that okay? Tonight, I decided it was. He didn't write the words three times. Instead, he came up with a list of words that followed the same pattern as his spelling words. I don't know if he'll be marked down for not completing his three-words-assignment. I do know that he'll get credit for doing the Challenging Homework Assignment. But really, I don't care about either of those things. My kid loves to learn. I want to feed that.


Jenny in TX said...

I just wanted to let you know that it doesn't get better. I have an 11 yr. old DS who has always hated homework and still does. He says that he has spent all day at school learning and working so why does he have to come home and do more. I agree with him, but he still has to do his homework.

Tell Aiden "Good Job" on his homework! I bet his teacher will be very impressed.

agent713 said...

Homework is stupid. I still think that. In fact I still have problems with anything that remotely resembles it, even as an adult. That's one of the big reasons I didn't do well in CM. It was too much like homework!

blossom said...

My 1st grader has to write his words 5 times each. On Mon it's the first 6 words; on Tues, write sentences with those words; on Wed, the other six words 5 times each; on Thurs, write sentences with the other six words. The sentences are sheer torture. My son is smart too and doesn't NEED to be doing any of it. We usually forget to review the words for the test because I'm pretty confident that he knows them. Thankfully DS hasn't complained about the HW yet but DS4 complains 'cause that means brother can't play with him. I can relate to the frustrations.

Veronica said...

I agree with Aidan - I hate homework, but I love school :)

If I was his teacher, I would be mighty impressed with his effort at listing words with a similar pattern.

Jason & Summer said...

I agree with you Stacy...and Aidan!! I am already starting to get worried about the homework that Elijah will have when he starts school in 1 1/2 years. I think it pressures kids too much and doesn't allow them to just be kids...I mean, they spend 8 hours learning all day for crying out loud, why do they have to do more?!?! Can you tell you've touched on a soap box of mine?? :-) I'll start a "no homework" protest with you if you want. Wish you could have seen Letterman in NYC - we got free tickets to see the show while we were there and it was fun (even though we were on almost the very back row!).

Ramblings of a crazed SAHM said...

I so agree with you. I'm told Emma will have at least 2 hours a night in KINDERGARTEN! (Just getting her to do the little dittos now is a chore. She says "Mommy, home is for home and school is for school!" My personal thought is that this is a bad result from "No Child Left Behind". Teachers are forced to "teach for the tests", which is math and spelling/reading (the higher the test scores, the more money your school gets). Here in the LAUSD school district, very few schools have art, science, music or P.E. This is so sad to me. Kids still have so many social skills to learn during these elementary school years, and unfortunately, we can't afford Private School, where our kids would have different outlets/avenues to explore. I'm not looking forward to this upcoming homework battle, and I think you were very smart to have Aidan do his homework the way he did. And so rewarding for him to have come up with the idea.

Martha said...

I've got one who doesn't have a single "spelling instinct" gene in him. And even with him, the repetitive practice is torture and not very effective.

I don't know how things are in TX, but through the years I've always had the full blessings of the teachers to modify any and all homework to meet the styles/needs of my boys. It isn't like you are blowing off the assignment, but he's modifying it to make it meaningful for him. If I were the teacher, I'd be thanking my lucky stars that I had at least one child who can think a bit for himself.

Veronica said...

Coming back to this - in the little bit that I have learned about teaching this week - I know that you did the right thing. The most important thing about getting children to learn is to "engage" them. If he is bored by the task set, he is no longer engaged.

So "good job" to Mom too :)