Oh, the joys of sitting around the table with your children, as they independently complete their homework assignments!
I hope you hear the sarcasm of that statement.
Having raised three, very different learners, the idea of homework has represented many, entirely different things in our house. And most of those things, not so good. Even with the loving, ever-helpful presence of my school-teacher wife, evenings spent around the old, oak table, often resembled something Stephen King should have been writing about.
Our eldest was a classic firstborn. He could full-on read at four, missed his first spelling word in third grade, skipped 5th grade altogether, and rarely said a thing about homework. He just did it. Somehow, somewhere, we guess. His grades typically reflected that fact, as they were typically good, without too much help or meddling from his parents.
Then, along came the second child. Our second child turned out to be an almost obnoxiously over-achieving adult, one with little patience for others who are not equally committed to always doing and bringing their best to life. But, in third grade? He didn’t even remotely resemble the ridiculously self-starting, self-disciplined person he is today. As a matter a fact, my wife received a call from his teacher one day, and our child was missing 34 math assignments. 34. After school that very day, my wife and I visited our child and his teacher in the third grade classroom. My wife asked permission to dump our son’s desk on the floor, and the teacher graciously obliged. A Mount Saint Helen’s lava-like flow of paper, eraser pieces, and broken pencils poured forth. Found in that pile were almost 30 math assignments not only started, but many actually completed. Rumpled, but completed.
The teacher told our humiliated, wide-eyed son that he could have a week to get all caught up. Now, some of you might be thinking, “Wow. You guys and that teacher . . . and your kid . . . you’re all losers. How on earth do you let a kid get 34 math assignments behind?” I understand your bewilderment, but there truly was a crazy story behind it, one involving a teacher change late in the year. Make that two. So, it had been a weird year for our little guy, and everyone else involved. It happens. Life happens.
But, no matter. We had work to do. For the next week, every night, at that big, old, oak table, our son tearfully cranked out the math. He whined. He stomped. He threw his head back in despair. One night, he resorted to wailing like a paid mourner at a funeral in some Dickensian-type novel. It was ugly. And exhausting. No matter how many parenting books we had read, no matter how intentional we had been with our parenting, I’m pretty sure we resorted to, “We already went to third grade, Mister! This is your rodeo! Get to it!” Not our proudest parenting moments.
And yet…the math was completed. And . . . our kid felt a since of accomplishment and pride we hadn’t seen in him before.
His third, 3rd grade teacher of the year, was a strong, multi-talented, semi-retired man, and had been pretty stern at the turned-over desk meeting. But, when our son appeared with all of his completed work, he was met with praise that annihilated any painful memory of the dumped desk day. As the year passed, we still had a few rough nights around the old, oak table. But the perseverance fostered around that table, fueled by a tough, but tender teacher, helped build character in the man we are so proud to call our Army Ranger Officer son, today.
Do I have amazing tips? Well, being organized, staying on top of things at school – especially with the apps and technology offered by so many schools, now – all help. But, maybe this blog today is not so much about tips regarding homework. Honestly, most of us know we need to be organized and on top of things, in addition to nurturing patience and perseverance. Maybe this blog merely serves as an encouragement from an older, battle-tested dad, with three, grown, non-bitter, productive members of society, to let you know that you’re not alone. Hang in there, fight the good fight, love them and lead them. You’ll all get there.
I hope you are encouraged. If not, there’s always our third kid I could tell you about. The one who nightly informed us that he didn’t need to learn to read or do homework. He was going to play baseball and fish for the rest of his life . . .
Kevin Weaver, CEO of Network211 and father of three sons, lives with his wife KyAnne in Springfield, MO. He enjoys spending time with family, hunting and watching University of Kansas basketball with his boys! He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
About ten years ago, I was a single, 31-year-old bachelor. I had never been married or had kids of my own. A new show came out that year, hosted by Jeff Foxworthy, called, "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?" At the time, I thought it was the most ridiculous idea for a show ever! I mean, come on, of course adults are smarter than the average grade school child . . . right? Then I watched an episode, and soon realized, a lot of the stuff I learned in school, had been lost over the course of 15 to 20 years. All of the information these 5th graders were learning was fresh on their minds. In some capacity, these children were smarter than me.
Fast forward, ten years later, and here I am with two junior high age kids, whom I adopted when I got married. We soon added my biological son, who is now in first grade. It's sad to say, but I have no clue how to help my teenagers with their math homework. I think it was about 4th or 5th grade, when the math I knew, completely changed. I remember trying to help my then 8-year-old with some division problems. I wrote it all out on paper, and he looked at me like I was doing trigonometry. He said, "Dad, this isn't how we do it at all." He then showed me some of his work, to which I'm pretty sure it looked to him as if I were trying to read abstract algebra. That was my first experience with common core math. Pretty much everything I was taught in school, was now different. It's not like I was a math genius in the first place. I was average to slightly above average back in the day.
My daughter, now in 8th grade, struggled her first semester of 7th grade in a few classes. I tried to help where I could. I quickly realized, the best thing to do was communicate with her teachers and set up extra time where she could get one-on-one sessions with them. Her grades eventually went up. My oldest son, now in 7th grade, is struggling mightily in math, science and social studies. Again, I've tried to help where I can, including the use of Google and YouTube, but it doesn't seem to be enough. My son also has ADHD, so I've had to adjust his medication, because he has not been focused enough to get his work turned in on time. I've been in contact with his teachers to let them know my plan, and for them to try to monitor his behavior and to keep me posted if things don't seem to turn around. As a parent, you have to know your children, you have to know their strengths and weaknesses, along with your own. It's also good to know what motivates them and what doesn't. Sometimes incentives can help your child try just a little harder.
The homework I most look forward to, is when my daughter has to practice singing for her choir class. I could listen to her voice echo throughout the halls of our home for hours. With that harmonious delight, comes the exact opposite. If given the choice of listening to a feline in heat, claw at a chalkboard for an entire day, or my 7th grader practice the flute for 30 minutes . . . I'd choose Fluffy all day long! Obviously I'd never let him know how I feel, but I do try to schedule my showers, lawn mowing or other outdoor chores to align with his flute practice.
My six-year-old, who I thankfully can still help, has to be reminded each day that his work must be done before he can play on his iPod or play video games. He will normally do his work while I cook dinner. He is the type of kid who thinks everything looks better with stickers on it, including homework and books. I constantly have to remind him it's not appropriate on his schoolwork.
Last week, while making dinner, I was trying to multitask and fold laundry as well. My youngest brings home index cards with sight words on them. He is supposed to write those words multiple times on each card. On this day, while I was in the laundry room, he decided to decorate his work with some stickers he found in a drawer. He was so proud of what he had done, that he brought them to me to show off. Unfortunately, the "stickers" he found, were actually a book of "Delicioso" Forever Stamps. We then spent the next 20 minutes trying to salvage $10 worth of "stickers".
Homework can be stressful for both the student and the parent, but there are far more resources available today, than what we had 25 years ago. Don't be embarrassed if you don't know the answers. Most teachers are willing to spend extra time with your child, if you just communicate with them. Stay on top of their grades and make sure work is being completed. Keep an eye on their mood and behavior throughout the school year. Most importantly, keep the cool looking postal stamps, out of reach from young middle school children.
Herb Cody is a husband and father of three. He is a part time Uber driver and full time caregiver of his spouse, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after an auto accident November, 2015. Herb loves football and is a St Louis Cardinals fanatic. He and his family live in Nixa MO. Herb can be reached for questions or comments at email@example.com . You can check out Herb's own blog at, www.thecodylife.weebly.com
When you were a child doing your homework did you ever wonder, “When am I going to use this stuff again?”
For instance, when was the last time you referenced the Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945?
The Japanese Surrender demonstrated the strength of the allied forces and effectively marked the end of WWII. This will be on the test.
Held in Tokyo Bay on the deck of the battleship USS Missouri, representatives from Japan and the Allied Nations signed a formal document of surrender. Thousands of Allied planes flew overhead.
Ready for the test?
True or False. Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945.
True or False. Japan’s surrender demonstrated the strength of the allies and the end of WWII?
True or False. Japan’s surrender took place on the deck of the USS Missouri.
True or False. The point of this illustration is that Japan surrendered and you are not!
Homework can be a hassle, but we are not surrendering. We are Good Dads and we are in this together.
Good Dads, I have good news for you. I am a survivor. My children are 26, 24, and 22. My two oldest sons have graduated from college and my youngest son is well on his way. It wasn’t always easy, but it should never be a fight. I did my homework. You can, too.
My oldest son was 12 and he absolutely would not do his homework. He wouldn’t budge. So I pulled out the artillery. Like President Truman ordering the atomic strike on Hiroshima, my son was going to surrender or get blown off the map. I got in his face. I yelled. I threatened.
My middle son jumped between the two of us and yelled at me, “Will you shut up?!”
There was two of them and one of me. I felt like General Lee facing the Union armies at Gettysburg. I fired back: “Me? He’s yelling, too!” “Yeah!!” My middle son exclaimed. “But you are the Dad!!”
Yes. I am the Dad.
Here are three suggestions and one encouragement I learned in battle:
Your assignment is to love and nurture and encourage your child. The goal is not an “A” on the paper. The goal is assisting your child become the person he or she will one day be.
True or False, Homework can be hassle but spending time with your children and helping them towards their future is worth it all.
Jeff Sippy, a Dad-In-Training, is the father of three young men and the husband of Cindy. He enjoys sailing every chance that he gets. He is the senior pastor at Redeemer Lutheran in Springfield, MO and can be reached for question or comment at firstname.lastname@example.org