Vote For Me, Homework will be Illegal …….

That’s it… I’m a crappy mother. I can’t do anything right. Nobody ever listens to me…

Yeah yeah, I know, this is not true. I’m a good mum and I do my best and most of the time it’s enough, my kids are kind and loving and polite and intelligent and special and beautiful (on the inside, of course)   

But this week has been quite a trial. This morning the threats had to become a reality for Grand Master D. This homework thing is just not working.

We had parent teacher conferences this week. Oh how they raved about him.

He’s a wonderful child, he’s a pleasure to have in the class, he is very intelligent….. I’m so sorry about these grades Mrs Mills but Grand Master D just won’t do his homework and that counts and is reflected here.

And there was my queue.. there it was….the empty space I wanted to fill with all my frustrations….. You people have no idea how your stupid homework is killing me slowly from the inside. It’s destroying my family one frigging reading hour at a time! How is this ever gonna do anything for him? Why are you setting stupid goals. I hate this, I hate you, I hate my son for not doing your stupid homework, I hate who I am becoming because of this stinking useless homework.

photo credit

photo credit: David Castillo Dominici

That’s what I wanted to say…. but you know I didn’t because I wasn’t hauled out of the school by security. That would have been on the 6 o’clock news.

This is how it really went down….. Mrs Mills his bad grades are reflected by his incomplete homework. He’s a very smart boy but he’s not trying hard enough. He gets his classwork done but doesn’t do his homework. This is important as we’re trying to teach them how to organise themselves and get ready for high school, you want him to get into a good high school don’t you?

Well of course I want him to get into a good high school. Do you have any idea how much sleep I’m losing and the anxiety already building up in me for an event that is 2 years away? 2 Freaking YEARS. You think I don’t know? Oh I know, but it’s a knowing that comes from NOT knowing anything! I didn’t do high school here. I don’t know what a 3.0 or 4.0 average even means? I have no idea what SAT’s actually are……..

So help me, teachers! Give me suggestions on how to do this. I’m out of ideas. I am lost. I’ve tried pretty much everything…

All I know is my son has just turned 12, he has to read at least 5 hours a week and write at least a page every night and do at least 2 math pages every night and complete spanish homework and science homework and write about what he just read in his reading life journal and eat dinner and go to Taekwondo and have a life and be a kid and be in bed by 8.

He’s 12, yes, he still goes to bed at 8. (And weren’t the teachers surprised by that!) I can’t get him out of bed before 7 and then he’s slower than a snail with a broken foot slithering over salt…He’s tired, cranky, moody, sick in the stomach, headachy (it’s a word ok) prepubescent and a pain in my arse!

3 days  a week he tries to get out of going to school for some reason or another. He makes plans to get his homework done, tells me those plans and then proceeds to do whatever else he can to avoid getting those plans completed.

The teachers tell me I have to help him. I say he’s 12 and this is his homework, not mine and I can not be this bitch anymore. But I have tried so very hard to help him. Every word out of my mouth is about homework , have you done your reading, how many hours have you done? Are you doing your homework? Have you got much homework tonight?

I hate it, He hates it. I have encouraged, punished, yelled, cried, ignored, got The King involved…. and trust me nobody wants THAT!

I’m fucking over it!

This morning was the last straw and I snapped. We had discussed the parent teacher conference and how he had to get more organised and get it done. We made a new plan. He’s been telling me all week the math packet wasn’t due until Friday and he was doing it. He had a half day Wednesday due to the parent teacher conferences, plenty of time to get ahead.

He told me it would be done, he told me he had plenty of time… ‘Mum I’m on it’.

Well he wasn’t. He had done 6 sums, 6, out of 5 pages! I lost it!

Just what I wanna do at 7 fucking AM on a Friday… That’s what I want, to yell at my kid before school. To fuck up my day, and his… To be an arsehole mother who yells at her kids in the morning. I told him that the phone was going for the weekend.

He was shocked! Genuinely shocked, like why would I do that? It’s like there’s a disconnect….

I don’t know what else to do.. he’s too old to sit next to every night and monitor his every pen stroke, he doesn’t want that, I don’t want that but we have to almost go back to that because he just doesn’t do it.

There are no consequences at school, except for grades.. but kids don’t relate to those until it’s too late, they don’t see the importance, they’re 12…….. they think they can make it up… But this is serious and this is where the system sucks. Make him stay in after school, make him stay in at lunch, make it painful, shame him, make it hard to not do your homework and have real consequences. This is YOUR job, you set it, you make them do it. What 12 yo thinks about what will happen 2 years from now when they get a shitty high school because they’ve got so much going on that they can’t sort the homework out in 7th grade.

Help me! This is affecting MY relationship with MY son.  I don’t want that!

Tonight the fight will continue because he needs to read for at least 3 hours on the weekend just to get the 5 logged by next Friday.

Tonight the negotiation will continue, he already asked just before he left…..’If I get my stuff done can I have my phone over the weekend?’ I’m thinking no, there has to be pain, there has to be a lesson. It’s just a weekend, right, but it might be enough pain to get him on track. I hope so because I can’t continue on like this.

This makes me hate the process, this makes me seriously contemplate, if only for a minute,  homeschooling…. but then I slap myself, hard, really hard. You can’t even make them do homework….I want them to want to learn, I want them to invest in their own future. I tell them ALL the time, this is YOUR job, this is for you , I’ve done my homework and schooling. But nobody listens when they’re young and so I look for a new tact, a new way to inspire, a new way to make them do it, so that I don’t have to…..

And to top it all off Miss Gremlin sees it all and because Grand Master D rocks her world, she’s doing the same thing….. and NOW I really have to sit, every night and do fucking homework.


Comments 18

  1. My daughter is twelve and although she has homework, it is nothing like what he is doing. That is crazy! How much time is his friends taking to do it? How overwhelming. I feel you on the struggle, I have that with my son and homework.

    I found you through the blog hop.

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  2. That is a lot of homework. I don’t give homework, and the rest of my school can’t count it as a grade. Our kids are worried about their next meal, not a page of sums. They have parents working 2 jobs that cant sit with then at night. Some have parents that can’t read or write to help them. So… we make time for extra practice in our day. What do you mean by it deciding which high school they go to? Ours go to schools based on location… not grades

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      Yeah New York isn’t like that at all, unfortunately. Some schools won’t even look at you if your grades aren’t at a certain level. The state tests dictate so much, even for middle school applications. It’s a sucky system. Our school is doing a strong academic program with regents being offered in 8th grade, meaning less required course in high school. I don’t understand that but it’s how it seems to work….. Some days I just wanna go back to OZ where I know the system and all the school are good… AND funded properly.

  3. Ahh, homework, the bane of my existence. My son, who has ADHD, is in third grade this year at a private school. And third grade is the year when they start getting a ton of homework. He is smart, but he does struggle with certain concepts. It also takes him three hours to do what other children can probably do in 45 minutes. I have to be sitting right next to him or he will wander away and do something else. So here I am, attached to him right at the time I need to be fixing dinner, seeing that my other son gets his homework done too, battling with the five year old to leave them both alone, and trying to tame the fussy one year old. It’s infuriating to the point that I just point out the right answer or yell at him about why he’s not doing it. Yesterday, he had an appointment after school, and we didn’t get home until 6:00. We ate dinner, and bedtime was looming. I told him to work and do as much as he could, then I drew a line and wrote the teacher a note. I think she could see if he understood it or not in the amount he got done. He also has an IEP that says his assignments are supposed to be modified, but they are not. It’s frustrating. I feel your pain.

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      In 4th grade I met with the teacher and basically drew the line in the sand and said, my kid will NOT do 4 hours of your homework. He will do ten problems to prove he knows it or he’s having trouble and he will move on. This is what we are prepared to do…. ANd although she wasn’t happy she could see I wasn’t playing the stupid game….
      They can get a little carried away with the perceived importance of homework. Im of the opinion that family time, exercise and relaxation time is far more important than busy work for the sake of doing homework….
      Thanks for commenting… It’s a frustrating game that i can’t see getting better.

  4. Ohmyword. I feel for you. I’m so sorry! On one hand i think kids are doing WAY too much AT HOME after they have spent allllll dayum day in school (where you wonder what they were doing if they have 2-3hrs of homework each night), on the other i get preparing them for High school (my hands started sweating at the thought, my oldest is 12 also). It’s very frustrating, overwhelming and stressful how much- whether it should or not- falls back on us as the Moms. The level of what’s expected of us is sickening most of the time. And the kicker is, i really DO want to be able to do it all, but it’s just not possible. (((Hugs))) Things WILL get better and you are doing an amazing job.

  5. Hmmm! I feel your pain. I hate homework.

    Our eldest daughter cares so much about her grades and what her teachers think that my husband told her one Saturday that she may not study if she hasn’t cleaned her room. Well, she cleaned her room worrying about not studying. That’s 8th grade.

    In 6th grade she didn’t have a life, and I told her teacher the same thing and that I was regularly telling her to not finish her homework, because she needed a life. Now my other daughter is in 6th grade, has the same teacher, and never has the same work load. I don’t think the teacher changed. I think my girls are 2 totally different people.

    School is a necessary evil. Sometimes helpful, often not. Stand your ground. I like that you drew a line in the sand. Good for you. Also, taking phones, TV, computer, visiting friends, etc. away are also proper consequences for not following through where expected or when promised. Kids need to be held responsible, but they also need to have a life.

    By the way, Hubby helps with homework in our house. I only help with English and, beyond that, I’m just not interested. I’m not the perfect mom, believe me!

    Tina – American mom raising 4 kids in South Africa

  6. I am a 5th grade teacher. I have to give homework. However, I refuse to give homework that involves 100 problems on a worksheet. I refuse to give homework that is going to take over an hour. Sometimes, it’s just an half-hour. However, I also provide stimulating work/projects/websites/videos online that will reinforce/enrich what I am teaching in my classroom.
    If a student is struggling with the homework, I ask the parent to write a note and let me know. And, it is definitely not graded! My son was the same way, has always been. I refused to sit over him, and many times his grades reflected the homework he did not do. I hope it gets better, but it probably won’t. 🙁

  7. I am a middle and high school teacher at an international school and the debate about homework comes and goes depending on which vested interest is concerned. If parents are noticing that their sons and daughters are overworked, then teachers and administrators look towards managing or reducing the demands. If teachers and universities are noticing under-performing students, then additional requirements, tasks, support and homework is scheduled into the program.

    For now, our policy is to have 60 minutes, total, for a Year 7/Grade 6 student (11-12 year old) per school night (that goes up to 2.5 hours, in increments, by Year 13/Grade 12). That’s for ALL subjects. Teachers try to ensure that assessed work is broken down into smaller tasks and that major assignments are not due on the same day. Repeatedly, our administrators tell parents that if students are spending more than the expected amount of time on school work after school, a note should be sent to the teacher(s). Thus, your drawing the line (like you did in 4th grade) is not unreasonable.

    Middle school is about leaving the dependence of a homeroom teacher and transitioning towards managing your own schedule, materials, and learning. Much of what you describe as homework seems to be busy work. There is movement afoot to change the dialogue from homework to home learning where what is learned at home is linked to what was taught in school so that connections can be made to the real world. The ‘work’ done at home should be exploratory and thought provoking rather than the drill-and-kill methods often used for practice.

    But perhaps more helpful for you would be a visit to Alfie Kohn’s website . Mr. Kohn is a leading proponent of banning homework. He has studied the pros and cons of homework and has come to the conclusion that the costs considerably outweigh the benefits. Many will argue differently, and it would be good to review other perspectives to see if they are as persuasive, but if you read Mr. Kohn’s posts and books (here is one book: The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing) you will at least have some expert material to refer to next time you meet with teachers.

    My belief is that if we have students in school for approximately 6 to 8 hours a day, then that should be enough time for formalized learning. If students want to learn more about what they learned in class, great, but it should be on their terms, not the school’s. Kids need to be kids and families need time to connect on a daily basis. There is more to life than school and work. We all need to revisit what is really important.

    As a politician running on the ‘Vote for me, homework will be illegal’ platform, you’d have my vote.

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      What an interesting and refreshing comment! Thanks for taking the time to type it. I am continually disillusioned by the US system and the teaching to the tests. It feels counterproductive and quite stupid. I just wish I could get my point across at school 🙂 thanks for stopping by.

  8. Yeah, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t freaking out a little…already the homework my six year old brings home- her 1st grade math- is the worst part of my day. Tears, shouting, storming off…from both of us. I really think homework has gone too far these days. Hugs to you mama!

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  9. You did better in that Parent Teacher conference than I would have done. My comment would have been something like, “Way to burn out kids before highschool and guarantee them not going to college.”

    With homeschooling, they would only have half the work, which would be more productive for learning.He would get more work done in less time, BUT it would be an adjustment.


    What we did with the boys when they entered highschool was pay them for grades. Int he real world, when they have a job, they will be paid… SO, this was the weekly system I made up: 2.50 for an A, 2.00 for a B, 1.50 for a C. .50 for a D (an insulting amount and they never wanted it, but took it with rolled eyes.) NOTHING for an F. The idea could be adjusted to reflect how much homework he gets done by Friday. You can check it all then and pay them after school.

    The focus was positive reinforcement, and the money would go for their permanent budget. It took away their need to ask for money because they were earning it. If they didn’t get the work done, they didn’t get the money they needed.

    Also, I would suggest having an honest talk with him. Let him know how frustrated you are. That you guys are in this together. Sometimes systems just work this way. AND it sucks!

    *raises a sympathetic glass of wine*

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