20 Aug A Mum’s Guide To Surviving Homework
This mother of three says, when it comes to homework, one size does not fit all.
Homework isn’t something I ever enjoyed. I remember it becoming an unavoidable part of high-school life, but not so much in my younger years. I now find myself the mother of three primary-school children who have homework every day.
None of them are particularly thrilled about it.
In fact, just a few short weeks into the school year, we were in a very ugly place.
The children, understandably, wanted to come home from school and play. They didn’t want to get their books out and spend any time revisiting the work of the day. I, on the other hand, was eager to cross this task off my list so we could all relax and enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening together, without the burden of homework hanging over our heads. There were raised voices (mainly mine), loud protests and even tears.
Clearly, my approach wasn’t working – something had to change. I considered sending a note to each of the teachers telling them I was a “conscientious objector” to homework, thereby absolving my children from this burden indefinitely. But that didn’t feel right (although it was tempting). I talked to other mums, got their views and searched for a way of making it work.
Slowly I began to realise the solution lay in the fact that each of my three children were different.
They had different personalities and different body clocks. My eldest daughter, in Year 2, has always been a night owl, peaking at about 7 pm when my other two are ready for bed. She also needs the most help and encouragement with her homework. I decided to set aside time in the evenings, after dinner and baths, to sit down and do her homework with her. At this time her siblings are asleep, so I can give her my full attention. I was worried all the mental stimulation might ‘rev her up’ and make sleep impossible, but her usual bedtime has prevailed and there’s been little stress in completing her work.
My middle child requires little or no help with her work and prefers to sit down and do a whole week’s worth all at once. Usually by about Tuesday afternoon, after some jumping time on the trampoline, she will plough through all her work, unsupervised, and bag it up ready to be handed in on Friday. She was easy. I now just give her a gentle reminder and she’s away.
My youngest son has a reader each night and sight words to learn. He gets very tired after a big day at school, so wrestling with homework in the afternoons or evenings is a real chore. Mornings are the best time for him. He’s more awake and eager to try.
Doing homework like this, in three separate segments, is far from what I had envisaged. I would still rather do it all together, early in the afternoon, but that would be purely for my own benefit. I’m happy to say our new approach to homework has worked. We no longer have the drama in the afternoons, and everyone is much happier. I figured I owed it to my children to set up a system that was going to work for them as much as myself, in order to make learning as enjoyable as possible.
Words by Amanda Sheehan / Photography by Jazmin Quaynor