Sunday, March 27, 2011

Homework - Do it or what?

I recently got a note from the little boys' teachers - Ian and Sam haven't turned in their homework in several weeks. After my initial, "Really, that long?" and a quick giggle to myself about the fact that they actually chose NOT to turn in their homework, I went to find out why.

My role in this house is and has always been more of a homework reminder, not a homework do-er or a homework checker. Yet here I find myself thrust into the role of follow up and follow through person because my kids, who were doing the work and not turning it in, or not doing it and telling me it was done (two very different kids) didn't get the job done.

In this house we give you time to do your work, a place to plop down and read/color/calculate/create/write/whatever, and help if you get stuck and ask, but I'm not checking each night to see if the work is complete and correct. My job is to provide a place for the boys to work and an environment in which they can successfully complete their work, but not to do the work for them or to turn it in for them. Well, they hit their first bump in the road on that one. Not turning in your homework at our school has weird consequences because we don't have grades. They get grades for efforts and achievement, but only O, G, S, and N. This might be the time for an Nor two to show up on a report card. I'd give it to them if they were my students. This time though, I got a quick note from the teacher that they were missing the work, and a polite request to get them to turn it in.

I believe that elementary school is the time and place to learn how to manage your time, complete assignments, and learn to be organized in general. This is the time to try things and fail, when those consequences aren't as great. I don't tie my kids' shoes, pack their lunches or make sure they've completed their homework - this is when they need to learn to stand on their own and do all of those things. It is a safe environment to do so - where else besides elementary school can you walk in with mismatched clothing, incomplete homework, and no protein in your lunch and still have a very successful day? My kids are learning the ropes and are much more independent than others, but if this means that they will sometimes not turn in their homework on time, well, so be it. This is their chance to learn what those consequences are without having it impact the rest of their lives (or their future educational career - remember that big fat zero in high school for not turning in one assignment?). I'd much rather have them learn that lesson now than in middle school, or heaven forbid, in high school.
So apologies to their 2nd grade teachers. My kids will not always turn in their work complete and on time, but know that when you send those notes home that they are learning that lesson and you are setting them up for a much brighter educational career, and a much easier life path.

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