The ups, downs and overall delights of parenthood
Aug 17, 2011
Love & Hate: I Hate Summer Homework
I think it's important to keep kids' brains nimble and all, but getting them to do summer work is nearly impossible
When I was a kid I would try not to tell my mom when I was bored over summer vacation. If I did, she would simply tell me to do some household chore, as if THAT would make the summer doldrums go away.
In my kids' school district, the parents get an exciting new option to offer our kids. When they tell me they're bored, I say, "Let's do your homework!" You can imagine how well that goes over.
Yes, that's right. Our school gives our kids a big, fat packet of work to do over the summer. And this past spring I got carried away. Forgetting about the packet, I actually paid money to enroll my kids in a summer correspondence course. Yes, I PAID MONEY so that they both have to do a nine-week math and reading class.
What was I thinking?
Well, I know what I was thinking. There is a real problem with very long summer vacations. Most kids experience some degree of "summer slide" or the loss of important math and reading skills. One antidote for summer slide is ensuring that students spend some time doing academic work. So, yes indeed, I know I did the right thing.
What would any of us rather do on a summer day? Ride bikes, go to the beach, hang out in the neighbor's backyard or sit at the kitchen table and do homework? That question wouldn't stump my kids, no matter how little they study over the summer.
So the challenge is, how do you get your kids to do summer work when the sun is up at 6:30 and stays up for 14 hours?
I'm finding the only answer is to act like the mean troll under the bridge and inform my little billy goats that they may not pass into the summer day until they finish a few pages of work. And that's when the whining begins.
Sweet little Suzi becomes a warrior when it's homework time. "I don't WANT to do my homework," she growls at me. I start off sane. "But honey," I say rationally, "Just start working on it and then it will be done." But what's the fun in that, she seems to think. For every minute of homework time, she does about 5 minutes of whining. And after none-too-long, I start whining and growling, too.
Not a good time. And by August, I can assure you that I hate it as much as they do.
But just like when I have to get my kids inoculated or force them to bathe now and then (which they USED to love), being a mom means doing the right the right thing, no matter how painful to everyone.