Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Homework Help

New to me as a mom in the past few years of parenting is after-school homework help.

When the boys were younger homework consisted of daily reading practice with leveled reading books, weekly spelling lists and the odd worksheet to practice printing or addition or subtraction. The kids weren't assigned a great deal of work to do at home for the first few years of school so most of the at-home learning activities we did I organized myself - math workbooks, word puzzles and games, journaling and lots and lots of reading.

In the past few years they're started to bring home quite a bit more homework - reading lists, spelling lists, math worksheets, word problems, French vocabulary. It's so regular now that it's part of our daily after-school routine - the kids unpack their backpacks in the kitchen and sit right down to their homework with their after-school snack. I read and sign agendas and permission slips and unpack lunch bags while they do their homework so I'm right there to help them as they need it, then review it with them once they're finished.

But the biggest homework addition we've had recently is the "big project" - the kids are assigned a major research project or presentation with a whole bunch of components that they're given a week or two to complete. The kids really enjoy these projects, and I enjoy helping them.

But I can be a bit of a control freak, and I've had a very hard time making sure I don't over help. For someone obsessed with organization, clean lines and visual appeal, a child's version of a presentation board with a hand-lettered title meandering diagonally across and down one side of the page or a research report without clearly marked and underlined titles and topic's a little jarring.

I don't know why I've had such a hard time with it when it comes to homework projects; when the kids and I do artwork and crafts together I've always made a point of being very hands-off, my philosophy being that these are meant to be activities for them and keepsakes of their own making - if I had my hands all over their work it wouldn't be theirs. (This, by the way, is why the kids' crafts on my blog are sometimes not quite as photo-worthy as other mom blogs; my kids' crafts are actually made by kids, not by mom. And I think they're perfect.)

For some reason, though, when it comes to the boys' homework projects I feel compelled to step in, to tidy them up, to design them and stage them the way I would do it.

I don't, though. Through a superhuman exercise in self-restraint I manage to control my obsessive-compulsive nature and silently hand over the requested glue stick or eraser, biting my tongue about the dripping paint or off-centre title or erased-and-corrected-a-dozen-times-over diagram penciled in the margin.

And of course their projects are perfect.

Canadian Lynx diorama, school work, school project, homework, kids crafts
First Grade Diorama
My son's diorama project on the Canadian Lynx from last year still sits proudly on his bedroom shelf. We worked so hard on that project together, researching everything we could learn about the lynx and its characteristics and habits and habitat, carefully printing out his report and practicing his presentation, collecting twigs and leaves and rocks from the park and gathering craft supplies and carefully gluing everything together in a shoebox for the diorama.

It wasn't exactly how I would have made it, but I stood back and followed his instructions - and it was exactly perfect.

For his holiday presentation earlier this year, though my fingers itched to sort and organize and arrange the photos and clippings and items he'd gathered onto his presentation board and stencil out an evenly-lettered title, my only job after helping with the report was to glue the items onto the board.

And for my older son's research reports on pioneer life, members of our community and cultural celebrations around the world, I helped him with where to find the information he needed but let him read and learn and decide what needed to go in the report; I answered questions but held back from offering suggestions; and I bit my tongue when the charts and diagrams didn't look just the way I would have made them. And his reports were perfect.

It's hard as parents who want to help our kids with everything to just step back and let them do for themselves; but it's one of the most important things we can do. Our job is to help them learn and grow on their own, to problem-solve and figure out and make mistakes - and to be proud of everything they do.

You might also like...
First Grade Diorama
Stay-at-Home vs. Working Moms
Can Boys Play With Girls' Toys?
Kids in Sport: How Active is Too Active?
Kids sports, kids activities, sports, active


  1. Lol @ your comment about how your crafts are actually made by your kids. There are so many "mom blogs" with crafts obviously made by the mom. What's the point? I like yours, their cute :)

  2. Hahaha, I have the same problem keeping my hands off my daughter's school stuff!

  3. Such an amazing post.Thanks for sharing and keep posting...
    Assignment Help