homework hell

homework

This image by lourdesnique is licensed under Creative Commons CC0 from Pixabay.

You woke up early, made a wholesome breakfast, organized the Pinterest-inspired first day of school photos, and loaded your kids up with their dream back pack, and freshly sharpened pencils. You don’t know how you did it, but you got your crew in the car and to school on time. Once you kiss them all and send them off you realize there was one thing you have forgotten in this otherwise perfect day:

Tonight. Begins. The. Homework. Saga.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

For so many parents, memories about our educational experience include homework: writing or diagraming sentences, math problems, spelling lists, and reading comprehension questions. And even though we despise the practice of having our kids do homework, one of the first things teachers are asked during Back to School Night is, “Can you explain your homework policy?”

Ugh.

Most teachers hate to give homework. Even more teacher hate to receive homework. And many teachers are happy to do away with the practice all together.

So why are our kids still doing homework?

The simplest answer is–many schools maintain a homework policy to keep the parents happy. Despite the deep-hidden angst about homework, some parents push their feelings aside in lieu of homework’s “rewards: naturally setting boundaries, helping students practice learned skills, building study habits, and (let’s be honest… these are our favorite excuses nowadays) homework keeps kids off devices or away from bickering with siblings.

But the truth is our children can still achieve all of those goals without homework. Jessica Smock wrote about the 31 Things Your Kids Should Do Instead of Homework and I think today’s teachers should send that home as a weekly to-do list rather than a spelling list.

Though the homework debate is sure to continue well in to my retirement, I urge you to advocate for your child’s body and mind. Just like this teacher urged, spend your children’s “homework time” doing something more meaningful like: playing outside, cooking together, or learning about something you’re passionate about… their minds, their body, and your sanity will thank me later.

Angela

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cry baby

Child Portrait Hands

This image by heinz is licensed under Creative Commons CC0 from Pixabay.

On the first few days of school, your child entered the classroom with confidence, a smile, and total exuberance. Days later…the waterworks began.

Why is this happening?

Is someone hurting my child?

Are they safe?

For most children, the first days of school are fun and new. But for others, the reality of going to school every day wears off quickly and the true “first day jitters” kicks in. Don’t worry. Your child isn’t crying because school is a terrible place. They are crying because it’s the place they go when you are not around and that makes your child sad.

Be patient. In a few days, weeks, or months, the classroom will become their happy place.

Regardless of how your child feels about coming to school today, it’s important that you maintain a daily routine:

  • talk about your “big kid.” By doing this, you will help boost your child’s confidence and it will soon become their “job” just as yours is going to work.
  • treat them like a “big kid.” Have them carry their own lunch box and walk on their own two feet. Though it may take a bit longer to get there, this habit reminds your child that they are so big that they get to go to school.
  • keep smiling. Your child is looking to you for advice about how they should feel. If you’re excited, they’ll be excited. If you’re nervous, they will be too.
  • a kiss & a cuddle. Your child was happy until they saw the classroom door and then the “ugly cry” began. No matter how their tears pull at your heart strings… don’t drag out the goodbye. Give a kiss, a cuddle, and hand them over to the teacher. The longer the disconnection time, the more anxious your child will become, and the longer it will take your child to settle down. Relax, your child’s teacher is used to this.
  • loving reminders. As you give your child a goodbye kiss, whisper to them that you (or another loved one) will be back at pick-up time. Hearing this reassures your child that they won’t be forgotten.

Think you’re alone? Think again. Check out this blog post from a mom who’s been through the drop-off from hell herself.

Angela

starting school

pexels-photo-236164

This image by graphicstock is licensed under Creative Commons CC0 from Pixabay and Pexels.

Whether it’s day care, nursery, kindergarten, or middle school… starting school can be harder on parents than on their children. 

For the youngest children just starting school, there are some things you can do at home to ensure that your child’s first few days at school are successful:

  • bed time. Make sure your little one is getting the sleep they need (10-13 hours for 3- and 4-year old children). A tired kid is an anxious kid.
  • ease their fears. Your child will look to you for guidance. If you are worried, they will be too. Ease their fears by putting on a happy face while you talk about how fun school is.
  • send love. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn is a beautiful book with a great message. Reading books like will help you show your child you are not deserting them. Likewise, establishing a small personal ritual before going off to school will be something your child can access when you are not around.

If you need some additional advice, Parent’s Magazine has a great article about separation anxiety.

For those who are a bit reluctant about sending your preschooler to school, just remember, you are doing the right thing. Take a deep breath, grab yourself a cup of tea, and read this mom’s reflection on why kids need preschool!

Angela