What is the thing parents of school-aged kids dread the most?
Now, some schools and teachers have adopted a no homework policy, and that’s great! I’m all for no homework, but that is not the reality for most of us. So what do we do with this necessity in our lives?
There are tons of posts and suggestions for scheduling homework time and for setting up homework areas. No one addresses the physical, mental and emotional toll homework takes on both our children and on us as the parent.
I remember growing up coming home from school and then having loads of homework to complete. It wasn’t fun to come home from a day of work just to have to work more. Let alone the frustration of having to do homework with parents who didn’t know how to do it the way the teacher taught. The whole situation was sometimes frustrating.
Now as a parent I think it’s even more frustrating. But it’s one of those necessary evils right now. My son’s teacher assigns homework and we support teachers. As we got into a groove with homework this year I found myself more and more frustrated at 4pm when it was homework time. It didn’t matter how much homework he had to do. My son and I just weren’t working well together during homework time.
Then I had an idea! Why do I have to be the one to do homework with him? Yes, I do believe children are capable of doing homework on their own and don’t need their hands held through everything. That being said, we have changed schools to a more academically rigorous school and my son is in Third Grade, which becomes more content focused rather than foundational. So for right now we decided that we wouldn’t leave him to figure out homework on his own. We would build up to independence at his pace with us right alongside him.
So, the idea I had was to outsource some homework to family! Thanks to technology it doesn’t have to be just me or my husband helping with homework because we are in the house with him. So, I checked with our family, my In-Loves live close and are very involved in our kids lives, so we started there! My Mother-In-Love was thrilled to help him study! My Father-In-Love said he’d help too. I checked with my Brother-In-Love and he was happy to help with Spanish homework, since he is a native Spanish speaker. My Sister-In-Love is also in the process of learning Spanish so she was also happy to help with studying. The relief I felt just from knowing that we had a support system for homework was huge! My son was super excited because he got to FaceTime by himself with these family members and he had their sole attention.
The first thing we outsourced was studying vocabulary for tests and quizzes, things that we had a week or two to work on so that we could accommodate schedules. We took pictures of his vocabulary lists and texted them to the person who was helping him study that subject so they would know exactly what he was expected to know. Then after he finished his math and/or spelling homework with me he would call/FaceTime the person/subject he needed to study with and head to his room where it is quiet and he can focus.
Sometimes schedules work out and they are available when he’s doing his homework after school, but sometimes they’re not. He remembers to call them later, he usually checks again before or after dinner, and then if necessary he tries when we start bedtime routines with his little brother. So far it has worked well, I haven’t needed to step in and review or study something he has already worked out with someone else.
The best part about outsourcing homework came as a surprise. I thought the best part would be that I didn’t have to do it, I didn’t have to fight him to study, but I was sooo wrong. The best part about having family help him study is his excitement when he takes the quiz/test and when he gets is back from the teacher. On quiz/test days he has come home so excited to call and tell whoever was helping him study how he thought he did on it. Then when the quiz/test comes home from the teacher he can’t wait to FaceTime and share how he did! Hearing these conversations with our family so invested in our son are the best part!! Seeing his excitement and hearing how excited they are to be part of his team make me so glad we decided to try this idea of outsourcing homework.
I’d love to hear about how your family tackles homework. Have you had others help or do you just do it all yourself? What are your thoughts, concerns, questions about outsourcing homework?