Bite-Sized Homework

We’ve had our ups and downs with homework this year. Most weeks the child’s homework is a sweet routine of math drills and spelling practice. Since she thrives on routine more than even she would care to admit, this has been overall very good. Most days she can do her homework with minimal mom input, which is a good thing. The challenge then becomes some of the more extraordinary projects that come in and dislodge the routine.

Every five weeks they do a review spelling week, so instead of practicing spelling words we do a writing assignment. Usually they are short and seemingly simple: tell a funny story, explain how you drew something, write a letter…Working through these writing assignments put our “new” challenges into clear perspective. Writing is so hard for her. Every aspect of it – spelling, punctuation, just putting her thoughts down onto paper is labor intensive, slow, and excruciatingly painful to watch. She can do it, so I keep encouraging her to try, and to do her best, but she summed it up one night with the words, “Mom, I know I’m not good at writing.” So I’m meeting with school  staff again for assessments and new supports.

Meanwhile, this week is our school’s annual Science Fair. It is open to all grades, and so far we have done a project each year. I say we because although I make her do most of the work, there is a fair amount of mommy supervision going on. I have loved science fairs since I was in fourth grade, so I am always happy when she tells me she wants to do a project again this year. The Fair is this Thursday. We always start our project early, knowing that we have to break it into several small manageable pieces in order to succeed. Last week the teacher reminded me that this week is a writing assignment week. Plus there is a special “family homework” that we’re supposed to be working on, and the usual math drills. My mommy-powered red flags triggered immediately. I asked the teacher to send home the writing assignment early (which she did, Thank You!) and we made a homework calendar. We figured out that we had 10 days to get everything done. We worked our way backward from when the last project (family homework) is due, and limited homework to no more than three items each day (a pre-determined limit.) On days when we have a big event (like the Science Fair) we limited it to two “easy” things. So far we have stayed on track, and even finished the Science Fair Project early.

You know that saying about how you eat an elephant? It works with homework, too…

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