Sunday, July 26, 2009

Homework

I know, we're 4 weeks into the summer with 6 to go, why am I even uttering the word. Well, as evidenced by the J Boy's recent science lab, any advancement we may have made in the area of spelling seems to have evaporated with 4 weeks of summer day camps.

Spelling practice was hard work for all of us this past year, Jackson's first year with weekly tests. This is because Jackson's learning style, to put it mildly, is not rote. Normal kids could be told to come home, write out a few spelling words while they inhale a plate of cookies a couple times a week and bingo, words are memorized. It's a painless 10 minutes a few times a week.

We tried that last September and found that we had several hours of suggesting the idea, followed by looooong sessions with pencil and paper. After 30 minutes he will not have written out the words even once. And he would be complaining that "I've been doing homework for hours!!" It felt like it to us too.

It was suggested to us that we try playing games. And so began our thrice weekly games of hangman and our own variations of Scrabble. This actually worked out not too badly. But it took a good hour of games to get through the words once. Granted it was less painful and also quality one on one time with the J Boy, so we had no cause to complain.

Toward the end of the year, he had a marked improvement in spelling and was finally remembering common patterns and letter combinations. Four weeks into the summer and he has forgotten everything. Like that station is not spelled "stashon".

Sydney is an emerging reader. I thought she was doing pretty well at the end of kindergarten, but I realized recently that she no longer will read the words that she knows.

Both of my kids apparently inherited my poor penmanship. Jackson had remedial printing practice through half of grade 2 and Sydney is a little creative with her use of capital letters. As in capital letters rAnDOmLy scattered through her writing.

So I decided just a little practice over the summer would slow down the decay of their academic skills. Since they are as likely to volunteer for homework as I am for beekeeping duties (I have deep fear of being stung by anything) we needed an incentive program.

We had thought of taking the kids to the PNE, the Pacific National Exhibition, in early September just before school starts. It's rides, games and junk food galore. I thought why not have that be the carrot to get them to do the odd sheet of homework.

A few weeks ago I told them that only 10 short homework lessons would earn them a trip to the PNE. Sydney jumped right on the bandwagon and did a little reading and some printing and finished her first session. Jackson declined.

This afternoon, I floated the trial balloon and both kids seemed keen and even consented to the TV being turned off immediately when I had said they might think about doing this after the show they had been watching.

I gave each 3 small assignments. I realize now that I was getting a little greedy.

Jackson spent the first 10 minutes telling us how easy the math sheet was and asking Sydney if she thought his sheet was easy or hard.

Sydney did her numbers and letters practice and had some reading to do. Jackson abandoned his math sheet to help her with her reading. My heart warmed to hear them work together and to hear Jackson encouraging her.

I should have frozen that moment in time because that is where the wheels fell off the wagon.

Jackson realized that his homework was not getting done while he helped her. He understandably wanted to get back to his sheet. Sydney said she would wait for him to be done so she could read with him.

J: After I do this, I'm going to play in my science lab.
S: After that.
J: Then I'm going to have supper.
S: After that.
J: Then I'm going to play some more.
S: After that.
J: Then I'm going to watch TV.
S: After that.
J: Then I'm going to bed.
S: After that.
J: Then I'm going to have breakfast.
S: After that.

I can't remember how far into the next week they got, but it ended with Jackson moaning in disgust and Sydney storming off to alternate between pouting and fake-crying.

The J Boy went to a quieter room to work on his math. It then occurred to him that he still have more to do and that summer homework sucks. So he threw a (small) chair at me (and missed) and generally became discombobulated.

Husband stayed nearby to make sure that Jackson's foul mood did not result in any furniture going through plate glass windows.

The J Boy finally calmed down enough to involve Sydney in a conspiracy against the homework project. They sequestered themselves in the linen closet and came up with a 9 part plan to rid the universe of evil Mothers using the word "summer" and "homework" in the same sentence.

And so no more homework got done.

I haven't given up but I will just focus on one or two things and hope for the best. Or else I will just forget about it and let the grade 1 and 3 teachers clear out the cobwebs in September. The problem is I want to go to the PNE with them and I kind 've boxed myself into a corner on that.

The best laid plans of mice and moms...

1 comment:

natesmom said...

Yes, I, too, had big plans this summer... While I have stayed pretty consistent on the boys reading at night, I have slacked in other areas. It does make SUCH a difference just to have a little review, though!!!

A few weeks after school started, I gave Max a timed multiplication test (Math is his strong suit and he was acing these timed tests during the school year!). He got a 72. Missed 2 and didn't complete 26 in the 6 minute time! After a few days, he was back to acing them. Took another couple of weeks off (various activities planned and people in town!) and he was back down to a 74!!!!

For us, school starts a week from today and I am trying to do them every couple of days until then...

Good luck on the rest of your summer!! : )