The Homework Window

040I’m not a big homework fan.  I’m not a big homework foe.  In my life on my own four of five weeknights with my three boys (7, 5 and 2), homework is mostly another pesky thing I haven’t been getting around to.

But it’s interesting that we’ve been talking about it on 4Mothers, because I have just recently suggested to my oldest son that he stay up just a bit later than his brothers so we can do some “homework”.  Apart from a bit of reading, he actually hasn’t been assigned any homework.  But he actually really likes practicing his writing and doing worksheets, and would probably benefit from the extra practice, and I was feeling a bit lame about not following an expressed interest.

So we’ve been implementing this new homework window.  It’s not ideal learning time, being at the end of the day, and it’s early days.  But it’s been going really well anyway.

Still, I’ll confess to a secret:  I’m not carving this time out just for the homework, maybe not even primarily for the homework.  When I noticed that my oldest didn’t seem to need quite as much sleep as his brothers (and I would prioritize sleep over homework for sure), I saw an opportunity.  A window of time, brief but available, for my son and me to have some time alone.  A period for him to have my attention, undivided, to help him read a book, practice writing, or add some numbers together.

Or to put together a little Lego.  Last night, after labouring through a book that would normally not be a challenge, my son asked if we could “just chill”.  I had used this expression earlier as a possibility along with homework for our time together – he heard it and he wanted it.  And I did too.  He requested that I sit next to him while he built a Lego plane, even though he can do it alone.  It was late and we didn’t finish it, and cooperative first child that he is, he didn’t complain.  It was really too brief a period, but at least we had it.

The more I move along in my life, the more I want the things I do to have overlapping functions and benefits.  Our new homework routine hits the mark.  It helps me support my son’s reading and skills development, but it also creates pleasant associations with formal learning, acknowledges the fact that he is older and distinct from his brothers, and opens up a little pocket of one-on-one time that both of us truly crave.  We are both eager for this time.

If it wasn’t a multi-faceted win, I’m not sure I would do it.  My kids are still quite young, and I’d rather they dream than drill.  But our little homework window is working well so far, and I’ve been thinking of ways to improve upon it.  Maybe make a little tea?  Maybe a candle at the table?  But I think my best idea is to just sit down and do my own work alongside my son.  Maybe talk a little.  I love his company, and it would be such a nice way to let the curtain down on the day’s activities.

Oh, and the homework might get done too.