I have two children – one in grade 9 and the other in grade 5. They both do reasonably well in school but when it comes to homework, they are lazy slugs who get easily distracted. While I continue to work from home and am around when they come home to move them along into homework mode, I fear for the time when I am not home and they will have to take responsibility to get going on their homework without me around.
We had just finished dinner and my wife was out for the evening. My kids were at the dining room table in the other room while I was cleaning up the kitchen and getting them some fruit to nibble on.
My younger daughter, who tends to need more help than my 14 year old, is often afraid to tackle a question or a challenge on her own for fear that she might get the answer wrong. My wife and I often encourage her to at least take a stab at it. We want her to try on her own so she can learn from her mistakes and build confidence in her own ability.
She asked for me to help her out with a question. After telling me that she attempted to answer the question on her own, I put down the kitchen towel and the bowl I was drying and came into the dining room to sit down beside her. As I was working through the problem with her, my older daughter said she needed help too.
The worst part was, they were both working on math.
Math….my old enemy.
Math and I had a horrible relationship when I was going through grade school.
I was lousy at it. While I had tutor after tutor and all the help in the world from teachers and my parents, I just never got it.
So here I am, a million years later, sitting with my own two daughters, helping one with integers and the other figuring out the difference between an acute and scalene triangle.
Here I was successfully switching my brain back and forth between grade 5 and grade 9 math – no easy feat!
Mrs. Lennox, one of my more favorite math tutors would be so proud of me.
Whoever said that homework is only hard on kids, was completely wrong.
I don’t really need to repeat grade 5 or grade 9 math again. I went through hell and back the first time to eek out my passing grade.
I never signed up to do it again.
And so it goes….the whacky world of homework and our role in it.
How many times, over the years, have my children asked me to help them with a question they were working on in one of their subjects, expecting me to know how to answer it or how to help them.
This particular night, I was lucky…I was able to help my kids with integers and geometry.
I hate to admit that there have been far too many nights where I told them that I could not help them because I either forgot how to do what they were working on or I simply didn’t know how to help them.
How am I supposed to feel? What will they think of me? I am their father…the guy who is supposed to know everything (or almost everything). I am supposed to be the guy that they can go to, to help them with whatever they need help with.
Well, I am the first to admit….even to them, that I don’t know everything but I certainly have developed skills that I can help them with to with strategies to successfully complete their homework assignments, which includes motivating them and applying my logical mind to tasks that they are struggling with.
Homework doesn’t have to be a hellish trip down memory lane.
It just makes me realize that I was actually not that bad in math…I was just too young to know better.