Sunday, October 20, 2013

Homework (sigh) and College

My 14-year old is in 9th grade.  This is a big year for him, a year in which his grades count.

Like hundreds of thousands of parents across the nation, I am getting tired of saying "why didn't you turn in x" or "work on your homework."

I have heard the arguments for and against homework, I have read research for and against homework, I even heard Alfie Kohn speak to homework at a work conference a few years ago.  But nothing has prepared me for what I would personally experience as a parent.

Things like...

*Going to open house at school and hearing the phrase "He is a smart kid, he just doesn't do his homework"

*Watching him come home at 8:30 pm after an hour of soccer and an hour of karate and trying to convince him that after he does his chores he should prioritize doing this homework.

*Having conversations as a family about how to manage your time more effectively--instead of playing video games right after school for hours, do your homework first and then do the fun stuff.

*Getting that weekly email from the school with a list of missing assignments

*Wondering how I allow my children to develop agency without limiting their choices in the future

The truth is, my son can get bad grades.  It isn't going to hurt him tremendously to go to a community college first for a few years, for much cheaper, and then transfer to a 4-year, especially if he has no idea what he is interested in studying.  He could even get a GED and then go to community college for that matter and I am pretty sure he isn't going to have THAT low of grades.  Does it really matter that he doesn't take a "middle class" trajectory to go straight to BYU or some other place?

And yet.  Will he later feel like we would have been a little more vigilant?  More structured?  Will he grow up with no sense of discipline?

The stories you hear about people who have discipline did not grow up in homes where parents said "whatever."

So how do I find the balance?  Is there even an answer to this question?  Do I allow him to make his own choice at age 14?

Or do I sell him the American Dream a la middle class?


  1. I feel your pain. I am curious about others thoughts on the topic. I have one that procrastinates everything and one that has to come home and finish his work right away or he can't relax and focus on anything else. Good Luck.

  2. I've had to sign two notes already from Jolie's teacher, acknowledging that she's delinquent on her homework. Over an hour a night, and we still can't get a handle on it. Fourth freaking grade, and your questions resonate with me.

  3. Ugh. This is so tough. My personality required that I do my work. My mother never said boo to me about it. My kids are not the same (why?!). We struggle and we argue and we never get it all done.