Sunday, December 23, 2012

Homework Hour

Artistix Network's very own co-founder Val has many talents, writing however is not high on that list. Recently she was given an assignment for an English class she is taking to write an essay that included narration and conversation. After some deliberation she chose to write about her family's battle with homework. Her and her husband have graciously given me permission to share her essay with our readers. 
Homework Hour
by Val
Once upon a time the typical view of an American family was a married couple with two wonderful children. A smart and strong willed third grader, and a very curious and shy kindergartener. After dinner every night they sit around the dining room table for homework. Homework for such young grades never exceed more than a half hour long. The father works with the son, and the mother works with the daughter. There are no fights, disagreements, and very little confusion it’s a smooth half hour.  This example, this view of the American family, that’s not my family. Homework hour is the most challenging part of the day.

My husband and I, we are a young couple with two great children. Sissy she’s eight, and in third grade. When Sissy started school things were pretty easy. Homework was a simple task, she caught on quickly and there was really no problems learning the information she needed to learn. It was done within a timely manner as well. As she gets older she has embraced more attitude and sass. What eight year old girl doesn’t?

Bubba he’s six, he just started kindergarten this year which was new territory all together.  Bubba has speech and language disabilities, he doesn’t catch on as quickly. Understanding his homework is very difficult almost all the time. We are constantly trying to come up with new ways to help him understand and help him retain the information he needs to know. My husband and I both have our own set of issues. My husband has a bit of OCD. Things have to be perfect; if letters aren’t shaped right, or the spacing isn’t exact he gets antsy. He’s always trying to correct our eight and six year old. How can you expect an eight and six year old to write perfectly? Me, I’m no cupcake either. I’m dyslexic, trying to explain things to young kids; reading things out loud for longer than a five minute period is difficult and extremely frustrating.

The dining room is off the kitchen almost connected but separated by a bar counter with a walk way into the dining room from the kitchen. Above the bar counter there are cabinets for the kitchen that come down half way. The back sides of those are flat, they are meant for the kitchen cupboards. Our table and chairs take up a good amount of the dining room. There are two windows in the dining room one along the back wall that almost runs its length. Then a smaller window on the side wall that also has the back door. The blinds are always open, it lights up the room nicely and the kids love it. We have one of those big oval solid wood tables, the ones with the leaf in the center to make them bigger. This is where we do our homework every night. With Paul helping Bubba while I sit close by to help Sissy if she needs help, most of the time she does her homework on her own.

Calmly I say "Let's get homework done" while at the same time getting all their books and papers. Paul heads to the table calling the kids "Come on guys, your mom said get to the table!" Paul's job is to help Bubba with his homework. Right away the challenge begins. "Do we have to right now? I'm busy." whines Sissy flipping her hair over her shoulder. "I don't want to do homework." pouts Bubba. This of course sets Paul off as he raises his voice “Sit down right now so we can get this done, I said right now and I am serious!"  This is when the real chaos beings, when our personalities, and learning challenges collide in to an hour of mess.

Paul's warning was ignored so I issue a warning that usually works "If you don't sit down right now and do your homework you are going to bed early." Jackpot, all the kids including Paul are now at the table and ready to do homework.  "Sissy please get started with your math, then do your English homework" I ask nicely.  She starts with her attitude and sass right away flipping her mid-back length dirty blonde hair back with her hand, staring at me with her almost crystal blue eyes, as she says "I know what to do mom.” So I let her be so she can work on it. When she gets to her English homework is when our heads butt with my dyslexia. She looks almost identical to me, although I have Hazel eyes not blue, this is when blue eyes and hazel eyes stare down and lock in battle. After reading part of her short story Sissy asks “Mom, I can't figure out the answer to these questions, can you help?"  Like I said before reading for more than a few minutes aloud is difficult for me. "Really Sissy? You want me to read for you? Okay but you gotta listen." I say slightly frustrated knowing Sissy won’t pay attention so I will constantly be telling her to pay attention. "Listen Sissy." "I am listening mom!" "Sissy come on you gotta listen!" "I am but I don't understand!" This banter goes on for a good fifteen minutes until she finally understands what’s being read to her, and she is able to complete her homework. During all this Bubba is whining "I can't concentrate with Sissy talking!" While Sissy is complaining "I can't concentrate with Bubba whining!"
Finally Sissy gets her homework done before Bubba gets his complete. So I check over Sissy's homework, "Sissy you have a few math problems wrong please get them fixed." With her hands on her hips and a death stare she argues "They aren't wrong mom! Look I did it right!" In the middle of showing me how right she is, in a defeated voice she says "Oh I guess you're right mom." I gently tell her "I know so please fix them, and then you are done."

Bubba’s homework is pretty easy, for someone without any learning disabilities. With his Speech and Language disabilities and with Paul's perfectionism it’s a bit harder. Paul and Bubba start on his homework which is usually drawing a pattern or numbers for Math. That part goes pretty smoothly after Paul explains what shapes he needs to draw. Bubba is the master of making faces; he’s got these cute little cheeks almost chubby but not quite. With his short brown hair Bubba is the spitting image of Paul. He squints his hazel eyes and raises his eye brows trying to understand what’s being asked of him. There’s always a lot of repeating with his homework.
The next part of his homework is writing letters, each day he has a new letter that he has to write five times, and then draw a picture of something that starts with that letter. As he writes his first letter too big and slightly crooked, Bubba asks "Like this dad?"  "No Jr, erase it. It needs to be smaller and straight" Paul says all antsy. Bubba beings to rewrite the letter after erasing the first letter. Paul anxiously says "No Jr, you have to erase it like this" as he shows him how to completely erase the lines. Then he draws the letter on another piece of paper to show Bubba exactly how it should be done. Paul's standards of perfectionism are high, too high for a six year old. Bubba starts to whine "I don't want too, it’s hard." After I tell Paul to relax a little bit and if the letters aren’t perfect its okay he’s only in kindergarten. We finally get through that part.

The last part of Bubba’s homework is practicing sight words. This is the worst part of homework hour. As Paul picks up the stack of index cards that contain the sight words, Bubba crumples up his face and whines "No more homework". He hates sight words. "We have to finish these, then you will be done with homework" Paul says hoping Bubba will cooperate. Showing the first card to Bubba Paul begins "Come on Jr sound it out with me", "c" … "a"…"n". Paul sounds out the word as Bubba stares at him like he's lost it. This is repeated over and over, first Paul sounding it out too fast then too slow. "Just look at the card Jr!" Paul says. With both boys becoming more and more frustrated. Wiping the tears from his eyes Bubba finally says "c"…"a"…"n", "can."   After about ten minutes of this I step in "Hunny just give me the cards I'll finish this with him." I don’t sound the words out syllable by syllable. I just sound out the first letter and add the rest of the word behind it. Holding out the next sight word I ask "Okay Bubba what’s this word?" "s"…"aid." Bubba says excitedly "Said!" We spend a few minutes on each word until we've finished his sight words. "Okay Bubba we are done put your book up and go play." I say as Bubba jumps from the chair and runs out of the dining room. As I lay my head on the table closing my eyes, and breathing slowly I sigh "We've made it through another night of homework."

We hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into our family and will visit others at Unknown Mami's on this fine Sunday. 
Unknown Mami


Keetha Broyles said...

Oh man do I EVER remember "homework" hour.

I was a teacher, but even so my children didn't believe I knew anything about THEIR homework.

I can honestly say I'm GLAD that part of parenting is OVER for us.

Unknown Mami said...

The challenges abound. Great descriptive essay.