Monday, September 26, 2011

This Week's Momsperiment: The No-Nag Homework Plan

If my son had a personal theme song, it would be "My Way." In his view, the world would be a much nicer, fairer place if only he were allowed to choose all his meals, watch TV and play video games at will, leave his room a veritable obstacle course of books and LEGOs and bathe only when the cloud of flies around his head became too thick to see. If his friends want to play tag on the playground when he wants to have a pretend lightsaber battle, he storms off and sulks. At birthday parties, he'll eat several cookies and a piece of cake, then protest when I tell him to save the candy in his goody bag for another day.

Naturally, homework falls into this category as well. He's a good student, enjoys school probably more than he cares to admit. But having to write five sentences in a social studies journal and work a couple of pages in his math text is a chore he puts off as long as possible. There are far more important things to occupy his post-school time: running around the playground, hanging out with the kids down the street, playing with his toys, reading Harry Potter, putting on an old Halloween cape and becoming a magician or bullfighter.

Barely a month into school, the Homework Wars have already begun, a tiring and tiresome routine of reminding, nagging, sighing, procrastinating, checking in, complaining and - eventually - completing. And both Son and Parents are at the fraying point.

So yesterday I proposed a new plan. Son is now solely in charge of his work schedule, responsible for bringing home all materials (no more embarrassing trips back to the classroom to retrieve a forgotten notebook) and doing all his work before bedtime. I promise to offer help when needed and make suggestions to help keep him better organized, but otherwise, it's Hands Off, Mom. No nagging, lectures or quietly slipping a neglected folder into his backpack in the morning.

The deal: If this system works, super. Nagging will be a thing of the past, and some important lessons in responsibility, self-reliance and accountability will have been learned. But if too much work is left till the last minute, done slapdash or neglected altogether, we'll have to adjust the plan.

It's 5:30. We came home from the park half an hour ago. As soon as he hopped out of the car, Son went over to play with a neighbor. I'll be starting dinner soon. The backpack has not yet been opened. Naturally, Daughter has followed suit, because it's totally not fair that her big brother gets extra playtime while she doesn't.

So is this a Brilliant Anti-Nag-Pro-Independence strategy on my part? Or an Epic Mom Fail? Any predictions? Any suggestions? Anyone got a bottle of something to share while we see how Operation: No-Nag Homework plays out?

1 comment:

  1. My parents never helped me with homework or reminded me about assignments during my entire K-12 experience, and I did well enough to get into the [state] school of my choice. If my parents had pushed, I would've gotten better grades (since I was occasionally lazy about homework assignments and very lazy about studying for exams), but I still would've chosen to go to the same school.

    My feeling is that if a kid is naturally smart but not interested in going into medicine, engineering, science or law, that kid can do it on their own. Besides, I've heard stories about kids who had their hands held from K-12 and then floundered in college when they were on their own. Good for you for instilling personal accountability so early!