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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Homework Struggles

A couple of days ago Kayla and I both had a meltdown while going over her homework.

It started with the math worksheet. She had 10 subtraction problems. For each problem I had her read it aloud by saying the number and then she would either say "minus" or "take away" the next number and equals.

Then we got to the 10th problem and she said "plus" instead of "minus" - I thought it was just a mix-up at first so I pointed to it and said "Kayla what is that?" She answered "plus." Over and over she kept replying "plus" - I was flabbergasted...and admittedly getting a little frustrated. She knows the difference of what a plus and minus sign look like; I would say "Kayla that's a minus." Then we would start over with the problem and she would say "plus" again.

So I let that go and moved on to her writing worksheet of tracing the letter M. She did fine on the whole page and we were back to being in a good mood.

Then I told her to write her name which she started to do with K, a, but then she didn't make anything resembling a 'y.' So I erased it and told her to make a 'y' - rinse and repeat. We did this over and over because she wasn't making any valid attempt to make a 'y.'

Once again I started to get frustrated because this is something I know she can do. She can write her name and has been doing it for months now. If I was telling her to write an "s" I wouldn't have been frustrated because I know she can't do that yet.

So we took another break and she read her sight words.

Then I went back to the worksheet and had her write a 'y' again. Yes I was pushing her to write it because she's capable of doing it.

Then she started saying "I can't do it. I can't do it. I can't do it." She's said that before, it's more a whine when she's trying to get out of doing something. This time her tone was ... different. Defeated almost. And upset.

The third time saying "I can't do it" she just started crying. Real, genuine tears. Not a fake cry.

Of course I felt awful and I cried too. Big parenting fail on my part...I know it wasn't the first thing I've failed at in this parenting job, and it won't be the last. But this really affected me and I felt awful the rest of the night.

Was it because she had a week off for Spring Break and I didn't have her practice writing her name every day so she had a 'mental block' and honestly just could not make her fingers take that pencil and form a 'y'?

I don't want to coddle to her and let her get away with things; especially things I know she can do. So I push her, but I guess sometimes that fine line becomes blurred and I don't know where it is.

Sometimes I feel like I just don't know how to do this. I don't know the best way to push her, to teach her, to get through to her. I don't understand what is going on in her head and I sure don't know the best way to go over homework with her. I don't know what she needs to learn, to make the connection, to not fight me so much on doing things.

If I'm having so much trouble just doing Kindergarten homework with her, what's it going to be like for the next 12 years?

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21 comments:

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

It's going to be you, a loving mama, trying to figure out day by day the best thing to do for your wonderful girl.

It is impossible to KNOW what to do and WHEN to do it all of the time. So, with the best of intentions and the most valiant of efforts you will try. In this case it is the TRYING that is the DOING.

You're doing the trying perfectly.

Bonita said...

Is she in Kindergarten? To me, that sounds like a lot of homework, especially after a day of school. I'm wondering if she was just tired of doing schoolwork. Or maybe she felt it was busywork and wanted no part of it. My son was like that in Kindergarten and we had several meltdowns like you described. I may be way off base, but it's a thought.

Mom24 said...

Ask her teacher how long you should be spending on homework. That really sounds like an awful lot. Julianna's one of the brightest in her class, but we were spending 45 minutes a night on homework. When her teacher found out, she told me to cut it back to 20 or 25 and just put a line through it and write finished. You don't want her so frustrated (or you) that it's not teaching her anything except to hate school.

Good luck. (((Hugs)))

Nancy M. said...

That sounds like a lot of homework for her age! But, every school is different. It's hard to know when to push and when to let it go!

I always hated homework when my son was in school! It seems as though they taught him things differently than I would have. It has been so hard to undo all that teaching!

Nicki said...

Maybe she was just tired that day??? It is hard to go back to school after spring break!!!! I feel your pain, though... Each day I suffer through homework hour with two six-year-olds with ADHD and it is hard to tell when they actually CAN'T do the work and when they'd just rather be playing!

ABandCsMom said...

Sounds like an awful lot of homework for kindergarten. Good Lord. If they send that much work home, after they've already worked them hard at school..no wonder she was upset. Sometimes, enough is just that. Enough!

Carly will get very frustrated. VERY easily. When she does, I side track her on to something else. However, she doesn't get any homework. NONE! And she's in 1rst grade. They do send home activities. Such as; coloring a chart every morning and each night after brushing their teeth. Or, when they read their books, they color in a chart and the parents sign it. They do spelling differently with Carly. She uses a magnetic board with magnetic letters to spell out her words. Sometimes, she is just very slow at printing. I suppose it's a convenience for the staff at the school, but it works and Carly likes it.

Omaha Mama said...

Trust me, it happens to all of us! I still get into it with Brenna sometimes. It happened more last year and I'll just say I don't think I'd have the patience to teach kindergarten! She'd have something and then suddenly, nope. And I would get ANGRY with her, knowing that she JUST HAD IT. Then feel bad for getting frustrated, but sheesh - it's FRUSTRATING! :-) Please don't beat yourself up. I tell my kids that sometimes I'm hard on 'em because I love them so much and also because that's one of God's rules. A little tough love is good for kids.

Carol N. said...

It's a balancing act, right? I don't know Kayla, or what works best for her...is she very tactile? Spilling some flour (or alternative) in a little tray and having her print with her finger in it...might be fun...? Dipping her finger in water and writing her name on a chalk board?

Next time will be better :o) that's the unwritten code of kindergarten.

BTW - my 6 year-old (typical kid) was the same way last night. I told him to give me ten push-ups (as if I were a drill sargeant) every five minutes and he perked up right away.

Take care!

LJ said...

Awww, hugs to both of you!!
You know Aaron is just now doing homework. It's only 5-10 minutes of it Monday to Friday. Even that is enough to make a difference in his life. He wouldn't do homework in k, k, 1, 2, 3, 4. Now that a fraction of the interest is there we go with it. Of course I have as much frustration as you when he's still trying to figure out how to hold a pencil!
Is homework required by the school? Maybe you can make a compromise with the teacher that Kayla does 15-30 minutes of homework a day. You set a timer and once it goes off she's done.

starrlife said...

I'm on the too much homework train! After school we will do no more than 20 minutes of homework- she's tired!
And she does write her name none the less.... That being said- for Kayli - she often has "loose connections" for consistency where what she definitely knows ( left/right, up/down, he/she, writing her name etc.) fluctuates. Her basic fund of knowledge is there but it is not consistently available.
You are a wonderful mom! She will learn, you don't have to push her and you can make it fun for you and her. Perhaps some snacks to encourage her when she gets tired.
I know that sometimes when Kayli is not performing it triggers my own anxieties and I lose perspective- you are allowed to be human. Hugs to you and the family!

Heather said...

I'm sorry you had a rough day. You are a great Mom!

Denise said...

Sydney is in First grade and we dont know our plus or minus' We are writing her name but we have a long way to go on Math. Just do what you can day to day or minute to minute to get by. You are wonderful and so is your sweet daughter (son too)
Hugs from Indiana!
Denise and Sydney

Anonymous said...

Michelle, my son Elijah is 14 and we still have moments like that. We've always had a hard time with fine motor skills. When he was little we would do some warm up exercises to get our bodies ready to do our homework. We would try to do things that crossed over midline with our arms and legs. We'd also squeeze/roll a kitchen towel on the floor with our fingers. When he was about Kayla's age we would take a cookie sheet and put modeling clay pressed onto it. He'd take his pencil and practice "writing" in the clay, then he's get to "erase" it with his finger. The resistance seemed to help his letter formation. It's very hard to make homework fun, but the warm up work seemed to help us. We of course still have our moments, but he knows what I expect and most of the time does it without too much protesting. Best of luck to you.
Pam
Mom to Elijah
www.elijah.net

Anonymous said...

Michelle, my son Elijah is 14 and we still have moments like that. We've always had a hard time with fine motor skills. When he was little we would do some warm up exercises to get our bodies ready to do our homework. We would try to do things that crossed over midline with our arms and legs. We'd also squeeze/roll a kitchen towel on the floor with our fingers. When he was about Kayla's age we would take a cookie sheet and put modeling clay pressed onto it. He'd take his pencil and practice "writing" in the clay, then he's get to "erase" it with his finger. The resistance seemed to help his letter formation. It's very hard to make homework fun, but the warm up work seemed to help us. We of course still have our moments, but he knows what I expect and most of the time does it without too much protesting. Best of luck to you.
Pam
Mom to Elijah
www.elijah.net

Tausha said...

I don't have any good advice as Sam is only 20 months but I feel for you. I know you are doing a great job and maybe she was just tired and you know their stubborn streak. I am sure it will all come back to her.

Christina said...

I've had episodes like that and it is rough. I've cried with them too. (((Hugs))) And that does sounds like a ton of homework for a kindergartner.

Crittle said...

I have those days, too, homework aside. You're doing a fantastic job. Just so ya know.

Shelley said...

Hugs to you and Kayla. It isn't easy is it? I hope that when all is said and done - our kids know that we loved them unconditionally - and that no matter how successfully or effectively - we tried!

Joyfulness said...

I have the same struggles - do I push? do I back off? - especially with one of mine that has fine motor skill issues. I figure as long as we are moving forward, even if it's super slowly, that's good. You're doing a great job!

Bethany said...

I hear ya sister. I have had these moments, only I'm talking about my typical child! I have also had these moments with the girls, but I can back off a bit bc they are in preschool. Just know that this happens with all kids, although I know sometimes it will be harder with our girls. Sigh. I don't know the answer.

Bethany said...

BTW if you saw Mason's homework for kindy, you would blow a gasket. It is nothing like you are describing. It is more like "do 20 jumping jacks", "practice tying your shoes", etc. Now it is getting a little more detailed, but seriously. Kayla is in kindy or 1st grade, which? Can't remember.