Should you ever do your child's homework for them?
No, obviously, you should never ever do your child's homework for them because they are the ones in school and they need to learn the subjects in the homework as well as learning general responsibility and time management skills.
So, no. You shouldn't do their homework for them. Nope.
This week, my 9-year-old son Roan had a bad cough and was just a sad weak coughing non-stop little thing. He even reverted to calling me "Mama" for the first time in months, having been calling me a mature "MOM!" recently. So he had me wrapped around his poor little baby finger.
Because he was sick, he missed two days of school. I knew there would be make-up work and homework, but I did not expect the onslaught of books, papers, rulers, glue sticks, pencils and signature required assignments that he brought home in his back pack. Although he was well enough to go to school, he still wasn't 100 percent. Poor little thing.
So in order to trick his teacher (because, let's be honest, that's what I was doing), I had to write with my left hand.
Now, let me get something straight. I don't really believe in homework. You go to school, and that's where you do that. You come home, and you should do anything but school work at home. Because it's school work.
You can call it "homework," but it has nothing to do with home. It is school work masquerading as homework. I believe a child of age 9 should be running around outside, going to, in my son's case, martial arts or drama practice or doing whatever they want to blow off the steam that may have built up when they were AT SCHOOL.
Unfortunately, my son wasn't able to get into the über expensive or lottery-based "no homework, your child will learn to weave a basket or forage for nuts in the woods" schools around here. So he has a decent amount of homework.
On this particular afternoon, I sat with Roan helping him along pages of math, vocabulary, social studies and reading. Then the coughing started. And he was truly tired. Just beat. And so I said, "You know what? You need to rest. I will do the rest of your homework for you."
And I did.
But it wasn't so simple. My son has terrible penmanship. I pride myself on my penmanship. So in order to trick his teacher (because, let's be honest, that's what I was doing), I had to write with my left hand. I produced an appropriate looking chicken scratch, but it was time-consuming. I told myself it was very good for my brain to use my non-dominant hand, that this was "good for me."
Because I value my son's education and truly DID want to make sure he knew what the homework was about, I would call out to him (as he lay on the couch), "Do you know how to spell holiday?" and he would spell it. Making me feel not so bad for doing his work for him.
"How do you spell beautiful?" He knew.
I felt relieved. He knows this stuff. He didn't need the review. He needed rest.
Yes, we have to push our kids to work hard and be challenged. But sometimes we just have to pick up their slack.
Turns out, the person who DID need review was me. While I was an honors student in many subjects, I was near failing in math. Math scares me and makes my whole body tighten up.
Roan had done pages of math homework and, when I realized it was all sort of the same thing, I felt OK doing the last two pages myself, with my left hand, in chicken scratch. The questions were complicated. Like "Betty, Joe, Ryan and Billy spent $10 on saltwater taffy they bought on the boardwalk. Joe had 1 more piece than Betty. Betty had the least amount and Ryan had the most. How much candy does Billy have?" I struggled. I had to make a chart and tally numbers. My old math fear came right back. I yelled to Roan, who was comfortably wrapped in a blanket on the couch, and somehow he knew the answers just like that. OK, so I wasn't THINKING for my son, I was just relaying the information he was too tired to write out.
The cool thing is that I felt like I used my brain in a way I haven't in a while. I mean, I don't use math on a daily basis, really. Not in that way. And it felt kind of good to use my brain again.
It's also great leverage. I could tell Roan "You have to empty the dishwasher, I did ALL OF YOUR HOMEWORK FOR YOU!" And he couldn't argue with me.
I do wonder if the teacher will notice that the writing is different. But I don't really care. Yes, we have to push our kids to work hard and be challenged. But sometimes we just have to pick up their slack.
(Cut to me writing his college term papers for him… no. I don't think so.)