Homework blues

So I recently posted on Facebook about how excited I get when the kids come home with no homework for the day. Of the 32 people that liked the post, 1 was my husband purely because I think he can sense from the mood when he comes home that there’s been no frustration on that day. The other 31 were all mothers who probably feel the same way as I do. And I’m guessing that there are many more that can relate.

Look I’m not lazy when it comes to doing homework. Ok, maybe only when it’s long division because that stuff just confuses me beyond words! It’s more of an issue because of the amount of homework the kids get these days. My boys are in grade 3 and grade 1 and having to spend at least an hour and a half each day with homework is just craziness. With the elder one it’s not so bad, he does most of it by himself and I have to just check it. With the younger one, who also happens to be the middle child, it’s a fighting, screaming, crying (mostly by me) episode most days. I have to beg and bribe him just to sit down, he hates it, does it untidily just to get it done and even resorts to ‘forgetting’ his books at school just to avoid having to do it. And all this in grade 1 only!

I’ve tried all sorts of tactics to get him writing his letters correctly and the right way round, to do his sums neatly and to read his mind-numbingly boring readers with some enthusiasm, but he couldn’t care less. He thinks it’s all a waste of his time as he doesn’t use it at all and he won’t need it one day when he grows up and becomes a robot maker. (Maybe he’ll create one that does homework for kids) He doesn’t follow the instructions – use a red colour to show the smaller object – no; he’ll just use blue to show how much he feels it’s a waste of time. And it’s not that he can’t do it or that he doesn’t understand the work. He just doesn’t get enough time to play and unwind.

I agree. By the time they’re done with school, extra murals in school and Islamic classes after school, its 4.30pm and there’s hardly any time for free play. I don’t remember getting that much homework or my mum having to sit with me every day, breaking her head with homophones (yes I now know what those are), nouns and number lines. Don’t they have enough time during school to finish all the work? Are children nowadays not as bright as before so they need extra work?

And all the while that I grit my teeth and wade through the mountains of Maths, English and Afrikaans, I think about how much harder it’s going to get as they get older. I have friends with older kids who find it necessary to point this out to me. Even if they didn’t, I can see it in their sallow faces having been up till 11pm helping with science assignments and art projects. Then again, maybe we’re all just over-parenting…

This article was originally written for Jozikids by Fatima Kazee in 2014.

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Fatima Kazee

Fatima Kazee

Fatima Kazee, mum to a teenager, a pre-teen and ‎a little princess.  Part-time wife to a fanatical fisherman. She’s addicted to sneakers, anything chocolatey & is an invaluable member of the Jozikids and Kznkids team.

9 Responses

  1. Hi everyone

    I have the same feeling as well as to nowadays kids they just giving them too much homework to do, anyway i guess education is changing i guess they trying to teach them to be independent. True….Homeworks makes me tired especially Afrikaans subject……..

  2. I don't think we are over-parenting at all. I certainly cannot remember this level and quantity of homework when I was at school, and my parents never had to get roped in to help me with ridiculous projects and assignments. I am no genius, but I managed to succeed in life with an education that didn't have me sitting up with my parents helping me till all hours of the night….

  3. And then your child gets disciplinary hearings due to forgetting their books or to do the mounds of homework. They are exhausted, we are exhausted, families end up screaming and fighting all day and all the while is the education better for all this homework or is it that parents have to get involved to ensure the kids are being taught correctly. I work and I go to night classes straight from work 3 days a week, homework is hell when I get home at 9pm to a miserable husband and 2 unhappy kids.

  4. Sounds like a catch 22 situation. I'm an extremely routine person as I think the kids also function better in routine. But when there's too much to do the routine gets thrown out and we all become irritable, frustrated and difficult. Maybe speaking to your daughter's school about the volume of homework and how it impacts on her will help (if they're approachable).

  5. And I agree with you. My kids are so much happier once they've had some play time and fresh air! This time is limited though when they have so much to do and we need to get it done so they can still get to bed by 8pm. I'm not opposed to homework, my view is that if it's to practice something they've learned at school, sure I'll help with it. But to have to sit for hours doing assignments and work that's not age appropriate or hasn't been taught properly yet, that's where I get annoyed.

  6. Hi Pauline Sannasi-Pillay, that's exactly what moved me to write about my own experience. I know of kids that take public transport and get home late each day. They still have chores to attend to and usually don't have anyone to help them with homework. I know how hard it is for single parents and those who work full days. It's unfortunate that the schools, teachers and department of education doesn't care more about these things.

  7. I am so glad that I am not the only one experiencing the frustration of homework. I LOOOVE the holidays just because I get a break when I come home. My daughters is Grade 7 and we are having such hard time getting the homework done when I get home from work. The teacher wants her in bed by 7:30pm but we only finish the work between 8 – 9pm. She is to tired the next day, cant concentrate in class and cannot finish her task in class. Now, I have been asked to think about taking her for an assessment to rule out the possibility of a learning problem, which then means that she is being lazy and just does not want to do the work.

  8. Hi Fatima, how difficult do you think it is for single parents or moms who work all day then have to do homework, bath the kids, make and eat dinner before getting into bed early enough to start the day again?

  9. I agree wholeheartedly! Particularly at this time of year the amount of homework is ludicrous. My son is in Grade 8 – his 'homework' is not just to complete a written task and hand it in. More often than not the children have to make a documentary, or a movie with a group of other children, build a working headgear for a mine shaft, and film themselves teaching someone else how to complete a general ledger (that's just in the last 2 weeks!) That's in addition to studying for two cycle tests each week. It is extremely important for children to have time to play sport, and get fresh air and exercise because it will help them sleep better, and therefore have better concentration when they have to sit in a classroom. It is up to the parents to say enough is enough and reclaim proper family time and reduce the stress.

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