Monday, June 7, 2010

As the Homework Ceases, the Mommywork Begins!

Over the last month of the school year, the boys' homework tapered off considerably and finally stopped altogether towards the middle of last week.  Disgusting, isn't it?  Miss one lousy school day due to a snow "storm" (that means anything that sticks to the ground for more than 5 minutes here in Charlotte), and they slap you with a makeup day because each day of instruction is supposedly so crucial to the kids' intellectual development.  Meanwhile, the last 10 days of school are pretty much a waste. 

So this year, I decided to fight back -- with the invention of Mommywork!  As we were driving home from school on Thursday, 9-year-old Lars gleefully informed me that he would not have any more homework for the rest of the year. 

Me: "When we get home, I want you to put your shoes away and go straight to the kitchen table to do your homework."

Lars: "I don't have any homework!  Homework is over for the rest of the year!"

Anders: "I don't have any homework, either."

Me: "Good!  Because I picked out some Mommywork pages for each of you out of your workbooks!"

Boys in unison: "Whaaaat?!!!"

Lars: "But that's not fair!  Everyone knows the best thing about summer vacation is no homework!"

Me: "Wrong.  The best thing about summer vacation is no school.  And anyways, it's not homework; homework is assigned by your teacher.  This is Mommywork, which is totally different.  If you guys want me to keep buying books all summer long, you'll do a couple of quick Mommywork assignments every day.  All those books are expensive!  Remember those Ranger's Apprentice books I just ordered from Amazon?  They'll be here tomorrow, and I'm only going to give them to you if you do your Mommywork.  Deal?"

[Boys grumble in reluctant acquiescence.]

Meanwhile, I'm inwardly chortling with glee -- I have just convinced two little boys to do extra homework all summer long in exchange for the privilege of reading.  I must savor this moment.

So, what exactly is Mommywork going to be?  Well, the boys are both well above grade level in just about everything, so my objective here is not for them to catch up or necessarily even get farther ahead by doing extra work over the summer.  It's just that it took the whole first month of school to get the homework routine established.  Their ADHD meds wear off about an hour or so after they get home from school, so if they don't go straight to the kitchen table and crack open their books the instant they walk in the door, they are doomed.  If they still have homework to do at 5 PM, then keeping them on task to complete a simple assignment becomes an excruciating saga of tears, threats, desperation, and misery for the entire family.  So Mommywork is more about keeping up the routine of homework and the habit of sitting down to do homework as soon as they get home from their half day of summer camp.

However, I don't want to waste their time with boring busywork, either.  So I went to Barnes & Noble and got an assortment of colorful basic skills workbooks that would reinforce what they've been doing in school.  I like the Flash Kids series Gifted & Talented: Reading, Writing & Math by grade level (you can find this series here at Amazon) , but the reading and writing exercises in the fourth grade book are nowhere near challenging for Lars, so I also got him a Basic/Not Boring Language Skills: Writing workbook written for grades 6-8+. 

You can find that one here.  The first time Lars saw the book, he was intimidated by the grade level and I had to put the book away.  But today I tore the page out ahead of time so he wouldn't know which workbook it came from, and gave him one page of identifying passive voice sentences and rewriting them in active voice, and one page of using personification to create strong visual images.  He did great on both.  Some of my favorites of his personification sentences:

"The sun glared down on Bedullin (?) tribesmen in the desert."

"The numbers marched across my math test."

"Our porch light winked repeatedly as we slowly unplugged it."

"The fog swam through the neighborhood."

I'm liking this Mommywork concept more and more every day!

Here's one parting photo for today, Lars and Anders hanging out on a bench at the grocery store while the cashier was ringing up our groceries.  They have little brain teaser activity books that they asked us to buy from the magazine rack in the checkout lane.  Don't they remind you of young Nils and Frasier?  I hope I don't end up with a Maris and a Lilith as daughters-in-law someday...


Fred and/or Marlies said...

Wonderful read.

Somehow it seemed directed at me but I know it was for general consumption.

As I spoke to Anders yesterday (he's a wonderful conversationalist once he gets going), he told me about the Ranger's Apprentice book he's reading after the lights go out. "There all asleep when I read."
I asked if the book was about space. "No", with a chuckle of disbelief that I don't know about such things. Well what are the rangers about then? "Oh, it's just a fantacy life here on earth." Fantacy for a first grader? After some further questions and answers I was dismissed. "I have talked enough now.", he says. I guess the subject matter was too simplistic for him.

PS Little tidbits about daily life of our grandsons are so much more interesting then quilting discussions. :-) Hint, hint - for more.

Fred and/or Marlies said...

so where did my previous comment go from the morning?

Rebecca Grace said...

Hello, Dad #2. I'm glad you're enjoying reading about your grandsons. Feel free to come and visit them "IRL" this summer -- they would love to see you! You are not being censored, but I set up my blog so that comments don't post until I get a chance to see them and click "approve." That way anonymous people like my sister (no blog, no URL, and no gmail address) can post comments, but I can delete spam comments before they post. I had back-to-back client appointments today and work takes precedence over moderating blog comments. :-)