Helping with Homework

Some people have asked  me what it is like doing homework with 4 kids (we have 5 kids, but “only” 4 are in school). I decided to do a running blog to give you a taste of what my wife and/or I deal with on a daily basis.

3:48pm My 4 kids who are in school begin doing their homework.

3:49 Noelle (10-years-old) tells me that she accidentally left her homework at school. I sigh.

3:50 Matthew (7-years-old) just broke his pencil. He leaves the table to find another pencil or find a pencil sharpener. I sigh again.

3:51 Matthew returns with a different pencil. I am joyous. Jonathan (8-years-old) just broke his pencil. He leaves the table to find another pencil or a pencil sharpener. My sighs are becoming louder.

3:53 Jonathan finds a quarter and lets everyone know about it. He still hasn’t found a pencil.

3:55 Noelle finds a pencil for Jonathan. She can’t do her homework, but she wants to make sure her brother can.

3:56 While I typed that last sentence, Jonathan said that he needs help approximately 57 times. I sigh again and then stop to help him.

3:58 Finished helping Jonathan. Now Matthew needs help.

3:59 Finished helping Matthew. Wondering why Bradley (9-years-old) hasn’t asked for help yet. It might be a Christmas Miracle arriving a little over a month late.

4:00 While typing that last sentence, Jonathan said that he needs help just once. He’s learning.

4:01 Jonathan didn’t really need my help; he was just kidding. Now Bradley needs my help. I knew it couldn’t last.

4:02 I finish helping Bradley.

4:03 Jonathan shows me that the wart he had on his thumb is now gone. Another belated Christmas Miracle.

4:04 Matthew finishes his homework in near record time. There is much rejoicing.

4:05 The rejoicing is temporary. Jonathan needs help again.

4:06 While helping Jonathan, Bradley begins singing The National Anthem. I resist the urge to stand.

4:07 Now Jonathan is singing God Bless the USA.

4:08 Now they’re both singing The National Anthem. They make Steven Tyler’s rendition sound good.

4:09 Back to business–helping Jonathan.

4:10 Mary Hope (3-years-old) screams from a back bedroom. Apparently Matthew has decided to bother her. I choose to ignore it. She stops screaming.

4:11 Bradley asks a question about his homework. Jonathan gives him an answer. He is wrong.

4:13 Finished helping Bradley for a moment. Jonathan appears to be in a trance. I get his attention. He’s back on track–for now.

4:14 Bradley asks what w-i-d-t-h spells. I tell him width. He asks me what that means. I tell him. He says, “Oh!” I love filling young minds with knowledge.

4:15 Jonathan finishes his math homework. I check it. It is correct. Yiiipppppeeeee! Now on to spelling.

4:16 For spelling, Jonathan has to cut out letters and then arrange the letters into the words that I will then call out. His cutting skills are pretty good. I ponder the possibility that he might one day become a surgeon or a seamstress. Can men be seamstresses? Do seamstresses have to cut a lot?

4:18 Jonathan is through cutting out his letters. I start calling out his spelling words. The first word is pause. He spells it p-u-a-s-e. I correct him without sighing too loudly. I’m a good parent.

4:20 I look at Bradley to make sure he is still working. He sees me looking at him and says, “What?” I say, “Nothing–as you were.”

4:21 Second word for Jonathan is launch. He spells this one incorrectly, too. I consider launching my laptop through the window.

4:22 Bradley needs help with finding a word with a soft “c.”

4:23 Jonathan’s third word is fault. He spells it correctly. Yay! Next word–draw.

4:24 Noelle comes up to me and apologizes for leaving her homework at school. I hug her and say that it’s ok.

4:25 Jonathan spelled draw correctly. He’s on a roll. Next word–law. Correct again! Next word–jaw. Boom! Next word–fawn. Woohoo! Next word–hawk. You can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him! Next word–raw. Yes! Next word–crawl. Auuggghhh! The streak comes to an end.

4:26 Jonathan has to go to the bathroom. All of that spelling has caused some movement in his bowels. Or bowel. Is that supposed to be plural or singular?

4:27 Matthew and Mary Hope are wrestling in the living room.

4:28 They have now taken their fight elsewhere.

4:29 Helped Bradley find words with the soft g sound. I’m a beast at  3rd grade English.

4:30 Matthew has just yelled “I’m telling.”  Some discussion arises between him and Noelle. He reverses his decision and chooses not to tell.

4:31 Matthew threatens to throw Mary Hope’s baby doll out of the front door. I yell “Hey!” He refrains from tossing the doll.

4:32 Bradley asks me what “pity” means. I tell him. Jonathan is still in the bathroom. I pity whoever goes in there after him.

4:34 Jonathan is back from the bathroom. I ask him if he washed is hands. He says no and heads back to the bathroom.

4:35 Bradley has disappeared.

4:36 Bradley reappears and asks what time it is. I tell him. Jonathan hasn’t returned from washing his hands yet. About to send out a search party.

4:37 Jonathan returns with a complaint that Matthew keeps on hitting people. I say, “That’s terrible.” Back to his words. Last two words are shoe and flew. He spells  them correctly. He is now done with his homework. Bradley is the last kid standing. Or sitting. Whichever.

4:39 Matthew yells “I’m telling” again. He doesn’t tell. He’s the boy who cried “tell!”

4:40 Matthew yells “I’m telling” again. Again he doesn’t tell.

4:41 Jonathan says, “Daddy, my hand’s starting to bleed.” He cut it or scraped it at school today. I tell him to put a band-aid on it.

4:42 Bradley can’t sit still.

4:43 Bradley needs help. I help him.

4:44 Sounds like someone just fell into the wall in the hallway. Mary Hope says “Ow, ow, ow!” Then silence. Matthew asks her if she is ok. She says yes.

4:45 Matthew just threatened to arrest Mary Hope. Not sure what  she has done, but I vow within myself to bail her out no matter how much it costs.

4:46 Bradley stretches and yawns. I feel his pain. He’s almost done.

4:47 Jonathan, Mary Hope, and Matthew all start yelling. I am not sure why. The yelling stops. Jonathan yells, “Let’s tie Matthew to a chair.” I hope they’re just playing, but if they aren’t that’s okay, too.

4:48 Bradley needs help. One of his questions mentions an answering machine. He doesn’t know what an answering machine is because my wife and I only have cell phones.

4:50 Bradley complains about how much work he has to do. I tell him that whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. He looks at me vacantly.

4:54 The other kids have been quiet for a few minutes. It doesn’t last.

4:56 Bradley finishes his homework. I fight back tears of joy.

It has taken us 1 hour and 8 minutes to finish our homework.

Is this normal?

No–it usually takes longer. I need a nap.

How long does it take your kids to do their homework on average?
If you don’t have kids, does this make you want to keep it that way?







23 thoughts on “Helping with Homework

  1. It is now 11:10 P.M. where I’m at, and consequently I’m too tired to give the stunning blow-by-blow that you delivered above. Suffice it to say that, because the 8th grader has an assignment due tomorrow, I’m now $58 poorer (that’s how much the printer ink cost). And even after installing the new cartridge, I had printer problems–which necessitated troubleshooting (of course)–bevause he has to print out the assignment for tomorrow.

    And so it goes…

  2. I have none of these problems because I choose not to involve myself in homework in any way, shape or form. If they do it, fine, if they don’t, that’s between them and their teacher.
    Of course if they don’t understand something or need help, I will immediately refer them back to their teacher.
    I am not a teacher and I’m not that keen on kids despite having four.
    I sound like a right cow don’t I? But I’m not. I’m fun mum.

  3. Matt, I have a question for you:

    Do you sigh at church too? LOL.

    On an average it takes my mom and my niece about an hour to do her homework. It has to…because at 1:01 my mom is ready for a nice white jacket.

  4. I don’t miss those days, I was lucky when mine were growing up I work until 8pm each night so my wife had to deal with this most nights. Gives me a greater appreciation for what she did.

    Homework is supposed to help teach the children, but it usually ends up teaching the parents a lesson in patience.

  5. I enjoyed this post and have had a mix of experiences like you described.
    My oldest (9th) is on her own for home work. If she does it great if not, her loss on a grade and her loss of the items we take from her due to bad grades. She has been on her own for home work since fifth grade (we saw no other way to have her be invested in her education.
    If she needs help we help, just the other day she had science homework and her little sister, (1st) helped her with it as my wife and I listened and to our excitement and wonder our Homeshooled child helped our public school child.

    Even as a homeschool family we have the missing paper, missing or broken pencils and the sighing..lots and lots of sighing.

  6. Lauren does homework from the time she gets home until she goes to bed. She is in Pre-Cal, so I can’t help her. Probably why she’s 6th in her class.

    Andrew does his himself. Except for some math problems. So the math genius helps him when she finds time.

    I help him with other stuff when he needs it, but they don’t need my help as much anymore.

  7. Good grief, I remember the homework in elementary school being insane!!!!!! Sometimes my children would bring home worksheets that HAD to be completed, yet the teacher hadn’t gone over the subject matter!?!??!?!?!!?!?!? Projects…. well, when my daughter was in 2nd grade her project looked as though a 2nd grader did it, because she DID it. I laughed out loud when a girl walked in carrying her castle that was built to scale; no doubt, architect-daddy DID that one!

    The middle school projects seemed like the high school projects of yesteryear.

    Some high school courses are taught at a college level and they aren’t even the AP courses.

    I hate to barrade you with frustrating news, but I urge you to stand up against what is wrong, when and if you see this starting to have a negative effect on your children.

    I, too, have wanted to launch something through the window.

  8. I don’t have kids, and for some reason I read through that whole thing. I have a whole new respect for you, Matt! I will get there someday, but right now, that made my head hurt. lol

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