I know some parents give their kids some homework assignments to do over the summer. Perhaps not all summer, perhaps only in the last few weeks, and yes, I am one of those parents.
The reasons are unique to my kids and their situations, just like each family and their kids has unique reasons for doing things.
Our reasons, for example, have little to do with marks. We’re satisfied with the marks they bring home, but as I’m sure we can all agree, for most kids, there’s room for improvement in certain areas.
For my almost 7th grader, it’s printing neatly. 🙂 Also, remembering and using correctly the French verbs in conjugation. I noticed by late July when I randomly quiz him verbally that he’s getting some verb endings confused (être and avoir in the plural) which is not surprising since we do not speak French at home. I understand language, I grew up with several, but not using one or the other over the years makes me realize just how quickly you forget the basics. (Also, how quickly it comes back when you do something as simple as read a magazine article or a child’s picture book in that language.)
For the almost 5th grader, it’s the idea of testing and memorizing something. If you even mention the word test she gets an anxiety attack and worries endlessly that she doesn’t measure up to her own very high expectations. (For a kid who gets straight As, it’ kind of hard to understand sometimes…)
So I asked her once during a relaxed walk with the dog if there is anything she thinks she might want to review before heading back to school. She picked math right away, claiming it’s her worst subject (it isn’t, but she doesn’t like math). I asked what specifically is giving her trouble and she said the multiplication table.
Fair enough. I suggested she practice some of the numbers she struggles with and all hell broke loose.
So I went back to what we do with other subjects during the school year (spelling tests, French dictées) and I had her copy out each number she wasn’t able to memorize fluently. And, just to ease her anxiety, I gave her a multiplication table, had her colour it in, and post it on the easel she was working on as a way to give the the added assurance. (Thing is, she knows the numbers better than she gives herself credit for, but we’re tackling the anxiety more than the actual memorization.)
The boy, in the meantime, has to write out his conjugation, neatly OR ELSE “you will have to repeat it!” and write some nice sentences “without the word stupide in it, thank you very much” to practice the endings.
But to get to THIS point, where they actually do some of this work during their summer vacation that is supposed to be free of work, MOM! took a while. A long while.
Apparently I’m ruining their summer vacation.
What finally worked for me was going back to my dry erase board.
The idea is simple: Each morning during the school year, while I coffee and check the local news and weather, I jot down in different colours who is doing what activity where and when. The girl is pink, the boy blue, I’m green and their dad is purple. They are each responsible for understanding the family dynamic for that day and handle their own responsibilities in a timely fashion. (Like, get your water bottle ready before I’m standing at the door, key in lock…)
Each kid is responsible for checking that board in the morning to allow for adequate planning of homework after school. Each kids understands they need to eat at certain times pending where they’re going and for how long.
That kind of thing.
I figured, why not do this now, for the last few weeks of summer? Sometimes I will include on or two chores and keep the schoolwork light (change bed sheets, peel and cut carrots). But ultimately I let them rise to the expectation and contribute to the household work as members of the family. There is no pay, no sticker chart, no extra praise for helping out. We’re all contributing so we adults can take the kids to THEIR activities.
It works, mostly. But we’ve had a lot of years of practice.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not exactly smooth sailing. But it’s working better than I anticipated and still allows me my own schedule. I can leave the list, point it out to my co-parent, leave for a shopping trip, and come back to completed activities (more or less). Everyone can read the short list, no one has an excuse not to do their thing, and I’m not (as) agitated upon my return when I see their accomplishments. (As opposed to knowing it’ll have to be me to direct, repeat and supervise while also unpacking groceries or cooking something.)
Note: I still occasionally hear complaints about how I ruin their vacation, but I’m quick to point out that hey, I’m still shopping, do the laundry, cook and feed them, when do I get a vacation?