From my Mailbox–Letter from “Frazzled Parent”

Hello Sara,

My husband and I share custody of his 2 sons, now 3rd and 4th grade. We have them 2-3 days each week, along with rotating weekends. Our time with them is limited and constantly invaded by homework demands and frustrations.

We are a very pro education family, with both of us having degrees and professional careers. We both know the realities of what education can do for a person’s future opportunities, so we believe that supporting our kids learning opportunities is priority! However, we have developed a resentment of the quantity of this work ever since our kids started 1st grade.

Our first issue is that we (parents) did not sign up for returning back to school ourselves when our kids started. The homework often requires our time and involvement, explaining, interpreting, and reviewing the homework along with our kids in order for them to get through it; this is after we have put in 12 hour work days ourselves.

Also, we are put in the position of being teachers in the evenings.. and it is clear that we are not trained to perform in this manner. Our own inability to know how our kids are being instructed (which differs greatly than our methods learned 30 years ago) gets in the way and confuses the kids. Our own career choice to not go into teaching was for good reason. The patience and special temperament required to be a teacher is a unique and special skill that parents to not necessarily have. And we don’t want to be put at odds with our kids over our own lack of good instruction!

Last issue is that our patience and time is taxed already with teaching our kids all other life lessons… housework chores, sharing with siblings, conflict resolution, personal grooming, manners, balancing responsibilities with fun, physical fitness, eating healthy, etc. etc. the list goes on….
Reading, writing, math, history, literature, etc. is why our kids spend more time with their teachers each day than with their families already!

How wonderful it would be to be able to spend our 3 hours of time together in the evenings sharing stories about our day, laughing at a few funny shows, reading a bed time story, playing outside, baking cookies, etc… rather than rushing through the evening, barking like drill sargeants, hurrying through dinner,etc. so that there is enough time for them to get their homework done before bedtime at 8:30!

Keep up the fight!!!!
Frazzled Parent
Edmond’s School District, North of Seattle, WA

3 Comments on “From my Mailbox–Letter from “Frazzled Parent””

  1. HomeworkBlues says:

    Excellent letter! You’ve come to the right place.

    Sara, you address this notion in your book. I loved your, “Surprise, you’re a teacher!:” line. Despite your lack of training. Parents, untrained as teachers, are suddenly forced into this role, against their will, not only all afternoon and evening, dragging on into the night, but weekends, holidays, and summers too. I can’t tell you how many times my husband and I staggered into work half drunk with fatigue because we stayed up late with our daughter.

    My husband left the lucrative private sector for a government job because he was on the road all the time and had little time with his beloved only child. So he took a pay cut but doesn’t get time with her. Instead, he is an unpaid teacher’s aide, and it’s a job he never signed up for! I have said for years that if they want this level of commitment and instruction from us, they need to put us on the payroll.

    But here’s the oxymoron, and it would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad. I’ve written that we homeschooled and it was the most magical year of our lives. What I wouldn”t give to say sayonara after the first curt letter from the teacher regarding my homework concerns.

    But get this! The National Federation of Teachers came out with a very strong condemnation of homeschooling, asserting parents who are not teachers themselves do not have the requisite qualifications to teach their own children!

    January 23rd, 2009 at 3:51 pm
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  2. ghost / kuba croft says:

    im just disgusted by the amount of homework i get i dont get much in year 7, but by the amount of how much my older brother gets, its just ridiculous, he’s in year 8 and he gets 300% more *daily* homework than i get i just wished life stood still, i dont want to go to year 8 please help me!!!!!!

    ive already sent threat letters to the school, what else should i do, to stop homework, from giving me home stress. i also have to lie to make my mum bug of from checking my homework everysecond For Fuck Sake What The Fuck is wrong with you parents, dont you see im over-tired already, but my bro gets much more then me so like ill probably start to take time from my sleep if im to catch up with my homework, the teachers always say get a good nights sleep, i cant get it if im doin homework all night, can i?

    February 3rd, 2009 at 3:21 pm
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  3. HomeworkBlues says:

    While the above sentiment resonates, the problem with posts like this is that it just gives detractors ammunition. They will say, aha, we need homework so that young people like this learn to spell, write a coherent sentence and not sprinkle their essays with curse words. If we don’t send home homework, this will be the result. Never mind that they should be working on teaching this young person to write IN SCHOOL, during the day, without lengthening it.

    I don’t know if the above is legitimate or attempts to sabotage the blog. But children and teens, think carefully how you compose a post.

    Please be genuine and honest. Don’t agonize over a perfect submission, we don’t want to scare you off to writing anything at all. We’re not going to call you on every spelling and grammar mistake unless you’re a teacher who makes a strong case for homework, all the while demonstrating it is she who needs to brush up on some! Don’t worry about mistakes; goodness knows, I’ve made plenty myself.

    But when you post unintelligible crude comments, you lose your case. Not with me, but with those who accuse us of living in a fantasy world, not adequately preparing our children for the Global Economy, and that learning to do meaningless tedious tasks are ennobling.

    We want to show the world that our children benefit from less homework or no homework (I prefer the latter) because we parents are perfectly capable of enriching and teaching our children on our own. And not teaching, as in, unpaid aide and middle manager. In my family’s case, and so many others on this blog, it’s giving our children the time and resources to read and write stories all afternoon, as the case with my daughter.

    That would do far more for her writing prowess than all the dull worksheets, reading logs, and word study packets combined. Sunday my daughter was in tears all day because her English writing essay assignments are so detailed, have so many prompts, are so formulaic, that she feels it kills the lyrical flowing beauty of what she wants to say.

    I encouraged my daughter to talk to the teacher, she said she did, and the teacher told her, you must learn to write this way. And, you must first learn all the rules before you can break them. Okay, I’ll be sanguine, try to accept the second premise, but as a writer myself, the very proper, write by the numbers, stiff essay might garner her an A but I doubt it would turn her into the riveting writer later, whose essay or report you cannot put down.

    Back to the above poster, I shouldn’t take this stance, I’m not the blog owner. It”s just my three cents (inflation, you know). Sara, what’s your take?

    February 3rd, 2009 at 4:38 pm
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