14 April 2014

Why I Won't Make My Child Complete a Word Search Worksheet for Homework

"We know it works with Alzheimer's patients" was the reply provided to my husband several years ago when he asked the teacher if there was any research to support a word search puzzle as homework for one of our sons.  Yep.  That's what she told us--it works with Alzheimer's patients.  Keep in mind, our child was seven years old, not eighty-seven.

Being an educator and a parent is not always easy, especially when you work in the same town where your children attend school.  I try to meet teachers each year as a parent and leave my educator hat at home when I meet with or email them.  As an educator, I try to see the teacher's point of view first when working with my sons.  In fact, I often second guess my own sons at home when we're talking about homework because I want to give the benefit of doubt to the teacher.  However, as a mom who is passionate about education,  I recognize that it's my duty and privilege to advocate for my children to ensure they receive the best education possible.  I believe strongly in my children and their abilities and want them to learn, to enjoy learning, and to feel like school makes sense.  I want my sons to know that I believe in them and will support them in their learning journey, but they will also have to accept responsibility and face any consequences associated with non compliance.

This weekend when I checked the online grades portal, I noticed one of my sons was missing an assignment.  When I asked him about it and the corresponding zero he received.  His reply was "oh--that was a word search worksheet, so I chose not to waste my time doing it."  I told him he would have to suffer the consequences of that one worksheet bringing his grade down, and he said he didn't care.  I struggled with his response because I want him to care about school, but when he assured me that he was respectfully not doing the homework and that he didn't say anything disrespectful to his teacher, I decided I would support his decision to not waste time completing a word search worksheet. 

I've been thinking about this issue all weekend because I'm struggling to know if it's the right decision to support his choice. Generally, we require all homework to be completed by our sons, but when it comes to children completing meaningless tasks, I struggle.  I struggle big time.   I don't want meaningless tasks for any children in our education system including my own.   Over the years we've required our sons to complete even tasks that were meaningless because in life we have to do things we don't like to do.  But this time when the second word search worksheet came home within a one semester for the same child, we are supporting his decision to not complete it--at least this time.  Not sure what we'll do if the word search worksheets continue to be sent home for homework.  If you have any suggestions, please share them here.