Homework Headache

6 Aug

Letterbalm HomeworkDear LetterBalm: My 15-year-old grandson is finishing summer school in the next couple of weeks. He shouldn’t be there. He’s a good student who tests well and gets along with his classmates and teachers. He doesn’t act up, and he participates in class. The only reason he’s being punished is that he failed all his sophomore classes because he refused to do his homework all last year. He said he was bored because the homework wasn’t challenging enough. My son and his wife think his teachers failed him, and I agree. They should have given him other assignments to stimulate him. But how can we avoid this problem next year?

–Troubled Grandma

Oh, dear. This is a serious and lamentable situation that reflects a failure of teachers, family and student alike. How did it get this far? Along about last October, somebody in authority – a teacher, a guidance counselor, a parent – should have realized that there was a problem. It should never have been allowed to fester for the entire school year. A stubborn 15-year-old against a school administration? Well, we know who wins in that scenario. Your grandson may have stood his ground, but he’s the one suffering. Overworked teachers can’t be expected to devise special homework assignments to suit his needs. Failure of an entire school year (even if his marks are changed because of summer school) is a colossal waste of time and nothing for anyone to be proud of. Your grandson probably shouldn’t write his college essay about this; admissions officers won’t take kindly to a student who defies authority solely because homework is boring. Ms. L.B. asks a key question: Where were your son and his wife? The circumstances presented a genuine teachable moment: Couldn’t a solution have been worked out with school officials, perhaps parents and grandson devising appropriate homework assignments from a myriad of online education resources, including home-schooling sources? Ownership of this situation – certainly if it persists in his junior year – belongs to your grandson and his parents. It is the family’s collective responsibility to ensure he completes all his homework in a way that meets school standards, no arguments. It’s a tough lesson, but your grandson needs to grow up and realize that not everything in life will go his way. Replay all this with your son and daughter-in-law, urging them to sit down with your grandson. They might say something like this:

Patrick, now that you’ve almost finished summer school, we need to talk about next year and work out a plan so this doesn’t happen again. We’re proud that you stood up to the school, but you saw the results. You were the one who suffered. You need to know one thing: Next year, the three of us are responsible for you finishing all your homework, no excuses. If this is a problem, then we need to go to your teachers early in the school year and see if they agree that we will create matching assignments from online education websites that will be more challenging. Your teachers don’t have the time to produce homework especially for you. We’ll have to do it, and only if they agree. If they don’t, you’re smart enough to understand that you’ll have to do the regular assignments. Refusing to do them next year will have a devastating effect on your ability to get into a good college. It’s a tough lesson to learn, and nobody likes it, but not everything in life will go your way. We have confidence you’ll do what’s right.

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3 Responses to “Homework Headache”

  1. afternoonofsundries 08/06/2014 at 3:32 am #

    Also many schools offer Honors and college level classes. Maybe it’s time to look into those as well.

    • Ms. L.B. 08/06/2014 at 4:04 am #

      Indeed, this was the first question asked of the boy’s grandmother. Unfortunately, the school has no advanced placement/honors classes. It absolutely would have been the best solution.

      • afternoonofsundries 08/06/2014 at 4:19 am #

        Man I missed that! Sorry! But you are right, teachers don’t have time to make extra work. I totally agree with you though, communication is key!

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