A while back Sonny’s teacher told us she would prefer Sonny to do his homework by himself. Even if he gets things wrong, that’s better than having us hovering over him, guiding his pencil. I have generally obeyed her wishes, but a couple of nights ago I couldn’t take it anymore.
He had two lesson sheets. In the first, he was given a series of images, each beginning with CL, FL, or BL. He had to write the correct digraph into each blank. Supposedly he had already done this in school — new concepts are never introduced in homework — but Sonny gave every indication of a kid who has no idea what he’s doing. It didn’t help that some of the pictures were less than clear. There was, for example, a picture of a house. Over that was a small arrow pointing to a cloud, but Sonny wrote an H in the blank. Who can blame him?
He took his first crack at that while I was still at work, and quickly got frustrated and upset. The wife let him take a break, and when I came home, I made an executive decision that Sonny wasn’t going to do this homework assignment alone, no matter what his teacher might want. I sat with him and we went over all of the pictures. No, that’s not a shirt, it’s a blouse. Yes, that’s a house, but what is the arrow pointing to? It’s a cloud. And look, that’s not a balloon, that’s… what the hell is that? It’s an outline of a man, and he has a comic strip balloon coming out of his mouth. Is that supposed to be speak? No, it has to start with BL, CL, or FL… oh! It’s blow! Jeez, no wonder Sonny was having trouble with this.
The pictures identified, Sonny had a much easier time of it. We worked on the first half together, and then I turned away from him and tried to ignore him while he did the second half by himself. He got most of them right and was a lot happier about it.
Second worksheet: He had to count dimes and pennies. The lesson sheet is very strange — they’ll show him a picture of a dime and two pennies, and then the next picture will also be a dime and two pennies. The same problem, twice in a row! And Sonny will get the first one right and the second one wrong. Nothing makes me crazier than this.
This worksheet Sonny does by himself. Heaven knows he’s been counting coins for years now, so he certainly knows what he has to do. When he’s done, I look. He has one right, and eleven wrong. I sigh, I sit, I erase everything, and we do it all again. By the end, the homework is as much mine as his — which is exactly the opposite of what his teacher requested.
Whatever. I’m fine with Sonny doing independent work wherever possible, but when he has no idea what he is doing, then what is the point of doing that homework by himself? To heck with it — I’m erasing his mistakes, I’m guiding his pencil, I’m writing in the numbers myself if I have to, so I can show him how it works. I keep going, hoping for that day when everything clicks into place, and suddenly every dime will be worth ten cents and every penny will be worth one cent, every single time. I literally cannot imagine a day when we can add nickels or quarters to these counting exercises, but I try not to think about that. One thing at a time, that’s the only way to go.