How to Do the Homework Hokey Pokey

No animals were harmed in the making of this film.

Those are the last words I recall before falling asleep. I stayed up way past my bedtime while watching a DVD of the cult classic: The Doberman Gang. And, that was after completing an impressive heap of homework—not mine—my son’s.teens_homework

Motherly worries made it difficult to sleep after what felt like a tag-team wrestling match over homework. How can we have a child who will do everything in his power to avoid doing homework when both his father and I were the type of kids who had near panic attacks if we slipped up on just one assignment?

This is a recent change in pattern. First grade through fifth grade: homework hassles? Thankfully, no, that was one problem we didn’t have in our house. Sixth grade and seventh grade: some assignments were late and had to be made up. Eighth grade: avoidance tactics are fully in place.

Here’s a peek at a condensed version of the “squabble schedule” from last night:

3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Son attends after-school program where – instead of doing homework – he makes an inventive duct-tape sculpture.

5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Son explains on ride home that the time making the duct-tape art is somehow related to both math and language arts. He believes that, although it is not actually a class assignment, it was worth the time because it will somehow impress his classmates and teachers. Plus, “I learned a lot making it. Really.” Son further explains he did not bring his book to read in the car as reading in the car now makes him carsick.

6:45 p.m. Decide to get drive-through food so son can concentrate on his homework when we get home. This is aggravating as I’ve already prepared dinner somewhat but the time spent getting dinner ready at home will take away from the “homework herding” that needs to happen with all three kids.

9:00 p.m. Two sons are down and one to go. Against my better judgment, I offer to type what he dictates just so he can get on with the next subject. He talks, I type. I question; he shrugs. I coerce; he complains. I insist; he shuts down.

10:00 p.m. It’s not worth the aggravation – his or mine – to offer more help or continue to check on progress. I say “good night” and think “good luck” and go to bed. I do watch long enough to see his lights go out at 10:00 p.m.

7 a.m. next morning: The first words I hear are, “MOM! Did you pick up my homework? I left it right HERE and now it is gone!” Let the search begin…

7:03 a.m. My thoughts go to other mothers at this hour of the morning: Do you know where your child’s homework is? Am I doing too much? Too little? Should I back off or take a different tactic? And, what approach haven’t we tried?

We put a plan in place and hope it works out. We put another in place then we shake it all about. We do the homework hokey pokey trying to turn this around. Just what is this all about?

Oh well, we get another chance to get it right tonight. And my next thought is, most importantly:

No children were harmed in the finishing of this homework.


  1. Why do I feel like I am looking into a glimpse of my future? I am afraid, very afraid. I hated doing homework when I was a kid, do I really have to do theirs too?

  2. Kimberly,
    I was so surprised by the change in attitude between the elementary and middle school years; we’re managing. And, I’m realizing I need to take less responsibility so he takes more!

  3. Bravo…..we put our ‘right foot in’ every night. My question….what is going on in school that this HUGE amount of homework comes home each night? I wish our evening conversation was about something other than math problems and adjectives………….:)

  4. My husband and I have always done things pretty much like our parents. If the kids had problems with their homework they went to my husband for help. If the kids wouldn’t do their homework which we really never had that problem then they knew they would have to face the consequences. I remember screaming at my youngest son that he better pay attention in class so he understands how to do his homework because if I have to help him with his homework every night it would not be a very pleasant experience for either one of us.

  5. You go Jo. I agree. I don’t remember having much homework until High School, and my parents never helped me with homework. When my parents come over to visit, they even comment on how I never had that much homework.

    What about all ofthe complaints about child obesity. Taking into account the overall health of children, what do you think is better. Homework or some free time to go out and plan.

    And yes, my favorite line on ‘Where’s my coat, or my shoes, or my backpack…..” is ‘I don’t know where I put it when I took it off.” 🙂