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Student Life

Homework: A Family Affair

Parents in school bond with children over homework.

Lisa Hardman

March 23, 2007

Homework: A Family Affair

Textbooks, school papers, empty lunchboxes and pencils litter the kitchen table. Accordion folders, library books and backpacks filled to overflowing spill onto the entryway floor. My laptop and course work lay buried beneath the chaotic jumble. It must be that glorious time of day when my children and I all sit down together to bond over the familiar constant in our present domestic life -- homework. Lately, our family conversations seem to revolve around the question, “How much homework do you have tonight?” Together we frequently commiserate in the scholastic trenches as we fight like military comrades for our academic survival.

Between college, high school and elementary school homework, there are always scholarly activities going on in my household. Even my husband gets in on the act. Happy to be entrusted with anything math related, he can often be found at the dining room table hashing out complex equations with my teenage son late into the night. When it comes to writing assignments; however, I become the built-in editor ready to proofread and suggest possible revisions. We make a great team as we herd our little scholars along the academic trail of success.

But the academic trail we tread as a family is often precarious, exasperating, and downright demanding -- especially when procrastination is involved and tensions run high. Last weekend’s homework fiasco was a case in point. I worked my tail off to get a pressing English essay done so I could have my Sunday free. My teenage son, on the other hand, put off a huge research project until the very last possible moment. It took a three person team of dad, mom and son working the entire weekend to pull something together. I know that I should have let him flounder and learn his lesson. But in spite of the fact that I was extremely annoyed by his lack of planning, I was actually able to offer him concrete advice on how to put together a fairly decent research paper. Based on my recent experience in writing college essays, I could guide him in the finer points of crafting a thesis statement with tension. Instead of floundering in the dark, I was able to illuminate for him the elusive process of organizing and developing a coherent paper.

So what was the end result? My grateful son got an “A” on his paper and I got an “A” on my essay, too. As a family, we have a vested interest in each other’s academic success. We make it a point to share our triumphs and laud each other’s personal victories. By supporting one another, we are creating a strong family culture that values scholastic achievement and demonstrating that the family that studies together gets “A’s” together.

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