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A new approach on homework nagging


Now that our kids are in Grade 1 and Grade 3, I’ve noticed this year feels a little different. They’re older students and with that comes more responsibilities at home.

Our daughter, who’s in Grade 1, needs to read at least one book every day and then we log it in her home reading journal. Not a big deal, yet somehow we’re having trouble making it part of our daily routine and she ends up reading all four or five books the day before we need to send them back to school. Oops.

Our son, who’s in Grade 3, has a more intensive homework lineup this year. He needs to read daily, practise his weekly words and count by twos and fours to 100 (starting on different numbers).

Because he’s in band this year, he also needs to practise at home for 15 minutes every day.

The reading isn’t a problem because he takes after me and loves to read. I read a chapter of Harry Potter aloud every night — we’re on book four now and totally obsessed — and then he’s so excited to find out what happens next that he reads ahead a couple of chapters before he goes to sleep.

Each week he has a different set of spelling words to practise, so I write them on a sticky note and put them on the side of the fridge. I see them every time I use the microwave (which is a lot) and I’ll randomly ask him to spell them while I wait for something to heat up.

“Car! Start! Fast! Always!

Grade! Made!” He’ll roll his eyes, but he’ll spell them all. It’s been a good system. He groans when I ask him to do the counting by twos and fours, even though he can do it just fine.

He’ll do the counting, but not without acting like I’m asking him to scrub the toilets or play Minecraft in survival mode without building a shelter first. And even though he loves band, he complains about practising. Already! And it’s been, like, three weeks!

Admittedly, he’s doing percussion so it’s not like he needs to practise breath control or fingerings or any of the stuff the kids with “real” instruments need to figure out. But he still needs to practise reading the music and counting in four four time. He’ll get out of his drumsticks and practise pad and I’ll hear 15 minutes of light thudding as he goes through a few pages of sheet music. But not without complaints, of course. Ugh!

They’re only going to have more homework as they get older, so I’ve decided I need to get organized. I made them each a printable weekly calendar so they can check everything off as they finish it. (I’ll post a blank, downloadable copy over on my blog at I even included 30 minutes of mandatory fresh air time — playing outside in the yard. The idea is that if they finish everything on a particular day, they can play video games or watch a show without mean old Mom griping at them.

I hope this works because I don’t enjoy being the homework police. There isn’t even a cool uniform or a flashing light for my truck.

Heather Laura Clarke is a freelance journalist who married her high school sweetheart. They moved from the city to the country, where they spend their days making messes and memories with their eight-year-old son and six-year-old daughter. Follow their family’s adventures over at

Heather Laura Clarke has found a new approach to get the kids to do their homework.

Heather Laura Clarke

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