School Concerns - confessions of a worried mum

This morning I went into Biggie's room ... a few hours later Little Guy and I emerged and Biggie's room had been transformed.

The changes were prompted by my concern for Biggie this week. He's having a hard time with his school work. He's just started in the third grade and has a new teacher. Either the third grade curriculum requirements or perhaps his strict teacher, is piling on the homework. Poor Biggie is used to getting his homework done in a few minutes, half an hour tops. This week it's been taking much longer. There have been tears shed - very unlike Biggie.

Third Graders also have an extra hour of school twice a week. Biggie is getting home from school at ten past four - we only live a five minute walk away. With our early-to-bed routine he practically has to walk in the door and get started on his homework.

So with all this stress in mind I have decided to adopt some new routines myself. First off we are reserving a half hour slot in the morning for unfinished homework or extra reading time. To facilitate this I am laying Biggie's clothes out the night before - something I have not done for years. Staying up late just isn't an option for Biggie, he really needs his nine hours of sleep and is an early riser by nature.

Little Guy is on evening kitchen duty so that Biggie has some undisturbed time to do his school work or just 'hang' without his pesky brother. Little Guy is LOVIN' the potato peeler and is consuming record amounts of carrot sticks - a big plus!

Food is on my mind, namely making sure Biggie is eating enough brain fuelling food. I feel like I have to put on my "pinny" and have milk and cookies ready after school. Really I am making sure we have good hearty meals and healthy snacks available. Mr. Mee a Bee is in charge of breakfast and is adding some extras to the menu to get Biggie through the long morning. A hot lunch is provided at school so that is a relief.

I've moved Biggie's desk away from this bed and bought him the shelf pictured above to use as a bedside table. He loves to draw and write encoded notes. He's also fond of cutting up magazines and making collages. His desk is normally cluttered with junk - oops I mean his art projects. To me it's hard to concentrate when you can't even find a place to set down your notebook. So his desk is now clear and organised for (mainly) school work. His bedside area is cool for CHILLIN' with his favourite books, his box of CDs and his stereo.

I still can't believe we are having these worries when Biggie is actually only EIGHT years old. I think homework nightmares and scary teachers should be the domain of high school or at the earliest middle school, don't you? I'm just hoping this is a settling down period as the teacher tries to gauge the abilities of his class.

This is one of the books I am encouraging Biggie to (re)read this week: I Feel Sad

The shelf is from my local Nitori - 3900 yen (about US$40.00) It's particle board but still a nice heavy weight and seems solid. I've seem similar ones in the Ikea catalogue too.


  1. A new teacher, a new classroom with new friends, new textbooks-----there are enough new things around him. Hope he and his mum are getting used to many "new"things and his new teacher will give them less homework. I'm sure many mums feel the same way you do about homework. It's so nice for him to come home and see his mum smiling with some "oyatsu". Best wishes!

  2. Poor guy! That's too much stress for a 3rd grader! I hope that the new schedule helps to ease his mind a bit. It sounds like the whole family is working to make things flow smoothly- how great!

  3. I know the feeling J. My big 2 are starting school here in Sept and they are 4 and almost 3. They start 7.30 to 1pm and will be shattered. Its scary. At home, 5 is the milestone but its taken away from them here. Sounds like you have it in hand!!

  4. I follow your insights into 'boys' Jacqui thanks. I'm sure it's a phase, that with growing too, must be hard work for their little bodies. Have mine taking Floradix as he can't physically eat anymore it seems :)

  5. poor biggie, I hope he manages to work a routine that fits him and leaves him time for some downtime. School seems so hard here, we never had homework until middle school and then it wasn't a lot.

  6. Oh I'm feeling you! My son is in second grade now and next week he'll start coming home at four twice a week. He loves to read and make stuff after school, but now he's got less and less time for that due to all the homework.
    I'm gonna try your way of reserving half hour each morning for extra homework. Hope it will give him extra time to let his mind off school for a while.
    It's great to hear that your family is working together to fit into the new schedule, Jacqui!

  7. My oldest, Emi, started 4th grade this year and she's coming home at 4 everyday except Wednesday. There isn't necessarily more homework than normal yet but I think she's exhausted because we've had tears during homework time, too. I'm really hoping that as she gets used to the new schedule that things will get better. Fortunately her friend is in her class and her thinks her teacher is nice so that's something I don't have to worry about!

  8. Thank you everyone.

    He truly loves school so I think he will soon forget about these troubles.
    He likes the teacher - half likes and half not, he said. The teacher is quite funny so that's good!

    All the best to all the other worried moms and mums too!

  9. My daughter will be finishing 3rd grade at the end of June and I've been complaining about homework (the amount of it) since kindergarten. I think kids should have time to be kids and to pursue whatever non-academic interests they have after school. Good luck!!

  10. Jacqui, I have been a teacher for over a decade with the last 2 years spent teaching 3rd graders. I have my own opinion on homework and basically feel that kids need a chance to unwind and be kids when they go home. Homework often cuts into valuable family time and there's not enough of that as it is! Imagine if we were expected to come home from a full day's work only to do more of it at home. Exhausting!!

    Poor Biggie, I really feel for him. 25 mins of homework a day at his age is more than enough. I always hate to hear parents say that their child has been in tears over homework.

    Ooh, just realised I could go on and on about this. Jacqui, if you need (or want) any suggestions just email me and I'll gladly put my 'teacher' hat back on .

  11. I think you are making the right decisions. My sister in law teaches 5th grade and I cannot believe how the curriculum has changed over the years - children are doing a lot more than even my kids studied. I tell my sister in law we were still learning "Run Spot run!"..........hang in there.

  12. :( My 10 year old has had a hard time with homework - she works so hard at school all day and then really, homework is the *last* thing she wants to do when she gets home. It sounds like you've made some good changes to your routine to help him be more successful, though!


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