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I need a rant & advice

  1. #1
    OX Jess is offline Registered User
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    I need a rant & advice

    My son has just started his kindergarten (K1) this September. In the recent two days he took 'homework' home - the homework is 'colouring'. Parents are advised to work with the child at home and get it done.

    This morning, because of the 'homework' I had a small row with my hubby. I took the colouring sheet out and laid it on my son's table where he was having breakfast. My husband went over trying to get him to do his work. For some reason my son wasn't in the mood to do the work, the more he refused to do it the more my hubby tried to force him to do it so in the end my son exploded and screamed and broken down in tears. My hubby went on, "You got to do you homework." I was disgusted!

    Most of the time I tried not to intervene when my hubby was having a word with my son, but this morning I couldn't help but went over to my son, pulled the 'homework' away, wiped his tears and took him away from the table to calm him down. My husband said behind me, "I haven't finished my words with him." I ignored him. I was very disgusted by the way my hubby handled this homework issue.

    My whole idea is: Come on, he is only 3 years old, just started his schooling for a month. Is it really necessary to 'force' him to do his 'HOMEWORK'? If he is not in the mood to do it, why can't we just leave it and let him do it another time? What's the point to force him to an extent he couldn't stand but scream then cry? We are not talking about a teenager who is too wayward to care about his homework. But a three year old!!!!!! My philosophy is: Learning at kindergarten age should be fun and happy through PLAY. I always insist small kids should not be FORCED to learn. Yet, my husband thinks kids should be told to sit down and finish his homework every day as it is their 'job' and 'responsibility'! And he accuses me of allowing our child go wild without realising his responsibility! My GOODNESS!

    Can anyone here tell me if I am being too LOOSE with my child or if my hubby is a bit over the top ?!?

  2. #2
    elle is offline Registered User
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    Sounds like you have very different parenting ideas and expectations of your child at this age. Would try to talk to your spouse and sort them out away from the child if possible and come to an agreement on how to consistently enforce things like doing homework. Arguing in front of the kid sends mixed messages and is confusing and perhaps frightening. Personally I tend to agree with you, but have plenty of acquaintances who take your husband's approach. Perhaps try a middle ground where you set aside a specific time each day for 'homework' and work it into your child's daily routine rather than trying to fit 'homework' in at other times when your child may be distracted or not fully focused on the 'homework'.
    carang and howardcoombs like this.

  3. #3
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    Well, I still don't understand if you had a fight first with your husband and THEN the whole homework thing happened or the homework thing happened and that is what the fight you were talking about was about. That could have a big influence on the situation and your irritation with your husband--if you were already cross with him and he with you it makes sense that the homework thing would become just another pressure point. Also the fact that you both were rushed trying to get your child to do his homework during breakfast before leaving the house for the day probably didn't help either. The older my son has gotten, the more this type of situation comes up.

    All I can say is that my husband and I generally don't fight about things like this. However, we do come from really different schooling backgrounds. My husband was born and raised in Hong Kong and went through the local school system here through secondary school. But, even though he worked hard and attended a prestigious boys secondary school he felt like he was in a prison the entire time he was in school. So, he definitely wants to do something different with our own children. However, it's hard for him to not "push for perfection" because that is exactly how he was taught--even from kindergarten on.

    Every time I'm around my father-in-law I realize how bad it truly could be if my husband went full-boar with this typical HK mindset. My son often visits his grandparents on the weekend and the first thing my father-in-law asks is, "Where is his homework?" Second remark is, "This is it?! So little?! So easy?!" However, typically my son has to write 2-3 pages of Chinese characters, 2 pages of numbers, 1-2 pages of math, a reading assignment and an English writing assignment! My son is in K3 but K2 was a similar workload. If my father-in-law thinks the homework isn't sufficient he will create his own homework for our son which includes pages of characters to be written PERFECTLY. If my son doesn't write them perfectly he gets a disapproving look from his grandfather and is told to "not be careless" and "do it correctly." So...needless to say, it could be a whole lot worse! I know my husband really tries to curb his habitual inclination to do the same sort of thing.

    The thing is that homework does need to be done if its assigned and it's not above the ability level of a child. It's hard to tell if what was going on in your home was just a power struggle between child and parent (i.e. "Eat your veggies." "NO! I don't want to!") or if your son truly didn't want to do the homework for other reasons (such as not enjoying school or feeling pressure). There is always the option of writing a note to the teacher explaining, "My son needs 1-2 more days to complete his assignment." We've had to do this before as my son's workload has increased.

    I find that as a mom I am almost always forever the one thinking my husband is being "too cold" or "too harsh" to our son but I've come to realize that children need both sides. They need someone to prod them to be there very best and develop good character traits (like faithfulness to do one's work to the best of one's ability) and they need the other side to allow them to just be relaxed--too much of one side doesn't seem to work too well.

    Also, it's really important to not develop the dynamic of "good cop"/"bad cop" with kids--meaning that if your son realizes that when he doesn't want to do his homework he just needs to cry and daddy will get angry and mommy will comfort him this is not only unhealthy for your own relationship is really confusing and detrimental for a child--it gives the child far too much power and control in the situation. It's important to discuss these things behind closed doors and present a "united front" in front of the child for their good. So, sometimes that takes biting one's tongue and putting up with things.

    I'd say your husband probably didn't do anything all too drastic. Irritating, yes. Understandable, yes. We've had the same situation in our home before--coming from both sides. Stress and being rushed and feeling a need to perform do not help matters. A coloring page should not be a point of stress and contention but might be a good chance for you and your husband to sit down and really decide what you believe about homework and school and what your approach will be next time.
    carang and shwetakhanna like this.
    “Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a
    spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware …
    To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory.
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    ~ Grantly Dick-Read (Childbirth Without Fear)

    Mother of Two
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    MJW, girl, born March 17, 2011, 4:14 pm, HK

  4. #4
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
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    first things first: do not argue about things like this in front of your kids. if you need to discuss it, say to the kid, mummy and daddy will be right back. you finish your breakfast.

    parents need to present a united front, or as thanka says, your kid will hold too much of the power.

    in some ways, i agree with you but in some ways i agree with your husband. i have told my kids that yes, school is fun... but it is also their job. mummy work & daddy work for $, but they work at school to do well and learn lots. both of my kids enjoy school, but as my older one gets older, he is also getting more homework. i think it IS important that "homework" be something that is completed and turned in. the kids learn quickly that there is no tv time etc unless homework is done. that's not being mean. that's being a parent and looking out for your kids' education. now, i realise that he's only 3, but the same could be said for my girl... she's "only 5"... or my son, he's "only 7"... but anyway you cut it, they have to start learning some responsibility. it's not like he was given a sheet of mathematical equations. it was colouring. so, perhaps instead of saying, "do you want to do your homework?" (which gives "no" as an option), you could say..."it's time to do your homework. can you get your colours? here... look, what is this? it's a tree! what colour is the tree? is it purple? is it blue? is it green?" etc.... make it fun for the kids. make it a time that they get mummy or daddy's undivided attention. if you can do this, then chances are, they will maybe not detest doing homework so much!

    last feb, when my mum was visiting, my kids really didn't want to do their chinese homework... so, my mum said to my girl (only 4 at the time).... "can you teach grandma how to write this word?" and my girl then happily did all of her homework while at the same time teaching grandma all of the strokes in the character. they would then write the words at the same time... my girl was so excited. she got some nice time with grandma. she also felt special and important because she could teach grandma something!

  5. #5
    OX Jess is offline Registered User
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    Thanks for your response.

    I wasn't upset with my husband until he made our son scream and cry by forcing the little to do his homework. I didn't argue with him in front of the kid. He whispered those words "I haven't finished my words with him." to my ears when I took the child away. I said nothing at all and showed no temper at all. But I admit the way I went into complete silent was not a good thing to the child either. And I realised the way I intervened this morning may pass a confused / negative message to the child, i.e. "daddy wants to get the homework done; I cried, then mommy came to pull the homework away and gave me a hug." I knew it wasn't good but at that very moment I just couldn't stand the fact that my husband was forcing a child of 3 to do his homework when the little one showed clearly that he didn't want to do it. I know one day soon, maybe from K2 on, I have to be more strict with the homework thing. My point is: he was only starting school for 4 weeks and probably got not much idea about homework. Why so strict? Looking at my child scream at the top of his lung I knew he was on the verge of exploding (under extreme stress) I couldn't help removing him from the scene.

    We didn't argue in front of the child. I had a talk with my husband over the phone after my child off to school and he accused me of being "loose" to my child.

    I agree with that to a certain extent, when the child reaches to a certain age he has to take responsibility of his homework. I don't argue about it, but not when a child is only 3... I am not saying doing homework is not important, it is important, but I was thinking can't we take a small step each day and gradually get the child to understand the importance of doing his homework? Why be so pushing and drastic?

    Thanka2 & Cara, as your kids are older, can you share experience if you need to 'force' them to do their homework? Or do they realise it is their 'job' and they must get them done? As I said, I don't want to force children to learn, what I will do is that I will set them a time as "home work" time and I will ask them to sit there and get their homework done. I want to make it into a habit. Then again, I will do it gently... Am I being too ideal here?!
    Last edited by OX Jess; 09-27-2012 at 02:58 PM.

  6. #6
    Aava.Wong is offline Registered User
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    my son also started kindi last month and has been getting one sheet of homework twice a week. when i get home from work, i sit down with him and we go through the homework together and he has got used to this idea of having "us" time looking through his school bag, school books and do the homework. lately, he jumps to get his school bag as soon as i get home.

    if i were you, i'd allocate "us" time to do this after-school/work routine and not while he is engaged doing something else like eating his breakfast/playing with his toys/ watching telly/etc. :)
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  7. #7
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    carang is offline Registered User
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    ox Jess,
    I think i answered your questions in my post.

    kids don't learn that school/homework is their job unless you teach them that. now, i think that the problem you are having is that you are too soft and daddy is too hard. you need to find a middle ground, which is where not doing the homework is not an option (it needs to be done-no two ways about it) but that it can be fun and a special time with mummy or daddy.

  8. #8
    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by OX Jess View Post
    Thanks for your response.

    I wasn't upset with my husband until he made our son scream and cry by forcing the little to do his homework. I didn't argue with him in front of the kid. He whispered those words "I haven't finished my words with him." to my ears when I took the child away. I said nothing at all and showed no temper at all. But I admit the way I went into complete silent was not a good thing to the child either. And I realised the way I intervened this morning may pass a confused / negative message to the child, i.e. "daddy wants to get the homework done; I cried, then mommy came to pull the homework away and gave me a hug." I knew it wasn't good but at that very moment I just couldn't stand the fact that my husband was forcing a child of 3 to do his homework when the little one showed clearly that he didn't want to do it. I know one day soon, maybe from K2 on, I have to be more strict with the homework thing. My point is: he was only starting school for 4 weeks and probably got not much idea about homework. Why so strict? Looking at my child scream at the top of his lung I knew he was on the verge of exploding (under extreme stress) I couldn't help removing him from the scene.

    We didn't argue in front of the child. I had a talk with my husband over the phone after my child off to school and he accused me of being "loose" to my child.

    I agree with that to a certain extent, when the child reaches to a certain age he has to take responsibility of his homework. I don't argue about it, but not when a child is only 3... I am not saying doing homework is not important, it is important, but I was thinking can't we take a small step each day and gradually get the child to understand the importance of doing his homework? Why be so pushing and drastic?

    Thanka2 & Cara, as your kids are older, can you share experience if you need to 'force' them to do their homework? Or do they realise it is their 'job' and they must get them done? As I said, I don't want to force children to learn, what I will do is that I will set them a time as "home work" time and I will ask them to sit there and get their homework done. I want to make it into a habit. Then again, I will do it gently... Am I being too ideal here?!
    Ah! I wrote a response and then it got deleted! Ugh!

    Anyway, the synopsis is:

    -Approach is everything. "Forcing" your child to do homework is totally different than requiring your child to do homework.
    -We have always done homework WITH our son. We sit down at a certain time every day and we do homework with him. It's interaction--just like if we were playing a game or blocks with him. We have NEVER given him the option to NOT do homework. He doesn't even have the concept in his mind that it would ever be his choice whether or not to do it. And homework is no different than playing and "being a kid" because it's all about interaction--children don't have the same concept of "work" and "play" as we do. If you make it a game, everything, and I mean, EVERYTHING, can be play.
    -Homework is the same as anything else scheduled in his day. The same as meals, baths, bedtime. He doesn't have a choice and he never has had a choice. He THRIVES on this type of predictability because it gives him confidence and a sense of security.
    -Now that my son is older he might whine for 20 seconds (i.e. "Awwww...do I REALLY have to do it?") but he gets over that pretty quick. I was actually so surprised this week when he just went and got his books, sat down on the sofa and started doing his homework. He's grown to be more and more self-managing and he takes pride in the fact that he can do it by himself and doesn't need Mama and Dadda's help as much. But, for the past two years every single day one of the adults in our home sat down and did the homework WITH him. We never just handed the sheet to him and said, "Here, color this." And then tried to convince him to do it. We sat down and said, "This is coloring time. Which color do you like? Okay, let's use that one." We sat there and gave him encouragement, "Oh, I really like how you're doing that. It's looking pretty good. You missed a spot. Etc."
    -I understand your concern about children growing up too soon. However, that is in comparison to how it is done in other countries. If you want your son to be in the HK public school system this coloring sheet may have been the least complex activity he does for the rest of his school days! You always have the option of not putting him in kindergarten. In HK it's not compulsory and he could enter primary school when he's 5-years-old. My only feeling about that as a primary school teacher is that the children who do not go to kindergarten really struggle in primary school. Why? Because they are not ready to "go with the flow" and "bend to the rules" which is a necessary survival skill. Actually, that coloring sheet is far less about your son's coloring ability and probably more about them learning about the structure of how things are done. It's developing a certain set of habits in your child. Without this socialization and habit development your son will really struggle. The HK public school system does not usually look favorably upon children who feel they are an "exception" to the rule. If the rest of your son's class is expected to color a paper, unless your son has some disability (and even then, it will only be modified) he will be expected to fall in line and do the same. In a city of large classrooms of students and increasing competition for good school spots, students who don't "go with the flow" will struggle. My school is very accepting of students but I know that there are students here who were literally expelled (kicked out) of their previous primary school. Why? Because they were bad kids? Because they weren't smart? NO! Actually, they're usually really great, intelligent kids but they didn't work well within the structure of the school. So, this whole homework thing is a structure issue. If you want your child to be part of the institution (school) he has to start now learning how to play by the rules. Doing homework is one of the rules. And no one is an exception.
    -It's actually to late to say, "But, he's only 3-years-old, it's not fair to expect him to do actual homework"--once you start school in HK you're a students and students do homework--no matter what age they are. As long as it's age-appropriate material then there really is no way to argue against it. The only viable option you have is to withdraw your son and let him be at home until he's in primary school. It's really unlikely anything is going to change as far as the way things are done in HK in the next 2-3 years before he enters primary school so basically you're just postponing the inevitable. The earlier he learns to "go with the flow" and accepts this is how it is done, the better chances he'll have assimilating into the local system.
    -It's really a harsh reality here in HK. Your son's workload will gradually increase over the year. Now he's doing coloring. Soon he'll be doing pre-writing exercises (connecting dots). Then he'll be learning his numbers. He'll be writing in Chinese soon as well...simple characters like "ten" but he'll have to write them 5-10 times. It's a gradual procession but if you can't manage to help him do a coloring page that is colorful and fun it's going to be tough going when he has to do stuff that's kind of boring and maybe doesn't make sense to him. You just need to figure out a way to inspire him meanwhile not giving him any other options. It has to be a dictatorship, not a democracy when it comes to these things.
    carang and lesliefu like this.
    “Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a
    spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware …
    To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory.
    She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon.”

    ~ Grantly Dick-Read (Childbirth Without Fear)

    Mother of Two
    JMW, boy, born November 29, 2007, 9:43 pm, USA
    MJW, girl, born March 17, 2011, 4:14 pm, HK

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