Lizzie is doing her homework. Well, mostly she is talking out loud to herself and every once in a while actually writing something down on her vocabulary cards. Interjected here and there are stories from her day at school, her thoughts about what is going on around her and her philosophy of life.
So – what is Lizzie learning by doing her homework? Well — she has learned the meanings, antonyms and synonyms of her ten assigned words. She has learned that she should have remembered her glue because it is easier to use than scotch tape. She has learned that she should have finished this stuff last night and she would have more time to watch TV tonight. So, basically she is learning time management, planning skills and communication strategies.
And what am I doing while Lizzie is learning these valuable life lessons? I’m learning right along side of her — but instead of life skills — I’m learning about my granddaughter. I’ve learned that she likes to stall by pretending she is really, really thirsty. I’ve learned that she can concentrate very hard when she knows she is getting to the end of a task. I’ve learned that she loves to use her new words to tell stories – and she enjoys listening to them also. I learned that she enjoys her Catholic faith – and probably has a better understanding of the mystery of it than I do.
What is the real purpose of homework? To teach life skills to our young ones? To make parents – and kids crazy with the amount of work that needs to be done? To make everyone, including teachers sometimes cranky? To eat up valuable time which could be used pursuing other interests for both parents and children?
Tonight, while I sat patiently with Lizzie and she with me – I discovered the real reason for homework – to teach us to be completely present for each other – for parent and children to really listen to each other. We shouldn’t rush this time by making our children finish their homework quickly so we can watch our favorite TV show or make it to a ballgame. We need to stop, breathe, savor the moment and help each other learn a new vocabulary – one that includes patience and just existing for the moment – and for each other.