New Year, New Rules

I just deposited my 5th graders curbside at school to begin their last year of elementary school.  I didn’t take any pictures this morning.  It was painful enough for them to have to get up and put on shoes before 7:15 and you would have thought I asked them to swallow a hive of angry bees when I mentioned that a hairbrush might be a good idea.

I can’t wait for them to start noticing girls for the simple fact that hopefully it will encourage better hygiene.

When I first pulled into the parking lot, I thought half the school was AWOL because the carpool line was short but then I noticed that a lot of people were being good parents and walking their kids into school for the first day.

After our particularly traumatic first day of kindergarten, hiding from the teachers for as long as possible has been my ongoing strategy so I simply kissed the boys, gave Nervous Nellie a last-minute pep talk and sent them all out into their brave new world.

I hear that we’ll be having more homework this year so I’m thinking of changing our after school schedule from snack, play, TV, nag about homework, nag about homework, nag about homework, supper, finish homework to something that works a little better for all of us and by all of us I mean me. I’d love to hear what you guys do about down time, TV, homework, etc during the school year.  Do you make them hit the books the minute they walk in the door?  Does homework get done before play time?  And while we’re on the subject, where do you keep their homework papers during the week before they have to turn it in on Friday?

And yes, by asking that question I expose to all the world that I STILL do not have a clear paper management strategy and Mr. CPQ anyone who has ever been to my house and seen my office  would heartily agree.

Please help a sister out this morning and tell me what you do.

I’ve got six hours to come up with a plan.

Have a nice day.

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20 responses to “New Year, New Rules

  1. The girls stay after school with me while I work. I let the kids snack/play with other staff kids who don’t usually stay as late as we do for about 30-40 minutes. Then they have to come back to my room to do homework by themselves. They’ve tried to convince me to do group homework, but I just won’t buy it. When they are finished with homework/reading they play some more until we leave. If we leave before they are finished, they finish right away at home.

    Of course all of this is null and void on dance days. Then they have to do their homework right away because we leave earlier than normal and they are occupied the rest of the evening. On dance days they do have a quick snack before they get started. Then if they finish before we leave they can play.

    AND if they neglect to come back to my room by the designated time (give or take a few minutes), they get grounded for a while and are forced to do homework first. They hate that so they are usually on time (give or take a few minutes).

    I think kids need a little bit of a break after school, even if it’s just long enough for a snack. But the break can’t be too long or they get out of “school thinking.” Even I need the same break after school ~ I mill about chatting with my friends for a little bit before getting back to work.

    There you have it ~ the world according to me. 🙂

  2. What about a desktop organizer tray–the kind that stacks? You could stack three of them and label them with your boys’ names. All the sent home papers are the bane of my existence during the school year…between that and junk mail, the paper recycle bin stays pretty full. Good luck with figuring out a system for you guys. As my Mom says, “It all works on paper.” 🙂

  3. After our particularly traumatic first day of kindergarten…

    Yeah, I’m really looking forward to that. I’m thinking about soaking my pants in WD-40 that morning as a death-grip deterrent and tear repellant.

  4. For school papers that I need to keep or reference later in the year, I have a 3-ring binder divided into sections, and when I get the papers I date them and put them into their appropriate section. Then, when I need to reference the new math curriculum later in the school year, I just pull out my handy binder and look it up. This wouldn’t be a great system for homework, but I’ve used it a few years for the other papers and it works pretty well. I keep a 3-hole punch on top of the fridge, which is next to the junk counter.

  5. When my kids were in school I made them do there homework immediately while they ate their snack, because I’m mean like that.

    There was occasionally wailing and gnashing of teeth, but once they realized the freedom of getting the work done and not having to think about it, they didn’t mind it so much….

    And my theme for this school year is “Plan the work, and work the plan.”

    Plans make me almost as happy as school supplies.

  6. Happy first day of school! Its ours too!

    I haven’t figured out what kind of homework system we are going to go with yet. So far the homework hasn’t taken more than like 5-1o min, which was easily done right away, after dinner, as stalling technique just before bed, or in the morning while eating breakfast. However, I’ve heard that things will change drastically in 3rd grade. Right now we still have swim practice in the afternoons, so we’ll just be figuring it out as we go along.

    As for my homework/mail/important papers pile, it always like a huge mess. Its a thorn in my side. I have nice trays and other organizing bins, but they just don’t seem to work for me. Its always piled up on my kitchen counter. Once the pile has grown to where I can no longer stand it, usually about once a month, I try and make some sense of it, grumbling all the while. It stays organized for about 2-3 days tops. Its a vicious cycle.

  7. I can’t preach on papers, but as far as homework?

    The rule is snack and then homework. THERE WILL BE NO FUN UNTIL THE HOMEWORK IS DONE!

    ask my kids, I’m the meanest Mom in the WHOLE WORLD, but now that it’s been this way for so many years, they pretty much hop to it when they walk in the door. They drop their junk on the floor, grab homework to do, throw it on the table and then get the snack that will take the longest time to eat.

  8. Great minds think alike. I was thinking of the 3 trays like Kathy and I totally ditto Kellie. That’s exactly how we did it. Some days it was hard to “just do it” but to have the rest of the evening free was bliss.
    Once the kids got used to the plan, we would have a special treat on those perfect fall/spring days when the weather was just too good to not take the afternoon to enjoy it.

  9. My kids are always tired when they come home, and I’ve always thought their brains needed a little rest! I let them chill out for a while, or go play with friends. I “encourage” tem to do homework early on, but Ive never been one to keep harping on them to get work done. I figure, they are old enough to know they need work done before bed, and if they don’t finish it, then it’s them (not me!) that face the consequences at school the next day. I think it helps them take reqponsibility for their own time management.
    Papers stay in their own backpacks to hand in at the end of the week, because I don’t want to be responsible for keeping track of them 🙂
    Hope it was a good first day today!!

  10. I’m pretty inclined to let my kids have free time before they tackle homework. They can have a snack and watch some tv, but no computer or DSi until homework is finished. That motivates two of my three. The other one just simply likes to knock it out so she can do what she wants. I like it when they sit at the kitchen table and work on it while I’m making dinner. I like it until they start asking for help with math problems. Then I want to cry. Dad is good for that kind of help AFTER dinner.

    Wow. The first day of school, huh? We’ve got a month left. But Walmart has all the supplies out already. I’m choosing denial.

    Oh, and Pottery Barn makes some awesome baskets with LIDS that I chunk all my papers I don’t want to see into. That’s where the homework would go if my school had the same Friday homework system as yours.

  11. My kids come home from school and snack and play and get homework done generally before dinner. I have my desk in the kitchen and file drawers, so each child has a manilla folder with his/her name on it. But we turn in homework every day. Holding on to it til Friday would make me crazy. I think in that case, I would get a clipboard for each kid and hang it somewhere (and, of course, try to make it look cute!). Growing up, I always did my homework after dinner and before tv. But I was also one of those kids who would never show up for school without having done my homework!

  12. I also like Meredith’s idea of baskets with lids. I don’t like to look at the mess of my organized disorganization!

  13. Nithya Devadoss

    Tell your sons they’re lucky, some of us go to the meanest university in THE WORLD and I haven’t even had my three week summer holiday yet.

    I always had to do my homework at 6 when I was a kid so I had the flexibility of mooching at home first if I was tired or could stop out with my school friends. That way we could eat dinner when my dad got home and hang out as a family afterwards. My mum enforced this til the end of secondary school and I can’t break the habit after four years living alone at uni.

    Although it got me to the meanest uni in the world so I’m not sure it was worth it 😛

  14. Now I realize this is drastic, but when I was in the 6th grade my parents instituted a new rule: no TV *at all* during the school week. I thought my life was over at the time, but looking back I am so glad they did that for my sisters and me! Occasionally they would let us watch particular shows and it was a treat! We had to find some serious time fillers, which often included homework 😉

    (by the way, I am totally aware that the only reason that rule worked was because i have sisters, thus we filled our time by learning how to make friendship bracelets, assorted beaded jewelery, and (in my high school years) learned how toknit. all pretty girly activities)

    On the organizing note…
    I just read an article in Good Housekeeping (oooh. I might be the only college sophomore who reads GH religiously) all about organization for the school year! File folders, note cards, the works.

  15. I always loved the idea of being uber organized with binders, etc. but in the end what worked best for me was just a folder for each girl. I put anything that came home from school that I wanted to read/keep in there and I periodically looked thru it and cleaned out. Never misplaced a permission slip with this system!

    My girls always came in from school talking a lot, had a snack and started right in on their hw…if they had a lot they might save a bit for later but they typically wanted to get it over with and feel like the rest of the day was theirs, especially winter when it was dark out anyway. This time of year its harder…maybe suggest they have to complete 1 hw assignment before play?
    Mine got quite a lot of hw in grade 5 and before you know it you’ll be in Middle school with my least favorite kind of hw-group projects. And btw, mom doesn’t get to pick the groups.

    Enjoy the year though-mine both loved 5th grade but we were all big fans of their teacher. We’re still in touch with her…she made a huge impression on my kids.

  16. My two typically do homework immediately after a quick snack. We have had a few times, back when I didn’t enforce that rule, that six o’clock rolled around and Whoops!, somone forgot to bring home an important item for completing the homework that day. Also, they needed an item I had to purchase to complete a project or homework. My two have also started using tons of index cards.
    My girl was taught all the organization skills she will ever need by her 5th grade teachers at the charter school she attends. I want them to teach me. She also had more homework each day than her brother had all year. He said he finished his in his spare time at school. (Too much spare time or too little homework in my opinion.) He did very little homework at home for someone in 7th grade.
    The girl always gets large packets of homework to work on all week. She is responsible for keeping it in her bookbag all week.
    Hope the boys have a wonderful 5th grade year!

  17. As for down time, I think it depends on the kid. We homeschool now, but I always let her watch one Spongebob and have a snack, then do homework. She needed that moment of couch potato time to decompress.

    I’d suggest one folder for each child, then it is all together at the end of the week.

  18. Happy Start of School! So exciting! As far as the homework rule goes, this will be my first year as a “mom” of one who will have homework…my oldest starts Kindergarten this year. Sniff, sniff – where’d my baby boy go??? I think I will try to go with how my mom ran things when I was growing up: I could come home, have a snack and “decompress” for about 30-45 minutes, but then it was time to put down the fun book or turn off the TV and do the homework (usually while she was starting to organize making dinner, both activities in the kitchen). Then it was usually done before dinner and that meant after dinner I was free to enjoy whatever! Until high school of course, when homework lasted well into the night….so not looking forward to that. Especially high school math….ugh. Good luck with the organizing by the way – when you figure it out, clue me in!!!

  19. I have a notebook for the important school papers that they always give out at the first of the year. We’ve never had a “turn it in at the end of the week” homework system, but I’d probably go with a different-colored pocket folder for each kid.

    I do have a three-drawer plastic cart. At the end of the week, we clean out the bookbags of all their schoolwork that has come back home. At the end of the year we sort through for a few to keep for our memory box. I’m finding that the older the get the less we have to save (no more cute kindergarten artwork :*( )

  20. We have always done snack+homework while holding threats of no tv/video games over their heads until they finish. We did try a couple of variations with breaks after school, to no avail. As far as paper storage goes, we’ve either kept them magneted to the fridge, or I’ve had funkified clip boards on the wall to keep them clipped to and together.

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