When my son Vincent was in first grade and we were living in Annandale, Virginia, he received a weekly package of math, reading and writing homework. We really appreciate the fact that it was a weekly ordeal, since that way we could teach him to manage his own time, and take responsibility of his own work. Also, some days were so packed with after school activities that it would have been really difficult if he had to sit every single day to do homework. Reading was a daily routine in our home but math and writing drills, nope. With sports and other interests that my son has at that age, the package was at the bottom of the totem pole. Usually he ended up on Sunday night, tired and sweaty of a fun weekend of running around outside looking at the package with teary eyes, and whining that he didn’t want to do them. We always replied to him that it was his choice, and that it was OK if he didn’t want to turn them in. Of course, he hated the prospect of arriving on Monday to school without homework.
Nonetheless, I tried to help him to work on his homework by chunks, avoiding as much as I could the Sunday meltdown. Math was one thing that he enjoyed and he finished that section fast and with joy. Another part of the package was called Good News Tuesday. Vincent needed to write something that day. I knew it was a well-intentioned teacher trying to space out homework and make the writing shore of 1st graders exciting. So I decided to follow suit and encourage Vincent to write every Tuesday. It was a battle. We got to an agreement that he could go outside and play as soon as he finishes his writing assignment. He stayed in his bedroom forever. Once in a while I peeked and asked him how is writing piece was going. Of course the piece of paper was blank and he had found something much more interesting to do in his room than writing good news. I was suffering as much as he was. His writer´s block was serious. He usually looked at me and said desperate: I don’t know what to write! I run through tons of ideas until I exhausted my owns. One day, I remember I told him in a very firm voice: Vincent, it doesn’t matter what you write, write about anything, a bug, a turtle, something that happen in school or the fly that’s on your window right now, look at it, just write about it. Your teacher just want you to write. She will be VERY happy to read anything that is written by you. He looked at me upset, and said: No, I can’t. Those are not good news!
No good news whatsoever. Homework was already bad news. You don’t have an idea how much I wished the teacher had called that piece, bad news you have to write every Tuesday, or Tuesday writing exercise, or anything that made more sense to a concrete and practical boy as Vincent was (and still is at 21).
Shine or storm, Vincent always preferred to be outside on a Tuesday afternoon