Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Sean's kindergarten homework is pretty simple. The main assignment each week is to read each day, draw one picture of something from a book he read, and write a sentence about the picture.

Throughout the year, the kids work toward being able to write the sentence themselves. Right now, Sean comes up with the sentence, and I guide him through the actual writing.

I think that homework would be a lot easier for him, or at least less disruptive, if he didn't have a homework overlord.

My newly minted four-year-old likes to sit at the table with Sean as he does his homework. I give her some "homework" of her own to do -- and per her demands it must be actual academic work, not just coloring or drawing. Mostly she practices writing her name. Focus lasts only so long, however, until her alternate persona, Queen Busybody, emerges.

"Sean," she says sharply, glancing at the picture Sean is drawing. "WHAT is that?"

"It's a swing," he replies. "See? Here are the ropes and there's the part you sit on."

"You CAN'T use a rope for a swing!"

"Yes, I can."

"No, rope isn't strong enough to support the weight! You need a CHAIN, Sean! All swings have chains!" She is in a righteous furor over what she considers the shoddy engineering of Sean's swing.

"It's hanging from a tree, Allie, so it can have a rope!"

"No, it can't!"

My reminder that their aunt has a tree swing made of rope seems to end the dispute.

A few moments later:

"THAT is not how a house is supposed to look, Sean. Why is it brown? Why do the windows look like that?"

Sean doesn't even deign her with a reply.

Allie picks up her blue crayon and draws her version of a house -- a sort-of rectangle base with a sort-of triangle floating a few inches above it. "There. THAT'S what a house should look like."

And then:

"Sean, what letter is that supposed to be?" she says, pointing at a lowercase "t."

"It's a T".

"No, it's not! That's not how a T goes!" She carefully, ponderously even, writes a capital T on her paper. "See! This is a T."

This time, my attempt to mediate goes nowhere -- apparently Allie finds the explanation of the difference between a lowercase T and a capital T not the least bit persuasive.

Finally, somehow, Sean finishes his homework. Next time I hope there will be less audience participation.