The Great Homework War

The Great Homework War

It's a truth universally acknowledged that, if you've had unprotected sex, homework never ends.

No sooner have you slogged through primary, secondary, college and grad school, then you're looming over your kids, making sure they're doing theirs.

With my first-born child, nine and in Primary 3, I have to play the homework warden more often as his school workload increases.

"Any homework?" I ask, soon after he returns from school at 1.45pm. After lunch, it mostly devolves into a broken-record situation.

I check on him every 15 minutes and yell "Do your work!" if I find him doing anything but. It doesn't help that he loves to drag his feet over homework.

Last year, Singapore ranked third in a global survey done by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development to measure the amount of time 15-year-old students spent on homework: 9.4 hours a week, on average.

Last week, my son spent seven hours on homework - in a single day.

2pm: Learn ting xie, or Chinese spelling.

4pm: Eye-rolling and groaning (him); screaming and stern lecturing (me).

5pm: Son sighs dramatically, while doing his corrections.

6pm: Mum acts out two sentences son has to learn by heart for mo xie (memorised writing).

7pm: Dinner break.

8pm: Write a journal piece for English.

9pm: Complete a Chinese practice paper.

His dad and younger brother were his cheerleaders - dangling football breaks as an incentive to work faster.

By the time he was done, even the cheerleaders were exhausted, pulling their hair and gnashing their teeth.

"Please, hurry!" they begged, as their eyelids drooped.

I don't blame the first-born, really.

When his homework is interesting - such as when it's research on contagious diseases or pollution, or a PowerPoint presentation on maths solutions - he labours over it without being asked.

But when it is something drier, getting him to do it is like pulling teeth.

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