No matter how good your intentions are at home in the evening in regards to getting homework done, if the student has not brought home the necessary materials to complete a homework assignment, it’s not going to get done.
This is how it sometimes goes at our house:
Me: Any homework tonight?
Sophia: Um, I don’t know.
Me: Okay, let’s check the website.
Sophia (suddenly regains her memory): Oh right, I have that math sheet.
Me: Okay, can you try and get it done before dinner? Then you can relax after dinner.
*** fifteen minutes passes ***
Me: How’s that math sheet going?
Sophia: I can’t find it. I think I left it at school.
Me: (Sigh). Alright, time to call a friend.
Sometimes, calling a friend works. The friend can read the homework questions over the phone or Sophia can run over to the friend’s house and they work on it together. But often, it’s not possible to do this, and we end up resorting to, “Ok, you’ll have to go to school an hour early tomorrow and finish it there.”
I don’t yet know how we’re going to solve this problem, but our first attempt is a free app called Wunderlist. It’s basically a bunch of labeled lists that you can add items to using, in our case, a planless iPhone 3 (which essentially acts as an iPod Touch).
I haven’t played with the app much but my spouse uses it to keep a running list of big house projects (stuff like “finish painting basement” and “have front yard landscaped”) and he likes it.
It’s got to be better than my own personal reminder system, demonstrated in this photo:
I had to write “ginger” on my hands a few times today, because the ink kept washing away when I washed my hands. I did finally make it to the grocery store and procure the important ingredient though, so it wasn’t a total failure of organization and our curry will not suffer.
Anyway, here’s the record so far of how life with Wunderlist is going for Sophia.
Day one: forgot to take iPhone to school (0 Mom-approval points!)
Day two: took iPhone to school, created two Wunderlists, one for each classroom teacher that assigns homework, added items to each list. (1,000,000 Mom-approval points!)
Day three: was sick at home (0 Mom-approval points but 100 Mom-sympathy points)
One thing Sophia didn’t automatically do with the items she added to her list was to specify a due date. In one case she didn’t know what the due date was, so I took the liberty of adding a task to that teacher’s list called “Ask about due date for carte postale assignment”. My thinking is that she should get in the habit of opening up the app before she leaves for school in the morning to make sure she has everything she needs for the day, after she arrives at school to ask her teachers questions about existing tasks, and throughout the day to create new tasks.
The feedback from the teachers is that they are delighted.