3 Ways to Fail at Homework with a Six-Year-Old

3 Ways to Fail at Homework with a Six-Year-Old

I did it. I failed miserably. I was trying to do homework with my six-year-old grandson, Daniel. And I failed miserably in three different ways.

… and I did it all in one aftern00n.

It felt  like a major setback this week. Doing homework with my grandson, Daniel.

So much progress made this year motivating Daniel. And then an EPIC FAIL in one aftern00n.

I dare you to make learning fun.
“I dare you to make learning fun.” – Lucas, one of Daniel’s older brothers

Thursday after school didn’t go well.

It didn’t go well at all. Daniel just decided to assert himself – more than usual. Our homework session started OK. Then Daniel just said “no.”

  • “No. I don’t like math.”
  • “No. I don’t want any help.”
  • “No. I don’t want to do homework.”
  • Just “no.” “No.” And another “NO” for good measure.

And internally I just crashed.

It was already an emotionally charged week for me working with Daniel. Daniel was in a no-no-no mode” this week. My aged brains cells raced with frustration and questions.

  • Doesn’t he understand how valuable MY time is?
  • Doesn’t Daniel understand how IMPORTANT education is?
  • Doesn’t he appreciate ALL OF THE WORK I have done to create a friendly learning environment?

Internally, I crashed and was CRUSHED when Daniel kept saying “no.” I thought I had created the ideal learning environment. I knew I had failed this aftern00n. And I had finally met my match in self-will and stubbornness.

Hey, I’m dealing with a six-year-old who would rather watch video games (you know, Minecraft) than spell words and do math. And compared to Minecraft, all this education stuff means nothing to him.

daniel with 3 letter words
“No. I don’t want to do homework.” – Daniel

No amount of M&M’s (candy bribery) or …

… false encouragement and excitement about education would change Daniel’s mind.

Well, the next day, Friday morning, I was trying to understand where I had failed.

Where did I FAIL ?

Here is the 3-point assessment of my faulty (MBA) thinking.

Every Child Wants an EPIC WIN
Daniel’s brain cells were saying, “Enough is enough.”

My first FAILure was …

… the obvious – thinking about me and that I had failed. I had provided the right environment and the right processes. But Daniel had a tough week and had reached an invisible emotional peak (or valley). He had reached some sort of educational saturation point.

Daniel’s brain cells were saying,  “Enough is enough.”

Daniel is six years old.

Every Child Wants to be a SUPER HERO
“Play is the ultimate SUPER HERO learning tool.” – Captain Daniel America

And I’m, well … real old. Daniel had reached the six-year-old limit for doing homework on a routine. He had reached the six-year-old maximum number of days in row for doing homework on time.

  • That’s all.
  • Simple.
  • And out of MY control.
  • This was all about Daniel. And HIS limits.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon is not listed in some education manual that I could predict. Daniel’s maximum limit did not fit into my linear way of thinking.

Second FAILure …

My expectations were t00 high.

  • It was like pushing a string.
  • Like stopping the wind.
  • Like trying to put t00thpaste back into the tube.

No amount of “grandpa super powers” would work.

My expectations of my perfect plan combined with intellectual super powers were unrealistic.

Crazy thinking on my part. To try to compete with a six-year-old’s thinking. 

My unrealistic expectations were MY RECIPE FOR FAILURE. Or a recipe for feeling like I had failed.

“A six-year-old’s super powers for resisting homework will always trump this old man’s thinking about what’s gonna work for Captain Daniel America.” – America’s GRUMPiest Grandpa

Third FAILure …

… WAS keeping score. Trying to think in terms of black and white. Wins and losses. Thinking that when Daniel gets to win, then grandpa must loose. I forgot that …

I forgot. The goal is to help Daniel to enjoy learning. Not just complete another math problem.

Teach the way he learns - Daniel
Daniel and his learning maZe crEation – complete with a Lava Lake and a Kangaroo Wave Park


“If Daniel doesn’t learn the way I am teaching, then maybe I should teach the way Daniel learns.” – America’s GRUMPiest Grandpa

If Daniel doesn’t learn the way I am teaching, then maybe I should teach the way Daniel learns. (Simple. Profound and true.)

Try some new things.

  • Teaching on the computer, the iPad?
  • Taking our homework class to Panera Bread and mix in some double chocolate brownies with math?
  • Or (for a six-year-old) just SKIP HOMEWORK one night? WOWzer !!
  • Or do homework AFTER SUPPER instead of ALWAYS BEFORE supper?
Teach them the way they learn - America's GRUMPiest Grandpa
“Teach them the same way they learn.” – America’s GRUMPiest Grandpa

I need to remember the goal is to sell the learning process – not just to do one more math problem.

The end result …

… of Thursday evening was: Daniel did finish his math and spelling – peacefully – with his mom AFTER SUPPER. With no drama.

And then Daniel happily showed me his completed homework.

Ya gotta admit it.

Moms and six-year-olds are so smart.

Mission accomplished. 

moms and six-year-olds are so SMART
MOMS and six-year-olds are so SMART – Daniel and Libby