Mrs. James answers readers' questions about education. Send yours today: columbusparent@thisweeknews.com.

Dear Mrs. James,
Our lives have been tumultuously unorganized all year long and I am ready to make some changes! My kids attend Africentric, so they're in school year-round and in an attempt to get organized, here's a simple question I have: Should I make my kids do their homework right after school, before bed, or somewhere in between?

Sincerely,
Cassandra Jackson
Columbus

Hi Cassandra! Great job attempting to get organized. It's really much easier when you're are! It saves time and lessens stress. However, it can be a little difficult to actually get there, so I do understand!

In terms of homework time, you'll have to know your children and decide which time of the day will be best for them. Some kids like to come straight home and get their homework done. Some of them even do it on the bus ride home just so it's done. They don't want to have to think about it for the rest of the night, so they like to get it done right away.

However, when I was a kid, the LAST thing I was thinking about doing after 7 hours in school was more "school." I always waited until after dinner to do my homework because I really needed that break in my routine. I highly disagree with doing homework before bed. I think it teaches kids to be procrastinators and opens the door for more chaos. There are many issues that come up during homework time such as: "Mom, I forgot my book!" "Dad, we're out of glue!" It's easier to handle these issues during the day than at 9 o'clock at night. That's just my personal opinion.
On a final note--whatever time for homework you choose, make it consistent! That will help your family stay more organized and make homework time run smoother. Let me know how it goes! Until then

Keep up the good work!
Love,
Mrs. James

Dear Mrs. James,

Why do teachers give so much stinkin' homework? I mean, my kids have had so much homework all year and I just found out that they HAVE to complete summer reading. It's just that sometimes I feel like I am the one who has the homework assignments, not them. I was looking forward to a break over the summer, but nooooo! We just had to get summer reading. Help me understand this, please.

Frustrated,
Darlene Givens
Dublin

You know Darlene, I know exactly what the problem is here. You are wayyyy to involved with your children's homework. Yes, there is such a thing.

You should never feel like you are the one with the homework, especially not at the age when kids have required summer reading. That tells me that they must be in either high school or on their way to high school.

It's funny that you signed the letter "frustrated," because I can truly feel your frustration! However, it's completely self-induced. You've got to back off and allow your children the chance to do their own homework and make
their own mistakes. You don't have to read the books for summer reading. They do. And, if they don't, then they will have to pay the consequences. And you know, it's really not that much reading. What is it, two books over the course of three months?

I can tell just by your letter that you're a great mom. You care about your children tremendously, and that's a quality to be admired. Just take my advice and back off a little bit. Teach your children responsibility by leaving it all up to them.

I would also suggest that you have a positive attitude about their summer reading. Don't allow them to hear you gripe and complain about it because that is exactly the exact attitude they will adopt. The teachers gave them the assignments because they know how important summer reading is. Studies show that students who read over the summer either maintain or increase their reading levels. Those who do not are reported to have dropped their reading levels substantially. In addition, summer reading is also a prerequisite for what they will be studying in their English class in the fall.

I know you don't want your children to drop their reading levels or be behind in English, do you? Take a load off, Darlene. Trust me.

Keep up the good work!
Love,
Mrs. James