Every. Single. Night.
I like the idea of homework, really, I do! It only makes sense to really help drive the teaching points home, teach the child that learning can occur anywhere, not just at school, to teach the child that parents are a part of the process as well (in the early years), and that they are ultimately responsible for learning (as they get older).
But homework poses a unique challenge in our household several days of the week. Daddy works a few nights a week, Samantha's caregiver in the afternoons is not a native English-speaker, and I don't get home until nearly 7pm. Just a little bit late for my princess' 7:30-8:00pm bedtime. Just a little.
And if you know my kid (or any kid for that matter!), you know that the more exhausted she gets, the less she wants anything to do with just about anything that doesn't involve watching TV. Or reading a book.
And it's not like a native English speaker couldn't help Samantha with her homework - M's English is getting better every day, and she just happens to have a 6 year old boy who's also in 1st grade. It would probably be fine to have her help with math homework. But I discovered her limitations lastnight when she sat with me as I helped Samantha write sentences using 4 vocabulary words. One of the words was at. As I struggled to come up with a sentence for Sammi to write (seriously, it's just too much to ask her to come up with the sentence on her own - better to help her with the mechanics around the idea of this type of homework, and I'm sure she'll get it eventually), M. suggested "I go at school." I corrected her, and I think in that moment she realized her limitations as well. She'll get there...
And, in the meantime, while much of the homework is directed by us, rather than Samantha being able to come up with the ideas on her own, that's exactly what we're doing - we're directing it. Explaining why something is done a certain way, asking her questions to check for understanding. That's what homework really is, anyway - a check for understanding. She'll get there, I have no doubt. And the pride she shows when she's completed the homework (not to be confused with the excitement she feels at the prospect of then getting to watch TV for a few minutes before bed...) is priceless. I capitalize on that pride the next morning as I'm trying to get her motivated to get ready for school, telling her how happy her teachers will be when she shows them the work she's done. That usually is enough to get her off the couch and into the bathroom!
She sees the pride in our eyes. She sees the pride in the eyes of her teacher. She will grow up always knowing that look and what it means, pushing her to do more and more, to be self-motivated, driven.
Homework is only one of the first steps.