Fieldnote, 23 April 2013

Helping Jennifer with her homework. She’s a fourth grader. When we sat down, she quickly stood up.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” she said quickly before quickly exiting.

One of the tutors looked at me and shrugged her shoulders.

“Bathroom,” I said.

I walked outside the tutor room for a while as I waited for her. I observed kindergartener Klever input his ID number into the keypad of a computer as his mother looked on. It took him three tries, but he did it by himself. His mother and I both watched on as he did this.

“Okay let’s go,” he told his mother. She smiled.

“Es inteligente” I say to her.

“Si,” she said nodding.

After about ten minutes Jennifer returned. She was holding a tissue under her nose.

“I have a bloody nose.”

“Yeah, are you okay?”

“Yeah, this happens sometimes when it’s hot outside.”

“Oh.”

“It happened earlier at school too.”

“Does your mom know?”

“Yeah, because she always tells me to have paper.”

We went back into the homework help room. She did her work with one hand writing, the other holding the tissue to her nose.

She had homework for both this evening and homework she didn’t do from the previous evening. In both she had worksheets. The first page was math problems, and she told me she didn’t need help with those.

“My dad helps me with those. He likes to help me with these so I’ll do these when I get home.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, because he can help me with that.”

I consented to her.

“Do you like it when he helps you?”

“Yeah, and he likes to help me too. It’s fun,” she said.

We worked on the rest of her worksheets. Reading comprehension with multiple choice selections from the reading, and another similar worksheet about science. We worked together for seventy minutes reading her work and writing a small essay. To catch up with the homework she missed, she needed an additional hour.

“Why didn’t you do the homework for yesterday?”

“I was sick, I didn’t go to school.”

I didn’t ask anything beyond that. A reasonable enough answer, but the additional homework could be a problem for time commitment to family involvement.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to help you with one of those math sheets?”

“Um . . . no, it’s okay, it’s enough because they are easy, and my dad will help me too so it won’t be long.”

We finished the rest of her writing and language homework. By the time we finished, my time for volunteering was up for this week.

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