"I think it's a combination of the bulk of homework he is assigned. He's given a packet of math homework for the week and he's supposed to do an online math assignment daily. The online math doesn't take any time, and he doesn't mind it - but the paperwork is usually a large math sheet, which I could consider 'busywork' and a creative writing assignment which is supposed to be a paragraph. It's not that he isn't creative. It really is that he gets SO mad about having to do it. He spends most of his time angry, frustrated, crying, anything but just writing. The thing is...I think he would be awesome at writing, if he could write more freely. He is endlessly creative and really intelligent. I feel like these writing cues bore him."
First off, I cringe whenever I hear the word "packet" used in an educational setting. It oozes the thought of busywork. I'm unsure of what packets and homework accomplish in the lives of little ones, except for, in too many cases, anger, frustration, and tears, like in the situation explained above. I only ask my children to read every night, and I don't even call it homework. It's just what readers like us do. Sooner than later they'll be faced with homework of all shapes and sizes. I don't see the need to place similar demands on them at this age.
Secondly, this little guy is immensely talented, creative, and intelligent. He's my third cousin, and I've spent enough time with him and heard enough stories to know this is true. He has a wonderful way with words and the writing I've seen from him proves it. But from what I can tell, forcing him to write to prompts has turned writing into something it was not meant to be - busywork. Like many young writers, his creativity is stifled when pushed into writing about something he has no personal connection to. The whole experience is obviously stealing his love for writing and learning, instead of igniting a passion for how these things can benefit his life.
As Regie reminds us, what we ask of our students must be worth their time and contribute to their growing literacy. It's fairly obvious, neither of these things is true for this little guy in this particular situation. We simply must tread carefully. The pitfalls of busywork will bring out the worst in our students, not the best.