Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I ranted on Twitter last night about the amount of homework that Bud, my first grader has. I am all for reinforcing the concepts of what was learned in school that day and I am up for reinforcing good reading habits at home (he has been reading chapter books since he was 5). But when I open my 6yo’s backpack to find that he is to write his spelling words 3 times each, complete a math work sheet, do a family leadership activity, AND read 6 of the 12 books in his bag as well as pick his favorite 2 to RE-READ, I get a little bit antsy. He spent over an hour on homework last night, and I think it sucks.

Yet I try to project a positive message about it because I don’t want him to associate annoyance with homework because of me. He’ll learn it on his own soon enough. Let’s not forget that Hub or I do not get home until about 6PM. FIL usually takes Bud to TKD, (which is an activity his school promotes) and they are waiting for me when I get home. FIL is not really the “help the kids with the homework” kind of guy. There are some things they can do on their own, but typically, they need to wait for Hub or me to get started. (We also have a standing rule that they CAN NOT TOUCH THE GD PENCIL SHARPENER!! On account of there being pencil shavings all over the kitchen on numerous occasions) So yes. They wait.

Yesterday I got home much later than usual, and Lucy had done all of her homework. It was completely wrong. Bud had started on his spelling work while Hub was cooking dinner. After we ate he did math while I helped Lucy fix her work, and then he pulled out all of the books. This was about when Hub was leaving for work, and I about passed out on the floor. BUT he read the books on the couch while I got the girls ready for bed, and then I had him read his re-reads out loud to me. It was 9pm before he was in bed. 9. PM. (and we skipped the leadership activity because it was lame. And you don’t have to turn anything in on it.)

The message that the school sends is that the reading is important and the progression of his reading skills is important so we must do this every night. Comprehension is important as well, not just being able to read the words, so parents should discuss the concepts of the books with the child after the fact. I’m kind of at a loss here. Obviously, we are going to do it. And I don’t want to sound like the crazy lazy parent at open house next week and admonish all of the book reading, but I do think that I need to come up with a way of expressing that this is a bit too much. Open House is on Thursday and if he comes home with 12 books that night, when we are required to bring the children with us from 6-7:30, I am going to lose my damn mind.

I started hating homework as a kid when my second grade teacher made us write every number from 1-1000 on these skinny strips of paper that she had stapled together. 50 numbers on each side of each page. I’m not kidding when I say that was the turning point for me, where school work became a burden. It wasn’t fun, and obviously there was no freaking point in me writing the same GD numbers in different combinations over and over again. Second grade was 25 years ago and I still remember how helpless and bored and trapped I felt. I don’t want that for my kid.

So what is the balance here? Am I wrong? Do I say anything to the teacher? Or the principal? Do I just suck it up and have to go through it all again when Lucy hits 1st grade next year? While Bud will probably be sent home with an encyclopedia to read every night?

I really have no idea.


Tess said...

This is horrifying. I mean, I understand that as parents we have to be involved, but seriously HOW are you supposed to do it, especially if you have more than one child? GAH!

This is one reason why I'm sort of glad that we'll be doing the aftercare thing--SUPPOSEDLY they do homework there before you pick the child up. SUPPOSEDLY.

Misty said...

Alright, Boo. Remember I live in the 49th state for education BUT...Brother struggles with homework more than anything else on the planet. When I talk to his teachers about it in the 2nd - 3rd grades, they told me that it should only take him 15-30 minutes to complete his homework every night, that they don't want him becoming frustrated and hating school because of it, and to not make him do it if it starts to get ridiculous. (Ridiculous = us fighting for 4 hours so he will do the stupid worksheet.)

That's not what we do. He has to do it because... erm. If I don't make him complete the work, he will never ever ever do it again. But that's about me, not you.

I would encourage you to email his teacher and ask how much time she anticipates homework taking in the evening. The rule of thumb, I think, is that it is supposed to take 10 minutes for ever grade. So, Bud should finish his work in 10 minutes. If not, I would think that is too much.

Jess said...

I do not think you are wrong, at all. Some of this sounds like busywork, for one thing, and for another, there is value to kids learning in their free time through creative play, unstructured activities, and relaxed family interaction. This much homework really cuts into those other things, and takes away the balance between school and home life. He's just too young! I would complain too, and I agree with Misty about asking the teacher how much time she thinks this stuff should take, because maybe she doesn't have a realistic concept of the investment she's demanding.

Erica said...

Dude. That's an insane amount of homework for both the children AND the parents. Because, let's face it, there isn't a 1st grader out there who's doing it all on their own.

I'd definitely bring it up with the teacher. Perhaps he/she hasn't thought about the time aspect associated when parents work. And sleep is very important for little ones so they shouldn't be having to go to bed late because they HAVE to read 6 or 8 friggin' books. That's just overkill.

LoriD said...

I would definitely bring it up with the teacher. Ask what her what the objective is of sending all that work home and how long she thinks it should take. Bud has been reading chapter books since he was 5, but I guarantee that there are several kids in his class that are well below that level for whom the work is even more frustrating.

I honestly don't know how I would do it if all three came home with that much work. As a rule, they don't have homework unless they failed to finish something in class- not even Lisa in Grade 5.

Mommy Daisy said...

I could go on a further rant here about homework. I'll try to keep it short.

They give too much homework. I taught for a few years, and I tutored for many years. Kids get WAY TOO MUCH homework!

I don't remember doing much homework as a kid. I know we had a little, but I don't think the teachers piled it on like they do now.

And from the standpoint of a teacher, I believe that they are under so much pressure to teach these kids everything. And they think the only way to cover everything during the school year is for all this homework. The sad part is that your family is not the norm. So many of these kids are going back to school with no homework done. Or at the very least they've completed it, but there was no one around (or cared to) help with it.

I think kids that young should not have homework. I can see assigning a small reading assignment, but that's good enough. They need to have time to be kids too. They're in school all day, and time at home with family is important too.

OK, enough for now. I already didn't keep it short. ;) I hope that the rest of the year isn't this hectic for you guys.

Kristin.... said...

Our school district has a homework policy. My FOURTH GRADER is not supposed to have more than 45 minutes of homework a night. And 20 minutes of that is to include her reading time. Your district should have the same. Having that much homework at such a young age is wrong. If your district doesn't have a policy, introduce it. You can't be the only parent struggling with this. It's not fair to the kids, or you.
My kindergartner has no real homework yet. Sometimes he reads his books to us, but there is nothing required. I know he'll get some soon, but nothing that should take any great amount of time.
Definitely talk to the teacher. Ask why so much is being sent home every night. And if you don't get answers that seem satisfactory, make an appointment with the principal. Keep him/her apprised of what is coming home for your child each night. Sometimes they aren't even aware because no one will say anything.
I'll be curious to hear what comes of this.

CAQuincy said...

When they were in first grade, Mary and Keith got a packet of the whole week's homework. Each night's homework honestly only took about 15-30 minutes (depending on the attention level of the kid). Most weeks, they would finish all the worksheets/writing parts for the whole week on the very first night. Yes, they had to read every night, but it was only supposed to be for 15 minutes. IN ADDITION to that, we were supposed to go over flashcards every night (sight words, spelling/math games). Those did not take long, and I have to be honest, I hardly ever did the games with them.

Izzy has a teacher who right off the bat admitted that she doesn't send home weekly packets because "she's probably not as organized as those other teachers." (I love her already.) This is the first week Izzy has had homework. She has to read (or be read to) every night. She has the #@$% flashcards (which, I admit, she needs more than her siblings needed them), and then she had to write her sight words twice.

Basically, she's really only doing about 15-30 minutes per night.

Yes, as the others have said, ask the teacher how long the homework is supposed to take. If she thinks it's only supposed to be 15 minutes, then you need to tell her the situation and how it's taking longer and cutting into bedtime!

MommyDaisy--I think another reason why the kids get so much homework--at least at our school--is because of all the "specials" that cut into the teachers' days. I love art, P.E. (which they now have 3X instead of 2X a week), library, etc., but I can tell it cuts into the classroom time. And when the kids get older, the activities increase. Kids are going in and out of the classrooms all day for enrichments, choir, orchestra, etc. They only get the ONE recess after lunch. They are trying to cram it all in.

(That being said, I find it interesting that on most days, my eldest daughter--the one involved in the most activities--gets her homework done AT SCHOOL. She had about an hour's worth of homework EVERY night in forth grade. Fifth--meh! Must be the teacher.)

Sorry for the long-winded comment. As a former teacher, I find all this fascinating. (And was chagrined when my supervising teacher, during my student teaching experience, pointed out exactly how much homework *I* was assigning those poor kids. Whoops!)

Mama Bub said...

That seems a little excessive. I was a teacher and understand homework for the sake of reinforcing what's being done in the classroom, but that seems over the top. Encouraging reading at home? Yes. Making reading a burden? No.

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