Before I was a parent, I was a judging teacher. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true.
I am not saying that all childless teachers are judging, but I was on a high soap box about my knowledge of good parenting. I used to think that if a parent was not willing to read 30 minutes a day with their child or they couldn’t support their child’s education by helping them complete the family homework project…well, maybe they shouldn’t have become parents.
I know. It’s terrible!! I apologize to the parents from my earliest teaching days. I had no idea!!
I have a kid now and I get it.
Let me explain…
The research on the effectiveness of homework is mixed and the amount that many students are asked to do seems to be on the rise. It is hard as a parent to justify spending additional time on school work after your child has already put in a full day at school.
In my own classroom, I take a careful look at homework since it will take away from family time. I ask parents to read with their children 20 minutes a day. Our adopted math program has math homework that reinforces the skills already taught. Typically 2-3 of those are sent home a week. We also provide two math online experiences which seems to be used mostly by families that are looking for enrichment or remedial practice. Most of the year, this will be the expected homework in my class.
If a parent requests additional ideas, I am happy to suggest activities that tie to our classroom learning. I also give suggestions that are shared in my weekly newsletter. Options, but not required.
This new awareness hit me in the face the other day when I was planning for November. Right after Halloween, I used to send home an outline of a turkey with a list of possible ideas for decorating. I gave families a week to decorate the turkeys and send them back to school. The turkeys used to decorate my wall and provided a great display for parent teacher conferences. Yes. We talked about patterning and that was part of the decorations, but I looked at those turkeys this year and I couldn’t do it.
I couldn’t send them home.
That turkey project meant families driving to Michael’s and buying pom-poms and glitter. It meant family time being used for something that didn’t support my curriculum. Typically, it meant moms completing turkey on Sunday night after kid was in bed and then carefully putting their masterpiece in a gallon size baggie and proudly delivering it to me Monday morning.
My son is in third grade. He spends all day in school. When he comes home he is tired and the last thing he wants is to fill out a spelling packet, a math packet, and create a brochure about his community that should entice visitors to stay.
In addition to the daily homework, they have a monthly book report that is assigned. In October, they had to read a mystery and then fill in puzzle pieces with details of the character, setting, and important clues. The pieces were then supposed to be cut out and glued back together on a poster board with decorative edges that hinted to the books content. If you are crafty and like this sort of thing, you might be excited by this homework assignment; however, if you aren’t…tedious busy work!
This month, they are required to read a historical fiction book and then construct a mobile. A mobile.
For the life of me, I can’t imagine how a mobile will demonstrate his understanding of the book in a way that is better than a written book report. I have a feeling that this mobile is my turkey! Parent conferences are just around the corner and I have a feeling that these babies are going to be hanging around the room. Parents will all walk in and be surprised, amazed, intimidated by Tommy’s mobile. I mean Tommy’s mother’s mobile.
I know what is coming. It will be a sock puppet after reading a biography or a diorama after reading a fantasy piece.
Eff you, diorama!!