Friday, October 9, 2009

Homework hell

Lately the joy of having my two older daughters home with me has been overshadowed by the dread of getting my oldest's homework done.

Isn't that crazy?

She's not in high school or even middle school, she's in third grade. She just turned eight last month. Wtf?!

Although you'd think the situation would have me switching teachers, or schools, or something, I'm actually torn.

Could it be good for her?

My take on homework is that it should be useful, not busywork, and that it should not take so long that the poor kid has no time for recreation or sports or outside play.

Her homework, however, is taking about two hours a night, and school doesn't let out until 4 PM.

I thought it was just my daughter that was spending so much time on the cursed homework, as she is a slow worker, but back-to-school night proved me wrong. Most parents' chief concern was the homework load.

The teacher's reply? Two hours sounds about right. Two languages, twice the homework was pretty much her retort.

And although it makes sense to me that it does take more (effort, time) to learn both English and Spanish, no one ever mentioned that the workload would be double!! No hint of this during the kindergarten tour or orientation. Nothing. Nada.

But as this is my daughter's fourth year in this program, we're pretty vested.

Although her teacher is demanding, she is one of the very best at the school, and this is her 42nd year of teaching; surely she knows more about educating children than I do.

Could the heavy workload and high expectations be good for my daughter? The teacher's insistence on organization and personal responsibility lessons that will see her through not just third grade but through life?

Is this just what my daughter needs? Or is it unnecessary family torture? A foundation for all later academic work, or the year she learns to hate school?

One thing's for certain, when I retire in sunny Mexico, or Costa Rica, or the like, I'm never going to misplace the accents on palabras graves.


not strong in Algebra but very sympathetic said...

The guideline for homework should be 10 minutes per grade per night which puts your daughter at 30 minutes for homework (about what my 3rd grader has) Double that and you should still only be at 1 hour.
42 yrs of teaching could also make you out of touch with what your expectations are and what reality is.
A well rounded child should not be spending most of her out of school day, doing schoolwork. It cuts into extra-curricular activities as well as adding stress to the entire household. (could you really do that if BOTH girls had that kind of load??
Homework should also be geared to what a child can do independently, not needing a lot of parental help, which clearly is not happening here.
Do I need to buy that ticket West?? I really don't mind doing a little teacher conference, baby time , beach combo. :)
Olivia is having this same problem with her advanced 7th grade Algebra class that just happens to be taught by a former HS teacher. Being smart in math does not make a 12 yr old the same developmental level as a 16 yr old taking the same class.
I'll let you know how well I do relaying that sentiment to her.
Hang in there...

Me, You, or Ellie said...

I've already bored you to tears with my opinion about homework...but I think your first line says it all - the homework is overshadowing your joy at being with your girls. I don't get how you have enough hours in the day, and what do kids in after school care or activities do?

My only involvement in homework is to check it and sign it each night. My kids probably spend less than 30 minutes each on their math and/or L.A. homework most nights, and then they read independently for 20-30 minutes in bed. If we have a busy night, I'll often send a note saying that we hardly had time to play so the homework will get done the next day. On those days, they don't get "credit" in their little checkbook system of rewards at school, but that doesn't really motivate them anyway; they say that the prizes are lame.

I think it's important that they follow up on their commitments and meet the expectations that the teacher sets for them, but I also think it's my job as their mom to protect their right to be kids; and I often see more value in riding bikes and climbing trees than rehashing the work they spent 7 hours doing at school.

I'm sure your girls will have much better organizational and work life skills, mine will be the ones staring out the window during their SAT tests. I guess those apples didn't fall too far from this tree =)


Rita said...

I agree with Jacquie. And, I want to add that the organizational stuff can get worked out without it being shoved down their throats from day 1. We don't expect them to have the maturity or developmental ability to drive a car yet, and we have sense enough to not try to teach them until they're 15. Would we be a nation of better drivers if we started putting kids behind the wheel at 5, so they could be acquainted with the necessary skills before they need them at 16?

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Oh dear. I was terrible at homework in high school, but a good student. Mostly. So my advice is ancient and moot. And has to do with high school, so is even *more* moot.

I will tell you this, though. The reading thing? In any language? Rocks.


Kathi D said...

Back in The Day, 763 years ago when I was in school, I didn't have actual homework until high school. What little we had until then was easily completed in (yes, ancient times) study hall. I loved school mostly, but I also loved the feeling of freedom when the final bell rang and we could head home to play and read and eat Mom's cookies. My education did not suffer for lack of homework.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Thanks for the feedback everyone.

I lumped her nightly reading in the two hours, she is expected to read for 20 minutes each night in both languages, so with the 10 min per grade rule, it looks like it's 40 minutes too much overall.

She has both aftercare and dance three
times a week, so it definitely is a challenge..

unmitigated me said...

Do you know there has never been conclusive proof that there is any benefit to homework? Not. At. All. I am all for a well-rounded kid who has time to play every day.

Johanna said...

So...We had a teacher like this last year. It got easier as the year went on. Expectations became clear and we got into the groove. Also, we did all the reading on the weekend so that we did not have to spend time on it on weeknights. Sounds excessive, but there are some positives. Attention from mom...and they really do learn to be more responsible for themselves. Good luck!

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