Thursday, September 14, 2006

First Grade Homework

Yesterday evening felt particularly busy and rushed. Husband had a board meeting (he is on the board of the NAEYC daycare where Gabriel spent the first six years of his life, and where, hopefully, there will be a spot for Lana come January. I don't know what I will do if there isn't a spot, because I cannot imagine leaving my child anywhere else.)

Anyway, Husband was at his meeting, and I needed to get some grocery shopping done, as well as pick up Gabe's prescription for Zyrtec, because, evidently, the doctor feels that the reason he has been coughing up a lung the last 12 days is "allergies". (Oh, and can I complain that the pharmacist would not dispense pediatric Zyrtec in its chewable pill form, because the doctor had written the presciption for the liquid version? And no, pediatric Zyrtec does not come in a coated caplet because, according to the pharmacist, "most children under 10 cannot swallow pills." Gabe hates liquid medicine, and is not a huge fan of chewables, but, he can swallow a pill. I guess he's the only six year old on the planet like that. BUT, I ask you, if the doctor prescribes Zyrtec, while the hell won't he give me the chewables instead of the liquid? How is this a material or significant change in the prescription? I digress). It took a long time to get the prescription filled, and all the groceries purchased.

When we got home, it was 7:30, and I told Gabe he could play outside for 45 minutes. I used this time to lay on the couch doing nothing (er...watching an episode of Without a Trace and calling Verizon to upgrade to DSL internet service, because the dial-up is just not working.)

When Gabe came inside, it was 8:30 and we settled down to look at homework.

The night before homework had ended in tears. TEARS. Because the idiot assignment was this:

1. Find all the thermometers in your house. (Okay, I understand the point of this - there are things in our homes that measure temperature. So, we counted - the thermometer in the pool (not techinically in the house, but, in our yard), the oven thermometer, the meat thermometer, and two ear thermometers. Done. 5 thermometers in our house. (I'm sure there are more, but, honestly, I felt five was enough).

2. DRAW the thermometers. Draw them. WTF?? This is where the homework turned to tears of hysteria, when he couldn't get the ear thermometer in his picture to "look right". WHO EXPECTS THAT A SIX YEAR OLD COULD DRAW AN EAR THERMOMETER? WHO??

I must confess...I drew the ear thermometer. It was 9:15 and my child had been to soccer AND cubscouts and everyone in our house needed to go to bed. I wrote underneath my masterpiece stilllife, "Ear thermometer on Table by Gabe's Mom."

Last night, the homework was to "find or draw a picture of a group of things or people."

I am sure that there must be some sense to this, but, I cannot fathom what it is. I cut a picture from my pottery barn kids catalogue of four babies sitting in a circle and I told Gabe to tape it to the paper.

The bottom half of the page was a completely normal math assignment - i.e. write the number that comes before these numbers, and write the number that come after these numbers. Gabe did that on his own, no problem.

I guess I am feeling pissy and resentful, but, I feel like I spend half of Gabe's homework time participating in ridiculous activities that serve only to upset Gabe and annoy me. For what purpose?

My child can read and do basic math. He likes to draw, except when he is forced to draw ear thermometers for Pete's sake.

I'm not even sure what the point of this post is, except to bitch about the fact that First Grade Homework is reducing my first grader to tears, and not over things like math or spelling words (he does fine with those) but with these stupid piddly ridiculous assignments.


Okay, I am sure that there are some elementary school teachers reading this who are not happy with me right now, and you have every right to be upset that I am not having a good attitude about my child's homework. Feel free to beat me about the head with a rubber chicken.



Blogger Space Mom said...

I would talk with mrs. veggetable about this. I find those assignments busy work. I would rather see things like "find all of the thermometers in your house" "now choose one and write a small story about it"

Or something like that. Maybe I am too cynical too?

Thursday, September 14, 2006 2:40:00 PM  
Blogger Nicki said...

Oh LawMommy, you so are a mama after my own heart! This is the funniest thing I've ever read! I had the *exact* same experience with first grade when my oldest was in. Man did I hate it! I love that you just did it for him. Frankly isn't, you know, 8 or so hours of school enough? Tell Mrs. Vegetable if she can't find the time in her day to teach Gabe to count and draw thermometers, it probably isn't vital to his education after all. I HATE HOMEWORK!!!!! (don't tell anyone but this is why I homeschool)

Thursday, September 14, 2006 3:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Christina/Mrs. Broccoli Guy said...

So far I love R~'s kindergarten teacher - she gives a "menu" of homework options and parents can pick what they think is best for their child or just read a book with them. Love it! :-)

Meanwhile, K~, who just finished 3 years of advanced placement 3-5th grades, is in lame mainstream 6th grade and spent 90 minutes COLORING A BIRD for science class. So far, I'm not so very impressed with middle school.

Thursday, September 14, 2006 8:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a teacher, presently 2nd grade, and my kids read to their parents each and every night with 'just right' books that I provide. Our rule up here in a big Canadian city is 10 minutes of focussed skill development per grade (grade 2=20 min)+ reading. Sometimes I might ask enterprising students/parents to snap digital photos of science stuff (like thermometers/simple machines) that we can use to ground our discussions. Busy work is boring.

Thursday, September 14, 2006 9:31:00 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Gah. So glad dd's going to be homeschooled.

I'd be pissed too, if I were you.

Thursday, September 14, 2006 11:12:00 PM  
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Thursday, June 14, 2007 2:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

THe point is usually to get kids in the habit of doing something in the evening that relates to what was dicussed in the classroom. Maybe your attitude is part of the problem. Also sounds like you have too many "extra curricular" things going on. Two things in one evening is too much! What is more or the extra stuff?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 2:19:00 PM  
Blogger kid2020 said...

Sarah, are you kidding? Do you really agree with giving a first grader meaningless busywork (such as drawing ear thermometers) for homework which cuts into time for valuable extra curricular activities that are not provided in school? Do think that 8 hours a day of this stuff is not enough? LawMommy, I'm with you. There is no reason for first graders to stress about useless time consuming busywork when they can gain far more valuable experiences from interacting, creative free play, and social activities. All busywork does is rob their minds of creative thinking.

Friday, March 21, 2008 12:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Sara about your negativity towards homework. Did you discuss your concerns with your child's teacher? Did you ask about the purpose of the drawings? Could it have been to have a discussion the following day in class about the similarities and differences in thermometers that people have in their homes. This should have been your first step...handling it in a non-confrontational manner...which seems to be the way you handle things based on what I have read so far. I feel that you are doing your child a disservice by completing his homework for him. Why did he feel the drawing needed to be perfect? Homework is given to provide a reinforcement of what is learned in the classroom. Personally, 8:30 is way too late for a 6 year old to be doing homework anyway. I also agree that they need to be involved in extra-curricular activities but not at the expense of the most important thing- education. Did you sit and have your child read with to, with, or by you that evening? Probably not because it was too late by the time you finished all of your extra-curricular activities and your "veg" time in front of the tv. Instead of spending time complaining about what your child's homework is...spend time in the classroom and see what learning and teaching goes on each day. See how much time is dedicated to each subject. See the many needs of a student that a teacher must meet throughout the day. See the amount of time that goes into preparing, executing, teaching, and assessing a lesson. Personally, my child is not in school for 8 hours a day, it is 6 hours and 15 min., and of that time 25 minutes is in lunch, 40 minutes is in art, music or pe daily and maybe 10 minutes for recess. So in reality only a little over 5 hours are dedicated to academics. Your extra help at home, encouragement, and involvement in your child's education is vital. So sorry that your child's homework is interferring with your "busy" schedule. I bet our child's teacher's job interferes with his/her "family" schedule with all of the extra time and money your child's teacher spends on his/her classroom. Stop complaining and be part of the solution...not part of the problem.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008 11:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently, you do not have an elementary education background.

Thursday, August 14, 2008 8:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Teacher Lady said...

I am a first grade teacher myself. The purpose for homework in my classroom is to teach good study habits early and to provide extra practice with skills that are being taught in the classroom. It also gives the parents a chance to talk about school with their children and stay up to date with what is being learned. It is very important that students know their parents value schoolwork and education. When a parent completes a child's homework, it teaches them that it is okay to cheat or cut corners. If your child has heard you discussing your negative feelings toward the teacher, my guess it that he will pick them up and get into trouble at school. The only thing that will result from that is a loss of learning that could have taken place. If your son begins to hate school as early as first grade, he will be in a world of trouble throughout his educational career. First graders are supposed to feel challenged, but they stop learning when they are frustrated. If you don't understand an assignment, you don't get time to do it, or your child is frustrated with it, simply write a note to the teacher and explain. Teachers know that teaching honesty, integrity and positive attitudes toward learning are THE most important lessons. I always stress to my parents to let me know if homework is too easy or too difficult so that we can make adjustments. My best advice is to remain positive (even if you don’t feel like it) and communicate with your teacher. After all, no matter what your differences, the two of you ultimately want the same thing, WHAT IS BEST FOR THE CHILD. :)

Saturday, August 16, 2008 11:39:00 AM  
Anonymous John Smith said...

There is extensive research showing that homework at the elementary school level does nothing at all, and there is no research that supports its pedagogical efficacy. The reason teachers assign it is because they are incompetent and ignorant of basic educational research. My first grader's teacher assigned him 1-2 hrs of busy work M-F and a large 4 hr research project for weekends. I just threw these assignments away. The only thing they were doing is frustrating my child and turning him away from what previously was a great interest in and love for learning.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 1:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only thing I get from this comments is that most of the parents are teaching their kids to cry and bitch out the homeworks they are given at school instead teaching their kids to overcome difficult situations by finding using their brains. Great later in the future these kids will complain for every test they cannot success because they were never thought how to do it..

Monday, October 13, 2008 10:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Liz said...

Unbelieveable. I understand what good intentioned teachers are trying to accomplish. In kindergarten, my children (twins, boy and girl) had homework on the weekends, which I didn't agree with, but that they could do on their own with guidance. Now in first grade, I pick them up at 6:50 p.m. and get home soon after. Between 6:50 and 8:30 p.m. we have to eat dinner, do homework, bathe, and get them to bed. My relatives are pitching in to help them with home work because I get home so late, and my husband is deceased. I believe the time they spend at school is enough. I know the time I spend at work is enough. I don't bring work home, and they shouldn't bring homework home. As previously stated, it has not been proven to be effect. I robes my children and I of precious time to spend time together doing things we enjoy, rather than what a teacher thinks is important. I do not want a teacher dictating what I do with my children's or my time. It's unbelieveable to have homework at a kindergarten or first grade level. Let them have a childhood for goodness sake. They have participated in soccer but we don't have time for extracurricular activities. What a shame.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008 2:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. These are some pretty harsh comments.

Speaking as the parent of a first grader, I hate homework. Speaking as a teacher, I understand the need for it. It is good to extend what is learned in school.

If it seems like there has been too much homework assigned, or for whatever reason, we can not get to it, I write a note to the teacher. 95% of the time, we can get most of it done. Sometimes we don't get all the reading done, but we more than make up for it on other nights, so I'm not sweating it.

Not all teachers stick to the 10 minutes/year guideline. If a first grader is spending an hour a night on homework, that's too much. They need to have time to go outside and play and time to be part of the family.

Sunday, February 15, 2009 11:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know the original content was written 2 years ago... but I'm in the middle of another "tears over homework" night and I'm at my wits end. I know it's important, I get why it needs to happen daily, etc. BUT... how can I transmit it to my child? It was heartbreaking the other day when he told me that he "has too much to do". Jesus... a 6 yr old saying that. Maybe it is too much?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 8:56:00 PM  
Blogger Diane Fowler said...

As a first grade teacher, I have to agree with LawMommy's statements about her child's homework. Homework should be an extension of learning at school and should ALWAYS have a purpose. I would like to point out, however, that anyone who starts homework with a child at 8:30 at night is just asking for the session to end in tears. A 6 year old should be going to bed at that time, or at the very least, be listening to a bedtime story.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009 11:08:00 PM  
Anonymous TtC said...

Having recently married a woman with three children, I have found that school has changed since I was in attendance. I am not particularly old, but it seems that the educational system has managed itself into a tailspin. My stepdaughter, who is in grade one, came home with a booklet of twenty-five pages assigned as “homework.” Looking at the instructions about “complete sentences” and use of “logic” sickens me. Most children that age don’t have that extensive a vocabulary in order to deal with at least half of what I saw in the booklet. There is no reason whatsoever for children that age to have homework. In my personal opinion, there is no reason for children of any age to have homework. Children attend school to learn things, but it seems that is too much to ask nowadays as most of the teachers know little if anything. They follow the “state-approved” system. Their little heads are filled with so much useless information after which they are stressed so they can get “good grades.” It’s no wonder children are sick and tired all the time, now. I pay taxes for the teacher to teach my children, not for the teacher to send them home with a stack of papers so I can do it. I have no problem for the thirteen-year-old to come home with a research project or a creative writing assignment, but the six- or seven-year-old with a stack of papers is outright stupid. I also find it extremely “convenient” for teachers to hide behind the “builds good work habits” excuse. Most children never form good work habits; they cram like the rest of their peers when it comes to exams and tests.

I can also see that the educational system failed most of those who commented before me as there seems to be a serious lack of the command of the English language. It’s not as bad as the younger generation, but still sad. In short, the educational system requires a complete overhaul by someone who knows what he/she’s doing as the government has a tendency of screwing things up beyond repair. I have been through the system from start to finish and I hold three PhDs. The system is falling apart and people are becoming stupider and more ignorant.

Saturday, September 26, 2009 12:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't believe it. I guess all of you anti-teacher / homework haters should just try walking in our shoes.
No, we can not do it all by ourselves. Yes, the government has failed us all in how and what the students need to learn and why.
Don't take it out on us. We know homework should only take 10 minutes. Is sounds more like LawMomy's son is just anal about his work. What LawMommy should have said was do your best and that is all you can do. Next time mommy will be home early enough to help you do it in 10 minutes!

Sunday, September 27, 2009 1:41:00 AM  
Blogger Air Force MOM said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010 11:49:00 PM  
Blogger Air Force MOM said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010 11:49:00 PM  
Blogger Air Force MOM said...

I am a police officer who was a single mom of two ADHD boys and I do understand Lawmoms frustration.

Those of you who stand in judgment of women who must work (and not 9-5) should walk in our shoes before you speak. My boys participated in football, baseball and wrestling from the age of 5. My God they were ADHD they had to use up some of their energy somewhere.

I often felt like Lawmom when it was homework time. The word home work usually brought tears to their eyes because it seemed no matter what was done we were never done in an hour let alone 10-20 minutes.

Any way after all of my years of complaining to teachers and asking for their help dealing with 2 boys suffering from ADHD, I came to realize that many teachers don't care. They want to teach the smart kids because that is easy.

Well, despite all the negativity by their teachers I am happy to say that I managed to raised Two strong men who presently serve in the United States Air force, but two men that both hate school because of their experiences. My youngest who was constantly told that if he couldn't do what they asked of him in school that he would never succeed in real life, well he went on to Graduate as an Honor Grad out of Air Force Basic Training and presently is serving our country in Turkey. He has a very high security clearance because he is not the loser his teachers kept telling him he was.

My oldest son who sadly dropped out of high school scored so high on the Air Force entrance exam that he was told he could have almost any job he wanted. Again he was told he would never amount to much by his teachers. He is presently stationed in Utah and will be leaving for Kuwait in February to do missions he volunteered to do. Not bad for a lose right?

I was always told throughout the years that I was just making excuses for my boys and I would be sorry, but they were wrong. So just like Toby Keith I have to ask"How do you like me now?"

LMAO and just for Ms Smarty pant who says you need to walk in her shoes, I challenge you to walk in mine. I don't think you could do it, but unlike you Im up for the challenge and actually I have been back in school working on getting that education degree I originally went to school for. See i will be 50 in 5 years and have the age and time to retire from my cop job and figured it was time to advocate for children like mine and what a better way then to become a teacher.

Let me know when you're up for a ride along and then we can borrow my great nephew for the night and do homework with him (he is 7) and gets way too much homework too oh and did I mention I'm pretty sure he too is ADHD. Gosh you'd think it was inherited or something..........

Tuesday, January 12, 2010 11:54:00 PM  
Blogger Evelyn said...

I am a 1st grade teacher and I hate primary grade homework assignments - they are meaningless busywork. I tell my students to look at the moon for a week or two, dig in the dirt and tell me what they found, watch the news when there is a big storm or earthquake, etc. I am forced to make a packet every week - about 8 kids do it with any regularity and I truly feel that it has absolutely no positive impact on their learning. My mantra is "isn't 7 hours in school enough?" Go live your life with your family. I am met with opposition from rulebook principals and teachers who can and never will think outside the box and who are not informed of current research. They just feel they have to cover their butts.

Sunday, February 07, 2010 7:30:00 PM  
Blogger Skinny D said...

I am a high school teacher and I am totally frustrated and exhausted with my first grader's homework. I have hit rock bottom at this point which is why I am posting here. For the first time ever, I grabbed my kid's homework tonight and I just went ahead and did it for him. I feel like a failure as a parent but I just didn't feel like arguing over it and reducing both of us to tears. I am not a first grade teacher and I have no idea how to explain this crazy stuff on that math worksheet.

He has reading and math every night which takes us about an hour. I'm ready to tear my hair out with the math worksheets because A)I can't figure out what exactly they are asking me to do, and B)I have no clue to explain it to my first grader. It's not simple math like add 4 plus 4. It's confusing word problems, boxes to fill numbers into and drawing a lines to match something to something else which is inside a bubble??? The cognitive skill being taught is how to navigate a worksheet, not how to do the actual math operations. We did some adding money homework the other day which was next to impossible because they haven't learned how to add double digits yet. They are supposed to "skip count" their way to the answer. It ain't working.

On to the reading. The second grade curriculum has been pushed down to the first grade. My kid is still struggling with his phonics and trying to get his handwriting together...which is what I thought first grade was all about. But they are expected to be reading chapter books with much harder vocabulary. This is a direct result of the NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND policy which is actually leaving millions kids behind. Kids don't have time to master the skills, they are being pushed through the concepts as quickly as possible. I think the educational system pushes parents into a bind by making unreasonable demands. We have received plenty of homework assignments where the goal is supposed to get you to "talk to your kid". I talk to my kid every day and night I don't need a bogus homework assignment to force me to do it.

Thursday, February 25, 2010 9:22:00 PM  
Blogger Kristina said...

Ahhh - I've found a place to vent! My daughter's teacher assigns homework which we are told should take 20 minutes - it takes my daughter more than 45 (and the teacher is aware of this). This week my daughter missed out on free time at school and reading buddy time because she hadn't studied enough for her spelling test - that would be time on top of the written assignments. We also have assigned 20 minutes of reading per day. When I told the teacher that my daughter was struggling, she told me that she should have studied more throughout the week. So over an hour a night of homework isn't enough? ARGHHHHHHH! Never mind that the PTSA national association and the NEA and all the research out there advocaates only 10 minutes of homework at the first grade level. Never mind the research of Alfie Kohn showing that early elementary homework is anything but proven to help students. Never mind that we don't get much family time during the week. Never mind that my first grader cries at the mention of homework. We're supposed to be happy about this? I'm frustrated beyond belief. I am coaching and teaching my daughter, helping as I can, and trying to be very positive...but I am at my wits' end.

I hold an M.Ed. I care deeply about education. And I believe that worksheets that bore the pants off my daughter and I are not teaching her anything but how to hate school.

Meeting with the teacher and principal in the works. And looking into a new school with more reasonable policies....and so sad.

Monday, March 15, 2010 3:08:00 AM  
Blogger Courtney said...

I would have to agree with most of the post here except the angry ones from people I really hope are not teachers. My son's first grade homework takes him too long and is too repetitive/busywork-like to have any real meaning for him. I understand the concept of getting him used to doing something academic every night as that is what he will be facing in later years, but I think this type of busywork only frustrates younger minds. I didn't have regular homework until about 7th grade. I was always a good student and had confidence - and sadly that is what I think is being taken away from our youngsters. They need to approach school with confidence, energy and excitement, not exhaustion, fear and dread.

Thursday, May 13, 2010 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger Verucca822 said...

My turn! I have been a first grade teacher for 11 years and while I could give you a list of the pros and cons of homework, I want to address the pompous you know what who assumes that teachers are ignorant because we give homework. I don't know about any of you, but when my boss tells me to do something, I do it! It is a district requirement and I follow the rules!
Also, while I completely agree that homework should be a QUICK review, to assume that education should ALL be in the hands of the teacher is the most ignorant comment of all (which many people on here made that comment)! Children need to see that there is a connection to what they learn at school and the real world. They need to see that their parents value education. The whole "if they see you read, they will read" has merit! Check the RESEARCH Mr. Pompous "I have 3 PHD'S... in WHAT??? The importance of mud?

I do feel that No Child Left Behind has been forcing teachers to do things even they don't agree with, but our hands are tied to some degree. We have to do our best to provide meaningful, quality homework.

Finally, a quick note of what I have been hearing on the news lately about how much better private school is over public... yes of course they are doing well... the parents are PAYING for their kids to be there so they MAKE SURE education is important or they are wasting their money. Plus, they have the luxury of expelling the students that cause a constant disruption... we at the public schools must try to soldier on and teach the MANY levels of students while at the same time making sure that little troublemaker isn't bullying someone AGAIN!

I think we all need to step back and try to appreciate both teachers and parents points of view and what hardships we all face and to remember that what we all want (as someone previously mentioned)is to help these children be the best they can be!

Thursday, September 30, 2010 9:25:00 PM  
Blogger Suzette said...

I am not bothered by my first grader having homework. What bothers me is that he is required to make drawings. He cannot draw. He just brought home his first reading test and he failed it. His lack of ability to draw (and his strong dislike of drawing) where the difference between getting an F and a C, yes he did not score perfect in the "question" part but he did do what he could in the drawing part. why fail him???? it's not like he can't read because he can't draw!!!! Book reports consist of making a "perfect" picture of the book you read and coloring it "perfectly". Not on whether or not the kid actually read and understood the book. What is the book about? Name the characters. Etc. Not freaking draw a damn picture, not everyone has the talent to do so but it doesn't mean they do no have good reading comprehension.

Thursday, September 01, 2011 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger AllTeachersLeftBehind said...

High school teacher here roaming the internet to see what my in-coming first grader has in store for her. Much as I suspected.

NCLB is now the Common Core, and teachers will be fired if/when the class, including your student, is not successful at the standards that have been put in place by the government. No, your child likely cannot complete all the work and concepts required by the law in the six hour day your child has. Thus, homework.

In our race to close the gap between the US and other nations, the school standards have been raised. As a result, more is being expected of you and your children.

You didn't get the memo, but in order to keep up with the standards, your child no longer has time for extra curricular activities, and you cannot come home later than 5 p.m.

I feel like puking because as a teacher, more is expected of me as well, and I'm finding that I have to choose between my kid and yours. Sigh.

Friday, August 10, 2012 12:33:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

My son just started first grade and the wife and I were having this very discussion today. We saved our sons homework until this morning because he was way too tired and frustrated last night. When I did it with him it ook over an hour.

This is rediculous. One of the questions had the equation 2+1=? And said to have my recently turned 6 son write a word problem from the equation.

We have a parent teacher conference tomorrow and I plan on explaining to the teacher why her packets in the future will be coming back partially finished. We will do ten minutes of homework each night and anything that takes longer than that will be left undone.

I will do this in a respectful but firm manner but I refuse to allow this pointless homework turn my sons love of school and learning into a hatred like I had by fourth grade.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 9:29:00 PM  

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