Monday, August 27, 2012
4:52 PM | Posted by Leslie Block | | Edit Post
Warning: Homework Crossing
Author: Adea (adeaneedscoffee)
The history spans years and generations. School homework in America has been a turbulent topic at best. Sometimes we Americans are all for it, and other times we hate it. Both scenarios have published points to support the cause.
This is not a history lesson on the merits or pitfalls of school homework for children. I remember doing my homework for hours, and I am sure our children will do the same. Today’s article is about the way some school homework sneaked up on me and what I did about it.
My son started first grade in the last several weeks, and we both knew it was coming. What I didn’t know was how hard it was going to be and how much of it we had to do in just a couple of nights.
Because of the Labor Day weekend, this week will be shorter than most, so I mistakenly thought the amount would be appropriate. The assignments included a math worksheet — at first glance, not too bad an assignment. Then a sheet of spelling words, also not terribly hard. I thought these two seemingly inconspicuous pieces of paper were not going to give me any problems, until I read them.
The math sheet had eight questions. They were simple word problems with some graphing on the last question. My son is already reading on a second grade level, so this would be easy! Um, no.
It seems that not only did my son not understand that you read the word problem for information, but that the data would be numbers. Then you had to answer the question (i.e., solve the problem) using the numbers you were given. Well, what first grader in the first few weeks of school would know this?
I looked at it and immediately said to myself, “Solve for ‘x.’ Easy!” Um, he is a first grader. First graders don’t solve for “x.” Hmm. How do I simplify this word problem for him using language he can understand?
I showed him first how to read to get the information — the numbers — and write them out to the side of the paper. Good. Then we counted on fingers, using both his hands and mine, to figure out the answer to the question. We solved the problem, and that was just the first question.
We continued to do each, one by one. It went quickly, amazingly enough! Now, the graphing question was tough. I had to explain a graph and show him how to record the information using one. And, as an extra bonus, I showed him how to read the graph for other information like which has the most and which has the least. Yay for me!
Yeah, OK, fine, you caught me. I had my child count on his fingers. Oh well. Sometimes I have to do that, too, and i didn't have any other ideas. I am not an elementary school teacher!
On to the spelling words! Luckily, my son can already spell them just by listening to me read them out loud. Of course, that isn’t all there is to do according to the spelling worksheet.
The child has to write the spelling word three times each. Then they have to write a sentence for each of the words. And then, and only then, they can study the words. Does a first grader even know how to study? Boy, I think I am going to have to teach him how to do that, too. Well, at least I don’t right now, because he can already spell the words. But I know that day will come soon enough!
So, this is a friendly warning to all you parents out there. You know the homework is coming. You know your child will have no idea how to do it. Get your brains in gear now, while you still have time, and just realize that there is only so much an elementary teacher can teach at school. You will have to teach the rest.
Count on it.
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