Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11/08 The Homework

It's supposed to be weekly homework, but it's broken down into recommended daily segments. The accompanying notes say it's supposed to be 10 minutes per day, but that's just of the homework. Then there's 10 minutes of reading and recording what you read in the reading log, and then there's spelling practice.

The actual "10 minutes a day" homework is far, far more than that, and most of it requires heavy involvement from the parent. For example, the parent reads aloud a list of words, and the kid stands up when a word with a short 'a' sound is said. Or partner games in which you think of something that has a short 'a' sound, draw a picture and your partner guesses what it is. Gabriel had to choose four such exercises today, amounting to far more than 10 minutes.

Then there's the spelling list. This one really baffles me. He gets a list of 15 words to practice for his Friday spelling test. At the top of the list is a section that I can only guess, since there are no instructions, are to identify rhyming words. But the section is labelled "Basic Rimes:". Yes, you read that right -- Rimes. What is that about?! An accidental misspelling? A deliberate attempt to simplify a difficult word? Either way, that's ridiculous.

Then the words themselves go from ten super-easy ones: "the," "of," "is," to five much more advanced ones: "school," "principal." Couldn't they have stuck in words like "seat" or "pen" in there inbetween?

The reading log doesn't sound so onerous until you have to write down the start and end page you read, and then how many pages you read, and then totalling the read pages for the week! This turns the reading log into a big arithmetic problem.

Add to that a tired kid who just wants to hang out, a brother who is fascinated and wants to "help," (really, wants to play with his brother and doesn't like being kicked out), and a little sister who alternately demands something immediately, or is so quiet for so long that the mom-alarms go off. Gabriel is an ordered kid who doesn't need a ton of prompting to do homework, but this was a serious, serious drag tonight. I hope other parents complain, but this is where cultural differences might kick in: many parents educated in academically intense countries might well be all for it.

I personally think Gabriel can learn about short 'a's without so much silly homework. Some homework, sure, and the straightforward homework, such as picking out words with short 'a's from a list. Once he has to find pictures in a magazine of things with a short 'a', cut them out, glue them to something, and then write down what it is, and then do three more sorts of things like that, plus the spelling and the reading log, it turns into a much much longer task than 10 minutes, and a great deal of oversight from us.

I'm complaining now because Dave's taken this on so far all week, so I haven't seen first-hand how much work it is. It's not all doable in one night like the kindergarten homework -- you really do have to do it every day, since if you fall behind, it would be very difficult to catch up. That happens, that's school, but in first grade?!

At least I liked spending the time with Gabriel, but I hated being interrupted again and again by the demands of pre-bedtime siblings, and fretting about all there was to do. It's stunning what a huge commitment the school expects from parents -- I'm sure it was nothing like this when I was in first grade, and look how I turned ou.....oh never mind.

I miss Katrina. The boys too, but she's changing and growing up with every passing day. The most time I spend with her during the day is during her evening mealtime tantrum. But she's great in the mornings. What am I doing?

9/11/08 (in memoriam....)

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