I can’t do my homework anymore*

September 27, 2010 at 2:00 pm (Uncategorized)

Since the second day, my first graders have rebelling against their math homework.  I have to say I feel their pain.  Their homework is nothing interesting.  Always math, always counting and writing patterns.  It’s only a slight variation on the homework from the same curriculum that they did in kindergarten.

Back when I was a kid, homework started in the third grade.  I loved it.  I remember sitting at the dining room table, proud and important.  “No, I cannot play with you, little sister only in kindergarten.  I have Homework.”  Third graders are a little more able to manage it themselves.  At least I assume, not having ever parented one.

The first week, homework went the same way as last year.  The boys would do it as prompted, with a bit of whine and quite a bit of sloppy.  In pen or crayon or pencil, whatever utensil they dug out of the art cabinet.  As far as I know they were never instructed differently.  I’d read them directions as solicited while cooking dinner.  Or Mark would.  I didn’t look at the finished product.

Then lo and behold, it started coming back.  About once a page, groups of squares were counted incorrectly, colored red instead of yellow, penmanship of numbers left something to be desired.  Hmmm, a new ballgame, this first grade thing.  Where one not only has to do the work, but do it neatly and correctly.  One hundred percent.  All the errors were marked with red ink for them to correct and return.  All of it had “Use Pencil” written everywhere.  Well, well, I thought. Expectations have changed for my big first graders.  Hopefully redoing it will show them that.

Then I went to “Curriculum Night”, which, back in the day, was called Back-to-School Night.  And got some schooling.  Apparently I’m expected to check over the homework for errors before they turn it in.  It seems the teacher is picturing us sitting next to the boys as they do it.

Now I don’t know.  I don’t want to be one of those parents- second-guessing the teachers at every turn.  But I just am not sure this is part of my parenting duties.  I don’t sit still for twenty minutes at home ever.  Unless I’m nursing.  Or reading aloud, I suppose.  OK, or in front of the computer.  I sit with the laptop a lot longer than twenty minutes.  But I’d rather fight with them about setting the table, not if their eights were legible enough today.  Choose my battles, as They say.

Having the final say-so on when the homework is “good enough” sets up a precedent that the onus is on me, not them.  It counteracts the independence in the school routine that I’m trying to set up.  I guess in some respects I resent children having homework at all, before they have the maturity to complete it with minimal supervision.  I have to put a caveat in here that of course, if they were having trouble with a concept, I’d be happy to work with them on it.  But that’s not the issue here.  Already I’ve seen in the last week of me trying to look it over, without being too conspicuous or demanding, that they look to me for approval.  I’d like them to approve it, decide if all those fives look like fives.  Not be secure in the knowledge that Mom will tell me if there are actually six hexagons, not five.  Or even if I just tell him that there’s a problem that needs further attention.  Learning to check one’s own work is almost more important than the actual learning at this point.  At least in the world according to this Mama.

Mark says if I don’t believe in it, don’t check their work.  But then I worry that they won’t do as well as the kids whose homework is perfect.  And, when it comes done to it, I’m also worried that I’ll be labeled a “bad parent”, who doesn’t care enough to take the time to have interest in their children’s schoolwork.  That’s not the case, at all.

Am I neglecting my parental duties if I don’t make sure my first grader’s homework is done correctly?

*Name that artist

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1 Comment

  1. Jenn @ Juggling Life said,

    I would talk to the teacher and tell her what you’ve just outlined. What they are asking you to do is at odds with your parenting philosophy in a legitimate way.

    And I’ve seen the “parent over the shoulder/perfect homework” kids as young adults and it ain’t pretty.

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