Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Involved Parenting

Last night was Julia's first grade parent-teacher conference. It was delightful in every way; Julia is a star student, very advanced academically, sweet and considerate, and loves school, so basically things like this are always positive. (She has experienced an obstacle or two involving girls excluding her on the playground, but this seems to be nipped in the bud and not indicative of any larger issue of social rejection or bullying. She struggles with a very shy and timid temperament, which is a hindrance on a rowdy school playground.) Plus, she has who some have called the best teacher in the school, and we thoroughly enjoyed talking with her about how Julia is doing in first grade. It is clear her teacher adores her.

But can I just say, WHAT IS WITH ALL THE HOMEWORK???? Seriously, in first grade? I can't stand it.

Before I became a parent, I knew there were going to be two things I would hardly be able to tolerate. (Ha! Just two. Don't you just love the naivete?) These two things were a.) board games, and b.) homework.

Well, I know myself very well. Because here I am, six years into parenthood, many years after I first pegged my dislikes, and guess what. I hate board games, and I hate dealing with homework. I mean, I even hate the VERY MINOR "homework" I sometimes have to supervise for nursery school. And if I bristle at having to locate a family photo or make an "About Me" page (which is very, very sweet in the end, a great idea, honestly), can you imagine how I feel about 20 minutes of nightly reading, twice-weekly math worksheets, daily poem-of-the week reading/memorizing, and, I hear, starting next week, spelling lists to study every week and an ongoing assignment that will involve a parent playing two stated word games with Julia per week and log them in a special notebook?


Sigh. I try to be a good, supportive, involved parent. I value education. I was really great at school as a kid. So good I went to school UNTIL I WAS 29 YEARS OLD.

But people, that's kind of the point. I AM DONE WITH HOMEWORK.

I hate how homework for (young) children is basically homework for children AND parents. I hate how there's so much of it that it takes up every spare minute between the afternoon bus and bedtime that isn't used for outdoor play (hello, yes, I consider that mandatory), dinner, and getting ready for bed. Mostly I hate that it does not seem necessary to have so much homework at six years old.

But what's even worse is imagining what it's going to be like in the future, if it's like this--and I feel this way about it--in FIRST GRADE.

Moving on. The good news is that I am going to be a weekly room parent in Julia's classroom beginning soon, one morning a week while Genevieve is in preschool. Yes, that means I am giving up one of my three mornings per week of writing time. But it is worth it. As an at-home mom, I feel called to do what I can in this regard, for both my daughters and their schools. I am needed. And Julia is so happy and proud.

Just call me First Grade Room Mother. I feel so retro.


Mom and Kiddo said...

Not that it will change anything about the homework you have to deal with, but a lot has been written about how homework before high school (high school!!!) is not beneficial. Knowing this, of course, might make dealing with homework all the more annoying... at least I know it will for me.

Christie Wright Wild said...

Amen sister! I couldn't agree with you more! Twenty (or even five) minutes of "reading with" my son, also in the first grade, is often like pulling teeth. Whenever (if ever) I get my own classroom, my homework will be for the parents (sorry), but it will simply be to read a picture book to your child at bedtime. That's something I would welcome, since I already do it anyway. If a child can't do it completely on their own, then it shouldn't be assigned at all. I realize that a lot of people say it is to bridge the gap between home and school. But I'm like you, I'm done with homework. I've had my share. My daughter is in a part-time preschool and even she has homework. Granted it is a picture book with activities to go along with it. Thankfully no grades and no worksheets. Sometimes we do the activities and sometimes we don't. But what we do do, at least we enjoy. I'm glad I'm not alone as a parent in my feelings toward homework. I think sometimes the principals push the teachers to have it. Other times, maybe teachers just think it's necessary. I, for one, do not. And the comment about high school? Oh, my! Never heard that one before! I think homework in middle school is probably okay. Oh, but wait. Then the teachers say, "Well, I have to prepare the children for middle school homework, so I better start now." Anyway, take care. And have fun being the retro 1st grade Mama.