I don't homeschool, but I must say I hold absolutely nothing against my friends who do. (Because I know my friends are doing it the right way, and not just drifting through life on a whim.)
I decided I couldn't homeschool my kids. (And I do mean "I" here and not "we." My husband very much wanted me to homeschool. But after spending all those preschool years alone with my daughter, I knew she would learn nothing from me. After reasoning with my husband, he agreed.)
Now all three of my kids are in a public school. Suburban public schools have a lot to offer kids, and our district, especially, has phenomenal teachers. They are often more idealistic than realistic, but that is the charm of teachers fresh out of school. I was there once myself.
But one thing is getting missed, it seems. The kids' school day is being prolonged into home time as well.
Kids are given homework, but not like they were in the old days. When I was growing up in elementary school, homework was usually a worksheet and maybe copying down our spelling words.
Now, worksheets are of the devil, and homework is rarely considered an individual event. Kids are asked to complete it WITH parents. Not, parents check over the work or sign off on the end. But rather have your mom or dad do this activity too.
I'm sure I sound horrible. Why can't you just give a little time to your kids when they have been in school for 6 hours?
It's because I'm still parenting. A lot of what I do to give my kids a healthy upbringing doesn't always involve me interacting with them. And it can't all be done while they are in school. I can't do homework with 2 kids while I am making dinner and making sure that everything is together for soccer practice.
Once, a teacher asked one of my children where her priorities were, with soccer or with school. I don't like that. She concentrates on school during school time, and needs to have a physical release more than she needs a few hours of homework.
Oh, I haven't told you my theory on homework yet. This, you need to know to see where I am coming from.
When I taught, the rule of thumb was 10 minutes of homework per grade level per night.
I only gave what was necessary - to the point that I looked at each and every math problem before I assigned it to see if I thought the kids needed that strategy reinforced, and if there had been enough of those already assigned. Homework was STRICTLY for reinforcing what I had already taught, and never to introduce a new concept. Because, if I had every student learning from their parents, they would come in with 27 different ways to solve the problem. Some could have been right, but...
I never gave homework on the weekend (except long term projects). My thought was that there would be 2 groups of students- 1: those who would do the work Friday after school. Backing up to the idea of reinforcing, that would be great, but the material would lost on them by Monday. What's the point? Then there are the kids in group 2: those who would wait until Sunday night. By that point, they HAD already forgotten. Forgotten the directions, the assignment... the point.
I do know my family and my kids. And I know they aren't extraordinarily abnormal. As a matter of fact, grotesque amounts of homework seem to be plaguing my circle. Homework is keeping kids from doing sports, playing instruments, and even going to church.
I have a first grader, who loves to do homework, so getting her started on it, isn't a problem, but after an hour or so, she does get tired. (We try to get homework done before dinner, because evening are often busy with other activities.) The fourth grader does homework reluctantly, because he can't get it all done before dinner. And then there's the sixth grader. I really don't know how all her work gets done.
In our house, it's coming down to either getting homework done before bedtime or getting a shower. I'm not sure people sitting next to my kids would agree with the choice we make some days.
(And to those teachers who give all the homework at the beginning of the week, due at the end- THANK YOU! It's nice to not be rushed on the days that are rush days.)
It's hard to blame teachers. They, themselves, are getting more than their fair share of homework. Beyond correcting and evaluating the students' work, they also are required (at least in Pennsylvania) to attend 180 hours of continuing education AND attend training on Core Curriculum.
But here's the deal. I have work to do too.
And I WANT to be a good mom. But my parents were good parents, and I don't ever remember them "helping me" with my homework. Never. I don't remember ever asking.
(That's a lie. I did ask my dad one time to help with math, but he showed me to do it in a way that was different than the way the teacher had taught us. So I realized he would not be the best person to help anymore.)
As for the "buddy up with your mom or dad" homework? If that were given when I was a kid, that homework would not be done. It was hard enough to get an assignment book signed or obtain lunch money. I can't picture my mom getting home from work and hopping on one foot with me as we count by fives or helping me to come up with a journal entry after buddy reading an article with me. I would never have asked her to do it anyway. For goodness sake, I knew she worked all day!
Sometimes, I want to believe that being a good mom means making dinner while the kids are doing their homework. Maybe being a good mom is getting a child to practice or to church every time. Maybe my job is to make sure they get a shower. And then, if there is time, I want to go for a walk with them or play a game.
Our kids are kids. I want so much to let them just be kids for a little while instead of pushed toward constant escalating success.
And parents need time to be parents, too. There are other things we want to teach our kids other than what has already been taught in school. I know it will be reinforced with the next concept anyway. And we want our kids to see what we do - and how sometimes it involves things other than the kids.
It's not that I don't care about school. We talk about school at dinner and when they first get home. I review the papers that they bring home. And heck, I'm in their classrooms at every opportunity. They know me at the school. I think that says something.
So, teachers, when you need to give homework, please remember I did all of mine years ago. I did pretty well on it then, but something tells me you might not grade it the same today.
*Although I know it gives me no bonus credit, I say this so you know I'm not just ranting, I have a reason for my distress. I did teach in public school, and I have a Bachelor's and a Master's in Elementary Education. Granted, those degrees are now eleven years displaced, and I will be the first to tell you that I do not know everything about the education system. Especially today.
Passion Under Grace,