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vent- hate in 1st graders homework

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
My first graders homework included a sheet of sentences she was to read aloud. Included in the series of sentences were....
Nate hates snakes
Nate says "I hate snakes"
The objective was to use words that had the long a sound with silent e at the end. I was very suprised to find this in her work without a moral at the end of the story. Hate is a word we do not use in our house, except for the occasional slip-up. Anyways, I wrote to her teacher and let her know I was suprised to find "I hate..." in her schoolwork. Basically, she wrote back to me that hate is a valid emotion that my dd will run across on TV, radio, and in conversation and I should use this as an oppurtunity to teach our family values. I was just upset about the issue, now I am mad!!!

1. Don't we as parents have enough oppurtunities to teach our family values to our children everyday without having it thrown in our children's homework?

2.Shouldn't we as parents and educators set better examples than TV writers, radio DJs, and the general public?

3. Doesn't this seem like an "if you can't beat them, join them" attitude?

4. Seeing and having to read this sentence in her homework validates that hate is an acceptable way of expressing fear, anger confusion and hurt. Maybe I should start teaching her about questioning authority.LOL

5. Don't our children deserve a learning enviroment that is free of such negative influences?

6. What's the point??????? Nate and Kate went outside to rake, would work just as well.

I was going to reply to the letter but I do not want to start a battle between me and the teacher. I'm wondering if I'm being to critical. I'm interested in what other parents would do.
post #2 of 18
I don't see what the big deal is really. Hate is a valid emotion and I see nothing wrong with saying "I hate snakes." It's not like they used it in a bad way. I don't think that's a negative influence at all. Now if they were teaching them it was OK to say something like this then that would be wrong, "I hate all people with brown hair." Just the word hate by itself is not bad. It's all in how you use it.
post #3 of 18
I agree that it is a valid emotion - if a child tells his mother how he is feeling and her response is "We don't say that in this house!" he will not be coming to her with feelings again. Even "Can you find another word to express that?" can deter a child.

But I can guarantee this is not the only time the school will offend your morals. It's good that you are on top of this, and I would not be satisfied with their respose. You are the parent, the taxpayer, the CUSTOMER - it's their job to go out of their way for you and your child! (How did he feel about the homework?) I would keep going until the issue was resolved to my satisfaction. Pretty soon they will start teaching true hate such as "Euoropean folk were smarter and more hard-working, which is why they were able to settle in this country. They were the Indians' best friends! Slavery wasn't that bad for the Negroes; they just complain too much and are lazy." It would probably be good if they knew how you felt about hate-teaching.

One way I will get around this is, if I decide to have dd go to first grade (it's not required in my state) to tell her teacher that I will not allow any homework in my house. First grade should be about fun, not work. There is no reason teachers can't just get all their teaching done in class instead of invading my child's private time after school.
post #4 of 18
Let me guess.......was this a lesson in the "Long A" sound? Yes, hate is a valid emotion. and it is giving snakes a bad rap. It wouldnot be a issue with me if dd had that homework. The teacher is responding appropriately. If I were the teacher i would send other homework that didn't include "hate" But , that is just me . I work with parents and like to please them. the teacher should adjust the homework for you. But again that is jsut me.
post #5 of 18
I think it is fine that your child wrote I hate snakes. My son last year in first grade wrote "I was bad today". Now bad is something we have never called Paxton or anyone. I was very disturbed that he felt like he was bad since we always tell him that he is good and that sometimes he "misbehaves". I saw it as an oppertunity for disscussion. Just as I would see your situation. I would ask why your child hates snakes. It has been my experience that a person hates something because they are afraid of it and being afraid of something comes from not knowing about it. I would go to the library and get a book about snakes and talk about all the could things about snakes.

It is true that in our society snakes are not something that many people are fond of. I think it is great that your child was able to articulate such a deep emotion. There is nothing wrong with feeling hate. I think to tell a child that you do not like an emotion will only cause a child to feel guilty about what they feel.

As for the teacher I like her responce. I think she was just trying to let you know that your child's feelings are normal and it's nothing to do with what you have tought about your value. I also think she was just giving a suggestion to you on how to handle this situation. She is an educator and I think she was just trying to be helpful.
post #6 of 18
I also like the teacher's response.

And as a parent today, I can tell you that even if your child is not using/hearing the word hate at home, they are already hearing it used on the playground and at lunchtime from their peers in Kndgn adn 1st grade. Not just on TV-- The word hate is used in children's textbooks, literature, and readers.
Charlie Brown cartoons are constantly telling each other hate and stupid and shut up and so are the popular Rugrats show charactors. Angelica says frequently-- "I hate those stupid babies"

This is a wonderful chance for you to explain to your child your feelings. Hate is just a word, and the value assigned to it can now be determined by you, your child will watch your reaction to this and how you respond to his teacher as well..

Mom to ds15, ds9, ds6, and dd 4 yrs
post #7 of 18
Racist and sexist terminology is everywhere too, but I would not tolerate that in my child's homework.
post #8 of 18
Moving this to Learning at School.
post #9 of 18
Just as I would see your situation. I would ask why your child hates snakes.
I'm pretty sure from reading the OP, that "I hate snakes" was a sentence the child was given to read. It wasn't an emotion she wrote herself.

Hate is very strong word, and it is an excellent time to teach your child what you believe and, most importantly, why you feel that way. There are words that we do not use in our house that I'm sure my son will run into as his circle of friends expands. The only way to completly control what is in the lessons is to home school. (You see only the papers that come home with her.)

Personally, I don't have a problem with the word hate, but it does seem to me, that a first-grade assignment should be more positive overall. There are so many other thoughts that could be expressed with those vowel sounds.

Poor snakes...
post #10 of 18
"You are the parent, the taxpayer, the CUSTOMER - it's their job to go out of their way for you and your child!"

Hmm, I cant say that I agree. If every teacher had to see every parent as a paying customer, nothing would ever get done, no policy would ever get put into place, and no child would get taught effectively.

I see it more as a partnership. The parent and teacher are partners in the child's education. If a parent is unhappy, the teacher needs to listen, consider the parent's point of view, and give her perspective. The teacher needs to follow school policy, and respond accordingly. Hopefully an amicable solution can be found to most situations. But with some things, the parent and teacher may just not agree. If the teacher is following school policy and is therefore acting reasonably, then it is her call. Otherwise you'd have 30 parents dictating what should or shouldnt happen in the classroom. Chaos.

When you put your child into a school, you have to have a certain amount of trust in the teacher. Certainly, you need to keep tabs on what is happening and do all you can to help out and communicate, and if you're unhappy, talk to the teacher. But one thing that is bound to get up a teacher's nose is being told that you believe that you are a customer and that they must please you. Aagh. Not a constructive attitude, imo.

As for the homework, I think maybe the teacher could have forseen an issue here and sent different words. However, I don't think it is a big deal - the word 'hate' is a word, and was being used in a common context. I'd use it as an opportunity for discussion. Why hate snakes? What sort of snakes would you be wary of? Why? Isn't it silly to say you hate snakes/spiders etc.

We don't use the word 'hate' in our house - although its not a conscious choice, it's more that it just doesnt come up. But dd knows it at the age of three. She doesnt go to school, so hasn't heard it there. But she has told me that she hates chocolate, that it's disgusting. : Now, if she was saying that she hates someone, I'd be concerned. The fact that she is using and experimenting with language attached to emotions I believe to be a good thing.

I think the teacher responded appropriately. She sounds very competent and sensible to me. I certainly wouldn't be mad about it. Your dd wont' suffer from learning a word and discussing its meaning, along with its phonic rules.
post #11 of 18
Thinking about it from the perspective of a child-- children are going to be feeling things like hate, whether or not they are allowed to say the word. Kids feel all sorts of really huge feelings, and often do not feel validated for the hugeness of them. When my child is very angry at me and shouts "I hate you," s/he is trying to express the enormity of the anger, not necessarily that s/he truly hates me. When these words don't show up anywhere in 'real life', kids begin to feel that they are the ones that are sort of abnormal for having these big feelings. O.K. now I will take off my therapist hat and put on my mom hat.

The use of hate in a homework assignment would be something that I would 'notice', talk about it, and let pass. For me, there are larger issues to be working on in our school. I would want to be known as something trying to improve the overall quality of the school, but that's just me. There do have to be people to object to the little things as part of the overall picture.
post #12 of 18
Schools don't like to admit it, but it's parents (and children) who keep them in business. They need to realize their place in society, which is not to do whatever they want all the time.

One benefit of public schools over private schools is that in a public school, they are so dependent on keeping your child there and getting the funding that they are often willing to bend over backwards to please the parent. Too many parents just don't realize it. In a private school, the attitude is more like "Well, we have 10 other kids on the waiting list..."

If my child were learning something I didn't understand or I thought was a little weird, I might just leave it alone, but I would not tolerate something truly objectionable. Schools should be expected to incorporate the learning styles and beliefs of everyone. They could if they wanted to - it's often done in the "richer" public schools.
post #13 of 18

I think this is a matter of semantics.

Many families, including ours, do not use the word hate because it is considered too strong. Hate implies a violent dislike of something. My children are encouraged to say that they dislike something or as my son says 'I'm rather not fond of it." Hate is reserved for truly despicable or evil things. I can't think of anything that my children have experienced in life that they should hate yet.

I agree, why not Nate and Kate rake and see a snake. There are plenty of other words that could be used rather than hate.

On the other hand, you have to pick and choose your battles and this one may not be worth your time.
post #14 of 18
Originally posted by Greaseball
Schools should be expected to incorporate the learning styles and beliefs of everyone. They could if they wanted to - it's often done in the "richer" public schools.
Oh man, Greaseball, I can't wait to see you with your kid in school!

I must say, I completely disagree with your stance on homework, but I think that once you have a child in school, you will know what I'm talking about, and might see it another way. Our children's homework in the K-2nd grades was/is always more of a means of getting parents involved in their kids' work, and letting them know what their kid is doing in school. Stuff like dd#1 having to measure all of our feet, and making a graph for the sizes. Dd #2 is in kindergarten, and she has homework every night. It is always flash cards and reading, all of which takes about 15 minutes total. The flash cards are an entire series, and they get two sets each night.

For example, the first set was identifying the upper case alphabet for the reading set, and the math set was identifying numbers 1-10. Each night a parent is supposed to go through the flashcards. Every day the teacher or a classroom volunteer goes through the flashcards with the kids. When they get everything right twice, they move on to their next packet. Each child gets to move at their own pace, and I know *exactly* how my daughter is doing in her acquisition of basic skills and concepts. Not only does this involve the parent, but it also sets up good habits. My 5 year old is already in the habit of doing homework every night. She loves the flash cards (probably because she does really well at them, but also because it makes her feel like a big girl to be doing homework like her big sister). The flash cards take five minutes, tops.

Then their other homework is that the child must read or be read to for 10 minutes every night. This is actually a school wide assignment. This school is a poor school, and their scores have gone WAAAAY up since this program was instituted. Once again, it contributes to positive interaction with the parents, and sets good habits for later on in school.

School has changed alot since I was in elementary school. My third grader is doing stuff I didn't do until 6th grade (like algebra!). But they love it. Our teachers are great. I am in the classroom at least once a week, and I am very happy with public schools. I used to think that homework in kindergarten was crazy....then I saw what the homework was, and the real reasons behind it. It's been a positive thing, at least in this house.

post #15 of 18
Their scores have gone way up? You mean their standardized test scores? Even if it's scores on non-standardized tests (though we know there are no individualized tests in PS) that is not a predictor of real learning. I think whether or not a child is really learning can only be ascertained by the parent and child.

This is one of the reasons I don't plan to have my kid in PS - although you're right, maybe when she is that age I will see everything differently and think homework is good. There are non-religious private schools in our area that do not assign homework at all; I am looking into those.

I was fortunate enough to go to a "rich" high school, and it was such a stark contrast from the "poor" elementary and middle schools I went to. I really felt listened to there, and could largely design my own program. We had homework, but it was of the "meaningful" kind, not just busywork. It was more of a game than a chore. It really showed me that teachers can work with the learning styles of all students, if they are willing to do a little extra work. Not all teachers are willing, of course.

Besides, if my kid was in PS I would probably end up embarrassing her when I storm in to announce that I don't allow homework, and she doesn't have to follow any of their rules without checking in with herself and me...the school would probably be just as glad to have nothing to do with us. I know some families don't have a choice, but I don't think they should just accept what is given to them - beggars can and should be choosers!
post #16 of 18
We also do not use the word hate casually in our house. While I wouldn't be nuts about seeing such a sentence, I would use it as an opportunity to have a conversation about the word "hate" with my child.

By the time kids are in first grade, they know that many of their friends might say or do things that we don't say or do in our house. Likewise, they hear and read about behaviors that we don't do, but that doesn't mean those behaviors don't exist.

I also agree that the schools can't and shouldn't try to treat every parent as a paying customer as Britishmum stated. There are many public school systems that really aren't going to give a hoot if you threaten to pull your kid out.
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks to everyone who replied, we all came down with the flu, then the holidays came, so I haven't logged on for awhile. I wrote a long letter to give to dd's teacher and let it sit over the weekend to make sure I conveyed my feelings correctly. I thought about it Sunday night and realized unless it happens again I woiuld rather drop the issue. I do not want to jepordize my dd relationship with her teacher. I do not agree with putting a sentence like "I hate snakes" into a first graders homework. it just isn't necessary, but I'm not willing to wage a war over it."

And as a parent today, I can tell you that even if your child is not using/hearing the word hate at home, they are already hearing it used on the playground and at lunchtime from their peers in Kndgn adn 1st grade. Not just on TV-- The word hate is used in children's textbooks, literature, and readers.
Charlie Brown cartoons are constantly telling each other hate and stupid and shut up and so are the popular Rugrats show charactors. Angelica says frequently-- "I hate those stupid babies
I realize she has heard the word before as I am sure I slip from time to time and say someting like I hate it when.... but this was not a slip up. This was a sentence intentionally wriiten for a first grader to read aloud to her parents. Although I may slip from time to time and use words that I shouldn't, I would not intentionally write these words down for my dd to read. I guess I hold teacher to this standard also. As for the popular Rugrats show, I agree 100%, and that is why we chose not to watch that show. Unfortunatly I cannot chose my child's homework.

All this being said, I am not naive, I know my child is hearing (and occasionally using) the word hate. I just don't see the point in putting it in a first graders homework. I cannot accept that it is okay because everyone else is doing it. That is like saying that since she will hear profanity, racism, sexism on TV ,radio, and from peers it is okay to incorporate that into her homework. Thanks to everyone who shared their opinion and again I am sorry it took me so long to reply.
post #18 of 18
we also don't use the word "hate" in our home. we've explained to our 3 year old already that "hate" is what drives people to do things like war, or to hurt other people. we say we don't like something or that it makes us angry -- never that we actually hate it.

i disagree w/ the teacher's response and if it were me, i would schedule a conference with her to explain exactly *why* i disagree with the usage of the word, and also give her alternatives that i thought were acceptable (i like the idea about nate and kate and the rake).

unfortunately i think too many people in our society today -- including teachers -- have too poor a command of the English language to understand nuances of language such as those. :
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