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I saw something perplexing today...

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I just started homeschooling DD1 (kindergarten) in January and we are taking a pretty relaxed unstructured approach at the moment. Anyways, we were at her dance class today and the sibling of one of the other little dancers was doing her homework. It was public school (the same DD1 started in) and she was doing a very long and involved worksheet on the colonization of America and the Revolutionary War and the first presidents. It was long sentences, multiple choice and some pretty involved language. It seemed to go into detail about protesting taxes and such as well. Her mom had to help her with a lot of the bigger words, it looked like something I may have had in 4th grade or something.

 

I was shocked to find that it was FIRST grade. I couldn't believe it! And honestly, I felt it was completely developmentally inappropriate. I mean, her mom could help her read the words, and try and explain their meanings, but does a 6 or 7 year old really have any context for this? It seemed to me that she was just learning some facts to spit out again, but how could a first grader really grasp the whole picture? I just don't see the point of covering such material that young unless they truly have an interest in history. I think that time could be better spent on investigation, exploring, and learning HOW to think and HOW to find the answers you are looking for. I guess the Common Core stuff is no joke. But even though this girl was reading most of it fine, that doesn't say anything for comprehension.

 

DD1 and I will certainly talk a bit about who the president is, what he does and next year, the very BASICS of the colonies and how America started but that's it. I am so glad we homeschool so she isn't just learning a bunch of facts to regurgitate later and forget. And this little first grader spent the entire 40 minutes doing this homework and she wasn't even done yet. In first grade, really? Or is my DD1 just going to be hopelessly behind because of my relaxed approach?

post #2 of 17

That does seem a bit advanced for first grade! I agree, that when it's over their head and parents need to help, it's almost pointless.

 

At times, my kids have brought home work that was way over their heads. That is when I contact the school. I did so this year when they were introducing a new program that they were to do for homework. They had my kindergartener who cold barely read learning how to create databases...putting 4 digit numbers in numerical order, etc. I later learned that I wasn't the only parent to question this...I have a 4th grader who was assigned the same homework!

 

I think sometimes they try to introduce new stuff without looking it over first, and it takes a concerned parent to bring it to their attention. For some reason, the teachers don't always catch the errors. Needless to say, I stay on top of their work now, just in case! I keep a file of questionable homework assignments, etc. so when we have the conferences, I can bring it to someone's attention, incase there is another error.

 

I wouldn't worry about your approach. As long as you are following some sort of basic guidelines, you should be fine. I have seen kids in pubic school who are pretty clueless about stuff because their parents don't expose them to things..they are still very sheltered even though they are in public school. 

post #3 of 17

We have found some wonderful, amazing books from the library that really bring US history to life, but the reason we enjoy them is because my girls love it.  (And mostly centers around Presidential pets and horses, like Teddy Roosevelt's pony, Little Texas, and of course, Bo, the Portuguese water dog in the current white house.  They know Grover Cleveland was famously stuck in a bathtub.  They know that one set of Geo. Washington'e teeth were made from hippo tusks and that Abraham Lincoln kept his notes in his stovepipe hat.)  

 

I agree with your observations.  This kind of stuff seems more to please the school board and the politicians than anyone else.  I think if kids can spew this stuff back out, it fulfills some need to prove that kids are learning something profound and important.  :eyesroll

 

Thankfully, as this movement gets more and more absurd, we are beginning to see a backlash from teachers and parents.  Just a bit, just here and there.  But we have a lot invested in the status quo, and while change is brewing from the ground up, we will still be seeing more and more of this for a while.

 

It does make me thankful, as well-- if nothing else than knowing that my girls at 6 and 8 don't need to sit and cram in homework while being shuttled around to activities.  It stresses me out just thinking about it.  And they can tell you who FDR was because they know about his little dog Fala!  (Don't ask me why they happen to love this, they just do!)

post #4 of 17

yes, that seems excessive to me.  Dd has learned a little bit about the revolutionary war by listening to the Felicity audio books during a car ride-this seems like an age-appropriate intro without going into the too much detail, and she has asked some very interesting and perceptive questions so far :)  She would be in K this year as well.  I also like the Magic Treehouse books as a very gentle intro to history. 

 

Obviously these are not full curriculums, but I love that they give some relatable context for younger kids, who like you said, may not really "get it" otherwise.  We'll go more in depth as interest dictates and as she gets older.

post #5 of 17

Well, my first grader would have a hard time with that, BUT she is devouring Ancient Egypt (which happens to be a middle school subject where we live - I have gotten some funny comments).  

 

Should a kid have to drown in homework?  No.  Was it too hard?  Sounds like it.  But the subject matter itself - it's great if kids are given real meaty stuff to chew on and learn about.  No, they won't remember everything.  That's fine.  They learn a bit, make a few connections, and the next time that girl hears about early American history she'll have some context or at least some words that are familiar.

 

I think you can learn a lot about how to think studying just about anything.  A hard worksheet as homework - probably isn't going to do it, but the subject matter itself is fine by me.

post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 

Tjej - I guess my problem isn't the subject matter. If kids are into it and interested than that is great! But I guess it's the approach I had a problem with (long multiple choice worksheets with concepts too advanced for the reader, ect.) It just looked like they were trying to cram in a bunch of information and little context and comprehension. I guess I just hate seeing a 6 year old struggling with something that really isn't necessary when she would learn more by playing, investigating, ect.

post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrunchyMama19 View Post
DD1 and I will certainly talk a bit about who the president is, what he does and next year, the very BASICS of the colonies and how America started but that's it. I am so glad we homeschool so she isn't just learning a bunch of facts to regurgitate later and forget. And this little first grader spent the entire 40 minutes doing this homework and she wasn't even done yet. In first grade, really? Or is my DD1 just going to be hopelessly behind because of my relaxed approach?

 

Do you intend to homeschool with the view that your dd will be entering the public school system at some point soon? If so you might want to find out if this is typical work for 6 year olds at the school you are thinking about and adjust what you are doing with your dc. If you don't plan to put your child in school in the next few years I would just concentrate on reading and math skills and not worry about history facts.

 

I don't feel that what you saw was an age appropriate way to learn about history. It certainly doesn't sound enjoyable either. I honestly don't like worksheets much for anything but math.

We started a literature based history curriculum when dd was around 7 years old. I bet she'll retain and understand a lot more about events than the kid with the worksheet will.

 

If you are interested there are sites listing historical fiction for kids by time period-

http://bookgirl3.tripod.com/historicalfiction.html

http://www.abookintime.com/

http://www.redshift.com/~bonajo/history.htm#WGRR

post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 

zombiecat - no, we don't plan on putting DD in public school at all if we can avoid it. I guess I am not so worried about her falling behind then. i guess I was just so surprised (and sad) to see sooo much put on a 6 yo kid. I guess in it kind of confirms our decision to homeschool! Thanks for the resources too, I will look into those.

 

Any other mamas have an opinion on this? Just curious...

post #9 of 17

The worksheet does sound tttooo much. I like to learn from books and real life. I ask my 1st grader question @ random..Where did ??? Who is ??? When ??? We do some workbook kind of stuff but not to much. We do handwritting as part of the day..like we just wrote a postcard to send to a friend. I hope the friend can read it. LOL But my son did it himself. (I wrote the address so it would get there)

 

My goal is to have well rounded children. I try not to look at others. What I like so much about MDC is most of the homeschooling moms want the same.

 

sorry for mistakes..3 kids all over me.bouncy.gif

post #10 of 17

That sounds a little crazy. I wonder if it's something like a PP described where the teacher didn't pay enough attention before assigning it? We've been doing American history, but the only reason my Pre-K kid is doing it is because the Third grader is doing it so he's tagging along and I'm simplifying stuff for him. While she's actually learning about the stamp tax and tea etc, he's picked up that there was a king who wanted people to pay "too much" for tea so they started drinking hot chocolate instead. But none of that is worksheet based, just talking, and he doesn't have to learn it. 

post #11 of 17

To me, it seems like there are a lot of assumptions made without any real information.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrunchyMama19 View Post
 And honestly, I felt it was completely developmentally inappropriate. I mean, her mom could help her read the words, and try and explain their meanings, but does a 6 or 7 year old really have any context for this? It seemed to me that she was just learning some facts to spit out again, but how could a first grader really grasp the whole picture? I just don't see the point of covering such material that young unless they truly have an interest in history.
....And this little first grader spent the entire 40 minutes doing this homework and she wasn't even done yet.

 

 

First, you don't have any idea what context was given for the assignment, or what the follow up will be. You are assuming that The Worksheet Is It. That's a really serious assumption. The class could be doing all sorts of stuff to lead up to or follow up on the tiny little tidbit that you saw.

 

You don't also don't know if what you saw was intended to be a "homework" assignment. It's possible that they did it in class, but she was sick that day. It's possible that they had time to do it in class, but she played around instead. Its possible that it is more challenging work given only to students deemed to benefit from differentiation. You really don't know.

 


Quote:

Originally Posted by CrunchyMama19 View Post

I guess I just hate seeing a 6 year old struggling with something that really isn't necessary when she would learn more by playing, investigating, ect.

 

Do you know how old the child was doing the worksheet? Because here, at this time of the year, the majority of first graders have turned 7. Six year olds are mostly in K.

post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 

Linda - Obviously some assumptions were made, BUT the conclusions I drew were from observing the girl and her mom, talking with her mom about the homework, and hearing the questions that her daughter was asking to try and get through the assignment. So although yes there are obviously some assumptions made, I was able to draw some reasonable conclusions from what I saw, heard and asked her mom about. It was fairly clear that there wasn't much context given and that she was struggling and that it was a class wide assignment. The mother told me it was now standard for first grade now (at least in our public school system which is moving to the common core and basing the curriculum on testing)

 

I am not saying that worksheets are bad. DD enjoys worksheets sometimes, particularly for math and we found some fun ones for sight words that she likes too. But we also play, do lots of hands-on stuff, and independent investigation. Unfortunately, a lot of that is going away in our public schools here in Mississippi (based on our brief experience and talking to some other parents in our area, including a former teacher in our school system).

post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrunchyMama19 View Post

The mother told me it was now standard for first grade now (at least in our public school system which is moving to the common core and basing the curriculum on testing)

 

 

there isn't anything that is "standard for first grade."  Here, the first graders spent the week celebrating Dr. Suess's birthday. "Homework" consisted of finishing writing a paragraph (at least 4 sentences) that started with "If Thing 1 and Thing 2 came to my house...." (I put homework in quotes because they had enough time to do it in class, about half of them screwed around and therefore took it home). They made Suess Juice and then wrote out the directions for making it.

 

Most of what I read on the internet about what "school" is like isn't true of the schools where I live.

 

I do question how valid an opinion can be based on watching a child out of context for a brief period of time. To me, it's exactly like someone watching a homeschooler do something that they don't see as "school" and then needing to talk about how bad homeschooling is. 

post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

 

I do question how valid an opinion can be based on watching a child out of context for a brief period of time. To me, it's exactly like someone watching a homeschooler do something that they don't see as "school" and then needing to talk about how bad homeschooling is. 

If the opinion is "If that's what they do in 1st grade normally these days, I don't approve" then that would be valid and sensitive to the reality that this particular moment in this particular child's life might be unusual.  If it leads to a greater conversation, then opinion would be valid and the holder of the opinion has a chance to hear about what school is like these days (which will depend on the child and the school).  Many of us HSers have never had a child in school, so our memories of what happens in school sometimes goes back to our own experiences, and the contrast can be a bit shocking.  My first page of homework was 25 math problems in the 5th grade!!  

 

So, you are right in a sense.  Seeing this should lead not do judging this particular scenario, but questioning whether this scenario is typical.  Like the OP's first impression, this also sounds like something I would have done in the 4th grade, and in class not after school.  (Yes, she might have ___________)

post #15 of 17

My thoughts are that we don't follow the same path as public schools so it is little use to compare. Their goals are not my goals. I enjoy what we do. I am happy I have homeschooling as an option.

I feel schools in general could use a massive reform and it would be better to let teachers have more control and freedom than they currently have.

 

It feels sad to me if a particular child feels overwhelmed a lot of the time and is struggling and turned off of learning. That is how I feel no matter if they are public, private or home educated.

It would be sad if it was a homeschool parent pushing their child to continue with an approach that leaves the child hating the subject. There are homeschoolers out there who are not flexible in what and how their child will learn. There are homeschoolers who push their kids hard academically from an early age. Homeschoolers are not all of the mindset that children learn from playing and exploring, although many on this site tend to be.

 

Right now you are at the stage of forming an idea of what you feel is the best approach for your child to learn and it is natural to look at other options and say that you don't like what you see and won't be doing that. Homeschooling is filled with so many choices. The beauty of homeschooling is that you get a lot of freedom to choose the approach your child will have toward a subject, where the parent of a child in school always has to work within someone else's idea of what and how all children in that age group should learn.

post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by onlyzombiecat View Post

 

It feels sad to me if a particular child feels overwhelmed a lot of the time and is struggling and turned off of learning. That is how I feel no matter if they are public, private or home educated.

It would be sad if it was a homeschool parent pushing their child to continue with an approach that leaves the child hating the subject. There are homeschoolers out there who are not flexible in what and how their child will learn. There are homeschoolers who push their kids hard academically from an early age. Homeschoolers are not all of the mindset that children learn from playing and exploring, although many on this site tend to be.

 

Right now you are at the stage of forming an idea of what you feel is the best approach for your child to learn and it is natural to look at other options and say that you don't like what you see and won't be doing that. Homeschooling is filled with so many choices. The beauty of homeschooling is that you get a lot of freedom to choose the approach your child will have toward a subject, where the parent of a child in school always has to work within someone else's idea of what and how all children in that age group should learn.

Totally agree.  And the statement I bolded is wonderfully insightful.

post #17 of 17
Quote:
there isn't anything that is "standard for first grade." 

 

this is not true, actually there are standards for first grade in many states- some are very clear and precise as to what is now expected

 

 

OP you may want to look at what is happening and expected in your state and what is really going on in your local school (as it might be more)- just to give you an feel for what you might run into with others

 

http://www.studydog.com/schools/correlations/Mississippi%20Standards.pdf

http://corecommonstandards.com/common-core-state-standards/state-standards/mississippi-standards/

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