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Parent's Homework Assignment

post #1 of 65
Thread Starter 
My dd1 started 7th grade and one of her teachers assigned the parents a homework assignment. I am to write down three positive things about my child.

As I finished my "homework" I was crying because I just love my girl so much and I feel like my lack of eloquence does her a disservice.

I wanted to share what I wrote about her:


"Three positive things about Amanda – but my list is endless……...

Amanda is a very conscientious young lady. She always asks if there is anything she can do to help me – carry her sister to the car, take bags downstairs, bring up the laundry, etc. I always appreciate that fact that she asks to help.

I love to watch as Amanda grows into this pre-teen stage of her life. While her music choices aren’t the same as mine, I enjoy watching her sing along and dance to her “crazy music.” Hearing her on the phone with friends reminds me of my younger days and how important talking to friends really is. Seeing her get ready – changing an outfit, doing her hair, getting a pocketbook - to go to school, the mall or even out for ice cream is an endless joy.

While it isn’t always easy being the oldest (the child the mother makes the most “mistakes” with) Amanda is so very patient with me – even when I am not.

I love her dearly, more and more, each and every day."
post #2 of 65
Awww!
post #3 of 65
Kim- I am a junior high teacher and I do something similar with my students. I sent home a two sided lined paper with the Writing Prompt. "In a Million words or less, tell me about your child."

I was in tears reading many of the parents essays about their children. This is the first year I have done this and I am so glad I did. I relly feel it has helped me to know my students better (I don't like to read their files or talk to old teachers much as often that can cloud someone's judgement) I also think it really helped alot of the parents and kids talk positively at such an important time in their life. Most of the parents told me all the great stuff and the not so great Almost all spoke of the love and blessing that their children are to them. One boy is in a Foster to Adopt home and has been with them for 3 years, the words she wrote about him were so touching and so moving, it was amazing.

Sadly, about 1/3 of the parents have not done it. A few wrote just a short paragraph about nothing. One wrote

Johnny is 13 years old. He has brown hair and blue eyes, he is 5 foot and 6 inches tall. His favorite color is blue.

It almost made me more sad than the parents who didn't write at all. At least those kids can make excuses to themselves about why it didn't get done. For this kid it just screams "I don't know my son and didn't even take the time to try to find something important to write about."


I am saving these for the students and returning them at the end of the year so that they can always have it to remember the love of their parents at what can be such a rough age.
post #4 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyto3girls
Sadly, about 1/3 of the parents have not done it. A few wrote just a short paragraph about nothing. One wrote

Johnny is 13 years old. He has brown hair and blue eyes, he is 5 foot and 6 inches tall. His favorite color is blue.

It almost made me more sad than the parents who didn't write at all. At least those kids can make excuses to themselves about why it didn't get done. For this kid it just screams "I don't know my son and didn't even take the time to try to find something important to write about."
It depends on the way you look at it. To me, it screams "my relationship with my child is close and private and not something that I want to put on paper for a total stranger to read".

I lay on the positives very heavily when I interact with ds1's teachers. It's part of how I try to counter the negatives (a drug-addicted father who hasn't so much as seen him in over a year, and very hostile environment in his early years - due to his dad and I having so many fights). But, my feelings about my son, while very, very positive are not something I'm comfortable sharing with the staff at his school. I still do it, for the reasons I mentioned above, but I don't like it. My experiences with the school system have been very negative, and I don't like them having a chunk of my heart in their files...
post #5 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride
It depends on the way you look at it. To me, it screams "my relationship with my child is close and private and not something that I want to put on paper for a total stranger to read".
Well, I guess the context in which I teach comes into play. I teach in the inner city, have for 7 years now. This year I am in a new school with a bit higher socio-economic status and I have seen a huge difference in parental involvement.

Also, that total Stranger is goign to be someone who spend as much, if not more, awake time with your child than you do each week. Do you not see the value in helping the teacher to know the child you knwo and love? If you don't share then all we have is the cumulative record and the "gossip" of other teachers. How would you like opinions of your child to be formed. (Now I know ideally there should be no preconcieved notions of the child and we should wait to form opinions after we know the child. BUt trust me, teachers are inundated with "advice" fromthe teachers children had in previous years. I do my best not to listen but it still happens.
post #6 of 65
Kennedy444 - What a great daughter you have!
It is amazing how hard (and emotional) it can be to put all that good stuff on paper.

We were given the "Million words or less" assignment by our middle school child's teacher. I think it is a great idea. It provides the teacher with an insight to how the child is at home and some of the child's character. It can give the teacher a "jump start" on a connection with your child.

I think it is a great opportunity to show how important school is to you---that you actually complete the assigned homework is a good example for your child.

I would guess it would also provide the teacher with an insight into who they may be able to call on to lend assistance in the class too.

Quote:
It depends on the way you look at it. To me, it screams "my relationship with my child is close and private and not something that I want to put on paper for a total stranger to read".
I think you can share as little or as much as you feel comfortable, you don't need to make your child (or yourself) feel vulnerable.

I can't wait to get mine off to the teacher! I have until the 15th to "hand it in"...I know what I am doing this weekend.
(writing the "good copy"!)
post #7 of 65
I wish my teachers would have done something like this. It would be nice to see my mom's emotional side written out on paper. She's very... expressive, lol! But well, in a way that doesn't always make sense. (For instance, telling me she loves me and doesn't want to see me get hurt, then throwing a chair at me. I really do wish I'd gotten a chance to see something written down about me on paper, I bet it would have helped quite a bit.
post #8 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyto3girls
It almost made me more sad than the parents who didn't write at all. At least those kids can make excuses to themselves about why it didn't get done. For this kid it just screams "I don't know my son and didn't even take the time to try to find something important to write about."
The excuse they can make is the same thing I told my daughter, I don't fill out stuff like this.

I was once asked in a job interview what I thought my best and worse quality was and I straight up told them I don't like questions like these and don't answer them. BTW, I got the job.

If I am "forced" to answer questions like these, I just make stuff up. I DONT LIKE personal question being asked about myself or my family and I simply choose not to answer them.

Just thought I would give you another POV on the subject.

To the OP, those were lovely things your wrote about your daughter. It is nice you can share your feelings with strangers in such a way.
post #9 of 65
Well Tina I guess I don't have much more to say than what I said before

Quote:
Also, that total Stranger is goign to be someone who spend as much, if not more, awake time with your child than you do each week. Do you not see the value in helping the teacher to know the child you knwo and love? If you don't share then all we have is the cumulative record and the "gossip" of other teachers. How would you like opinions of your child to be formed. (Now I know ideally there should be no preconcieved notions of the child and we should wait to form opinions after we know the child. BUt trust me, teachers are inundated with "advice" fromthe teachers children had in previous years. I do my best not to listen but it still happens.
So I guess if you are willing to let the teachers "learn" about your child in this way rather than allowing you to share your view of your child then that is your perogative.
post #10 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyto3girls
So I guess if you are willing to let the teachers "learn" about your child in this way rather than allowing you to share your view of your child then that is your perogative.
I do not share personal info with strangers. That is so 100% against who I am.

I am sorry you can't understand my feelings or prerogative, but I was just pointing out that just because a parent didn't answer your questionnaire does NOT mean they don't care about their children.

Just because a parent did not give you a long winded essay and wrote the bare basic does not mean they don't care about their child. Maybe they simply are not good at writing down their feelings to strangers. Maybe they had a screamig toldder and didn't have time to get back to it before their child brought the paper back to school. Instead of seeing that they tried, they are labeled as uncaring parents. That is what is truly sad.
post #11 of 65
Perhaps some parents don't write these because they feel insecure about their own writing ability and don't want their children to be unfairly judged by it? Perhaps they don't have a computer and they're ashamed of their penmanship.
post #12 of 65
Tina- I get what you are saying, but I still don't think you are understanding what I am saying. Your child's teacher shoudl NOT be view as a stranger. They should be viewed as a person who will spend more waking hours with your child than you do during the week. Why would you want to perpetuate that "stranger" relationship. I see so much teacher bashing and public school bashing on here, yet when a teacher wants to reach out to you, wants to know your child, the child they are goign to have a huge impact on for the rest of their lives, you would refuse. People should not trust their children to strangers so if you are not willing to make an effort to get to know the teacher, then maybe you shouldn't send your child to school. (and if you homeschool, then you have already solved this problem for yourself)
post #13 of 65
Sparklefairy- I totally understand what you are saying, and yes, for some this is the reason. Being int he inner city many of our parents are dropouts, or parents with other diabilities that make writing to us difficult.
post #14 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by aniT
I do not share personal info with strangers. That is so 100% against who I am.

I am sorry you can't understand my feelings or prerogative, but I was just pointing out that just because a parent didn't answer your questionnaire does NOT mean they don't care about their children.

Just because a parent did not give you a long winded essay and wrote the bare basic does not mean they don't care about their child. Maybe they simply are not good at writing down their feelings to strangers. Maybe they had a screamig toldder and didn't have time to get back to it before their child brought the paper back to school. Instead of seeing that they tried, they are labeled as uncaring parents. That is what is truly sad.
So why not write that? Tell the teacher that you aren't comfortable sharing that kind of personal info. Maybe something like, "My daughter is the best thing that every happened to me. I'm sorry but I'm not comfortable sharing anything more personal than that." Or something similar. That way the teacher isn't approaching your child with the view that she isn't backed by an uninvolved parent.
post #15 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyto3girls
Tina- I get what you are saying, but I still don't think you are understanding what I am saying. Your child's teacher shoudl NOT be view as a stranger. They should be viewed as a person who will spend more waking hours with your child than you do during the week. Why would you want to perpetuate that "stranger" relationship. I see so much teacher bashing and public school bashing on here, yet when a teacher wants to reach out to you, wants to know your child, the child they are goign to have a huge impact on for the rest of their lives, you would refuse. People should not trust their children to strangers so if you are not willing to make an effort to get to know the teacher, then maybe you shouldn't send your child to school. (and if you homeschool, then you have already solved this problem for yourself)
My daughter is in 8th grade. She sees this teacher 1 hour a day 5 days as week. That is 5 hours a week. She will NOT spend more waking hours with this teacher than with her family.

And we tried a virtual charter school last year. She hated it and faught me every step of the way. I figured this year, since I will have a newborn this fall it was easier, and better for her, to simply put her back in school. The school sucks, I don't trust the administrators, their TAG program is a joke, but she is in the Algebra class and at this point that is my #1 concern.

When she was in grammer school and only had one teacher, I DID get to know them, but in the upper grades, it is a whole different issue.
post #16 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyto3girls
Tina- I get what you are saying, but I still don't think you are understanding what I am saying. Your child's teacher shoudl NOT be view as a stranger. They should be viewed as a person who will spend more waking hours with your child than you do during the week. Why would you want to perpetuate that "stranger" relationship.
My son's teachers are strangers at the beginning of the year. If they weren't, this question wouldn't even arise. And, my son's teachers do not spend more waking hours with him than I do - they never have. Our family schedule was always set up to maximize our time together when I got home from work. Before he entered high school (three hours per week with each teacher), he spent about 4.5-5 hours a day, 5 days a week, with his teacher. He spent at least 4 hours a day with me on weekdays, and all day with me on weekends.

Quote:
I see so much teacher bashing and public school bashing on here, yet when a teacher wants to reach out to you, wants to know your child, the child they are goign to have a huge impact on for the rest of their lives, you would refuse. People should not trust their children to strangers so if you are not willing to make an effort to get to know the teacher, then maybe you shouldn't send your child to school. (and if you homeschool, then you have already solved this problem for yourself)
Get to know the teacher? How well? I "got to know" all of my son's teachers to the best of my ability. That is, I went to every interview, exchanged notes and letters and comments via his agenda. If I had to go to the school to pick him up or drop him off before/after an appointment, I talked to the teacher if it was convenient for him/her. I had a good idea of their teaching style, attitude towards my son, etc. That hardly makes them somebody that I want to pour the details of my emotional relationship with my son out to. Some of us are just private people. It's not as simple as saying I "don't trust" the teacher or the school (although I've always had huge reservations about sending my son to public school) - it's a matter of my comfort level discussing my emotional life. Going into great personal detail about my son's positive qualities doesn't just reveal a lot about him - it reveals a lot about me.

And, incidentally, I wouldn't have sent my son to school if I'd had any choice in the matter. But, when you're married to a man who avoids work like the plague, blows what little money he does earn on drugs, and does nothing around the house, I'm afraid that earning money to keep food on the table becomes priority one (and when you dump the guy on his butt, that doesn't change). Taking my son to his first day of kindergarten was the hardset thing I've ever done.
post #17 of 65
Sorry, I shoudl have specified the school week, not the 7 day week. Also, a school that only goes for 4 1/2-5 hours? how did they get anything done? was it a 180 day school year? just professional curiosity. Unless you are talkign of actual time spent in the room with the teacher, to which I would hope that as mothers you realize that just because your child was at lunch, art, whatever, doesn't mean the teacher wasn't doing something, talking to someone that would impact his life.

As for Junior High and high school, yes, I only have my kids for 1 hour and 28 minutes 5 days a week, but teachers still talk, your childs teachers will talk about him and how to teach him, what may or may not be goign on with him outside of school. It's our job. If not just by the definition of our profession then by th erequirements of state and federal laws for the protection of children.

Also, I was not looking for some sappy, bare your soul, tell me the inner workings of your relationship with your child, essay. Many parents did write this kind of essay though. What I really was looking for, and what most did, was a snapshot of your child as you know him. What should I know about how to teach him, how to relate to him, what is he interested in that in turn may make me better able to engage him in the learning process. IF your child had D's and F's last year, give me some insight into why you think it happened, if you don't I will have no choice but to relay on the information in his cummulative record or on the info shared by his last year teacher. Maybe they had a personality conflict, maybe he had some major issues outside of school that she never knew about so she thought he was just a slacker. Maybe your child got all A's. It would help me to know from the begining whether your child had to work his tail off to get those A's or if school just came easily. When I see a child with all A's I will challenge they so they don't get bored, but if your child had to study 4 hours a night every night to pull those grades, then he might be overwhelmed if I try to push harder.

Really, I am not being nosey. I am trying to be a caring, involved teacher. I guess I'm darned if I do darned if I don't.
post #18 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyto3girls
Sorry, I shoudl have specified the school week, not the 7 day week. Also, a school that only goes for 4 1/2-5 hours? how did they get anything done? was it a 180 day school year? just professional curiosity. Unless you are talkign of actual time spent in the room with the teacher, to which I would hope that as mothers you realize that just because your child was at lunch, art, whatever, doesn't mean the teacher wasn't doing something, talking to someone that would impact his life.
He was at school for six hours, but had lunch, recess and several classes with other teachers. I understand that his main teacher was still a huge influence, but you were directly addressing "waking time spent with" our children. I mean...when my son's at school, a huge part of my life is still spent addressing his needs and my concerns about him, so I don't quite get where you're going with this,

Quote:
As for Junior High and high school, yes, I only have my kids for 1 hour and 28 minutes 5 days a week, but teachers still talk, your childs teachers will talk about him and how to teach him, what may or may not be goign on with him outside of school. It's our job. If not just by the definition of our profession then by th erequirements of state and federal laws for the protection of children.

Also, I was not looking for some sappy, bare your soul, tell me the inner workings of your relationship with your child, essay. Many parents did write this kind of essay though. What I really was looking for, and what most did, was a snapshot of your child as you know him. What should I know about how to teach him, how to relate to him, what is he interested in that in turn may make me better able to engage him in the learning process. IF your child had D's and F's last year, give me some insight into why you think it happened, if you don't I will have no choice but to relay on the information in his cummulative record or on the info shared by his last year teacher. Maybe they had a personality conflict, maybe he had some major issues outside of school that she never knew about so she thought he was just a slacker. Maybe your child got all A's. It would help me to know from the begining whether your child had to work his tail off to get those A's or if school just came easily. When I see a child with all A's I will challenge they so they don't get bored, but if your child had to study 4 hours a night every night to pull those grades, then he might be overwhelmed if I try to push harder.
That all makes perfect sense to me. But, the original post was about "tell me three positive things about your child". That doesn't address any of what you're talking about above. If I tell you that my son is intelligent, enthusiastic, full of life, funny, creative, mature, responsible, etc. etc., that's not a lot to go on about how to teach him, and doesn't tell you anything about what's going on in his life. That list completely failed to mention his absentee drug addict father and the impact that's had on him (not something I'd likely mention in an essay on "positive qualities"), and it doesn't mention that he's really disorganized and it's hard to get him to focus when his friends are around.

Quote:
Really, I am not being nosey. I am trying to be a caring, involved teacher. I guess I'm darned if I do darned if I don't.
I don't object to your assignment for the parents. I object to the assumptions about what's going through a parent's mind when they give you a very basic, simple response about their child's height and age, instead of going into tremendous detail. You don't know why they wrote what they did, but you just decide that it means they "don't know" their child and "couldn't be bothered" to find anything out.

ETA: You might even be right, but you don't actually know.
post #19 of 65
Quote:
He was at school for six hours, but had lunch, recess and several classes with other teachers. I understand that his main teacher was still a huge influence, but you were directly addressing "waking time spent with" our children. I mean...when my son's at school, a huge part of my life is still spent addressing his needs and my concerns about him, so I don't quite get where you're going with this,
I am sayign that just because he isn't there with the teacher directly, doens't mean that what she is doing (lesson planning, paper grading), or who she is talking to (guidance counselor, school nurse, Principal) wouldn't be directly influenced by the amout of infomation given.

Quote:
That all makes perfect sense to me. But, the original post was about "tell me three positive things about your child". That doesn't address any of what you're talking about above. If I tell you that my son is intelligent, enthusiastic, full of life, funny, creative, mature, responsible, etc. etc., that's not a lot to go on about how to teach him, and doesn't tell you anything about what's going on in his life. That list completely failed to mention his absentee drug addict father and the impact that's had on him (not something I'd likely mention in an essay on "positive qualities"), and it doesn't mention that he's really disorganized and it's hard to get him to focus when his friends are around.
Lisa, in case you missed it, In the begining I said that the sheet I gave my students said "In a million words or less, tell me about your child." I wasn't referring to the OP, just that I did something similar with my students.

So, yes, infact, I did get information about past abuse, missing parents, etc. And yes, that will influence the way these children are handled by me. When students do not bring in their homework I usually ask in front of the class why they don't have it (too often I hear "My mom forgot to put it in my bookbag or something similar" so I use it to have the chance to remind the class that as junior high students they are responsible for it not their parents) If I know about past or present issues it allows me the understanding to let things slide and talk to the student privately. This can also go for behavior at times.

Case in point. A student in my class, C, brought his back. In it mom let me know that there had been alot of change in his home over the summer, his older sister, whom he was very close to, moved out. His dad had two heart attacks, and in turn mom had to start working full time. She let me know that he was really having a hard time of things and that he was starting counseling that week. I got it from him on a Wednesday. That night I took it home and read it. The next day, before I had a chance to tell his other teachers that C, was having some adjustment issues and that I was in contact with mom (I didn't give details as it isn't my place), C, got sent to the dean's office and given an in-school suspension for talking and disrespect. When he came to my room, I didn't know about the In school suspension yet. In my room he was still having trouble settling down, he got mouthy and normally would have been sent to the Dean, but in my case I had the added knowledge of what his mom had shared with me. So instead of sending him to the dean we went out to the hall and talked and after school I called mom so she was aware and could have the counselor address it. In my opinion he will get much more out of the discussion with me and being able to talk to the counselor than he would get from another in school suspension.

Also, for the parents who just didn't do it. What kind of message does that send the kids i the first weeks of school? Its like saying "Your teachers assignments are optional, I don't like this one so I'm not gogin to do it" Now yes, you can say well, I'm not the student, but you still sign the papers and read the newsletters that come home with your child.



So, as I said, if a parent chooses not to do it, it really conveys the message that they just can't be bothered with it. It also leaves the teacher lacking valuable information on the child. It can take weeks and/or months to really get to know the kids, the whole process could be easier with a little info from the parent.
post #20 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyto3girls
I am sayign that just because he isn't there with the teacher directly, doens't mean that what she is doing (lesson planning, paper grading), or who she is talking to (guidance counselor, school nurse, Principal) wouldn't be directly influenced by the amout of infomation given.
I understand that completely. However, I was resonding directly to the initial comment about "spending more waking hours with" my son than I did. None of his teachers did so. I'm not in any way suggesting that the only time they spent on my son was when he was right there in class with them, though.

Quote:
Lisa, in case you missed it, In the begining I said that the sheet I gave my students said "In a million words or less, tell me about your child." I wasn't referring to the OP, just that I did something similar with my students.
I didn't miss that initially, but haven't reviewed the thread while posting my responses, so I'd forgotten. Thanks for clarifying.

I honestly don't know what I'd have done with an "assignment" like that. I've actually met with each of ds1's teachers, and his principals (he got a new principal at the end of 5th grade) to discuss the situation with his dad, because I was afraid his dad would show up flying on crack to take ds1 for a spin or something. I wanted to make certain that the staff knew that his dad did not have any kind of legal, unsupervised access. I'd have had a very hard time sending something like that to school as a note or assignment.

Quote:
So, as I said, if a parent chooses not to do it, it really conveys the message that they just can't be bothered with it. It also leaves the teacher lacking valuable information on the child. It can take weeks and/or months to really get to know the kids, the whole process could be easier with a little info from the parent.
I suspect a lot of parents really just don't know what to say - and many people are very uncomfortable with putting things on paper...
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