Summer homework assignments for K going to 1st grade??? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 34 Old 05-30-2009, 10:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Is that normal? A friend of mine whose dd is in the same school district as ours just graduated from K. She said that her dd came home with this huge packet of stuff and basically it is, "homework" for the summer. There is a list of assignments and the parents have to sign off on it once their child completes it. Children who do the assignments and the parents sign off on it will get to attend a pizza party at the beginning of the yr. The ones who didn't complete the assignments will not get to attend the party. It totally rubbed me the wrong way (and my friend too), that they have homework and the whole pizza party thing, when she was venting to me about this. My son will be entering K, so we'll be dealing with the same issue NEXT summer, I'm only privy to this info now, b/c my friend's dd is one yr older than my son. I'm really shocked that they are sending home kids so young with summer assignments. At best I would have expected them to encourage students to participate in the library's summer reading program or something, but formal assignments???
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#2 of 34 Old 05-30-2009, 11:30 PM
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I'd send the package back and a note that says we like to relax and have fun over the summer, any learning is done as a result of the fun and family activities, not a package.
I'll buy my kid their own pizza if they want to be stingy.
I hate homework in general and over the summer rubs me wrong too.
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#3 of 34 Old 05-31-2009, 12:49 AM
 
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nope nothing my DD just ended her kindergarden year and other than a "keep reading" suggestion on her reportcard and a flier on the liabaries summer reading program they got a week or so ago they have no expectation of summer "homework". I don't mind the idea behind some summer activities one could do with there kids and at some point I'd expect to see summer reading lists but starting out the year with required homework a bribe (pizza party) just too me starts the whole year off on an icky note. (and I'm not totally anti party school bribe ect). I wouldn't jst disregard the entire thing though not if I choose to enroll my child in the school. I would jsut take it easy little by little make it fun as possible if shes earned the party fine if not well have a family pizza dinner at the end cause its the end of summer and it will be fun.

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#4 of 34 Old 05-31-2009, 01:16 AM
 
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Perhaps it is to combat the summer "brain drain"?

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#5 of 34 Old 05-31-2009, 08:39 AM
 
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i'd throw the packet away and eat pizza hut all summer.

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#6 of 34 Old 05-31-2009, 10:17 AM
 
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While I get your disgruntlement, I would try not to get too upset until you see the actual work. Our school sends home a few packets of work for over the summer, but it's usually fun type things. Logic puzzles, word searches, read 5 books, a couple worksheets of review, etc (nothing that I *personally* consider onerous) and if you participate then your kid gets to partipate in "Popsicles on the Playground".

I know that my kid would personally be devastated not to be able to participate in something like this with her friends, so think carefully before just opting out entirely.

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#7 of 34 Old 05-31-2009, 10:20 AM
 
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Originally Posted by elizawill View Post
i'd throw the packet away and eat pizza hut all summer.
:
Can I have some, too?
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#8 of 34 Old 05-31-2009, 10:33 AM
 
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Originally Posted by elizawill View Post
i'd throw the packet away and eat pizza hut all summer.


We haven't had our last day of K yet, but I am expecting something for over the summer. For entering K, ds had a reading list and project. We were asked to read at least 10 books (we read way more!) and then create some kind of visual project about his favorite (a poster, drawing, sculpture, collage, anything). At the start of the year, kids who completed their reading and created a project received a certificate of achievement. I thought it was kind of neat. I enjoyed seeing all the projects on display and ds had a great time working on his poster -- he still has it up in his room.

Anyway, I'm expecting something similar for the upcoming summer. If it's a bunch of worksheets, I would not be thrilled, but the reading project is something we'd do anyway, so it's fun.

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#9 of 34 Old 05-31-2009, 10:45 AM
 
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My school is sending out a packet for the summer. It is a writng journal with prompts, a math calendar and a reading log. If they turn it in at the beginning of next year they get a prize. I'm not bg onhomewrok either but ours is just a suggestion for people who are interested in doing it. We arent making a big deal out of the prize either.

Kim
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#10 of 34 Old 05-31-2009, 06:12 PM
 
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Both of my kids will come home with reading journals for the summer, with a target number of books and some guidelines for choosing them (individually determined). There will also be suggestions for math review periodically over the summer. Some review makes sense to me, so the kids can start at the same level they stopped at. I'm not comfortable with the ideas of prizes (and certainly not penalties), but our school does neither. Its part of the regular homework routine here.
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#11 of 34 Old 05-31-2009, 06:40 PM
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Research shows that high amounts of homework in the early elementary grades are correlated to LOWER scores on standardized tests. There are a lot of things that parents and children can do over the summer that aren't homework, and there are a lot of things that children learn best through unstructured play. If the packet is full of "playful challenge" type things for parents to encourage their children to do, then it may be OK. If it's worksheets, journal prompts and reading "targets," I would be upset.

For example, in the last week, I have done the following things with my almost 8yo:
- taken apart an old cassette player.
- visited the children's museum.
- started the library summer reading program.
- counted her money about 38 times to see if she has enough to buy a new webkinz yet.
- timed her while she ran around the playground and asked her to figure out how long it would take her to run around the playground 5 times if she maintained that speed as an average. And then had her try it to see if she could beat that time.
- had her make homemade ice cream (she read the recipe, measured and mixed ingredients by herself, poured them into the ice cream maker, and watched the mixture change consistency as it froze. Then she ate some.)

If the school sent home a list of similar activities we could try, I'd love to see it, consider it, and maybe take some pictures/encourage her to write something to document it for her teacher.

If the school sent home worksheets, required reading lists ("these are cool age-appropriate books" lists are OK with me), or writing assignments, I would "lose" them on my child's behalf. Playtime is too important.
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#12 of 34 Old 05-31-2009, 08:05 PM
 
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If the school sent home worksheets, required reading lists ("these are cool age-appropriate books" lists are OK with me), or writing assignments, I would "lose" them on my child's behalf. Playtime is too important.
I'm going to guess that people's reactions to summer assignments is going to be highly correlated to reactions to school-year assignments and summer in general. Since I'm one of those really odd ducks (especially around here) that think the idea of "summer vacation" has outlived its usefulness and would prefer to see year-round school AND someone who thinks there is value in homework per se, I'm probably going to have a really different reaction than others.

For me, summer assignments are an accepted part of the commitment we make to the school that my kids attend. There isn't a reward or penalty for not doing them, but virtually every kid in both classes will. Its part of being in this school community. And we accepted that when we registered for this particular school. I'm grateful that it isn't too overwhelming and its stuff that I would require the kids to do even without the assignment. But i really do think that kids should spend some part of each day reading, whether its an assignment or not. And if reviewing math facts will help them start next year without needing to waste time in review from the previous year, that's good.
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#13 of 34 Old 05-31-2009, 08:31 PM
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As a high school teacher, I definitely feel there is value in homework, and I work to make sure that experiences at home enrich my children's education year-round, both through formal activities like homework and informal activities like making ice cream.

As a high school teacher, I also know that in practice, year-round school has just as many problems as the traditional school year with a summer vacation, and homework interferes with learning in the early elementary grades.

I resent the implication that my opposition to summer homework for 6-year-olds indicates that I am not committed to my children's schools. But more importantly than my children's schools, I am committed to my children's education. The school offers experiences that I cannot, and I offer experiences the school cannot. I avoid interfering with the school's instructional time as much as possible and I facilitate their program by enforcing homework during the school year (among other things). Summer is my instructional time. No one at school is reading my daughter Kipling, or helping her with her plan to build a bicycle-driven ice cream maker, or taking her to art galleries, or any of a million other things that I do. That's fine - the school is teaching a valuable curriculum. I'm teaching a valuable curriculum too, and the summer is *my* time. My parent time, not my teacher time.

ETA: While I firmly believe in the immense educational value of the activities I provide for my children, I want to be clear that my guidance is not the only reason unstructured free play is valuable. I believe that play is the work of childhood, and it has immense developmental and neurological benefits. School can't offer much of it - when you have 20 kids in a room, they need structure. I have two kids in my house. They need some structure too. But I see that they benefit immensely from pursuing their own interests, at their own pace, in their own way. Summer allows them to do that. My 8yo will return to school a richer person for it.
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#14 of 34 Old 05-31-2009, 09:48 PM
 
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[QUOTE=stik;13857606]AI resent the implication that my opposition to summer homework for 6-year-olds indicates that I am not committed to my children's schools. But more importantly than my children's schools, I am committed to my children's education. The school offers experiences that I cannot, and I offer experiences the school cannot. I avoid interfering with the school's instructional time as much as possible and I facilitate their program by enforcing homework during the school year (among other things). Summer is my instructional time. No one at school is reading my daughter Kipling, or helping her with her plan to build a bicycle-driven ice cream maker, or taking her to art galleries, or any of a million other things that I do. That's fine - the school is teaching a valuable curriculum. I'm teaching a valuable curriculum too, and the summer is *my* time. My parent time, not my teacher time./QUOTE]

I'm not saying that your lack of support for summer assignments means you are not committed to your child's school. I am saying that I knew my children would have summer assignments when I chose the school I did for my kids (private school, very deliberately chosen). Doing all of the homework is part of the commitment we make to this particular school.

I do, though, think it is wrong to simply not complete something like a summer assignment, and worse to "lose" it, which to me implies lying to the school about what happened. Work to change the system if you disapprove? Great. But to simply have your child not do something? To me, not right.

And its lovely that you can have "your" instructional time during the summer. I, on the other hand, do not have time to do activities with my kids over the summer. They will spend all all day of all 10 weeks at daycamp while DH and I are at work. They might or might not do activities that will reinforce academic subjects. Well, DS will for at least the 2 weeks of science camp. They will learn things, sure. But it probably won't have anything to do with reading or math.

Gaining the month that most classes seem to spend reviewing last year's work at the beginning of the school year for new material seems worth having them do some reading and math challenges over the summer.
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#15 of 34 Old 06-01-2009, 12:27 AM
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I do, though, think it is wrong to simply not complete something like a summer assignment, and worse to "lose" it, which to me implies lying to the school about what happened. Work to change the system if you disapprove? Great. But to simply have your child not do something? To me, not right.

And its lovely that you can have "your" instructional time during the summer. I, on the other hand, do not have time to do activities with my kids over the summer. They will spend all all day of all 10 weeks at daycamp while DH and I are at work. They might or might not do activities that will reinforce academic subjects. Well, DS will for at least the 2 weeks of science camp. They will learn things, sure. But it probably won't have anything to do with reading or math.

Gaining the month that most classes seem to spend reviewing last year's work at the beginning of the school year for new material seems worth having them do some reading and math challenges over the summer.
Private school is, of course, very different from public school. I have the privilege of not being formally "at work" over the summer. And I don't want to get into a back-and-forth over whose parenting is more virtuous. Well, I don't want to continue one, and it's not what I meant to start.

I do want to throw in a few further issues I have with summer work:

1. Who grades it? Literally, who collects the work before whatever reward it's supposed to grant and evaluates it for completion, accuracy, and demonstration of retention of skills? Are students getting the work back with feedback from teachers? What's the criteria for homework that is complete enough to get the reward/go to the party?

2. Does it actually save the time that classes use for review at the beginning of the year? I get that it's supposed to, but does it actually mean that teachers can jump right in to new material?

3. Many parents don't have time to do a ton of activities with their kids over the summer. Should they really then be asked to spend what time they and their kids do have on worksheets?

4. If a child has a problem with the summer homework, is there someone on the school staff available to provide guidance and support with the assignment before the due date?

5. Is "losing" an assignment really the worst thing I could do? I could damage my child's love of learning. I could do the assignment myself and let her pass it off as her own. I could (accidentally or intentionally) allow her to turn in poor quality work and learn that no one actually cares about that. I wouldn't lie to the school. I would say we had spent the summer on other activities. I wouldn't lie to my child either. If she happened to be looking for something to do, I would mention the summer assignment as an option. I would mention the reward associated with it (though I imagine she would have heard about it from her teacher). And I would leave it up to her. I'm glad that I'm not in that position, though.

6. If a child's parents are not motivated to find math and reading challenges in everyday life where they are plentiful even for those who don't feel madly creative about such things, are those parents going to have the time, energy, or inclination to enforce summer homework?
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#16 of 34 Old 06-01-2009, 12:45 AM
 
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My son just finished k. He got one of those. It's a quick less than 10 minute exercise per day over the summer. There is no penalty or reward for doing or not doing it.

But I remember being so frustrated as a kid in school. The first 1/3 of the year was review of last year. The middle 1/3 was learning new stuff. The finally 1/3 was review of that year to try and cement the knowledge in place before summer.

I am personally glad that my son's school is trying to do something to keep kids knowledge base over the summer. Maybe that means they can spend more school time in actual learning than in mind numbing review.

My son will not only be doing the assignments, he'll also be doing 20 minutes of reading every day.

Mom to DS 4/24/03 and DD 4/17/06
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#17 of 34 Old 06-17-2009, 10:47 AM
 
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We got a letter from her new first grade teacher asking for a letter in return that the child writes telling her about what they are doing this summer and signs their full name to. In return she will write another leter back to them. She also suggested that they read 15 min a day during the summer. That is it.
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#18 of 34 Old 06-17-2009, 11:33 AM
 
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Its not torture for many kids. Outing my nerdy self here - my sister & I & whichever neighbor kids wanted to join us, would spend many of our summer vacation days playing "school". Complete with assignments, reading chapters aloud from books, electing the teacher for the week (the teacher got to grade the homework lol). We thought it was really fun. Plus, I remember one year when I went back to school (2nd grade) that I had a hard time getting used to writing again b'c we'd traveled alot that summer & I hadn't written much for several weeks. Just my 2 cents.

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#19 of 34 Old 06-17-2009, 11:52 AM
 
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I would return the packet to school and say we won't be doing homework over the summer. The school spends way too much time trying to dictate the family's every minute with homework during the school year. They are not going to extend that by telling me how to spend my summer.

My kids get a very enriched and educational summer, with a great deal of reading involved. The school can keep their worksheets to torment us during the rest of the year.


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Originally Posted by Evan&Anna's_Mom View Post
I do, though, think it is wrong to simply not complete something like a summer assignment, and worse to "lose" it, which to me implies lying to the school about what happened. Work to change the system if you disapprove? Great. But to simply have your child not do something? To me, not right.
In my experience with my public school and with the public school where dh teaches, there really is no "working with the school to change things." Sadly, it just does not happen because the school has exactly zero interest in changing things that it doesn't view as a high priority problem. Even when the school knows and acknowledges that something they are doing is completely ineffective, they generally lack the energy or interest to overcome inertia to change it.

That's not a wholesale knock on the public schools. We mostly like our system. They have a lot of serious issues they grapple with, so the smaller things tend to be of no real concern to them. It often infuriates me, but it's just the way it is.

So yes, there are lots of things we decide to simply not do. For example, we don't do the DARE program. We don't sign the behavior "contract." We don't do any assignment involving baby pictures or stories. We tell the school in writing why we aren't doing it because I think they need to hear it even if they won't change it.
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#20 of 34 Old 06-17-2009, 11:53 AM
 
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I don't like the pizza party/no pizza party reward/punishment stance of what you're dealing with at all. That would bother me greatly.

But encouraging reading and such is something I do as a hsing parent all through the year. Schools deal with a lot of parents who haven't ever read to their kids or played a board game with them or helped them figure out change when they buy an ice cream cone.

therefore, I would think some teachers might find it frustrating to start at the beginning again every year. I am one of those folks who thinks some skills, like reading and understanding math etc improves with practice. I just read an article about a teen girl who won a texting contest. I would not like to be one of her teachers. There really is more out there and maybe she needs a reading list of good books.
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#21 of 34 Old 06-17-2009, 05:27 PM
 
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No not normal. My daughter just eneded K and no homework was sent home

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#22 of 34 Old 06-19-2009, 11:09 AM
 
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No not normal. My daughter just eneded K and no homework was sent home
How do you know your school is "normal"?
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#23 of 34 Old 06-19-2009, 01:30 PM
 
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I see both sides. When teaching, I had parents who wanted work for their children over summer, or they would ask for recommendations of things to do/read. There is also time lost at the beginning of the year, but I attributed that more to just getting back into the swing of things than actual information lost. Worksheets can be boring, but I wouldn't assume parents have the time, etc. to do more of the creative stuff at home. I also wouldn't assume that a packet of summer work would keep a child fresh and help them to retain everything they had learned in a year, but at least it is something.

I can also understand a parent feeling like the school was intruding, that children are being pushed too hard, and resenting the reward/punish thing going along with it all. I do think, however, that the school is probably coming from a place of good intentions. In addition, schools are under a lot of pressure to have students on track (which is a huge discussion in itself right there!)

I'm in graduate school for education, and these are things we love to talk about in terms of the broader picture: how schools are structured, how far of a reach a school should have into the home life, homework in general. I love it! Great post.
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#24 of 34 Old 06-21-2009, 02:10 AM
 
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This is why I love our year round school schedule. No "brain drain", no need for teachers to send home anything, no difference between summer break and the other quarter breaks. We use our 3-4 week breaks for travel and exploration outside.

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#25 of 34 Old 06-21-2009, 10:08 AM
 
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I do think, however, that the school is probably coming from a place of good intentions.

I'm in graduate school for education, and these are things we love to talk about in terms of the broader picture: how schools are structured, how far of a reach a school should have into the home life, homework in general.
As my grandmother often used to say, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

Maybe you might explain to me why it is that schools think they should be reaching into families' home lives??? My dh, who has been a public school teacher for 15 years is baffled by this. I'm not being snarky to you. I really wonder why it is that public schools feel that they have the right to try to control what we do with our vacation time and the few hours we have each day when the kids are not in school.
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#26 of 34 Old 06-21-2009, 11:15 AM
 
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Good question, and no offense taken. I should start by saying I'm studying the social foundations of education now (history of ed, international ed, philosophy, sociology, anthropology). Rather than saying "schools should be this way," we look at more of the "whys." So in terms of school involvement in the home life, we talk about how that has changed over time. How the term "in loco parentis" is used in school and law cases....from the international standpoint, we'll talk about different cultures and their ideas of the teacher's role and parental involvement.

I think over time, schools have been viewed as a starting point for trying to fix different societal issues (the War on Poverty, War on drugs, president's physical fitness challenge). This trickles out from the schools and into the homes. Giving parents tips on what to feed their children, doing home evaluations, and so on.

For this specific instance, I imagine requiring summer school work for upcoming first graders stems from pressure from NCLB. We talk about the history of testing, the philosophy driving it, the political points involved. A question like this one can be seen as having many layers to it.

From my own point of view, I would provide recommendations for summer time activities if asked. Require summer time work and have a reward/punishment with pizza? No. It's tricky for a teacher if the school is requiring all teachers to send home work. The teachers then have to decide if they're going to go with the flow, rock the boat and just say no, try to have a conversation about it, or be defiant in a more subtle way, like buying the whole class pizza .


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As my grandmother often used to say, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

Maybe you might explain to me why it is that schools think they should be reaching into families' home lives??? My dh, who has been a public school teacher for 15 years is baffled by this. I'm not being snarky to you. I really wonder why it is that public schools feel that they have the right to try to control what we do with our vacation time and the few hours we have each day when the kids are not in school.
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#27 of 34 Old 06-21-2009, 11:24 AM
 
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Perhaps it is to combat the summer "brain drain"?
That is why our school has it. I actually have a ton of stuff to do with my kids over the summer, so that they don't lose skills over the summer. My dd did lose a ton of reading skill between kindy and first, and that showed me that I really need to stay on top of it.

Instead of a pizza party, though, our school has a raffle. For each week that you complete activities, you fill out a ticket and the parent has to sign off on it. Then they are entered into the raffle for fun stuff.
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#28 of 34 Old 06-29-2009, 12:34 PM
 
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In our schools, "formal" summer work doesn't start until 3rd grade. However, teachers in the younger grades usually suggest summer reading, and provide some ideas to help kids maintain other skills for over the break (i.e. helping count change, science project-type activities, etc.).

3rd-5th, it's mostly assigned reading and some math work to keep the skills up to speed. Nothing really onerous.

Once they hit MS, it gets more serious/involved each summer. Usually 2 assigned books plus reports of some type on them and math work. If they are in Honors and/or AP classes, it's more strenuous yet. As an example, my upcoming Senior has 4 books to read, plus a literary comparison of two of them for AP Lang with the expectation of being prepared to defend the comparison in September, AP Calc workbooks with an exam the first week of school, AP Physics study guides, and independent AP Music Theory work to do. Additionally, he has Drama auditions to prepare for and Chorus music to learn. That's in addition to working and continuing to prepare his portfolio for conservatory apps. When he goes back to school, they jump straight in on the first day - it's expected that everyone is ready. The kids know that, if they haven't prepared over the summer and aren't ready to go? They may well get bumped down to Honor or A-level classes. They will not be in APs. I think it's a good thing - my son doesn't want his time wasted, nor do his teachers.

My younger (upcoming Soph) has reading/writing assignments for English and History, Alg 2 work, Spanish work, and an independent research project for Science. Due the first day of school. Her school is academically rigorous, and if the kids aren't ready on the first day? They may well not be able to keep up. ETA I forgot... she also has daily FH practices starting July 6. Non-mandatory, but they all know that showing up for those consistently increases the odds of making varsity.
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#29 of 34 Old 06-29-2009, 03:53 PM
 
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At this age, I think you're really punishing the kids for the action/inaction of the parents. If a parent is involved... or feels this is a good idea... then they'll do it with their kids. If the parents doesn't see the value... or forgets....then the kid is punished.

I can see the value of some guidelines/ideas for summer activities.... or even giving some assignments for kids that may need work in certain areas.... but the whole pizza party thing rubs me the wrong way.

We always had summer reading and stuff... but it didn't begin until Middle School. THen when you started back, there were tests on the books read. If I didn't read (like I didn't read "The Phantom Tollbooth" going into Sixth Grade , I paid the price. I could never see them doing something like that in 2nd grade or Kindy.

Mom to DS(8), DS(6), DD(4), and DS(1).  "Kids do as well as they can."

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#30 of 34 Old 07-05-2009, 06:32 PM
 
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If my child's school tried this, I'd one-up them with a party at Chuck-E-Cheese on pizza party day. NO WAY my elementary age child is going to be responsible for homework over the summer.

Lara
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