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#31 of 56 Old 08-28-2010, 12:34 AM
 
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I am honestly wondering: How do you opt out on homework? I remember a lot of homework being collected and graded. All I can picture is the teacher laughing in your face & saying that if you want your child to get an "incomplete" for the semester, or fail, then by all means, don't do any homework. I know that there is homework, like workbook pages, that is not graded, but we went over those completed pages & corrected them in class. How does your child participate (esp when it is peer correction) if the pages are not done? I def remember having to stay in at recess or sit at the homework table or even get grilled by the principal for not doing homework. So, uh, yeah, how do you seriously not do any worksheets all year (sitting at the hw table was in second grade, btw).

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#32 of 56 Old 08-28-2010, 12:56 AM
 
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I am honestly wondering: How do you opt out on homework? I remember a lot of homework being collected and graded. All I can picture is the teacher laughing in your face & saying that if you want your child to get an "incomplete" for the semester, or fail, then by all means, don't do any homework. I know that there is homework, like workbook pages, that is not graded, but we went over those completed pages & corrected them in class. How does your child participate (esp when it is peer correction) if the pages are not done? I def remember having to stay in at recess or sit at the homework table or even get grilled by the principal for not doing homework. So, uh, yeah, how do you seriously not do any worksheets all year (sitting at the hw table was in second grade, btw).

Well, like I said, our district HW policy has a clause that HW is not mandatory "if it is deemed inappropriate" for a student. I feel it's inappropriate for my 3rd grader. So we don't do it.

YOU are in control of your child's education, whether you choose to educate at home full-time, or take advantage of public school. Who do you think pays the teacher's salary? I certainly don't view our teachers as servants that I can boss around, but I keep it all in healthy perspective. I have real issues with relinquishing dominion over my children.

I think I may be talking about more than just HW here! haha Anyway, if you want to opt out of HW, you simply tell the teacher you will not be doing it (or you will only do x-amount of minutes if that's your choice). You may have to explain to the principal, you may be asked to put your opt-out in writing, but if you hold your ground, your child will not be penalized for not doing HW.

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#33 of 56 Old 08-28-2010, 01:52 AM
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OP, I agree that your dd has way too much homework for a fourth grader. However, I would encourage you *not* to skip out on all the math facts practice. Memorizing math facts makes it much easier to handle higher-level math in later grades. It's an age-appropriate emphasis for fourth grade, and it teaches study skills (repeating and reviewing to memorize). I would rotate through the math assignments so she hits each type a couple times a week. I'd also look for informal, fun ways to work them into your day (Multi-tasking challenge: can you recite the 9 times tables while tying your shoes? How far can you get in the times sevens before the dog fetches the ball from across the backyard?)
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#34 of 56 Old 08-28-2010, 07:52 AM
 
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It would be difficult to apply the principle of opting out of homework in middle school and high school. Kids are often working on projects, doing algebra problems that are critical to helping the teacher know whether they understand, studying spanish, writing essays, etc. A foundation formed in elementary school of knowing how to pace the work, how to be self-directed, etc, can go a long way toward the child being comfortable and independent in middle school/high school. Opting out in high school would also seriously impact the grades, unless the child was on an IEP and literally exempted from doing it. Usually 25% of the final grade in a high school course is based on completed homework; partially the fact that the child does it at all and returns it to school in a good format (organizational skills) and partially whether they did well on the assignment.

 
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#35 of 56 Old 08-28-2010, 09:02 AM
 
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Memorizing math facts makes it much easier to handle higher-level math in later grades.

Faster. Math fact recall makes high-level math faster, not easier.

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#36 of 56 Old 08-28-2010, 09:05 AM
 
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It would be difficult to apply the principle of opting out of homework in middle school and high school. Kids are often working on projects, doing algebra problems that are critical to helping the teacher know whether they understand, studying spanish, writing essays, etc. A foundation formed in elementary school of knowing how to pace the work, how to be self-directed, etc, can go a long way toward the child being comfortable and independent in middle school/high school. Opting out in high school would also seriously impact the grades, unless the child was on an IEP and literally exempted from doing it. Usually 25% of the final grade in a high school course is based on completed homework; partially the fact that the child does it at all and returns it to school in a good format (organizational skills) and partially whether they did well on the assignment.
I've often struggled with this logic.

We've been told by DD's school that we need to establish the homework habits starting in kindergarten. I think most people here agree it's not age appropriate.

I agree that homework in middle school (transitioning to independence, but not there) and high school (independent learning) is a very different thing, and helps students make that transition to independent learning. Good organizational habits and study skills contribute to success here.

So I figure most of us agree that there should be some time after kindergarten and before, say 7th grade.

Do we need to teach elementary school students organization and study habits, or do we need to teach them study endurance? I think that my third grader's homework is reasonable - some math, some spelling, park your rear and read -- and I love that all of it is structured in a daily planner where she must write down the assignments during class and check off each thing as it's done. She's learning the organization and study habits. She's also only spending about a half hour on the math+spelling each night, with reading on top of that (not onerous at all in our house). As parents, we're asked to not help until after the child has read the directions a few times. First step in helping is to ask them to read the directions out loud. It's a simple way to begin teaching independence.

Does she also need to learn the endurance of working on 5 subjects for 30-45 minutes each? For my family and my kid, that can come in 7th or 9th grade.
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#37 of 56 Old 08-28-2010, 09:14 AM
 
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Faster. Math fact recall makes high-level math faster, not easier.
It makes it more efficient. It removes the tedium, and allows the brain to focus on the logic of the math instead of the mechanics of the arithmetic. If you are multiplying 97,524x347 (one of DD's homework problems from last week), it's a lot easier to focus on the place value of the numbers and the organization of the problem (including why it works), if you aren't struggling to recall each of 7x4, 7x2, 7x5, 7x7, 7x9, 4x4, 4x2, 4x5, 4x7, 4x9, 3x4, 3x2, 3x5, 3x7, and 3x9. Yes, she could have done it, but it would have been much more difficult and fraught with error.

Edit: And it occurs to me that the focus on the discussion here is time spent on homework. The problem I gave above took DD 2-3 minutes. Before she memorized her multiplication facts this summer, it would have taken 15-20 minutes, including necessitating a break because repeated addition is pretty taxing.
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#38 of 56 Old 08-28-2010, 09:15 AM
 
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I wasn't suggesting that homework needs to be long and involved in the lower grades--just that opting out of it completely sets up a situation that would be difficult to replicate in middle and high school. The child could potentially be quite upset to deal with the volume in the upper grades if they hadn't had experience managing any homework at all in the lower grades.

 
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#39 of 56 Old 08-28-2010, 02:28 PM
 
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It makes it more efficient. It removes the tedium, and allows the brain to focus on the logic of the math instead of the mechanics of the arithmetic. If you are multiplying 97,524x347 (one of DD's homework problems from last week), it's a lot easier to focus on the place value of the numbers and the organization of the problem (including why it works), if you aren't struggling to recall each of 7x4, 7x2, 7x5, 7x7, 7x9, 4x4, 4x2, 4x5, 4x7, 4x9, 3x4, 3x2, 3x5, 3x7, and 3x9. Yes, she could have done it, but it would have been much more difficult and fraught with error.

Edit: And it occurs to me that the focus on the discussion here is time spent on homework. The problem I gave above took DD 2-3 minutes. Before she memorized her multiplication facts this summer, it would have taken 15-20 minutes, including necessitating a break because repeated addition is pretty taxing.
Yes, I understand it's more efficient to know your facts. It does not, however, make high-level math *easier*. Some (many?) people will struggle with calculus regardless of how well they know their math facts, which was my point. Knowing those facts can make the solution come more quickly for people who understand the problems, but conceptual and factual recall aren't the same. That's really on-topic for this discussion, other than the requirement to work on math facts each night. It's just something we have considered a great deal in our family recently with my son. Plus...well, I just know lots of folks who do high-level math who aren't the best at fact recall - not as important to them. I think, to be clear, that they're faster than the average person, but for people who stare at equations all the time, they could be speedier.

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#40 of 56 Old 08-28-2010, 07:20 PM
 
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I'm on record as anti-homework, but I have to agree with stik on the benefits of memorizing the multiplication table. I breezed through algebra and trig and I loved pre-calc, but I can imagine what a huge pain in the neck those years of high school math would have been if I didn't have the multiplication table memorized. Now I'm trying to tutor my younger cousin in math so she can get her GED, but she's having a terribly frustrating time (even though she's VERY smart), partially because she never memorized the multiplication table. You do not want to have to stop and try to figure out what 6x9 is when you're in the middle of an algebra problem. That fact needs to just BE THERE, so you can concentrate on the algebra. It makes things SO much simpler.

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#41 of 56 Old 08-29-2010, 07:32 AM
 
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It's interesting... as a kindy teacher, I do not send home homework with my kids (the rare exception being if they didn't finish something in class b/c they were goofing around--and I don't do a lot of pencil/paper stuff anyway, so even that happens rarely). My personal philosophy is that I work really hard with them during the day and we get lots of learning done. They need to go home, be kids, and relax with their family. Plus, I work in a high poverty school and a lot of these families have enough on their plate without having to deal with homework, too.

The weird thing is that I always have parents every year ask me about why I'm not sending homework home for their kids. When I talked to one of my mamas this year about it, her response was, "well my nephew came here for kindy last year and he had lots of homework." I simply told her that it was not mandetory at the kindergarten level for teachers to assign homework and that some teacher did and some teachers didn't. My professional philosophy is no homework for kindergarteners.

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#42 of 56 Old 08-29-2010, 12:05 PM
 
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It blows my mind that a parent would say "why aren't you giving my kindergartener homework?" That is just insane to me. I was even shocked and appalled when my first grader brought home homework. When I went to school I didn't get homework until third grade (and that's when I started hating school instead of loving it. No, not a coincidence.) We have even been told that when our child's teacher doesn't send home any homework on a particular day, we should still make our child sit down at the usual time and study, just to keep them in the habit. Um, yeah, I don't think we're going to be doing that. When she comes home without homework we're going to join hands and dance around the room singing "woohoo!" together. When did everyone become SO pro-homework?? This is not progress. A more advanced educational system would do the opposite. French schools don't assign homework and their students consistently outperform ours. I think the public school system is trying to turn our children into little worker bees, who will be used to having to do boring work all day long when they get to the work force.

-Alice, SAHM to dd (2001) and ds (2004) each of whom was a homebirth.jpg, who each self-weaned at 4.5 years bfolderchild.gif, who both fambedsingle2.gif'd, who were bothcd.gif, and both: novaxnocirc.gif.   Also, gd.gif, and goorganic.jpg!

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#43 of 56 Old 08-29-2010, 01:08 PM
 
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OP, I agree that your dd has way too much homework for a fourth grader. However, I would encourage you *not* to skip out on all the math facts practice. Memorizing math facts makes it much easier to handle higher-level math in later grades. It's an age-appropriate emphasis for fourth grade, and it teaches study skills (repeating and reviewing to memorize).
Yes!! I'm seriously shocked at how many people consider math drills "busy work." No, it's not! Rote memorization is vital for mathematics. I know there's a tendency today to eschew anything that doesn't seem "fun," but I really think math drills are important. It worked for thousands of years before the modern education system took over, and the countries where drilling and rote memorization are emphasized are always the ones with the highest math scores.

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It makes it more efficient. It removes the tedium, and allows the brain to focus on the logic of the math instead of the mechanics of the arithmetic.
My brother was never required to learn his multiplication tables, and it affects him still. He works part time in shipping and at a pizza place, and he seriously has no clue what 6x4 is or 3x5. Anything he does at work that requires him to have to multiply simple numbers in his head takes him forever. So it might not seem like a big deal if your 10th grader takes 20 minutes to do one algebra problem because she never learned her multiplication tables, but it CAN affect them as adults. I use basic math every day, I can't imagine how difficult it would be if i had to stop and think every time I needed to quickly add or multiply, etc.
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#44 of 56 Old 08-31-2010, 02:30 PM
 
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Love this thread. Something I have been thinking about as my DS just turned 3 and my DH is already worried because he can't read yet , I keep telling him sooner doesn't mean better with reading . I do not want my DS to be buried under schoolwork when he starts. This is one of the main reasons I want to homeschool but don't know if we'll be able to afford it. We're going to look into private school, but only if they don't pile on the homework. Anyway - thanks to all of you who are pioneering the way towards less homework!!!

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#45 of 56 Old 08-31-2010, 06:11 PM
 
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Gearing up for 4th grade and K this year. We relocated to NYC last summer and were SHOCKED at the amount of homework DS received as a 3rd grader. It was further complicated by the need for 2-3 books for each subject (district policy, trying to save money) and a requirement from the teacher for a separate notebook for each subject as well. We often spent 15-20 minutes just trying to figure out what went where. In addition, the teacher had a "Homework Wall of Shame" where the kids were publicly tracked in terms of who forgot or didn't turn in their homework. I protested VIGOROUSLY on that one and told DS flat-out that it was bull$#it and that we did not believe it to be 'shameful' in any way.

Now that we will have 2 kids at the school and are more established, I'm ready to take a more active stance on this issue. Much of the homework felt like busy work and much of our time was spent correcting sloppiness as other posters have said. I think hw for hw sake is ridiculous and I won't waste my time or my kids' time on it.

My guys are WAAAAAYYYY above grade level on pretty much everything and we insist on concentration and full-bore effort on what they do, so I only worry about the repercussions of skipping in terms of 'punishment' from the teacher. Never occurred to me that we could opt out, so I'll be exploring that!! Thanks for the suggestions!!

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#46 of 56 Old 08-31-2010, 06:23 PM
 
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Yes!! I'm seriously shocked at how many people consider math drills "busy work." No, it's not! Rote memorization is vital for mathematics. I know there's a tendency today to eschew anything that doesn't seem "fun," but I really think math drills are important. It worked for thousands of years before the modern education system took over, and the countries where drilling and rote memorization are emphasized are always the ones with the highest math scores.



My brother was never required to learn his multiplication tables, and it affects him still. He works part time in shipping and at a pizza place, and he seriously has no clue what 6x4 is or 3x5. Anything he does at work that requires him to have to multiply simple numbers in his head takes him forever. So it might not seem like a big deal if your 10th grader takes 20 minutes to do one algebra problem because she never learned her multiplication tables, but it CAN affect them as adults. I use basic math every day, I can't imagine how difficult it would be if i had to stop and think every time I needed to quickly add or multiply, etc.
Some people will have trouble remembering math facts no matter how much you drill them on it. And frankly I do find it is just busy work to sit and drill. I never was drilled on them and I know all my basic facts up to 10's. I think we were supposed to learn them at home with our parents back in the third grade. But my mother was not a big believer in homework and never practiced math facts (or spelling words for that matter) with me. She figured if it was useful, I'd learn it. I did fail a few timed tests at first, but eventually I was able to do them faster, and the only practice I had was those timed tests and of course as part of larger problems in my homework (like 345x59). I certainly didn't suffer from not being drilled on them. In the meantime I just counted them out on my fingers. I understood the concept of multiplication quite easily so I knew that for 5x8, I just had to count out 5 on my fingers 8 times. Yes it was slow at first but it didn't take long for them to stick in my brain.

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#47 of 56 Old 08-31-2010, 07:05 PM
 
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Now thats a tough question as then the teacher will tell you they give the homework for the benefit of your child. Maybe you could say to the teacher that you notice that in third grade the homework is a bit more. Thats a nice way of starting of a conversation.

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#48 of 56 Old 08-31-2010, 10:15 PM
 
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I understood the concept of multiplication quite easily so I knew that for 5x8, I just had to count out 5 on my fingers 8 times.
That really just seems like creating a whole lot of unnecessary work for yourself. It's so much easier to just memorize that 8x5 is 40. It's an investment of time that pays for itself almost immediately, and then pays for itself many times over. At least memorize every other fact or something so that if you (I don't actually mean YOU) don't know what 8x5 is, you at least know that 7x5 is 35, and then you can just add 5 more to it. I can't imagine having to sit there and count to 5 eight times every time you need a multiple. If the idea is to save yourself busywork then it seems self-defeating.

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#49 of 56 Old 09-02-2010, 12:58 AM
 
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I haven't read all the responses yet, but I'm alarmed by that amount of work! I used to teach 3rd grade and I would NEVER give that much work. 27 spelling words? What's the point? No kid really and truly learns and remembers 27 new words a week (minus however many they already knew). I've always loosely followed the 10 minutes per grade rule. I think 3rd graders should be getting no more than 30 minutes a night--total--and often less than that.

Scanning back through I see some comments about memorizing multiplication tables. I tell my kids (I teach middle school now) that by now they should not ever have to stop and think what a math fact is. When they see "8x5" I want them to think "40" automatically. Just like when they see the word "math" they just know what it says immediately--they don't have to sound it out. Math facts should be like sight words.
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#50 of 56 Old 09-02-2010, 06:33 PM
 
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My first grader is now doing busy work....writting out ten spelling words three times (and I've yet to see anything that teaches him HOW to write in the first place!) I told him just to do it twice. He also had a math sheet, a reading sheet, and some other stuff that is due tomorrow. Along with reading every night (which we do anyway), etc etc.

Ya know, if I wanted to do work with him, I would homeschool. I am so against homework. It burned me out bad when I was a kid.

This was his first homework assignment of the year. I don't know what I'm going to do. I think it is asinine to have homework in first grade. I think it's asinine to have homework period!! Ugh.

 

  

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#51 of 56 Old 09-04-2010, 01:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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OP here

Just a quick update.

First, I never said I thought knowing her math facts wasn't important. I think they're incredibly important.

My point was that at this point, she has them memorized for the level she's at. So, to continue to practice them 15 minutes ever night is busy work.

I know they won't always be this easy and the time will come when she has to start practicing them again but, if I can eliminate some homework at this point, I'm going to try to do that.

I did meet with the teacher and she was fantastic. She agreed that busy work was not ok. She agreed to skip the flash cards and math facts - that DD knows them just fine and doesn't need the aditional practice at this point but, we both know the time will come when she will need it.

She also agreed that writing the spelling words 5x was busy work for DD. She agreed to the pre-test and then DD can write any word she misses 5x.

It was a great meeting. She explained that the standards from 2nd grade to 3rd grade jump up dramatically as does the homework. But, she said busy work is never ok and asked me to come to her with any issues. It was a great meeting.
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#52 of 56 Old 09-04-2010, 11:35 AM
 
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Lucky you for getting a good teacher. I hope you have a terrific year!
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#53 of 56 Old 09-04-2010, 01:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by amcal
I never said I thought knowing her math facts wasn't important.
I think most of the posts in favor of memorizing the multiplication table (definitely mine) were in response to someone else in the thread.

I'm glad the teacher sounds so reasonable.

-Alice, SAHM to dd (2001) and ds (2004) each of whom was a homebirth.jpg, who each self-weaned at 4.5 years bfolderchild.gif, who both fambedsingle2.gif'd, who were bothcd.gif, and both: novaxnocirc.gif.   Also, gd.gif, and goorganic.jpg!

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#54 of 56 Old 09-04-2010, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think most of the posts in favor of memorizing the multiplication table (definitely mine) were in response to someone else in the thread.

I'm glad the teacher sounds so reasonable.
Oh - good I thought people were thinking that because I was allowing my DD to skip her math fact practice that I didn't think it was important for her to know them.

I just wanted to make sure people knew that my concern was that I know she's going to have to know them and practice them and that will add additional time to an already heavy homework schedule.

Sigh.....homework.......I wish we would just go to a homework free policy but that's never going to happen.
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#55 of 56 Old 09-04-2010, 11:34 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Sustainer View Post
It blows my mind that a parent would say "why aren't you giving my kindergartener homework?" That is just insane to me. I was even shocked and appalled when my first grader brought home homework.
At the school where I teach we start at age 3, and have parents who complain that there's no homework in the Preschool class. A few parents have even told me that "well they had homework last year" (when they were 2), I just scratch my head at that -- what kind of homework do you give a 2 year old?

Sometimes we'll compromise a little and write suggestions such as "have your child teach the new song we learned at morning meeting this week" or "We're working on sorting, one way to support this is by having your preschooler help you sort their laundry out from the rest of the family" in a "home links" suggestion column in the newsletter, or we'll put a sticker on a child that says "ask me about my trip to the zoo!" That's as far as I'm willing to go, though.
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#56 of 56 Old 09-04-2010, 11:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by amcal
Oh - good I thought people were thinking that because I was allowing my DD to skip her math fact practice that I didn't think it was important for her to know them.
No, we had a whole little side debate going.

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Originally Posted by Momily
At the school where I teach we start at age 3, and have parents who complain that there's no homework in the Preschool class. A few parents have even told me that "well they had homework last year" (when they were 2), I just scratch my head at that -- what kind of homework do you give a 2 year old?
What the H***?? What is going on inside the craniums of these parents? And the teachers assigning homework to two year olds?

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Originally Posted by Momily
or we'll put a sticker on a child that says "ask me about my trip to the zoo!" That's as far as I'm willing to go, though.
Thank goodness there are some sane people like you! I am really really bewildered by the wanting homework for 3 year olds thing. I don't even know what to say.

-Alice, SAHM to dd (2001) and ds (2004) each of whom was a homebirth.jpg, who each self-weaned at 4.5 years bfolderchild.gif, who both fambedsingle2.gif'd, who were bothcd.gif, and both: novaxnocirc.gif.   Also, gd.gif, and goorganic.jpg!

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