I feel like a bad school mom (vent) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 03-16-2003, 10:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi, I'm sort of new here but I just need to vent this and see what others think. My dd is in a full day K. program at a charter school, one that boasts it's 'academic' K. and college prep. curric. Anyway, I have a BIG problem with the homework my dd gets. In the parent Handbook it doesn't say there is homework in K but they sneak it in anyway and I pretty much refuse to force her to sit down and do it when she has been in school for 7 hours and 15 minutes M-F!! First of all if her classwork is messy or alot are wrong (like in math) it'll say 'please redo' and then they send home her reading book everyday and word cards, a weekly 10 word spelling test, AND so far since January she has brought home 4 sets of math drill cards. I've done a little here and there, we'll read her reader and go over the spelling but they do that in class and she has been doing great on the spelling. They also want you to practice the Wall Words with them and send home a list of words for them to learn.
I just think it's too much. Am I being just overprotective or I am normal for thinking this way? She is five years old. After being there from 8-3:15pm with NO outside time in the winter (it's been very cold here) I just think it's silly to make her do anymore work, she should be able to play and be a kid for petes sake!
::Pant pant:::!
Thanks for listening.
Kelli

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#2 of 18 Old 03-17-2003, 12:40 AM
 
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Hi Kelli- I just saw your post on another charter school thread My son is also five and going to a charter school kindergarten. He only goes 3 hours a day, though and has no academic work at all- it's a waldorf inspired school so he's mostly learning social skills, which he frankly needs more of than academic stuff at this point. I know if he had the kind of load your daughter has he'd be completely overwhelmed- and he LOVES academic work and worksheets. I'm no kind of expert, but my feeling is that 8 hours of indoor time with no child-led learning is going to burn your daughter out on school in no time flat. I think your instincts are completely right- there is WAY too much pressure here for a five year old! It really seems like it's setting her up to either hate school or have a negative self image around school when she has to re-do homework all the time because it's not good enough. Like a five year old should be totally neat?! Mine can't even color inside the lines yet- nor would I want him to!

Anyhow- thanks for venting, and that's what I think, FWIW. Good luck- you sound pretty frustrated with the situation and I don't blame you.
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#3 of 18 Old 03-17-2003, 05:37 AM
 
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I don't believe 5-year-olds need to be doing homework. One member here, a teacher, posted something like "Ask the teacher why she feels it is necessary for a 5-year-old to do homework. If the word 'Fun' is nowhere in her answer, the homework is unnecessary" or something like that.

I don't remember getting homework until maybe 3rd grade. My dh, 16 years older than me, didn't get homework until 6th grade. I have a book by a psychiatrist (and med school teacher; age 60+, still practicing) who says that he never got homework until college, and even then it was just a sheet of paper that could be stuck in a back pocket - backpacks were not needed back then.

I hear a backpack should not weigh more than 15% of a child's body weight. This is a little off-topic, but when I was in 6th grade I weighed 70 lbs. I had eight classes, each with its own large hardcover textbook, and each with homework every night. 15% of my body weight would have been 10.5 lbs - the weight of the books from maybe two classes, plus notebook and supplies. How much does a 5-year-old weigh? Do they have textbooks in Kindergarten?

This particular shrink saw so many kids whose spinal cords were damaged from all that homework. Sorry so long, I just think that most kids are getting way too much, and that the younger they are the more likely that it's unnecessary.
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#4 of 18 Old 03-17-2003, 10:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi, Thanks for the posts. I want to pull her out but my dh thinks it's just a great school. So there have been arguments over it. The public school district we live in is not a good one, that is why we chose the charter. She went to a Montessori preschool for two years and loved it and the teacher. This year I can see her spark has dulled already.
I would love if we had another choice, a Waldorf charter sounds wonderful! There is a Waldorf school here but it would be 30 min drive one way. Homeschool is an option but I'd have to convince dh I can do it. I used to want to do it when she was 2 or 3 but slowly starting changing my mind.
I think the decision is obvious, to take her out, this is just Kindergarten, I can only imagine what 1st grade is like. Btw..we were there the other day and my little 18 month old son wandered in a first grade room (after hours) and the teacher was still there and said "not much fun stuff in here like in the K. room" how sad is that.
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#5 of 18 Old 03-17-2003, 12:06 PM
 
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I personally think that is ridiculous for a 5 yr old (or a child of any age, really). They spend all day in school, and then need to take academic work home- whay are they doing all day at school? But I do think iot's pretty much the norm. I was shocked when a friend's child started kindergarten to find out that she had homework, but they do. If that school was the best option available for my child I would yank him out so fast his head would spin. No 5 year odl shoudl have to spend 8 hours indoors and then come home to homework, IMHO.
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#6 of 18 Old 03-17-2003, 05:07 PM
 
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I agree with lots of others here. K-garten should be play based and child centered with a focus on pre-academics. I think the pressure is starting way too young. It's hard to discern what to do......maybe most of the parents want this, but maybe not. Would it make sense to inquire with the school board, the principal, etc. as to their rationale for such a strong academic focus?

 
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#7 of 18 Old 03-17-2003, 07:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think I'll talk to the director about this before I do anything. I could just pull her out but my dh would be incredibly mad at me, so we'll have to talk and I'll have to persuade him. Also, he works 70 hours a week and I'm the one doing all the running back and forth to school, scouts, the singing concerts, etc.
I'm not sure why they are so bent on academics. The school is located in a notoriously bad public school district and there is a huge waiting list to get in. But, so far, I'm just not that impressed. I also can't stand the Saxon math they use, it bores me to tears just looking at it, I can't imagine what a five year old is thinking about it. Btw, I haven't made her do any of the homework (just so you know) that is why I started the thread. You'd be amazed at the parents who think the homework they get is okay.
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#8 of 18 Old 03-17-2003, 08:31 PM
 
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When I was in K, it was only a few hours a day, not 8 hours!

Also, some award-winning teacher, John Taylor Gatto I think, said that homework was only invented when class sizes became too big for the teacher to actually teach the lesson plan in class.
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#9 of 18 Old 03-17-2003, 09:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Did I say they are subtle in their approach to homework? The parent handbook under "homework policy" starts with 1st grade at 10-15 minutes. It says nothing about K. I've talked w/ her teacher about it, telling her flatly that Emily refuses to do the work (make up work from missed day) she said 10 minutes a night is more than enough. She also agrees that the worksheets are too much and not entirely developmental (at least she agrees!) this is her first year teaching at ALL. But, they still slide it in there, write on the friday letter "please work on this with your child" and sending home the reading book, the math flashcards, the wall words. They don't actually say this needs to be done but they are great at conveying that message to the parents.
It's frustrating because in some aspects I really like the school. They have indivdual teachers for Spanish, science, music, computers (which is nice, there has been a huge debate in our state about teachers teaching subjects they are not qualified to teach) and they have Fun friday- no folder work at all, and do alot of arty projects and some cooking things (like green eggs and ham for Dr Suess b-d) so there are things that are fun...I guess this is what school is like, you have bad and you have good. Things you agree with and things you don't. thanks for listening. sorry to vent so much!
Kelli
mom to Emily 5 1/2
and Cal Jordon 18 mos

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#10 of 18 Old 03-17-2003, 09:21 PM
 
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Man, if you are a "bad" school mom, I would be a nightmare! And used to *be* a teacher.

I'd just inform the teacher and principal that my dd wouldn't be doing homework. Too bad!

That is just a ridiculous load! And if they pressured her with too much work at school, I'd pull her out!

I've been reading a book called Better late than Early and it has really changed my thinking about how much we require of young children. I want my dd in a non academic setting for as long as she needs to mature....

I'm sorry this is such a struggle with your dh. Maybe he is buying into the social pressure of having a successful child? Maybe showing him a book like the one I mentioned that shows that non pressured children actually develop better than ones that burn out would help?

I'd definitely try to talk to him and try to get to the roots of his feelings....

Good luck!
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#11 of 18 Old 03-17-2003, 09:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Rileys mom:
Is that a Moore book? I've heard of it. I have their homeschool handbook, which is wonderful. I like their philosophy too. Hard to imagine not giving a kid a textbook til age 10 though, huh?
I don't know what is going on with dh. I think there is some pressure, like said. We communicate well and I've illustrated how kids who are force fed academics come out 'ahead' when they mainstream and so do the ones with the more child led approach.
Oh BTW, I forgot to mention, they are probably heavy on academics in order to keep their 'charter' which can be revoked if they don't meet certain standards set by the chartering university, so they do hold the schools accountable.
~Kelli

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#12 of 18 Old 03-17-2003, 10:53 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sneezykids
Rileys mom:
Is that a Moore book? I've heard of it. I have their homeschool handbook, which is wonderful. I like their philosophy too. Hard to imagine not giving a kid a textbook til age 10 though, huh?
I don't know what is going on with dh. I think there is some pressure, like said. We communicate well and I've illustrated how kids who are force fed academics come out 'ahead' when they mainstream and so do the ones with the more child led approach.
Oh BTW, I forgot to mention, they are probably heavy on academics in order to keep their 'charter' which can be revoked if they don't meet certain standards set by the chartering university, so they do hold the schools accountable.
~Kelli
Yes, I just checked and it's a Moore book. I wouldn't take the idea to the extreme, but I sure won't be doing early academics with RJ....I think you can tell when your kid is ready and interested....and tell how much is too much...kwim?
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#13 of 18 Old 03-18-2003, 05:10 AM
 
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My dd1 goes to a school that seems fairly similar to yours. But her K class (they didn't have half day K there) was the same as all the other elementary - as far as time frame - 5 hours and 45 minutes. With three recesses outside and a lunch time, as well as snack. They are very academic but no textbooks. A lot of really cool learning going on - bring in lots of parent experts in their fields and lots of cultural stuff and lots of positive social stuff.

Homework is given but it is optional. In K and 1st. In K, we about killed ourselves getting it done - she would do it but I'd have to be right there, pushing her to continue.... It sucked. This year, we didn't do it all for the first few months of school. She is now doing it about 80% of the time or more. We were told that in K/1, it is just practice to get into the habit for 2/3 when it is expected your child will do it each week.

Dd1's homework is fun too though - they get a sheet with six options and have to pick three. Usually stuff like -
*pick a country and write down what you think you might see if you were there
*count the number of (whatevers) in your house OR how many orange things in your house, etc.
*teach a member of your family the (dance, jumprope, song, etc.) we learned today
*make a list of two syllable words from items you can see from where you are sitting
*write a thank you note to (whomever - usually someone who came to the school for a performance or something)
*we are learning about probability. Make a list of three things you think are likely to happen tomorrow and three things you think are not likely to happen tomorrow.
Then there are a couple of worksheets and often a new dice or math game to try.

I think this is fun homework and good practice. But dd1 was never marked down for not doing it. It is optional (til next year) but we are trying to get a better habit going now.

One suggestion I have for you this year - well, two. I would talk with the teacher about what his/her expectation is - is it optional, for practice? Or is it really expected to be done each week?

And I had to pull my dd out of all extracurricular (dance, brownie girl scouts, and after school science enrichment) her K year. It was just too much to have ANYTHING after school at all. All her energy for focused stuff was taken up by school. This year she is in piano and ballet (so two days a week after school) and it is fine. I would consider pulling your child out of extra after school stuff and see if that helps. It sure helped us.
Kirsten
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#14 of 18 Old 03-18-2003, 08:09 PM
 
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That homework does sound like fun! That's the kind of stuff I'd come up with on my own if I were a homeschooler.
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#15 of 18 Old 03-18-2003, 08:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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See ever since we did a half day visit to this school called Upland Hills (private) I've been overall disappointed in the education Emily is getting where she is now. Upland goes by Jean Piaget's (swiss philosopher and phycholgist) philosophy and seeks to 'protect' childhood. It was the neatest little school I've ever seen! I would have loved to send her there but we couldn't find a house (my dh that is) that we could afford as the school is in a very affluent area, though by looking at it you would never guess....a small pole barn looking building on 12 acres of woods. The kids maintained their own organic garden and that was a class they actually could choose. They could pick their specials from what is called the Renaissance program. Some of the classes included things like: Things Kids like to Collect, Mapping, Theater, Origami, baskets and birds, doll making.
If I wanted to drive 35 mintues one way I could still send her there, as the tuition was not bad.
I just feel like we don't have much of a choice because we are building a new house in a bad school district (scores and otherwise if you know what I mean) and we will be in the country!
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#16 of 18 Old 03-19-2003, 02:28 AM
 
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Kelli -

I'm glad your dd's teacher was open to listening to your concerns. That's a good sign, and it may be that you can work the homework issue out. My dd goes to a highly academic private school that also has lots of cool enrichment classes for the children to take. She's in 1st grade and has gotten too much homework at times, and I have been able to talk to her teacher about it, and get it down to a more realistic level.

If you are considering homeschooling, come on over to the homeschooling board (my ds homeschools), and read up on it. There are some good books you and your husband could read that might help your dh understand that homeschooling provides a great education, and social life too.

School issues have been some of the toughest issues I've had to deal with as a parent! I feel for you!

Laura
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#17 of 18 Old 03-19-2003, 01:06 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sneezykids

If I wanted to drive 35 mintues one way I could still send her there, as the tuition was not bad.
I'd SO make the drive! We live at least 30-45 minutes from almost everything good, so I am the queen of car time
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#18 of 18 Old 03-19-2003, 01:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by RileysMom
I'd SO make the drive! We live at least 30-45 minutes from almost everything good, so I am the queen of car time
So do we! I wrote the school to see if there are other parents near me for carpooling. At least the Upland school starts at 9am not 8am like the charter Emily is in now. I could still leave after 8 and get her there on time. Carpooling would be ideal. I could drop off the other mom pick up.
So we'll see! The bad thing is theres no easy way to get there, mapquest told me it'd be a 42 minute drive.
Btw! The PE teacher sent home a sheet of activities to do at home and we're supposed to check off if they did it and hand it back in. It's 14 days worth of stuff to do. Hello?! Homework in PE!? Sheesh, what next!?

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