Tuesday, September 26, 2006


and there is a good reason for that and yes I'm YELLING because I'm so frustrated with myself. I know that frustration and aggravation are not uncommon feelings when it comes to your kids' homework. Studies show that 99.9% of parents get frustrated when they have to help their children with homework (and you know that's a bogus number, but who WOULDN'T get frustrated? really who?), but what the hell is wrong with me that I can't make it through one work sheet before I go all Donald Trump and want to start firing everyone for sub-standard performances? Nora is SO proud that she has homework and is SO eager to get to work on it, she really really thinks that having real homework is the best thing about school so far, homework just like Ellie and YuYu and I went and stomped all over that tonight and I feel like shit and this is my blog so yeah, I can say shit.

I made it through the "tally" sheet, e.g., drawing tally marks to help them learn to count in fives because I could see that she had ABSOLUTELY NO COMPREHENSION as to what the hell we were trying to prove with the hash marks, did not compute, not even close, so I just kind of did it and showed her how to do it and helped her draw the tally marks, but it was not sinking in. Then we got to the beginning sound worksheet and she really knows all the sounds for the letters with this neat little action = letter sound system (thumb down = d, itch like a monkey = i), but cannot, CANNOT associate the letter sound with the printed letter making the sound. So I'm thinking, wait a minute, she immediately says the sound associated with the gesture, but CANNOT relate it to a letter, huh, why? this is not new, she has been here 9 months, including several months at Montessori and many many hours at home with the letter books, puzzles, and reading time, and I lost my patience, just a little, but then she teared up and started to leak and instead of easing up, that made me more insistent, until I had to time myself out and fold up the homework tonight and she went away feeling bad and I feel bad and I've scared her about her homework and taken away some of her joy and I really am a genuine all leather heel.

To all the teachers and parents who have the patience to work through problem after problem with a child who is not learning, or slowly learning, and keep their cool and make the child feel good about their progress or lack thereof, I stand in awe. I need to paint a big sign that says "It's about positive reinforcement, stupid" and look at it often during the nightly homeworkathons at Casa de Hanson. The homework is brutal, who knew? and this is still grade school, oh lord help me, says the secular humanist.


Yes, Minister... said...

I love you blog and have followed you and the girls for a little while.

I was an educator (high school) and I could not believe how stupid I felt a couple of time last year with my thrid graders homework - which other than spelling words and multiplication table - I really don't believe in. Hang in there!


Anonymous said...

Marji - She's 5!!! She's had almost NO exposure to this. It's a foreign language. Ah, but you knew all that, yes? You're just beating up on yourself because you weren't able to hold on to that with Nora, right? Because she's your "difficult" child. Can I tell you a secret? We *all* have a difficult child, even those of us with only 2. They make us WORK to be good parents. As in, the stretch us like taffy! You will get it, you *will* learn how to do it, just as Nora will learn to read. May take longer than you'd like, but you will. Wanna know why? 'Cause the moms who don't care aren't writing blogs about how much it hurts them to not be doing it right. Honest. Believe me. Been there, done that.

Jean (aka Sarah and Gen's gamma)

Anonymous said...

So Marji, let me say as a parent, I already know I hate homework and find it to be a big waste of time.
As a teacher, I also hate homework and am lucky to be in a school that really works hard to give fun things that make kids and parents feel like they are participating in something worthwhile. My class had to draw a picture of something they ate for dinner one night last week and then we made a graph of the types of food. (it's only kindergarten)

Anyway, I know you have said you love Nora's teacher so I think maybe if you went and asked her to modify the homework for her, she most likely would.

My experience is that if the kid doesn't get it in the classroom the first time around then they just won't get it at home with more drilling.

Why? Well, because most likely the kid needs a different approach in order to learn the skill. And I'd bet that is the case with Nora since she's already dealing with it from a second language learner perspective.

Tally marks are too abstract...so for her, I can see why she wouldn't get it!

As for the letter sound stuff...I know about the sound letter system that she has learned adn it is good for some kids, including her, by what you've said.

That is great that she hears the sound... the letter ID is harder...so she may be more of an auditory learner...which in schools is actually a good thing in the long run...

It shouldn't be a battle and of course you know that...get the teacher's help and try for different or less homework for her...

Maybe easier said than done, but worth a try.

You're doing a good job and frankly I could never monitor 4 kids doing homework, so you are really doing well!!

Maura in Boston

Rebecca said...

Hey Marji -

I made it easy on myself and my poor little ADHD 10yo. I emailed her teacher and told her that I had not seen hide nor hair of any homework for a month. I told her I was fine with that as long as she,(my aspiring Ashley Simpson wannabe daughter), was up to date. Then I went into the looonnnggg explanation on ADHD and not on medication and oh, she needs to learn skills to conquer not prescriptions narration. AND - the teacher agrees! and wonder of wonder has figured out a way to keep the homework fight out of the home and at school. Where it belongs IMO.

I like my friend's lecture that she gives her boys' teachers at the beginning of every year. She tells them that she does not have her teacher certification and does not get so many days off each year to learn new ways to teach kids (also called inservice days or party days). She does not have these because she has no patience to be a teacher so in her mind her kids and the teacher are better off not trying to send anything home that the child does not already know everything about and that said kid cannot do on in his own within 15 minutes. She has other things to yell at them about when they are home.

Rebecca M.