Now that school is here, I am once again reminded of a pet peeve of mine - Homework. There is something seriously wrong with it. Why is it that my fifth grader has very little homework and my first grader has a boat load of it?
My fifth grader's homework is basically read, practice typing and spelling words. As it should be those are all things that they really can't do in school. They should be reading all the time, it is good for you. They can't really learn how to spell a word without practicing it often. And they can't really learn to type without practicing it as well.
However, why the boat load for a first grader? And stupid stuff for that matter? Why is it that he has to practice writing his numbers over and over again at school and then over and over again at home? Why is it that he has to practice writing his alphabet over and over again at school and then over and over again at home?
His teacher has them learning phonics, which don't get me wrong is a good way to teach a kid to read, but why does he need to know that that the little mark over an A means that it is a short vowel sound and not a long vowel sound? When you are reading a book, is it there? Then there are these touch points! The idea of them is that each number has a touch points, these imaginery little dots on the numbers that correspond to the number. Zero has zero, one has one, two has two, (get the idea? me either). She has them learn it so that when they are adding and subtracting, they can actually add up the touch points on the first number and then add the second ones touch points if they are adding or subtract the second ones touch points if you are subtracting. This absolutely (!) drives me crazy. Kids should just KNOW their addition of all the basic numbers 0 to 9. They should just KNOW their multiplication of all the numbers 0 to 9. It should be drilled and drilled and drilled into them. The big numbers they can figure out if they know the basics. (The big problem with the touch points too is that when you get to ten which is one and zero combined, their touch points don't add up, so they have a whole other set of touch points themselves - which is so mathematically wrong in and of itself. Mathematical principles hold up ALWAYS in ANY situation - I know TMI, but I'm ranting).
Just to clarify - every Wednesday, my first grader comes home with a packet of homework, due the next Wednesday. A page of writing numbers, a page of phonics, a page of writing letters, a page of writing some words, and a page of touch points. Then there is the phonics book he needs to do a couple of pages out of and he has to read for ten minutes each day. It all adds up especially given the fact that he's a perfectionist and you better believe that he is being careful with everything that he is writing.
You know, if there are things they can't do in school, by all means, send it home and let them work on those things at home, but don't just send homework home to send homework. And if you do send homework, make it time appropriate.
I haven't even gotten started on school itself. I will keep it short and sweet. I am so not a fan of all of the extra fluffies. I think that school has gotten into too much fluff and not enough of the core good stuff that actually means something. My sister's husband made a good point. Their school was trying to get a grant so that each kid would get their own laptop computer. His thought was why spend all this time and energy teaching a kid about a computer that will just become obsolete in a few years? Instead, focus on teaching them the principles that are going to help them someday create a computer ten times better? Amen, why are teachers so worried about so much other stuff that math, science and english, the basics are suffering? I'm just sayin...