Homework grumbles

Pearl came home with her homework notebooks and a letter from the teacher today.  Last year’s teacher was anti-homework, which suited me just fine.  This teacher is following the “school policy” line of 30 min homework per day.

20 minutes of that is supposed to be reading, and I have no problem with that time or proportion.  Of course, keeping Pearl down to 20 minutes a day would be an impossible task, and not one I would ever attempt.  The suggestions for parents made me raise an eyebrow though.  I should read with her, discuss the pictures (pictures?!), ask her what she already knows, what she learns from the text and what might happen next.  Help her to sound out words and discuss possible meanings of words she doesn’t recognise.  Have her read out simple recipes while I cook them.

That’s all good advice for parents of children learning to read.  But Pearl is not learning to read.  She is reading to learn, or more often, for enjoyment.  She can use a dictionary and has a very wide vocabulary.  I know she is ahead of most kids her age (according to standardised testing), but surely most 9 and 10yos in her class aren’t still reading picture books with their parents each night?  And I think encouraging her to cook simple recipes herself would be better – that’s reading and maths and life skills all in one.

That brings us to maths.  All the maths homework is web-based.  There are great resources on the web, but I think tailored and directed exercises would be useful too.  We try to limit Pearl’s screen/internet time, too, and this is working against that.  Plus they want $100 (I am told, haven’t seen a letter from school yet) to subscribe to one of these websites.

Pearl claims not to have been given any spelling homework, despite it being on the “must do” list provided by the teacher.  We’ll have to investigate that.  Given that one letter home used lots of American spellings and was dated in “Feburary”, I look forward to the spelling homework with some trepidation.

Grumble grumble grumble!  And really, all for 10 minutes of work per day, since 20 min of reading is not an issue.  But I feel strongly that if you’re going to do homework, it should be of maximum value, not just to fill in the time.

I am lucky, Pearl seems willing to do the homework, at least – probably because it’s mostly reading and playing on the internet.  She has to keep a reading log too.  All previous attempts at this have ended – with teacher permission – after a week or two, when she has filled several pages and I have noted that we are several books behind because she reads so much and so fast.  We’ll see how long this one lasts.  If the aim of it is to show the teacher that Pearl reads books, I suspect we won’t have to do it for long.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

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