Friday, September 04, 2009

Q&A: Schooling & Homework

(So, remember when I said it might be a "few weeks" before I get to everyone's questions? One more example of my tendency to be overly optimistic. Please don't take it personally if I haven't answered your question yet. I will get to it! Some of the questions I've avoided so far are because I know they'll take me a lot of thought to answer just right and I haven't had the concentrated time to do them justice.)

from Shaunda:

Do you homeschool your children or send them to public school and why?

It's probably obvious by now that I don't homeschool my children. We live in an area with very good schools with great and dedicated teachers who have always done a great job nurturing and loving my children. I could see situations where I would want or need to homeschool and I think I could do it if necessary, but I'm grateful I don't need to. My children are getting a wonderful education and I'm very thrilled about it. I've mentioned before that they go to a charter school, which for us means homework, strong emphasis in academics, uniforms (eh -- not my favorite thing, but not so bad either), and lots of great programs. My daughter's been involved in early morning orchestra for three years, my son was able to do track after school, and in general, we love our school and we love our teachers.

Even if the charter school were not an option, I'd still send my kids to school. The local elementary schools are very good as well, and Lillian spent two years in our regular school before we moved her to the charter school. Our main reason for moving her was that she needed to be challenged more, and the only way to do that at the other school was to have her skip a grade. Our charter school allowed her to be challenged while remaining with her peers. For one thing, the whole school does math at the same time and the children are divided by ability, not grade. There are no slow math classes, just each child learning at his level. For another, the strong academic focus was a great fit.

From Jacki:
Oooh- give me [homework] tips! We start Back to School next week, and I'm not ready for the Homework chaos! We have a snack after school, then they do homework. they used to sit together at the kitchen table, but then they started poking each other and writing on each other's papers, and,chatting instead of working. Now they each go to a separate room, and I rotate if they need any help. One of them still sat there for literally hours not getting it done!
Remember, I don't have five boys, but I do have five kids in school this year. This is how we've made homework work at our house:

* Homework is done right after school. To do it later is just not an option. This gives everyone an incentive to get it done in a decent amount of time. There are no battles about this, because we've had this as the rule ever since we had a child in school.

* Homework is done at the tables in the kitchen. This year, I added another table so the kids could spread out a bit and work.

* Kindergartners (I have two this year, can you believe it?) do their homework with the other kids. This way, they get to come home, put their things away and have some play time before focusing on school again. They also get to feel part of something, as they sit at the table doing homework with their older brothers and sister.

* Like Jacki, we give out "homework snacks." I think it's important that they be called "homework snacks" so that there is at least one positive thing associated with homework! I've been making a small batch of cookies a lot this year for snacks, or we have crackers, fruit, granola bars, or whatever they can find.

* As much as possible, my kids are responsible for their own homework. I don't hover and I don't help unless they absolutely need it. Unless I'm asked by one of them for help, I don't check over their math, I don't correct their spelling or grammer, and I don't concern myself with their grades being perfect. The teachers at our school are all really good at expecting the kids to be accountable, so I leave most things between my child and the teacher. For instance, if my child forgets their homework at school, they are responsible for figuring out a solution to the problem.

* Going along with the above, one of my gripes about homework is when the teacher expects the parent to do too much. Except in the early grades, when perhaps they'll need help reading the directions, or in the cases of a child struggling in a certain subject, I really think homework ought to be something that children can do independently. I'm still trying to figure out why I have to sign my fifth grade daughter's planner every day, but I guess that's a small annoyance, and since it's my daughter who finds me a pen and shoves the planner in my face every day, I guess it's still her doing the work.

* As for fighting and poking and gabbing, I don't really have that problem right now, so I don't have any advice for it.

Anyone else have some suggestions?

2 comments:

Jacki said...

I love the "Homework snack" title. We'll be having our first one tomorrow!

Wendy said...

The planner thing... yeah, I love that they are doing planners, but don't really know why we as parents really need to sign them every night. But she is the one that brings it in and puts it in my face with something to sign with.

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