Archive for March, 2009

Is this their homework or ours?

Monday, March 16th, 2009

How many of you have seen the massive amount of homework our kids are getting these days? It is unbelievable at the ripe age of 7 or 8 that the homework is so extensive. We are at the point where 50% of our kid’s education has become the responsibility of the parents at home. For some of us, that is no problem, but for many who work long hours and are exhausted after work, it is a tough assignment to now become a school teacher at home.
My kids now have computer assignments that are to be completed each week, reading every night for 30 minutes, math homework daily, social studies, journal writing daily and Spanish. That is all after they have completed a full day of school and finished their after school activities like piano and soccer practice. You can nearly forget the after school, “free” play time. There is barely room in the day for our kids to be kids. They are too busy preparing to grow up.
Our computer assignments are posted on the school website by the teacher and must be completed each week. Having the assignments available to be completed when the kids have time is great, but teaching them to log onto the internet (a scary thought at 7 years old), enter their passwords, complete the assignments and log out is all on the parents. Throw in a few pop up sales gimmicks to mess up their process and they literally need their parent by their side every minute. Not to mention the fact that as they are logging onto the internet we never know what will pop up and be advertised or exposed to them as they are just trying to do their homework.
The opportunity for computer assignments is great if smart kids and aggressive parents want their kids to get ahead. However, for kids that are already struggling and parents that are either not at home much or are not as engaged, it may just create a greater divide between what should be expected of a normal kid in second grade and what is attainable if pushed to the limits. Keep in mind that we are talking about after school learning here.
The other day, an algebra assignment popped up on my second graders math assignment page on the computer. She tried to do it and after a while got frustrated and called for my help. After reviewing the assignment, I couldn’t believe this was homework for a second grader. I thought, “she must be behind”, so I spent the next several hours teaching her how to add and subtract larger digit numbers and combining that new skill with algebraic equations using addition and subtraction. I was amazed that she actually learned everything in one day. I later found out that assignment was for the end of the third grade year and should not have been posted to her assignment page. Well now she knows how to add and subtract into the hundreds of thousands and balance equations and is in honors math in second grade. Good thing that was a math assignment.
For parents, it sure seems that our kids are going to do only as well as our own skill level can take them at home. If a parent doesn’t know how to teach math or writing or reading at home, how are they going to help keep their kids up to speed in school.
Our country has a crisis in education going on and it may very well be a crisis in the ability of our children’s parents to teach them at home rather than in our kids learning on their own. Or, are we trying to teach so much information to them in such a condensed timeframe that it is leaving far too much learning for the home and on the shoulders of parents who are not professional educators.
Maybe part of the answer to our countries crisis in education is for the school districts to have classes for the parents. These classes would outline the expectation the educational system has for their role in their child’s education. There could also be classes to show parents how to teach their kids the basic fundamental skills at home. The goal of a program like this would be to help the parents teach some of the fundamentals to our younger children at home and for the parents to learn how to teach their children to study at home. Really, most of us do not know what we should be doing with our kids homework and how involved and in what way we should become involved with their homework and their education. Then again, is it their homework or ours?
 
— Lance Waite

Bring your daughter to work

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Remember when you were a kid, did you even know what your dad did for a living? For a job? Did you know what he was doing while you were at school? I don’t remember ever going to work with my dad or even having a conversation about what he did for a living. Kids are really interested in what their parents do for a living. They really do want to know what you do “at work”. They know you are going to “work” but they don’t know what that really means.

By taking your daughter to work, you can show her what your day consists of. This is a great way to build your relationship with her. Some careers just don’t allow for this to happen like working on an oil rig or something, but most jobs on some days can allow for this to happen.
Once I took my daughter to work with me and I had an important meeting with some other business associates. My daughter brought her note pad in and took notes, she even had a few things to say in the meeting. Later that day, she remembered what was said and she asked me several questions about what certain things meant and why they were said. That was over a year ago and she still talks about that day that I took her into one of my meetings.

Plan a day of things that you normally do and throw in a few things that will be just plain fun for them to do, either with you or while you are taking a call. I set up a list of things that I had to add up for a project of mine, I could have done it on the computer, but instead I asked my seven year old to add all the things on this page for me. She loved it and she didn’t take too long to do it either. Then I got out this rendering of a building and told her that we had to find a good color combination for it and asked her if she could color it for me. She did a great job and took great care see that she stayed in the lines. The next thing we did was teach her to answer the phone. She loved working with our receptionist and finding out what she did on the phone. She even put the headset on to answer a few calls.

One of the great benefits you will get from bringing your kids to work is that they will start to understand you more. They will understand when, sometimes, you have to say that you will not be home tonight or for a few days. They feel that they know where you are and what you are doing and that gives them comfort while you are gone. They will ask you about work too. They will truly be interested in what you did at work.

When my kids go to school, I always tell them to “be nice to the other kids at school”. Just this morning my youngest daughter said to me, “have a good day at work daddy and be nice to your workers daddy”. It is great when they start to understand that you have responsibilities and things that you have to do every day. It makes going to school seem much easier for them and much more of a daily ritual that even daddy has to put up with at work.

Knowing what “work” is and that it is waiting for them after “school” will definitely help them to enjoy school more and possibly encourage them to do a better job with their own school work and school work habits