Friday, September 10, 2010

E-mail to a First Grade Teacher

Sent today.

Teacher Z -- I was disappointed to read in the newsletter today that you plan to assign homework. I am opposed to homework for young children. In my experience, it causes stress in the family and turns the child off to school, while adding nothing positive to the child's education. I agree with the arguments against homework set out by Alfie Kohn in The Homework Myth and Bennet and Kalish in The Case Against Homework.

If DD wants to do the homework, I won't stop her, but if she doesn't want to do it, or forgets about it, I am not going to bring it up. If she comes home from Extended Day and falls asleep, I'm not going to wake her up to do a math worksheet.

DH reads to DD every night, and has since we brought her home. It is their special time together. If DD wants to read a book from school, that's fine, but if she doesn't want to, I don't see any point in letting school intrude on a family tradition. DD won't keep a reading log, because she's tired by the end of the day when she reads with DH. I'm opposed to reading logs in any case because they take something that ought to be a pleasure and turn it into a chore.

In conclusion, I am no longer a homework cop. I've turned in my badge; I'm done. Please don't scold DD for a decision I have made. If you have any questions just let me know. Thank you -- FedUpMom.

I am beyond sick and tired of this.


  1. From PsychMom: Tongue in cheek here...But seriously FedUpMom, how do you really feel?

    I'm on the same page as you on the issue. First grade...get real. There should not even be a hint of anything expected from home. But I also get how fed up you are with having to continually confront this issue. I groan myself every time I hear the mention of the word now. They're doing a segment on the 5 o'clock news hour locally today, and I don't even want to know about it because I know it's just going to be the same old crap. How long can we keep this up?

  2. I know, I've read all the advice about how you're supposed to be pleasant and conciliatory blah blah blah ... My objection to that is that it gives people the impression that I'm ready to have a discussion about this, when I'm really not. I don't want to discuss, I don't want to negotiate, I want out. I can't believe I even have to write these ridiculous e-mails. It's first grade!

  3. Umm... that was beyond pleasant and conciliatory. It was almost submissive. You shouldn't feel you have to explain a blessed thing to the teacher. It's your family. THAT should be the end of it.

  4. Wow, Mrs. C, you think that was TOO conciliatory? That's a first. I'd like to see your e-mails!

  5. PsychMom pipes in....

    Holy Smokes Mrs. C....that was a "let's get the teacher's back up, see if I care" e-mail that FedUpMom sent.

    Just goes to show how brain-washed we've been trained to be about how to we have to talk to school.

  6. I can't think of any other situation where I am constantly being told how to behave so as not to upset someone. I mean, doctors can be pretty damn patronizing (that's another blog), but I'm not on the receiving end of advice about how not to offend the doctor ("begin with a compliment!"). Yet somehow people are always telling me to be careful not to offend the teacher.

    I'm ready for the teachers to start worrying about offending me, for a change. So far, they mostly just assume that I'm at their beck and call for whatever schoolwork they decide to send home.

  7. I worried for much of the late summer about making a poor first impression on my daughter's 4th grade teacher, since I knew we needed to address the fact that we did not make her do the required 40 page (double-sided) gradewide summer math packet. I couldn't just send her in and leave it up to her to explain, though.

    I made no mention of it when I met the teacher at the before--first-day open house. Two days later, I sent an email indicating that, for a variety of reasons (not specified in the email), we had not pressed our daughter to complete the packet. Fortunately for us, he replied with assurance that this would not be an issue.

    I find every teacher is different, and some enforce homework expectations more than others. I'm glad we didn't assume he was an adamant supporter of the assignment.

  8. Peggy, you just can't win with this stuff. You were lucky enough to call it right -- you let your child enjoy her vacation, and the teacher was OK with it.

    But how about the family that sweated and strained to get through the whole math packet, only to be told at the beginning of the year that it's no big deal, and the first month of the year is review anyway? They'll feel like chumps.

    The summer before my older daughter's last year in the public school, she had an assignment to read a book from a prescribed reading list. We nagged her a bit, and she started one of the books. On back-to-school night, after the school year had begun, the teacher said that the kids could read any book, and the list was just meant to be suggestions. Yeah, thanks for letting us know.

    It's discouraging to receive these assignments, and to try to take them seriously, only to discover that there's really no thought behind them and even the teacher thinks they don't matter. What a waste of time and effort it all is.

  9. FedUpMom, I totally agree.

    Can you tell she's my youngest? We've had enough of this nonsense and have learned to make our own decisions about what is best for our kids in their time out of school. I can't understand why the assignment wasn't optional.

  10. "Optional" -- one of the most beautiful words in the English language. I wish I heard it more often.

  11. FedUpMom, I will just outright tell the school that I'm not doing the homework or the reading log. Notice no explanation was given. This is MY child, so the teacher owes me an explanation about class policies, etc., but I do NOT owe one to her about my child's home life.

    See the difference? I try not to cross the line into disrespect, but I think teachers are so used to being deferred to that I have no doubt it comes off that way occasionally. Especially because I homeschool; that alone is a BIG statement without my having to say a word.

    Now mind you, I do have a severely autistic child and I send him to the special needs preschool. I go wayyy overboard with explanations about this or that so that he can be somewhat understood at school. I mean, about 13 of his 20 words are Pokemon words, so he's not going to be able to tell you that he's deathly afraid of tractors, acorns and flowers and is allergic to milk and eggs. :)

    But the elementaries are a different game here. Not sure what we'll do then because I cannot imagine getting petty about reading logs when he isn't even using the potty yet, yk?

  12. Mrs. C., are you planning to send some of your kids to school?

  13. I have two older children currently in high school. One is 17 and can make his own decisions (I have encouraged him to pick his own curriculum and homeschool, but he says he prefers the government choose the curriculum and spoonfeed him... I hope he is kidding). The other is autistic and the school works pretty well with him because his learning and other disability is OBVIOUS. And I don't see anyone rushing to try to stick my 6 ft 3 boy into a closet. Not him. My "Elf," though, when he was 53 pounds, really need the seclusion, though, right??

    I homeschool my middle two autistic children. The 10-y-o because of the closet locking and the 9-y-o because it was just easier when troubles popped up at school. It's actually EASIER to homeschool two children in the same grade than one alone. :)

    My 3-y-o is severely autistic and doesn't really speak. So he is in special public preschool with one-to-one aide. Before age 3, the state can help with therapy in home. After 3 to age 21 the school gets to "help." Which is great in preschool... (because really, it's just Title I kids in some other area and then special needs kids in the other, and the two don't mix) but in elementary, it really depends. I've heard some not so great things about nearby districts as well. And where I live it wasn't so bad until the principal left. People aren't widgets, unfortunately. :)

    But homeschooling a child you know understands you as opposed to a severely autistic child with no training, help or backup? I'm not sure what I will do later... even the public school has a designated aide AND a teacher AND they have custodians and stuff I don't here at home when I get into a bind. :)

    I have no stinkin' clue what I'll do later; it's so overwhelming to think about. I keep hoping for better NATIONAL laws in regard to closet locking, and honestly? Can only wish that major conflicts erupted only around reading logs. Mostly because I'm so beyond caring what they think. I'm afraid of stuff like this:

    And, given that handicapped children are far more likely to be bullied by children and staff, it's not an unreasonable fear...

  14. Mrs. C, I hope you have a good year. I wish you luck as you negotiate all these issues for your kids.

    One is 17 and can make his own decisions

    Well, if attending school is the height of his rebellion, I'd say you're in good shape.

    It's actually EASIER to homeschool two children in the same grade than one alone.

    I can imagine this. Sometimes one-on-one with Mom is not such a good dynamic.