Thursday, October 02, 2014

Have you done your homework yet?

Jacob told me on Tuesday that he had a project due on Friday. He handed me a tiny piece of paper on which he'd written Jacob Burton/Tiger Woods. "I have to do a budget, and I chose Tiger Woods because he's a great golfer." Okay. "Do you know what a budget is?" "No." So I tried to explain, but it's kind of hard to do in Tiger Woods' terms--where do you start? $10 million? More? Less? I figured he'd take it home to his parents.
Next day, he was frantic. "Where's that piece of paper?" He looked through the loose papers on my desk--they are many--and found it but then last night it was still on my desk. Meanwhile late last night he told his folks he had a project due Friday but they had no inkling about it. I talked, separately, to two concerned, even frantic, parents today. All ended well. I could tell Jacob didn't understand what he was talking about, but he did say that the class would go to the library tomorrow and find information about their subjects. All well and good--no project due. What he missed was that they'd work on the project Friday.
When he comes to my house in the afternoon, we spend a minimum of an hour and twenty minutes on homework--sometimes we finish most of it, sometimes we barely make a dent. He goes home to do his reading and reading comprehension (the latter is a problem) and finish whatever we didn't get done. Then it's dinner, bath and bed. If it's a baseball day, the schedule gets all out of whack.
I finally confessed to Jordan something that's been bothering me for a long time: I don't remember doing homework with my kids. "You didn't," she said, "We didn't bring any home. We did it all in the classroom. When we got out of school, we played with friends. Then it was dinner, bath, and bed."
Whew! I wasn't a bad parent. But where's Jacob's play time? If he wants to play with a friend after school any day but Friday, I have to say no. We have homework to do.
I wonder what all this is doing for him. Today we were adding two two-figure sums. He did it the way he's taught in school--you add the "tens" and then the extra numbers. To check, I scribbled it on a piece of paper the way I've always done it--and came out with a figure ten higher than his. He insisted he was right; when he finally redid it, he said, "You're right."
I'm not sure the Texas gubernatorial debate about how much we spend on each child really addresses this problem. Yes, we ought to pay teachers better and fund our schools better, but will that fix the curriculum? I need teacher opinions.
Meanwhile I'm struggling through third grade and Jacob's sometimes struggling through his childhood, which should be a happy time.

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