I don’t know if homework has changed and gotten more intense since I was six years old, almost three decades ago (let me pause for a moment to say “holy shit” to that). Maybe I just don’t remember properly.
Hayley has homework every day that she goes to school and there’s quite a bit of it, though the teacher always says to use our judgment and not do all of it if our kids are too tired or frustrated. The reading part is fine. She has a reader that she is supposed to work her way through every day, except that Hayely is such a good reader that she read the whole thing in one day about two months ago. The other reading homework is such that the teacher sends each child home with a small book and they have to read it, fill out the log, and then send it back for a new one. That, too, is easy because it’s really basic compared to the reading she does on her own. She also has to do flash cards but we don’t usually do them either.
And really, thank GOD we don’t have to do the reader or slowly go over the little book or do flash cards for reading. Because the other homework is long enough, thanks very much. She usually has a two-sided sheet to do each day. On the front is something that requires writing, spelling, reading a brief instruction and following it (such as “draw a picture of two brown bears, three white rabbits, and one yellow bird”). Sometimes she has to write a story with four or five sentences, such as this:
On the flip side is her math homework. Most of it has been pretty basic and easy but today I had to actually stop her because she wasn’t getting it (she missed a day last week due to being sick, so it’s possible she wasn’t there for the lesson) and I couldn’t explain it to her in a way that made sense to her. It involves number patterns and it would look something like this: 5 __ __ 23 29 35 __ __ and so one. It just seems like such a huge leap for six-year-olds to figure out how to tell that the pattern is skipping by six and to then fill in the blanks accordingly.
After five out of 12 exercises, I realized that a) I was pretty much answering it for her and b) she still wasn’t getting it and she was also c) getting really frustrated with herself, I closed her folder and told her to forget it for today. I wrote a note to the teacher to tell her why it was incomplete and asked her if she could review it with Hayley at some point during the day to help her out.
I had a great deal of trouble with math. I was okay for the basic math, but word problems in grade six totally threw me, especially when I was often able to figure it out but couldn’t show my work to my teacher’s satisfaction. Then I was okay for grades seven and eight. And after that? I hit algebra in grade nine, and you might as well have asked me to understand quantum physics. I want to make sure Hayley gets a good firm grasp on math any time she has any trouble with it and I don’t want her to start hating it in grade one, so I figure it’s best to have the teacher – who has been taught to teach things in different ways – help her out.
But seriously, I do not remember grade one being this intense at all. And the pace is only going to pick up in the new year. Yikes! At this rate, she’ll hit that algebra in grade five!