Once again, my day begins by going around the classroom to check homework. Students take out their homework folders, flip through the various pages and worksheets. Good, good, good – check, check, check. Oops, Smooth Sammy tells me that he didn’t understand the homework and he asked his mother for help, but she didn’t understand the assignments either. Now what… I know that Sammy just didn’t want to attempt the homework because he left his book bag at school. Do I confront his already overprotective, antagonistic mother about helping him to gather his things properly after school? Why am I pushing this anyway? As a teacher I am making more work for myself because the grade is what matters, right? Well, as a teacher, isn’t the bulk of the work supposed to be taught and followed up by me in the classroom in order to TEACH?
I just have to seriously wonder about the motivation to give homework to students who have a difficult time remembering to grab their books at the end of a day. And, anyway, who can blame the poor kid for forgetting his bag? From 7:30 in the morning to 5:00 in the evening Sammy has been in some sort of social situation whether it is with classmates, teachers, or friends and daycare providers. Sammy has been told to sit still, be quiet, don’t eat with your hands, stop running, where are your manners, etc, etc, etc for nine and a half hours! How in the world is this eight year old child going to have the mental energy required to practice long division and reading comprehension?
Is it the parents who are pushing this homework standard for elementary students? Not me. I am the mother of a fabulously entertaining and imaginative four and a half year old. She has been in daycare for three years, and she started junior kindergarten this past September. This is her day.
My little daughter wakes up at 7:00 am, and we begin the morning marathon of eat your breakfast, brush your teeth, put your shoes on, and walk to school. We can’t forget the fund-raising papers and checks or the permission forms for the field trip either. We arrive at 7:20. Upstairs to circle and play time. This is daycare, where my daughter has a wonderful morning of stories, activities, and routines. She loves it, and she plays, plays, plays until after lunch. Then, she is off to junior kindergarten.
The J-K classroom is so exciting! The centers are fully stocked. The teacher is your quintessential J-K teacher with a wonderfully excited voice. She points out the smallest things to her students as they walk eagerly through her doorway. More fun, more learning, more excitement! At 3:30, the day is over and the children are back at daycare. They will play, play, play and learn, learn, learn some more. At 5pm, parents come, gather all of the activities and papers and reminders and they get a quick talk in with the exhausted teacher, and then, THEY GO HOME!
Home – the place of relaxation and tranquility. NO! We cannot stop! We must wash our hands, put our shoes away, pull out some toys, put the toys away, mommy, please play with me, mommy, please can I do play doh, we must make the dinner and wash the dishes, and WHAT – you have HOMEWORK? But, it’s time for bed? You need a bath? We’ve only been home for 2 hours. I want to read with my daughter; I want to take her for an evening walk; I want to talk to her and connect with her. But, I can’t. Why? Because she has too much homework.