Attention All Fourth Grade Teachers! (Although, with a few adjustments this could apply to all teachers.)
We, the parents of the children you teach, would like to be parents. And real estate agents. And contractors. And doctors and lawyers. Or advertising reps. Or designers. Or ditch diggers.
We did not sign up to be teachers.
Oh sure. We signed up to teach our children manners and respect. We teach them our religious beliefs and all about the birds and the bees. We teach them how to make their bed and throw a baseball.
All of the above and more fall into our job description as a parent.
It is not, however, listed anywhere in our job description that we must spend our family time with our child continuing the job you started at school.
We did not sign up for the two hour “homework” sessions after school, with detailed instructions for the parent on how to teach the reading comprehension assignment (which we have to sign, proving we completed it with our child). We did not ask for the solar system project where we had to teach our children the order and size of all the planets so that he, and by “he” I mean “I”, could show him how to build it according to scale ($60 later in supplies.)
And for the kicker that prompted my letter to you today, we did not and I repeat, we did not sign up to type any more papers. We have been there, done that. But when my dear son, my sweet, responsible, hard working, non-procrastinating son is practically in tears at the keyboard because it has taken him forever (and by “forever” in a 9-year-old’s perspective I mean “an hour”) to type a tiny portion of his story and I am tempted to jump in there and do it for him? I paused.
I shouldn’t have to type his papers for him. And he shouldn’t, at 9 years old, be expected to type his own papers if he hasn’t yet received the proper keyboarding instruction to do so, with plenty of practice so that he can proficiently type his own papers at a reasonable speed.
He is nine. He is a responsible, conscientious student. He starts assignments when you assign them and works diligently until he gets it done. He is bright and doesn’t need busy work.
What my child needs, what any child needs, is time to play outside. Time to make brownies with their mom, learning (by accident) about fractions and degrees Fahrenheit. They need to be encouraged to read on their own but they should be allowed the free time to be read aloud to by their parent. When we’re working 2 hours after dinner on homework, there is little time left for Harry Potter before bed.
Don’t get me wrong. I applaud your efforts in the classroom. I demand that my children respect you and your rules. They are expected to give 110% to their schoolwork. And I don’t mind running a few multiplication drills before dinner or quizzing him on his spelling words.
What I don’t understand is the assignment after assignment after assignment my 9-year-old child is expected to complete that he has neither the ability nor the life experiences to complete on his own.
Homework should be an extension of classroom material. Yes. But it should be, always and forever, commensurate with the maturity and the abilities of the child to which it is assigned.
If the parents are doing the homework, the child is getting the impression that he or she is inadequate. My son lamented, “Why can’t I type fast like you?” Uh. Because I had a typing class, for a full semester and I’ve been typing for years and years and have had plenty of practice.
Assign my child age and skill level appropriate homework. Work that my child is capable of completing on his own, with little parental intervention. Homework that reinforces what you’re teaching in the classroom, giving him additional practice. Work that allows him to explore and create. Bolstering his confidence when he finishes it all by himself. Allowing him to experience pride in his work, not someone else’s.
It’s all I ask.