Thursday, March 6, 2008


I wasn't going to post today, because I had such a bad day yesterday. Then I decided to just post about my troubles.

I had it out with my 1st grader's teacher yesterday. Well, not literally, but it wasn't a very pleasant conversation. I had emailed her once before asking if she could get some extra help to my son for his spelling words. He's struggling learning the new words, and we're spending entirely too much time studying for his tests. I feel like he's just not learning them well enough in school. She responded by telling ME how to study more, and that she could send the words home with him over the weekend so he could start during the weekend. My son already hates school. He spends too much time doing homework already. He REALLY doesn't want to do homework every weekend. He IS only in first grade! My older kids don't even get that much homework, and when they do, it doesn't involve all my time.

Tuesday night, my husband came home from work and spent the entire evening "helping" my son make his science project, a camel made out of recyclable materials. There is NO WAY for him to do it by himself. He wouldn't know what or where to get the materials. He could not use hot glue by himself. When my son went to bed that night, I looked in his book bag and saw his other homework that was supposed to be done: a math worksheet (that I needed to read the instructions to), TWO books that he needed to read to me and have me sign, and his lovely spelling words that needed to be studied (his test was even a day early this week because there's no school on Friday).

I emailed my son's teacher yesterday morning and informed her that his homework is taking much longer than the 10 minutes allotted for first graders, more like 1/2 hour - 45 minutes, and that's time that I have to be right there to help him with. She called me. She said she didn't have any time to help my son except during his recess. She told me that was my son's choice to do his project on the last day, and that she's not going to do anything differently with the homework. I told her that was NOT my son's choice. What 1rst grader could do the project without their parent? My husband is very busy and he wanted to do it then with my son. I was surprised she would send home so much homework the night before the science project was due. She reprimanded ME by saying that it was OUR decision then to wait to do it. Then she said she didn't want to talk anymore because she didn't like where this conversation was going. The conversation ended by her telling me that I could just read the books to my son and to write a note if his homework takes too long to do. (That's basically what I did!)

Well, my son came home from school and said:

"Guess what mom? I have someone to help me with my spelling words in school! They're helping me after recess!" Wow! Maybe I DID help him, after all.

"And guess what mom? I know how to spell crayon! C-O-L-O-R!" Close enough.

Then my daughter called me at the end of the school day:

"Mom, I'm not staying after school today for ASL (Academic Sports League). I'm not in the mood. I just got detention."

"For what?"

"For wearing jeans with a hole in them."

Bad, bad girl.

Well she DID bring home her project from the music of the 30's and 40's. She got a 100%. The teacher commented that she loved the CD cover. (Good job dad!)

So now today, I have to pick her up from school at 3:20, and my 1rst grader gets out of school at 3:25 and is about 15 minutes away from my daughter's school. I always pick him up because there's always a problem with him walking home from school. Either someone chases him home trying to hit him, or the older kids complain he's walking in the street, or someone is throwing snowballs at him. So today my 1rst grader has to walk home by himself, and I may not even be home by the time he gets home. I told him to wait on the front porch if I'm not there. Lovely, huh?

So this is why my mom thinks I'm getting closer to homeschooling. I'd kind of like to, but my daughter, especially, would miss her friends.


Lisa said...

Hi--I'm a fellow mom of four so I had to check out your blog :)
It breaks my heart your 1st grader hates school--I swear they put too much pressure on our little ones these days.

Debbie Yost said...

What a difficult situation. My kindergartener always has homework (reading and one little thing each night) but it needsw my help and I don't always get it done. I think it's kind of ridiculous. They are trying to fit a full day schedule into a 1/2 day program.

A detention for holes in your jeans? Oh boy am I in trouble. I can't keep up with the holey jeans and just leave them. So far there hasn't been a problem.

Good luck. I hope things get better for your son.

Mary said...

I hope things get better for you all.
I remember hating school when I was little. It's a bed feeling to have.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I can see this from a lot of
perspectives. When I'm finally working as a teacher I vow not to give "family" projects.

I tried homeschooling with one of my sons (I also have 2 boys and 2 girls) for one year. We did it just for fun, he wasn't having any problems. He ended up really missing the social aspects of school. There were a lot of postives, but that one negative really outweighed the positives.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Oh, man, send your little guy to my house for a month. He can spend his days playing Legos with my 7-year-old (after his 15 minutes of math in the morning). After that he can sit around and read. He's so little. He has the rest of his life to go to school!

My second-grader reads at a fifth-grade level (at least), and he just asked me how to spell "boat." Spelling is vastly overrated as an academic skill.

Irene said...

Hmmmmm....Definitely a bad day...

You know, if you are serious about homeschooling, you could just school J. The others are doing fine. He has never liked school, he is now hating school, and it would be sad for him to be turned off by education completely. He definitely needs it more than any other of your kids.

Plus, homeschooling one kid would definitely be easier, especially since you've never done it. I used to look at a lot of homeschool blogs (just out of curiosity) I will forward them. Some people are very impressive homeschoolers.

And socially, he can still participate in school sports (at least homeschooled kids in our county can, I would assume it is statewide). And, of course, he has plenty of siblings and neighbors.

Lizzy in the Burbs said...


I think your speaking up did make a difference, Maria, good for you! Maybe she was defensive at first, but then thought about it afterwards? Sometimes I think teachers just don't realize that all kids are not the same. If they can see that some are struggling with the material, they need to slow things down, or give some extra help where needed.

I think it's terrible when a six year old is hating school and under such stress, that's just wrong.


My Ice Cream Diary said...

Maybe you could just homeschool your son? I wish you the best of luck with all of this. I just put my son into public school alst week and am having to bite my tongue and remind myself that it isn't and will never be homeschool. *sigh* It is so hard. Have you looksed into getting hs teacher changed? My BIL is an assistant principle and syas that even though the school will wear up and down that they can't change teachers if you call your superintendant he can get the class changed lickety split.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

Ha! I shouldn't be saying I homeschool if I'm going to leave so many typos in my comments =)

Kitty said...

Will your son change teachers at the end of this summer Maria? Could it be that he and this particular teacher just don't get on, and a different teacher might be able to connect with him much better?

Also it is quite possible to home educate one (or more) of your children, but not others - I believe quite a few people do it. Children are all different and different kids need different schooling.

Take care (((hugs))) x

Kellan said...

Teachers work for you - remember that. If you can't (and it seems like you did) get the teacher to listen and accomodate your requests regarding your son - go up the chain to the principal, etc. They are there to do what is needed to teach your son!! Often, it takes face to face conferences and make sure if you do that that you take a binder with all the notes you have kept - type them if you have time and give the teacher a copy - it shows how intent you are in following and solving the problem. Once the teacher believes/knows how worried or involved you are with that child, they will tend to do anything it takes to accomdate that student and make the parent happy. I know this because I have been there more times than I care to remember - but it is worth the extra talk and effort - it has always worked out for my kids. Always be nice though. Good luck!

Thanks for the prayers for our baby - we hare hoping for the best, obviously, and we appreciate all the prayers! See you soon. Kellan

Karen said...

You can pick and choose who you homeschool. Sounds like your first grader would benefit from it, but if your daughter needs school just let her there. Been there. Thinking of going back. Good luck.

Dawn said...

Well it sounds like a lot of the other comments echo what I was thinking- that maybe you could just home school your youngest. I love homeschooling my kids and have nothing but positive things to say about it except this- my mom took me out of 4th grade to home school me and I hated it because I missed my friends (also some personality clashes between my mom and I). All kids are different. Also, there are a lot of opportunities for homeschool kids to get together these days. My daughter goes to a co-op 2x a week and loves it. Good luck with whatever you decide. I admire you for sticking up for your kids.

Becky said...

I believe that the standardized testing is what pressures many teachers to push their students and pile on ridiculous amounts of homework.

We had a similar problem with my son's 4th grade math teacher piling on excessive homework. That woman was a slave driver, and it nearly resulted in my son hating math for life. I talked with her numerous times without success, and finally took it to the principal, which let to my son getting switched out of that woman's math class.

Thankfully this year, he got a teacher that has made learning fun, and he's bouncing back and taking an interest again.

Don Mills Diva said...

I feel terrible for your little guy. I don't understand the pressure on a child so young, it sounds insane to me!

Bia said...

As a former teacher, I am a little horrified at the response of your son's teacher! Yikes! Especially at this young an age, it's really important to get a teacher that is going to teach studying skills that will carry your child through to the upper grades.

Before blogging, I didn't know that much about home schooling. But now, I have to say I am really intrigued. There is a wealth of resource materials and support out there, and maybe you can try it with just your youngest.

Anyway, sorry you had such a bad day. God bless.

Magirk said...

Way to look out for his best interests, regardless of the pomp his teacher gave you!

I was homeschooled in my youth, then attended high school - it was a grand waste of my time, though I did have fun with friends.

I have always planned to homeschool my children. But that was PRE-twins happening to me. Not sure now, but would still like to.

You know, I second the opinion that you could just homeschool your son who doesn't really like school. You don't have to take them all out of school if they are satisfied with it. Work with him for a year or so, see how he likes learning after that, maybe he'll eventually want to go back, maybe not. I think it would be worth trying, to see if you can get him more excited (and focused) about learning first.

Good luck!! You're an awesome mom!

Leah said...

HUGS Maria! That sounds like a LOT to deal with! I'm a little concerned of what the homework situation in later years will be like for us in the future as I already feel that with Emily being in school for a full day (Kindergarten) that I don't get to spend much time with her once she gets home before it's time to jump into dinner preparations. If she actually has REAL homework, my time for HER will be spent doing homeworkn and then her younger brothers just get ignored? Hopefully we'll come up with a good system. If you have any good tips, make you post them up for the rest of us!!

PS I'm horrified your son gets that mistreated on his way home from school! ACK! Heads would be ROLLING if that were my kid. I had to laugh about your daughter and her pants though...SERIOUSLY? Was the hole up too high or something (like near private areas or something?). And I'm surprised you didn't just tell her to WAIT while you picked up your son and then went to get her. Or would that have been too much back and forth? LOL


The Journey Begins Here said...

We had a first grade teacher that was really challenging my patience. I cried the whole year. My daughter received 14 yellow (discipline) slips...yes, 14! I am thinking about requesting that my son not get this teacher.

So I am right there with you. I know that I would lose my mind if I homeschooled but school is not what it use to be! Frustrating. Theresa

Shellie said...

You mentioned it takes about 45 minutes, but what does he have to do?
I think some homework is good. At my boy's school (A charter school) In first grade, they have 10 spelling words a week. You can do any 5 minute thing with them to help them with the words as many days as you feel is necessary to help them learn. So if you find he learns without homework, or just needs a pretest the night before, that's it. Then they read 20 minutes 4 nights a week and report the minutes. Reading can be anything from working on phonemes to being read a bedtime story to, to reading a simple book on his reading level. It's supposed to be fun! Then they have one page of math 3-4 nights a week. It's a review of what they did in class and is about 10 problems. Most kids could do the math and spelling in 10-15 minutes and the reading is supposed to be pleasure. On short weeks, or when they have an occasional project, they don't have as much of the other homework. It's a program that expects a lot, so if it is more than that, I think it's too much. If it should only take 10-15 minutes, and he really can't do it, he may be able to get modified assignments. Lots of good suggestions there too.
I think the teacher was very inflexible and rude. Is she just expecting you to do the teaching or is she overworked and underpaid or just constipated?

Lester R.N. said...

I am sorry about your son. His teacher should remember why she became a teacher or find a new job! I used to hate homework with my neice!! Thanks for your budget tips. I did use the calculater tip today and I liked it! My husband is only a volunteer firefighter right now and is attempting to get on a paid department which is very hard in our area! I will look at your budget post. Good luck with school!

Tammy said...

Whatever decision you make will be the right one, because no one knows their children better than their Mama.

My oldest 3 kids went to school through 4th, 3rd, and 1st grade (the youngest has always homeschooled) and they are far busier socially now than they ever were when they went to a public school. They have way more free time to do the things they want to do and to spend with their friends now that they don't have to sit at a desk for 8 hours a day. There are so many opportunities for socialization for homeschoolers these days.

Whatever you decide, it will be the right thing for you and your kids. :) Give your son a big hug and have someone give you a big hug, too! You both deserve it!

kimmy said...

I've gone back and forth about home schooling too. I feel that my kids are getting a "good" education, but not a "great" education! I, too, worry about the social aspects. It is a tough decision.


Amy said...

Have you thought about just home schooling your son? My friend has 4 kids and home schooled the 3 that are of school age for awhile. They moved into a better school district but her second child still wanted to be home schooled, so she home schooled just her middle daughter until she was ready to go to school with her brother.

Maria said...

hola!! stopped by your blog for the "party!! AND you are a fellow MARIA!! :) i homeschool my 5 year old right now and it is so rewarding....that is a bad day!!! i would be REALLY upset because of it all!! that i a good reason why i homeschool...but it is a VERY personal reason...we have social times with OTHER homeschoolers in our area where we meet at least once a week....
but GREAT JOB contacting the teacher about your concerns...

take care and GOD BLESS,

girlymom said...

How bizarre that she got in that much trouble for wearing jeans with holes... aren't there more important things?

We are starting 1st grade next year, fortunately for me, she loves homework and school...strange I know, she does extra work at home right now...I have to buy her workbooks to keep her busy. I don't know where she gets it from either because I never liked work and neither did my Husband. I'll ride the wave while it lasts.