How is it possible that a slim blue folder can cause me such agony? Every Monday, after my twins get home from kindergarten and have been fed a snack, I pull a blue folder out of each backpack with a growing sense of dread.
Without fail I find a stapled packet of homework. This is supplemented with daily math sheets and reminders to go through sight word flashcards and read together.
Reading labeled as work.
Oh and more worksheets.
This is how I'm supposed to spend my evening with my children? My five year olds?
Because after snack if we do all of the assigned work all that is left in our day is time to eat dinner, take baths, read a couple books and tuck them in bed. They already spent all day reciting things, sitting quietly, and doing worksheets. Now I have to ask them to do more?
I believe strongly that parent involvement in education is vital to academic success.
I believe in supporting their education at home.
I also believe it is important for teachers and parents to be a team and me ripping their worksheets in half might not project a message of unity.
We can do better.
As an example I thought I'd use this week's homework assignments as a guide and offer some alternatives.
This Week the Homework for My Kindergarteners is
1. Complete daily reading/writing worksheet that works on their new sight words and handwriting skills.
2. Complete daily math worksheet. This week they are working on representing subtraction problems with drawings and writing substraction math sentences.
3. Practice all sight words daily with our flashcards.
4. Read with your child for at least 10 minutes.
What the Learning Goals Are
Based on the monthly list of objectives and homework topics, this week my kindergarteners are supposed to be learning, ie. the actual goals of all these worksheets:
1. Develop both sight word vocabulary and phonetic skills to support reading development.
2. Practice handwriting so other people can read their ideas.
3. Understand and be able to represent subtraction problems.
4. Develop reading comprehension skills so they understand what they read.
What We Could Do Instead
What if instead of the repeative, soul deflating papers that are sent home, we received something that said:
1. Play this Lego Subtraction Game. Feel free to use blocks or cups to stack if you don't have legoes.
Parents, please encourage your child to write out at least 5 math problems to reinforce what we are learning in class.
2. Write a letter or make a card for one person this week.
Have your child write a message that includes the word LOVE, one of the sight words we are working on this week.
3. Read aloud to your child every day.
Pick 3 sight words from our Sight Word List for your child to search for in one of the books as you read.
4. Encourage your child to read to you.
Here is a list of easy readers you can request from the library that are at your child's reading level (or better yet - include a couple books in their backpack to have the child read - these Free Easy Readers could be printed out and included instead of those lovely worksheet packets.)
I know some schools are already doing things like this. I'd love to hear what your child's school is doing or how you think we can make this better for our children.
Personally I think we should ditch the blue folder all together and do more of these things