Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Homework, Reading and Comparing Kids

I was hoping to get home early enough last night to take a picture of something Novembrish, but the stars were already out when we pulled in the drive. It was a bit later than usual what with voting and all, but I'd been feeling so pleased that the stars are no longer out when I leave in the morning, that I was a bit disappointed to see them in the evening.

So instead I took a picture of E and Z writing their spelling words out. How cute is that? Homework continues to be a bit of an up-and-down struggle. Some nights it's fine, some we're doing it at 8:00, some we don't even bother. I saw E and Z's last year teacher at a soccer game this fall and I lamented about the homework situation, and she said that she gave her first-graders homework every night last year too (it's a K-1 classroom) and I responded, "Homework is not developmentally appropriate for mothers of first-graders." 

We had parent-teacher conferences last week, at which we found out that M needs to be more organized (major surprise there--the kid is going to grow up to be one of those people with soup cans and piles of newspapers lining the walls of his house), that Z is sometimes mean to the other kids (including his brother, grr) and that E needs to speak up because the teacher cannot hear him.

When she told us what their reading scores are, I glanced at the list in front of her and saw that they were pretty much at the bottom of the class--there were a few lower scores, but they all appeared to be kindergarteners. Then I had this very awkward feeling that I wasn't sure what to do with--M has always been way ahead of grade in every subject, and I'm afraid to say that certain feelings of smugness creeps over me whenever I've had a parent-teacher conference for him--"I must be doing something right," I think. 

But now, are E and Z's low reading scores a sign that I've done something wrong? It is true that they've had much less one-on-one interaction than M, they didn't start Montessori preschool as young as he did (though they went more times a week), and, frankly, I just haven't taken the time to sit down with them to read. For one thing, we have very little time at home, and I'd rather they spent it playing outside, doing something creative or listening to C or me read to them. And really, I don't think coming to reading slowly is a big deal. I didn't learn to read until first grade and it hasn't seemed to have affected me. Some teaching methods don't even introduce reading until age six or seven. It's fine. It's more that their mother has an issue adjusting to normal kids after having parented a superstar. I'm sure she'll get over it.


  1. You will. Mine are stellar at things like reading but have always tripped over their own feet and still can't ride bikes properly - not even the teen. To each their own.

  2. In the Waldorf world I don't think reading is taught until the 3rd grade, right? So there is that. My neice had a HORRIBLE time learning to read (homeschooled) and now at 19 she is in an honors program at a major university. That said, my own experience with one of my kiddos is a problem with eyesight. He had trouble as early as 1st grade...was writing(sentances) backwards, flipping letters and numbers (forget reading). Bi-focals and eye therapy has done wonders (as well as letting him repeat 2nd grade). He's now in 4th and doing very well. I only mention it because I had no idea...regular eye exams don't catch these problems ("excess convergence" "micro-strabismus"). So, tuck that away for later if you need it. I'm betting that with time your boys will grow up to be enthusiastic readers just like you!

  3. my Littlest little has almost caught up with my oldest little in reading... I think it's unrealistic to expect more than one genius ;)

    OK. That was me trying to be funny. Your kids are healthy. Your kids are sleeping in a bed under a roof tonight. Your kids are happy. That is what matters right now, don't beat yourself up.

  4. Children learn to read at their own pace. It always amazed me that before my oldest child started school, it was an accepted fact that kids learned on their own schedule. Like crawling or walking, learning to talk or to use the toilet it was accepted that each kid had their own timetable. Then school started and suddenly everyone is supposed to be doing the same thing on the same schedule. I have had a late reader (3rd grade) and an early reader and one who was just disinterested (and still is @ 14) but can read fine. Try not to worry and continue to let them play outside!

  5. I have no doubt that you *found out* lots of great things about your kiddos at parent-teacher conferences as well! It is just so easy to focus on the things our boys need to work on, but we must remember they do lots of great stuff, too (I am reminding myself of this too as we just got progress reports at parent conferences).

    Ahhh, the reading. F is on a totally different timetable than his bros. I am honestly not worried and have worked hard NOT to spend time at home drilling him on it. While he loves books, he is not that interested in learning to read himself at the moment He has amazing story recall, asks great questions, and has a solid grasp of phonetics. The more time I spend in elem school, the more I realize that unless a kid is a real outlier, reading really does even out by second and third grade. We are also lucky to be in school where one is not expected to read by the end of kindergarten which seems to be the trend in some places. Ridiculous.

    Keep exploring the world!

  6. p.s. I LOVE this:
    "I saw E and Z's last year teacher at a soccer game this fall and I lamented about the homework situation, and she said that she gave her first-graders homework every night last year too (it's a K-1 classroom) and I responded, 'Homework is not developmentally appropriate for mothers of first-graders.'"

    What was her response??? Did your school/area do a screening of "Race to Nowhere"? This sparked a lot of great homework conversation around these parts. We are in a school with a no HW policy to mid-3rd grade but we have seen other local schools adjusting their HW approaches this year. There are loads of studies that support that there is little/no benefit to HW in the early elem grades. Here's what my friend Annie (who is writing a book on the science of learning) had to say:


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