Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The teacher versus the parent

For those of you whom I have not talked to outside of this blog since the end of August, let me start off this post by saying that third grade is difficult. I am only half joking when I say I want to start a support group.

I kind of want to end the post here, because if I say everything I want to, this post could rival most of my other ramblings. But you know I won't.
 
The problem is the teacher in me wants and expects my child to do well and understand most everything. The teacher in me thinks that my kid should listen to every word her teacher says and remember them all. Well, at least the words that involve when assignments are due, which books are needed, and what is being covered on tests.

But the parent in me realizes that my kid is only eight, and she has had little preparation for the rigors of third grade.

When you have three different Simple Solutions books, all white, is it so unrealistic to expect you might accidentally bring the math one home instead of the English?

When you have five pages of science, a math workbook page, and an English Simple Solutions page due the next day, doesn't it stand to reason you might get tired and make mistakes?

When you have a test in health, science, English, and spelling in one day, can you really expect to do well in all of them?

Of course, I want my child to do well and make as many A's as she can. Fortunately, she wants the same thing. But the reality is that she has seven different teachers this year and at least 11 different books among the various hardback books, workbooks, and simple solutions books. That is a lot any way you look at it, and I am not sure the teachers are as understanding of this as they could be.

So I debate about when to send an email about a concern. I don't want to be that parent. But having the best interest of my child at heart, I feel I must speak up when Jordan has spent three hours on homework and test studying in one evening. I have twice questioned when assignments are due. When your child's teacher does not have a website, you cannot confirm that she wrote down the correct thing. I don't consider it bugging the teacher, but some teachers feel otherwise. Sigh.

I encourage my shy child to speak up when she is confused, whether about a concept or when something is due. But, for whatever reason, she is afraid to. Sigh.

The good news is that things are improving. Jordan is getting better about paying attention to when something is due and which books she needs to bring home. She finally seems to get that it is not enough to write down in her planner that she has a test in English. She actually needs to bring the English book home! But, to be perfectly frank, I have lowered my expectations, mostly because if I did not, I think the entire family would need to be in therapy.

In my last job, when things got hectic, some of us would say, "It is only office furniture." Now, I find myself saying, "It is only third grade."

Sure, I may be rocking back and forth while uttering that, but it is a start!

9 comments:

Facie said...

To keep the post from getting any longer than it already is, I wanted to share here what I consider a few gems in a math workbook page:

"Does a dictionary weigh more or less than a pound?"
[IMO, it depends on the dictionary. What is the point of the question anyway?!}

"Sally estimated that she saw 40 ducks in a pond. What is the smallest amount of ducks she could have seen?"
{Um, how do we know that Sally is good at estimating, which I am pretty sure is the idea behind that problem? Maybe she say only 20?!}

There are so many more I could write about. Sigh.

Shannon W. said...

Ugh - Glad it is not just me seeing little sense in learning estimation in math. Isn't math supposed to be about precision?

I was looking at 2 math problems that my DD got wrong on a test. One showed a little jar and said it had 40 straws in it. Then they showed a big empty jar and asked how many could fit in there. Huh?!?!? - what is this teaching? I'm not sure I could do the problem. The other showed a small jar with 10 things in it and a large jar with the same 10 things and some empty space. This one seemed a little fairer, but I don't think it is worth a mediocre math grade that my daughter guessed 40 instead of 30. She was clear that it was more than twice the little jar - shouldn't that be close enough.

Also, sorry to see it may get worse next year (my DD is in 2nd) - I wonder if the curriculum is standard throughout the diocese.

chris h. said...

I often think it's a good thing I don't have kids or I might feel compelled to home school (and I would be terrible at that). I LOVED 3rd grade -- my favorite year(4th grade was another story). We had one teacher who taught all the basics (and art and music teachers who came to our class once a week or something). How can a child possibly handle that many tests in one day? And the "math" questions? Give me a break...Sally could have seen 10 ducks for all we know. How ridiculous. I feel for you.

Anonymous said...

No child left behind indeed! What happened to the littler kids having one or two teachers. And what purpose does having that much homework serve. Seems like busy work to me. I wish you A LOT of luck.

Sherri said...

For years - I have struggled with that odd balance... Do I "bug" the teacher to see how my child is doing? Will I sound like I'm complaining if I question an assignment? Am I getting involved too much / not enough? I still don't have the answers (and, as you know, my oldest is in high school. By contrast, my youngest is 3, so.... I have years of this :-). Hang in there. We should take coffees to the playground one afternoon for our "support group".

Facie said...

Shannon: That is an excellent question about the curriculum being standardized. My guess is not, but you have put me on a mission to find out. I have talked to parents at a public school and a Christian school, and they both said that third grade is tough, so at least I know that misery loves company!

Chris: The reason you hated fourth grade is because that is practically what is third grade today. It's funny; I have three memories about third grade, and the strongest is of a picture I drew of myself crying and saying something like, I don't like school. It was displayed for Open House; I am sure my parents were so proud!

Facie said...

Anonymous: I am not very knowledgeable on NCLB, but I am guessing it does not apply to Catholic schools, or at least not in the same way it does public.

A parent in my school told me that some 4th grade parents are disappointed/mad that their kids don't see more teachers. Oddly enough, the one 4th grade class sees fewer teachers than my kid's 3rd grade class.

Sherri: I am glad I am not alone in my struggle. I know of parents who email teachers several times a week and/or have talked to the principal many times. This year, I have sent about a half dozen emails total to three different teachers, which is probably 2x what I sent all of last year. For me, it is too much, but I am spending a lot of money on this education, and I always talk to one of my teacher friends before I sent the email.

One of these days we will have to get together!

carpetbaggery.com said...

Why don't you write the teacher a note:

Do I see a few problems with this homework situation or a million problems? (show your work)

Actually, Jordan will probably learn more life skills just figuring out what books to bring home than in the homework itself.

Facie said...

Bagger: You made me laugh out loud. What a great idea. I think I am going to work on a few notes for sheer comedic value. :-)