A First-Grader’s Homework

Something new this year, that I was, and still am, totally unprepared for is homework.  My six-year-old has homework.

Do first-graders need homework?  My gut reaction was no, AND, this is so great, I got validation from this one article citing research that doesn’t correlate homework with academic success, especially in elementary school.

So what does that mean for the worksheets my son brings home?  It means we do them.  Of course.  I’m just a tad bitter and overwhelmed by them.  Which brings us to Parent-Teacher conferences….and I’m embarrassed to say that he now has MORE homework.  Sigh.

Turns out his teacher is very driven and of course has a classroom full of students she is trying to bring up to a certain level of literacy and math abilities by a certain day, just like teachers all across this country.  I love that she has high expectations, and that she deliberately put my son in a reading group just above what he is comfortable with, because I know him and I know he will (and already is) responding well and growing into this challenge.  What she didn’t understand, or chose not to do, was to explain this to my son.  So I did.  I told him that both she and I thought he was very capable and that we knew the group he was in would be hard, and that we knew he could handle it.  “Oh.  Okay,” he said.  (Love that kid!)

Then, I broach the topic of homework at the conference. (Actually, I don’t as we have fifteen minutes on a timer and I don’t actually get a chance to speak as she has so much she wants to tell us.)  His teacher mentions that he is a hard-worker, very focused and diligent.  And slow.  So…would it be alright for him to bring work home to finish?  Of course!  I don’t want him to be rushed and this way I could see more of what he’s up to.

The next day he brought home an entire stack of work to finish and my mouth fell open.  We waded through it together and he got to listen to me talk about what is important (working on reading, spelling, math) and what is ridiculous (cutting out little pieces of paper to paste on other pieces of paper, coloring).  He didn’t believe me at first, because, bless him, his teacher told him to color in the sheet so he had to do it!  Yes, yes, my love.  Do it. But don’t spend all your best work and time on it.  Crank out the crap, kiddo!  Use your precious time on the big stuff.

See, now we’re into life lessons and I haven’t even figured out if we’re supposed to be doing math flashcards yet.


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