Sunday, October 28, 2007

How to Handle What You Don't Want to Hear About Your Kids

I have two parent conferences scheduled for Monday. Needless to say I'm a little nervous about one of them. Unfortunately two of my students were involved in an "academic honesty" issue and the father of the girl who confessed decided his best reaction to me on the phone was to "F" this and "F" that as loud as he could.

This is not my fault. I'm not the one who cheated and got caught. Yet, he's angry with me and the school.

Our children are not perfect. They are going to make mistakes. They will make foolish decisions. And they will get caught. Sometimes teachers and other adults in authority will have mercy on them; sometimes they won't. Regardless, how do you respond when your child gets caught in wrong-doing?

And what does the way you respond teach your kids about advocacy?

Think about it. . . and then pray for me on Monday during that conference!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Too Much Homework?

See if this sounds familiar.

From a mother of two elementary age girls in Colorado -
"Nicole is really struggling with 5th grade, and I am starting to get frustrated and even angry. I'm not angry with her, I'm angry with the amount of work that is given a 10-yr-old. Her homework takes her so long every night that most days, she has no time to play with her friends and I don't think that's right. If we have an afterschool activity, like gymnastics, forget it. She can't even complete the amount of homework that is given her.

We're going to have a conference with her teacher next week. But honestly, school is SO STRESSFUL FOR ME. Why should I have to be so stressed out over my FIFTH grader? I dreaded school starting for this very reason. I wished summer would last forever because when they are in school, it takes so much time out of my day and puts so much stress in my life.

Anyway, I'm starting to wonder if I should take her out and homeschool the rest of 5th grade. But that may be an overreaction. I need to get over to her school, talk to the teacher and even the principal if necessary, and get this girl some help. Also, get ME some help. I am in tears over this."

So what's a parent to do? Do we tell our kids to suck it up and deal? Do we accept it as the school trying to instill a strong "work ethic" into our wee ones?

It depends.

The purpose of homework is all too often in dispute. There's a great article in Parents Magazine that offers guidelines to help you know when to step in and stand up for your child over this issue.

Here are the recommended signs that your child has too much homework:

What are signs that your child might be getting too much?

If he starts to hate school, like my daughter did, that might be one, as are nightly hysterics over homework.

The National Education Association recommends that kids have a total of ten minutes per grade level of homework per night. Anything above that is excessive.

The bottom line is that a child will understand a concept better if he has time to work on five problems, rather than struggling to race through 50.

A good school is not determined by how many hours of homework their teachers assign.It is not something to boast about!