We sent several of the kids to traditional school this year. Some of the experiences have been successful, others have been less positive.
I'm currently annoyed with spelling. Granted, I have a lot more time on my hands to get upset about things, but poor Paige is beginning to believe that she is a weak speller. What irritates me so much is that she is a good speller. She can spend 5 minutes looking over a spelling list and spell all the words correctly. She hasn't just managed to put the spellings in her short term memory for a test. She consistently spells the words correctly in her writing.
Last week, Paige brought home her list of words for the week. I was a little surprised at the list, but we worked every night on these words. Some of the words seemed silly to me for a third grade child. Here are my personal favorites:
Her list was made up of 20 words. Five were "normal" third grade words. Two were super easy words. Three words were challenging words. The remaining words were very difficult. I looked up the very difficult spelling words to check the spelling grade level. The words ranged from 7th-9th grade. No wonder it took so long to learn how to spell them!
I like to challenge my children and don't have a problem with them learning to spell difficult words. My gripe is that spelling words should be made up of words that they actually use in their normal vocabulary. Spelling words are even more meaningful if they consist of words that the child uses to write. I can't remember the last time that I used absolute location in a sentence. Wouldn't it make more sense to learn the differences between they're, there and their? We spent about 45 minutes each night studying these very difficult words, breaking them down into syllables that she could sound out.
Paige took her test Friday and missed absolute location and relative location. She wrote the letter c backwards. She came home from school crushed and cried when she showed me her spelling test. Her teacher had said that Paige hadn't studied the words enough last week. I understand that Paige was incorrect when she wrote the letter c backward, but the words were actually spelled correctly. The teacher should have focused on the penmanship aspect of the error, instead of assuming that Paige hadn't spent time learning how to spell the words. I was there.....we spent plenty of time on these words.
I hate to see Paige getting discouraged, but I know that she expects to always get everything right. There is a learning curve to adjust to the traditional school procedures and ways of assessing progress. Paige needs to learn that she will make mistakes and how to shake off her feeling of failure.
The girls are getting more and more homework each evening. This is a typical evening's homework assignment:
Read for 20 documented minutes-Paige
Read a book 5 times for testing by a classroom helper the next day-Allie
2 pages of math-Paige
1 page of math-Allie
2 pages of penmanship-Allie
2 pages of English/writing-Paige
30 minutes of outside activity with a family member (must be documented)-both girls
study spelling words-Paige
To me, the amount of homework seems excessive. What are they doing at school all day? Why do the young elementary students need to spend 1-2 hours doing homework after being in the classroom for 7 1/2 hours? When do they get to be children?
There isn't much time for playing outside, helping mom cook, listening to stories before bed, or even keeping their bedrooms picked up.
Children need balance in their lives. Endless hours spent doing busy work deprive children of their ability to solve problems and think outside of the box. Growing children need time to run, jump, shout, imagine and absorb vitamin D.
I am struggling to accept that the kids no longer have time for family activities. My girls are missing their dad and wanting to cuddle with me more than usual. We are missing our time together.
Philosophically, my priorities for our children are different than the public school's emphasis. I resent spending all our time together doing homework, especially when much of it is busy work. Filling out endless paper irritates me.
We just began our second month of the public school experience and I'm beginning to think that the benefits are outweighed by the negative aspects.