“Mom, I need five chocolate bars for tomorrow!”
He tells me this at 8:30 last night. I quickly check his agenda to see if I missed a note from the teacher, or a flyer, but no, I didn’t.
He needs them for weighing and comparing during numeracy class (we used to call it math class).
“Why does it have to be chocolate bars?”
Because she said so.
If you know my kid you know he is very particular about accuracy. Trying to substitute something beyond a ‘rule’ is very difficult for him to adapt to. We don’t normally keep chocolate bars in the house, but we do have some Swiss chocolate Mom brought back from Switzerland. All of which have nuts in them. I also just so happen to have a couple of boxes of Halloween candy in the house too, but those too are peanut flavoured ones. I was proactive last week when I went to my least favorite store and saw the for sale sign. Who knows how hectic my next two weeks will get…
I offered for him to take the nut products to school, although I am not impressed. Why can’t they weigh books, or carrots and apples or something? He said that his teacher will allow them to eat one of the chocolate bars.
I said that he can’t, all our chocolate has nuts in it, and he can’t open that up in the school.
Internally I debate: why am I having this, um, discussion with a 7 year old kid at bedtime? Why was there no note if it’s so important? Why can’t he improvise…and use a fruit-candy or something instead of a chocolate bar?
He ended up taking a peanut-free, chocolate covered granola bar. And a bar of 50% chocolate that normally the kids don’t eat and I happen to notice in the back of the fridge. We’ll see what he says tonight. Or if he’ll bring any of it back…
By the way this is only ONE thing that happened about school yesterday. He received new homework as well, with a long note stressing the importance of listening to your child read their books out loud to you, three to five times. In addition, you have to make the child log the titles of the books he brings home, and once he has read them for the third time you are to initial it, essentially proving to the teacher that yes, he did in fact read it out loud at least three times.
Well. My boy is a great reader. I would guess his reading ability is above his grade 2 level, as we read together often and I hear how well he navigates unfamiliar words. He has a photogenic memory too, it seems, and manages to spell things very well. He has no trouble at all with spelling tests; the only mistakes he makes occasionally is he writes a letter backwards. He is left-handed, and his teacher does not mark it incorrectly when he switches a c or an s around, but this too is something we can practice at home.
My point about the reading out loud is that Ben makes a big fuss. He doesn’t want to sit and read to me now, when it’s convenient for me (say, shortly before dinner while I fix it and he has nothing better to do than to bug his sister). Although I encourage him to read to me after his sister is in bed, too, I don’t always feel like doing homework with that boy that late at night. Sometimes I would like to read my OWN books, and encourage him to sit with me and read to himself.
Now, with this new homework assignment, it becomes a struggle. He has to do it, doesn’t want to, argues and comes up with excuses why he can’t or won’t do it now, and suddenly reading isn’t enjoyable anymore. The assignment also includes that the parent is to question the child about the book afterwards, and to have the child re-tell the story in his own words.
This means I have to pay attention to what he’s reading, while cooking, keeping an eye on Sonja, and encourage and prompt my kid to keep reading and to hurry up because he also still has to set the table…
It’s like school is messing it up, instead of helping along. Despite the fact that I am aware not all kids are, or will be, good readers, and may need this kind of thing, I can’t help but think that a two-working-parent household will struggle with this even more than we do. I can imagine that a parent who comes home from work and daycare pickup will focus on things like dinner (or activity, then dinner) first, and only after everyone has helped clean up the dinner dishes will the mom (likely) reach into the kid’s backpack to have a look at the endless paperwork that comes home from school. By this time I can imagine it being 7:30 or 8 pm, or later, and upon seeing the note about the child having to read a book out loud every night, there may be some shock involved.
Many households have younger siblings who need attention at that time too. There’s bath time and incessant chit chat and possibly the preparing of the next day’s lunches…
I don’t know what the answer is regarding getting kids to read. We haven’t had a problem with it because our household, in fact, our entire extended family, is an avid reader-family. But this homework assignment is causing us some grief. Ben prefers to read to himself, and does so often without having to be encouraged. He reads to his sister. Now, he complains that the book about Peppers, or Migrating Animals, is too repetitive. The same sentence gets repeated in different ways on the same page and he thinks this is dumb. He doesn’t want to read it out loud because that’s dumb. He doesn’t want to read now because he and Sonja want to play with the puppet theatre…
It was a struggle. There may have been some yelling. There definitely was some crying and complaining about headaches, discomfort about the chair he was sitting on, the topic being boring, he’s starving to death and upteen other excuses kids are so adept in coming up with.
To me, this homework assignment is doing a good job of discouraging kids like Ben from wanting to read.
Like I said. School irks me.