Using analogy to explain math homework

Other posts on school or homework here.

Homework, assigned or self-imposed by the meany parent that I am, will be the end of me.

So I switched gears and I found myself in a rather enlightening parenting moment the other night. But to get to the point about the analogy, please allow me to provide some background first:

My third grader does not get a lot of homework in the form of the bring-home, repetitive, fill-out-worksheet, regurgitate-memorized-information type. And frankly, I’m on the fence whether I want to have him do this type of work, or not. On the one hand, practice and repetition is a good way to learn foundational material, like arithmetic, but on the other hand, no one in this house or within proximity of earshot to this house wants to hear the complaining about those kinds of activities.

Still, grade 3 is elementary school which is foundational learning which in my view requires a certain amount of repetition. But my child finds the entire idea *boring*, and *crap* and won’t do it without a certain amount of, let’s use the word encouragement, from me.

[insert parental eye-roll]

But I insist on it anyway. Continue reading

The conflict between hockey recruitment and ‘stupid’ homework

Did you know that kids as young as 8 can get recruited in hockey?

Seems some coaches are looking for their next talent by attending competitive games now, at the end of the regular season, and just prior to playoffs. Seems at least one coach is impressed with our son’s performance on the ice. We are now the owners of a new coach’s business card.

There are many questions we have regarding sending our son down the path of more competitive hockey. Questions that have to be answered, at some time, but not necessarily right now. After all, that boy is not even 9 yet… Continue reading

Where and how kids do homework

I believe that where kids do homework matters. How much it matters depends on each family’s unique circumstances and the children’s personalities, ages and willingness to do said homework with or without supervision.

At our house, homework locations have changed as the children grew, and the white table in the first pictures that used to be in the kitchen became their table in their room a year later. Continue reading

Do calculators belong in elementary school?

For more on the school topics, click here.

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Should third graders use calculators in class?

This is a real question that has been brought up not once, but twice, within the first six weeks of school by an 8 year old boy who goes to a North American public school.

There are several astonishing thoughts that enter my head: Continue reading

Climbing out of the parenting pit

Every now and then, while parenting your offspring,  you might find yourself all the way at the bottom of some deep, dark pit. There seems to be no light penetrating down into the abyss and you wonder if you’ll ever find the stamina to climb back out again.

When parenting challenges you beyond what you think you are capable of, you may feel an urge to lash out at the culprits. Often the culprits are not the children themselves at all, since they are prone to picking up conflicting messages and reacting to them without the insights, or sense,  that comes with maturity. They see their world in linear terms, and you, the parent, sees beyond that immediate scope. You see a larger picture evolving and causing more confusion, which in turn affects your family dynamic.

In my experience, the culprits are often external. And we all know the world can be a confusing place. Continue reading

Dear parents: you have homework

For more school topics, click here.

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My first grader brought home two homework assignments in the first six weeks of school which required several days, or up to two weeks, to complete. The instructions were given verbally to the children in class and came home in written form for the parents.  There was no written instruction sheet for the child. Although I appreciate and welcome the additional information which is provided to the parents, it is my view that if the written instructions for the child are omitted in the early grades of elementary school, it will formulate an early dependency in the child. In essence, my six year old child has already learned that she cannot read her own homework instructions and that a parent has to sit with her to help her interpret and complete the assignment. This example, compiled with other observations from her older brother’s homework experiences, launches an entire train of thought in my head which I have a need to illustrate here.

Aside note: Prior to my first grader’s assignment being due I spoke to her teacher about this. She welcomed the feedback and collaborated with the other first grade teachers to provide an updated instruction sheet for each child. The resulting outcome for my child has been phenomenal.

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The subject of homework continues to baffle me. Continue reading

What the child heard the teacher say

Two lovely people have commented on this post.  Please go see what they have to say.

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When a teacher says to his elementary school children

I want you to write a story, don’t worry about spelling and grammar, just get the story out

I get it. I get it because when I have a blog post percolating in my head, I just want to type it out and worry about the editing later. Some of those posts never get published because my editing ends up frustrating me and the piece remains illegible, but the point was made. It’s right there in text, on the screen in front of me. The words are out. They may not be clean, grammatically correct or error-free, but they are out of my head.

Point taken.


The teacher is speaking to 8 year old children. He wants to impart the importance of getting the story out while it is fresh in their heads, by allowing them to overlook the correct grammatical structure of their sentences.’ Just get the words out’, he says to them.

Unfortunately, as a parent I am experiencing a dramatic wake-up call in HOW an 8 year old child is interpreting this exact sentence. And the result is far from educational.

When an 8 year old child hears ‘just write the story, spelling and grammar are not important‘, he hears this:

Spelling and grammar are not important.

Please allow me to illustrate further. Continue reading