Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Modifying my Child's Homework

At the beginning of the school year, I felt like homework with my first grader was torture. It still isn’t where I’d like it to be, but it’s a work in progress.  It will be a gradual change.

Homework is the same every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  I believe I know what my child needs a little extra help with.  I really wish I could focus her “homework” time on creating scenarios and problems for her to solve, as a way to connect what she is learning to the real world.   I wish we could invest that time together to Blog more, make movies, write digital stories, or even create our own games.  For now, her homework is what it is, a way to reinforce what she is learning in the classroom. 

On Mondays and Tuesdays my 6yo spends about an hour and a half completing homework.  She must write her spelling words (8 in English and 8 in Spanish) 3 times each, complete a math work sheet (front and back) and read a book that is sent home with her.  These books usually include her spelling/vocabulary words, but are not challenging for her.  The stories don’t have a plot and are not exciting.  You literally have to make up what your favorite part would be by looking at the pictures.  They are not stories that encourage my child to love reading.

(I’m human) After raising my voice at my child saying, “focus”, “do your homework,” “stay on task,” “I don’t want to be here all night watching you write your words,” and hearing my daughter tell me, “I HATE homework,” I knew we needed to talk with her teacher.  I emailed her and scheduled time to meet with her after school.  I wanted to kindly inform her about what was going on. My daughter and I were frustrated. 

Asking For Change
I wondered if her teacher would allow me to modify my daughter’s homework.  After all, I do work with my child at home. If she was going to spend that much time on homework, I wanted her to have the opportunity to create something.

After kindly sharing my concern, I explained that I would like the opportunity to switch things up a bit. I told her I would never ask her to provide extra materials or provide different homework. I know how hard she works and how many students she has. I told her that my passion includes technology integration and allowing students the opportunity to create things that they are proud of. I said, “I’d like to begin using technology with her to study and learn during homework time.”  Her teacher said that would be okay.  I promised to email evidence or send a note on the nights we modified homework. 

First Change
A few weeks ago, I asked my daughter if she would like to try something different with her homework.  I set my laptop down at her homework desk.  We substituted handwriting her spelling words for typing her words three times each.  I loved teaching her how to change the font style, font size, use the “tab” key, and print a document. 

The following night, my daughter asked if she could print her homework.  “Print, NOOOOOO”, I thought. I was sure she wanted to hand print her spelling words.  Oh no, she had her heart set on, printing her homework on the printer.  Tuesday night spelling words are completed pyramid style, as requested.  That evening, she learned how to center her words to make a pyramid.


Since then, she has learned how to use the character keyboard on the MAC to accent letters when typing her Spanish spelling words.  She is doing this independently now and wants to learn how to type without looking at the keyboard.  She wants to learn!  She wants to do this homework.  Typing is still new and exciting to her.

What’s Next
My next step is to begin brainstorming more ideas that will keep her engaged while practicing her spelling words.  I want exciting and fun learning experience for her.  Will we create a spelling game?  Will we write a song together?  Will we make a spelling movie?  Who knows, but anything is more exciting than writing spelling words 3 times each.

Parent/Teacher Conference
During the actual parent/teacher conference at my daughter’s school, her teacher said that my daughter secretly handed her a note I had written when she turned in her homework typed.  My daughter was scared to turn it in.  She reassured us that it was fine.  :) She really does have a wonderful teacher.  I’m so glad I asked her if we could modify the homework.

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