I'm just wondering, how do I explain to parents that homework comes first?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Peachyness, Sep 13, 2007.

  1. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Sep 14, 2007

    I can't speak for the others, but maybe my phrasing was off. I don't accept excuses for missing homework when I'm told that they didn't finish because of practice or a game. I give so little written homework that I don't feel it should cause a problem. I played sports in school and even in high school it was understood that I had to get my homework done or I didn't play. I do encourage my students to participate in anything that gets them off the couch and from in front of the tv. I attend many of their games and still go watch a former student in his rodeo competitions. For me it's more about being responsible than the actual homework. I do a lot of things outside of school but my "homework" has to be done first. (Lessons planned and papers graded.)


     
  2. 3Sons

    3Sons Connoisseur

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    That was kind of my point. I suspect that may happen from time to time with parents as well. You know, as a parent I hate talking to the teacher and having to think to myself, "she didn't mean for it to come out that way".

    Suppose a teacher comes to me and says, "You have to make sure your child puts homework first". If I agree with you already, you don't really need to say that. If I don't agree with you, you've just made the situation adversarial even if I could be convinced. I would tend to think something along the lines of, "She's telling me what I have to do, and my child what he/she has to do. Who does she think she is!?" It doesn't help that the phrase sort of screams "bad parent".

    You might start by asking them when their child does homework, and then sort of lean in to the priority of homework if they give a noncommital or evasive answer (or even if they give a clear answer if it's something like "before bed"). Then you can discuss whether homework should have higher priority, using all the reasons it should be. First among those should probably be mastery of the material rather than grades, but if you need to cite grades then put it out of your control somehow -- either your principal forces you to not make exceptions, or you can't because other parents have complained about unequal treatment. If you cite the principal you need to know it will be backed up, if you cite parents then you can also cite confidentiality if the one you're talking to wants to know who complained.

    95% of the time, of course, the fact that you're having the conversation at all means it should. Especially, I would imagine, on the ES level. You should go into the conversation with the idea that it might not be the highest priority, however, to hold the right mindset for dealing with the parent.

    How could it not be the highest priority? I can imagine a few reasons:

    * the child's time is taken up in modeling, and this modeling is currently supporting the family
    * the child is a top-flight figure skater with a chance to make the national figure skating team
    * the child is returning to their home country within a year and does not intend to speak English at home (making English homework/reading, at least, somewhat superfluous).
    * the child has a terminal disease (ouch. Hopefully this would come up before you called them in to discuss homework priority, but could you imagine if it were something the family didn't want to discuss with you, and here you are berating them for lack of focus on schoolwork?)
     
  3. lajoers3

    lajoers3 Comrade

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    Sep 14, 2007

    Also, I guess you could add to that - if the parent or other family member had a terminal illness. That definitely would be a reason to not focus on homework.
    I agree that family should come first and not homework. I think that if the kids are working hard during the day then they shouldn't need to be doing excessive amounts of homework (not saying that anyone is giving excessive homework but i'm just noting). I think that sport and other extra-curricular activities are just as important. I know my daughter goes to a girls club at our church. She learns things there about God and has Christian fellowship with others (just like my husband and I do when we go to our bible studies) and I do believe that this is just as important if not moreso than homework. On those nights she often doesn't do homework but she has weekly homework so it doesn't matter so much. Sometimes she doesn't go to her girls fellowship group at church for one reason or another but I try to not punish her by saying she can't go. To me, it's more than a social thing and she is learning about God and how He wants her to lead her life. To me I think 'what could be more important than that'. When her teachers have ever approached me before their question has been 'how can we help you, to help her get her homework done?' They showed concern and they wanted to know that if there was a problem that they were willing to work with me. I've also had occassions where doing homework just upset my daughter so much (not because she just didn't want to do it but because it looked so frighteningly difficult) that I had her in tears saying 'oh no not this again'. She does get 5 pages of homework to do over 4days (plus reading) and I think that is a lot of work for a kid in year one who needs constant help with it. I have to sit down and work with her on it because it's difficult for her to even read the instructions.
    Homework is important in our home, it's just not more important than our time with God and it's not more important than family. Thankfully though my daughter does attend a Christian school and the school understands that.
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 14, 2007

    Sometimes I let the other stuff come first.

    My kids are allowed to miss, then make up for full credit, up to 3 homeworks per marking period. After those 3, their grades are effected.

    Hey, sometimes it's grandma's birthday or the dog gets sick all over the carpeting... sometimes life does get in the way of homework.

    But I don't think you'll ever convince parents that they're not putting a high enough emphasis on school. Just look at all the parents who pull their kids out of school to go away on vacation. They cry "family time is important!!" Sure it is... and school meets 180 days per year... that's less than half the year. (Aren't these also the same people who accuse us of not working a full time job??)

    Oops, jumping off that soapbox now!
     
  5. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    Those kind of inconvenient rules are for other people, not us. We got cheap rates on a hotel in Cancun in February, and the school can adjust to our family or we'll make so much noise about it, they'll wish they had. We think Muffy and Buffy and Bion should still be eligible for those perfect attendance awards, too; they'll be doing a little work each day on vacation, and that should count as being in class.

    That other family down the block, though. . . it's scandalous the way they let their kids miss school for frivolous things!
     
  6. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    This is why I asked the question. I don't know what to do or how to say it. When I taught kinder, homework was never an issue. THey always came in. But for some reason, fifth graders can't seem to do this. WHat's happening???
     
  7. "Mrs. Gorf"

    "Mrs. Gorf" New Member

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    Sep 14, 2007

    At our school, the hispanic population is equal to the caucasian population and often the two cultures are quite different in their priorities. Many in the caucasian population see their children with college-bound futures and are diligent about following through with school work. We have many hispanic families that are day laborers and often take their children with them to work after school. I frequently have found that my third graders are in charge of their younger siblings once they get home. They also don't have the support if they need assistance with homework when their parents can't read the worksheets in English. I have to remember that many of my students come from homes where the struggle to make ends meet is what matters most. I respect that and work with my students individually on homework issues. I cannot berate the parents for having priorities different than mine, but I can work with them to find a way to successfully mesh all of our needs - one child at a time.
     
  8. patti2

    patti2 Cohort

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    Sep 14, 2007

    I agree with the not too much homework! I work my kids very hard all day and I feel that they put in their time. I don't even want to go home and have more school work to do!!! One of the new kdg. parents complained to the teacher that she was not sending any homework. For gosh sakes....it is the 10th day of school! I give more homework in the winter when the nights are longer and the kids aren't outside playing so late.
     
  9. ecsmom

    ecsmom Habitué

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    Sep 14, 2007

    The difference between K and 5th grade, K parents are generally excited and have high hopes for their future doctor or lawyer. This seems especially true for first or only child(ren). By the 5th grade everything has become more familiar. Reality has set in and more students are indeed involved in extracurricular activities. Parents do expect more responsibility from a 5th grader.
     
  10. 3Sons

    3Sons Connoisseur

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    Well. . . did the rest of my post help at all (you know, starting by asking them when the child does (or is supposed to do) the homework)? I would think leading into it somewhat gently, and asking about the priority the parents already place on it might help -- at least keep from driving them away.

    As far as what's happening (which sounds to me a bit like you're asking why it's different), there are probably a number of things. Fifth graders get more homework than kindergarteners, and kindergarten parents tend to be fresher. If it's their first child, they don't have any others in school -- by fifth grade, that's less likely. The parents could well be expecting the child to do it on their own by that time, and you may need to stress to the parents that while their child seems very grown-up, they may need help attending to homework. Not doing it, but being there for support even if it comes off as parental monitoring.

    My kids do homework together (seven and four, so the littler one's in preschool and so is just learning his two 56-character Japanese alphabets and counting and doing exercises like mazes and pick-out-the-different thing games. My youngest (3 sons, you know), is only one so doesn't do HW yet). The four-year old actually wanted to start doing homework as he saw his older brother doing it. He's actually far more patient than my older son. Anyway, my point of all this is that homework IS family time for my family.
     
  11. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Sep 14, 2007

    LOVE this idea.

    I grade mine for a small percentage of their grade. It can be counted for a little bit, as long as they don't pass or fail due to turning it in or not. Most of mine are pretty diligent this year... but I've always had those in sports... and they start losing credit by not putting their academics first. I especially see it reflected in spelling test scores.
     
  12. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    Sep 14, 2007

    One thing I would remind parents of gently is that in jr. high/middle school and high school, you must have good grades to play team sports. You could explain that the students are building the habits now that will help them later. This is true because it will help them through school either way :)
     
  13. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    :rofl::rofl:
     
  14. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Sep 15, 2007

    Explain how missed homework affects their grades. Put it into action and don't be afraid to give lower grades (unless school prohibits that). At least some parents should respond to that.
     
  15. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    Unfortunately, I think parents will do what they do. Sports families put sports first, families with other interests put those first. I swear my school gives like 95% less homework than any other school I know of (per policy) in order for families to have that time with their kids--- and there are still kids who don't get their homework done due to other obligations, or don't turn it in at all, leave their folders at home, etc. My homework seriously, should not take more than 10 minutes. I have had kids sit in the classroom after dismissal, do the homework in two minutes and turn it in before getting picked up... and yet- I still have kids who don't do it!!!

    It's a chronic problem everywhere, as far as I can see. No matter how much it's graded, affects the overall grade, how little it's graded, how long or short it takes....
     
  16. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    I have a parent who requested a meeting with principal and me Monday about her child's grades. (I think I'm supposed to be intimidated that the principal is going to be there.) He has good grades in everything except social studies and science. Each time he has done poorly on a test in there I've asked him how much he has studied. Ever ytime it was "just last night". I write a test schedule on the board. They know several days in advance when their tests are and I start writing studying on the homework board immediately. They choose to way until the last minute to study and then don't understand why he's making Cs and Ds. I don't understand some parents. (Of courses since this parent has a history of sueing the school board I'm sooo looking forward to the meeting.:yawn:)
    Her problem with her son doing homework isn't sports, she wants him to be top AR reader in the school. The kid is bring huge books home and testing a day or 2 later. He doesn't do homework or study because he's reading AR books. I never thought I'd have that problem!
     
  17. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    One of my students has been an hour or so late to school three times already. Twice, the mother has sent a note explaining that because the daughter has piano practice in a city a good distance away they don't get home until late, so homework is not completed, the daughter couldn't go to sleep because she was worried about not having her homework completed, and that she is extremely tired and needs some TLC because of these factors. All this, added to the fact that her daughter suffers from extreme anxiety and other issues.

    How ignorant can you be?

    I think you have plenty of advice here, I just wanted to vent my story. :)
     

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