I worked with a first grad eteacher a few years ago and she gave out a spelling packet that needed to be finised by friday, reading (15 min i think) sometimes a math worksheet but it never seemed like overload. I hate when teachers over use worksheets! She also didnt assign any homework during december because she believed that the amily should be doing things together! I liked that! It was only like 2-3 weeks but parents appreciated it and i think it made the classroom time a bit more enjoyabe because they didnt have to go home and do tins of homework on top of family stuff. and about the pets ....(and to be honest I still dont know how this factors into the topic) we had to put our 13 y/o lab down last year..it was my dads and it was the hardest thing I have ever seen him have to do! I still miss that dog!