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. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Parent teacher conferences are coming up and I want to use this time to talk to parents about students who are missing homework due to sports and other after school stuff that gets in the way? I have had students fill out excuse notes as to why they haven't been doing their homework. I sent them home, stapled to their agendas.

    I'm just wondering, how do I explain to parents that homework comes first?
     
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  3. 3littlemonkeys

    3littlemonkeys Comrade

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    I would just tell the parents flat-out that so-and-so hasn't been turning in homework and needs to be turning it in. If it's possible for you, I'd let the parents know you can provide homework ahead of time if they ask you for it, so the student can do it early if they know they'll have sports practice/games. I do weekly homework packets, and while it's best if they do the work on the assigned night (so they had the in-class explanation), they can work ahead if needed. Last year I didn't do packets and I had a parent who would request the spelling homework for the week on Mon so the student could get it all done on non-practice nights. It all came in the day it was due and we had no problems.
     
  4. Steph-ernie

    Steph-ernie Groupie

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    I wish I had a good answer for that. I also have had many students who were too busy with dance, soccer, swimming, football, etc. to complete their homework. I have told parents that "she needs to remember that schoolwork and homework is her job and needs to be a priority," but I'm not sure how well-received it has been. I've never seen a noticable difference in those particular situations after a conversation with the parents.
     
  5. Emma35

    Emma35 Connoisseur

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    I only give out homework occasionally and I expect it to be returned on time. I do not take I have sports practice/game so I couldn't do it as an excuse and I let the parents know that up front. In my book, academics come before sports.
     
  6. ecsmom

    ecsmom Habitué

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    We have some basketball players and cheerleaders who do their homework on the bus on the way to games. Last year the coach's son who played on the team was late getting to a game because he had to do his homework first.
     
  7. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    A good coach will not let a student play if the academics have not been done first. A good parent won't, either.
     
  8. loves2teach

    loves2teach Enthusiast

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    I am having the exact same problem. Some of my lowest kids are in sports, and are just not having that time to practice the skills we learn every day (especially math!)
     
  9. Jenny G

    Jenny G Companion

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    At least your students have an excuse. Not a good one.

    When I tell my parents that the homework isn't getting done, the common response is, "Well, I tell him to turn off the tv." Umm, okay.
     
  10. love2teach

    love2teach Enthusiast

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    3littlemonkeys, you are very kind!
    The worst is when kids go away for a week and the parents want all of the work!!!

    I would just gently give a reminder at conferecnes that homework has not been handed in on dates x,y&z and stress the importance of it.
     
  11. MrsLilHen

    MrsLilHen Comrade

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    I agree that hw needs to come first, I also think that sometimes too much homework is given.... I don't know how much you give.. but I have been really trying to make sure I don't give too much. Some nights the only thing they have is to read for their 20 minutes.

    Sometimes I think we need to remember that really family comes first, even before homework.. and that kids need time to play.

    That said... I agree with pp who have said to give a gentle but specific reminder at conferences. Parents need to be aware that their child isn't doing the work. I have had parents who need the "how to set up an appropriate homework center in your home" mini lesson. . . You know.. quiet, supplies ready, no TV... etc. etc.
     
  12. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    I don't think I give too much. THey have a math page to to every night, part of it is done in class. I send home a spelling tic tac toe page on Monday which is due on Thursday. They have a practice spelling test on Thursday night to help prepare them for the spelling test. They also have a monthly book report that is due at the end of the month. That's pretty much it. Tonight, I sent home an extra english worksheet. But, that's a rarity. So, you I don't think that's too much.

    I do agree that family comes first. But, from what I've heard, parents are working and the kids are in sports, ballet, whatever. So, it doesn't sound like much family time anyways. At least with homework, mom/dad can work with the kid. And, isn't that their job anyways!!

    BTW, I'm a bit bothered by someone of the other thread who said that parents aren't the homework patrol police!! If a parent chooses to bring a kid into this world, it's their job to be part of the "team" to educate their child. They need to help out too!
     
  13. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    Why on earth a teacher would NEED to even have this discussion is beyond me? Any parent with half a brain should have their priorities straight!

    This aggravates me to no end.
     
  14. 3littlemonkeys

    3littlemonkeys Comrade

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    I didn't see this post/thread, but I agree and disagree...on one hand, I see it as my job as a parent to make sure my kids do their homework, while at the same time teaching them to remember to do it/put it in their backpack on their own. I see no problem with requiring parent signatures on forms, reading logs, etc. I do have a problem with kids getting punished if parents don't sign things. Last year, my oldest DS (1st grade last year) changed his card and a note was sent home requiring my signature. I actually lost the card amid all my own teaching-related paperwork and sent him without it the next day, hoping to find it that night...he was benched all recess. I felt so bad! (I did find the paper and return it, signed, the next day.) That was my own fault, not his. I understand why they have that policy--to ensure kids actually give the forms to their parents. But I still felt that they shouldn't be punishing kids for things their parents did--parents aren't perfect!
     
  15. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    What I do is reward the kids who get those paper work signed (homeworkopoly, tiger bucks, etc). I never take recess away. Today, I had one boy who forgot his homework. I had him sign the homework excuse note and pay a fine. Then, when we were going out to recess he mentioend that he was going to sit on the wall. I said, no, you are not. You are going to have recess, you are going to go to the restroom, get a drink of water, and run around.

    But, I still think that parents need to help educate their children. Just little things like help give the practice spelling test, for example.
     
  16. 3littlemonkeys

    3littlemonkeys Comrade

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    I think rewarding kids who bring things back signed is a great way of handling that. There's still an incentive...just not punitive. That way at least the kid isn't getting punished for what the parent forgot, but you're still showing it's important to get the signatures.
     
  17. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    In my beginning of the year letters I have a page on homework. I word it so that it puts the responsibility on the child, not the parent (they are 5th graders and old enough to be responsible). I ask the parents' help in reminding the kids that school work has to come before sports. Our parish policy is no more than 10 minutes per grade so 50 minutes max for me. I don't give much written work, but there is studying every night. I ask that parents sign their homelearning folder every night but stress that they are signing simply that they saw their child had homework. It is the child's responsibility to do the work. As for signatures our school policy is that they lose recess the 2nd day that their signed papers aren't back. Again I use this to stress their responsiblity. They are told on day 1 and each time something goes home to be signed, if something happens to this paper have mom (or auntie or mamaw, etc) write a note saying they saw it but lost it. I just need proof that they saw it.
     
  18. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Forgive my saying so, but the question's a bit arrogant, albeit not intentionally so. Because you don't, and should never, tell parents that homework comes first. The parents are still the parents, and you don't decide how their child should be raised.

    :)

    But, what you absolutely are obliged to do is tell the parents the likely results of their decision (or negligence, though you might not want to phrase it that way). Even if that involves seemingly arbitrary consequences in your class, which the parent might be tempted to argue, just say you're required to be consistent and it would make other students resent their child, ruining their social lives. Better by far, of course, is to be able to point to actual and natural consequences.

    Oh, and I agree you shouldn't punish kids for parental errors like not returning forms. Just contact the parents and complain to them.
     
  19. beanie

    beanie Rookie

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    wow, interesting thoughts here. I suppose at our school we take a very different look at homework. We would encourage children to take up sports or after school pursuits. We also encourage children to engage in family activities and life skills as homework (like writing shopping lists, using money, cooking the family meal, reading the weather in the newspaper, build something from materials found in the shed etc.) While we have a homework policy in place, it is only there to please parents who demand some sort of formal homework. We insist that the homework be practical, useful and relevant. The uppers are given tasks and challenges to complete (to prepare them for secondary school), the lowers are expected to read every night and in my grade, practice spelling words.
     
  20. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    I don't think it is the intent of any teacher to DISCOURAGE children from playing sports or participating in extracurricular activities.. I do see a number of children who are OVER scheduled and it seems that schoolwork is put on the back burner. Why not put your child in activities and teach them how to manage their time so that their job ( school) comes before anything else.
     
  21. childcare teach

    childcare teach Comrade

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    MY CHILDREN DO NOT GO TO KATRATE IF THE HOME WORK IS NOT DONE. THEY ALSO HAVE TO TELL THE COACH WHY THEY WERE NOT THERE AND IT WILL HOLD THEN BACK IN GETTING THEIR NEXT BELT.
     
  22. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    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.)


     
  23. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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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?)
     
  24. lajoers3

    lajoers3 Comrade

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    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.
     
  25. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    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!
     
  26. 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!
     
  27. 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???
     
  28. "Mrs. Gorf"

    "Mrs. Gorf" New Member

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    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.
     
  29. patti2

    patti2 Cohort

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    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.
     
  30. ecsmom

    ecsmom Habitué

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    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.
     
  31. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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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.
     
  32. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    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.
     
  33. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    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 :)
     
  34. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    :rofl::rofl:
     
  35. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    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.
     
  36. MissFroggy

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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....
     
  37. 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!
     
  38. 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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