When parents send notes about missing work...

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Bogart, Nov 3, 2009.

  1. Bogart

    Bogart Rookie

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    When students don't have their homework complete, I keep them in for recess to finish it. Sometimes a parent will write a note saying so and so couldn't get their work done because of such and such reason. Would you still give out a consequence in these cases?
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I would think it would depend on the reason.

    If it's becasue he forgot to bring his book home, that's one thing. But if Grandpa died and things were too hectic, that's a different matter entirely.
     
  4. Bogart

    Bogart Rookie

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    Oh I get all kinds of things...usually sports related. One year, I had a parent send notes in all the time because her kid was a hockey player and didn't have time to do his homework. I've always let it go if a parent sends a note in with the expectation that the homework gets in the next day, but I'm thinking about re-evaluating this policy.
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    My policy is that kids can miss, and make up for full credit, up to 3 homeworks per marking period.

    It saves me the trouble of having to prioritize excuses.
     
  6. Bogart

    Bogart Rookie

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    I have thought about doing that...giving them so many homework passes and then beyond that no more excuses.
     
  7. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    My problem with the passes would be that I doubt I could tell a student whose papaw died the night before she couldn't make up work because she had already used her pass or passes for the term. I take late work until the end of the week with a reduction of points, but when the week is over...I'm over it. I rarely give homework so it's not a huge issue.

    As far as the notes are concerned, yes I get them. I find them quite entertaining. It's so interesting how parents find it completely acceptable to skip homework because it was game night.
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I still have discretion for exceptional circumstances of course. But a typical kid who simply gets busy (and, hey, it happens to all of us) only has 3 strikes-- and that's assuming he makes up the work.
     
  9. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    I would give them a consequence unless it was a major issue - not practice or we went out to eat. I would tell parents up front that there are no excused homeworks (even if you know that you will excuse for major things). Another idea is to assign it all on Monday with due date on Friday or the next Monday, then they can plan around whatever is going on.
     
  10. Bumble

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    I excuse the student because I barely have any parental involvement so I like to acknowledge any attempt of communication that the parents send in.
     
  11. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    I make it very very clear to both students and parents that at this age (sixth grade), sports are not a high enough priority to warrent not doing homework, and I will not accept peewee as an excuse.

    That being said, in my small school, if one student is doing something at night, they all are, so I usually either don't give homework on that night, or give work time in the afternoon or the next morning. And I make it crystal clear that lunch recess would be a great time to finish up things.

    My first year, this didn't go over so well, but after 5 years, Mrs. kcjo has established a no-nonsense reputation!
     
  12. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I would NEVER excuse anything for a sport.

    Here is my homework policy:
    All homework is due the following morning unless stated otherwise. Late assignments will be accepted with a penalty of 5 points PER day it was late, up to 3 days late (15 points off). After the fourth day, no credit will be given for the assignment.


    If something is late, I write it in their agenda. I write it everyday until I get it or until it turns into a zero.
     
  13. tiffharmon2001

    tiffharmon2001 Comrade

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    I teach PreK so I don't give "homework" but I do have 4 kids who come home with homework. There are definitely nights when we are too busy to do homework. We have swimming, gymnastics, engineering club, girl scouts, PTA meetings, conferences, class plays, open house, etc. Not to mention that we still have to do grocery shopping, laundry, run errands, and all the other things that come up in life.
    I'm not trying to make my kids into the next sports hero, but I do want them to be well rounded and have physical and social skills to go along with their academic skills. Kids don't have a lot of opportunities these days to get outside and play. When I was young, I stayed home by myself after school and in the summer and wasn't able to go outside much. Instead I sat in the house and studied or watched tv. Now, I struggle with my weight because I never learned to be active.
    I would much rather see my kids on the practice field after a day cooped up in the classroom than to have them come home and spend their evening copying definitions from the science book.
    Kids need time to learn through life experience. Leave their textbook learning at school-at least through the elementary years-and give them time to just be kids once they get home.
     
  14. tiffharmon2001

    tiffharmon2001 Comrade

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    Why?
    Where do kids learn more about real life and getting along with other people-in the classroom with their workbooks or during sports?

    Sports teach you teamwork, problem solving, how to be a gracious winner, and how to take a loss, discipline, effort, perseverance...

    Just as important, if not more so, than the things they learn from their textbooks. Only difference is that they are not tested on those things in the spring.
     
  15. rachaelski

    rachaelski Habitué

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    I teach middle school, my policy is that I do not accept a late assignment if it is more than a week late. The logic being that I get graded work (including 100 essays a week) back to the students within a week. Whether it's a day late or a week late, I take 5% off the grade. My logic there is that if we are late on a credit card payment, we have to pay the same fee whether we are a day late or 29. Middle school = fairness.
     
  16. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    True, and I understand what you are saying. I have a daughter who is just getting into more and more homework, and I know it is a pain sometimes. But how many jobs are there out there that would excuse an employee from getting assigned tasks finished because of a social activity? I couldn't NOT get my lesson plans in by Thursday because I play women's league volleyball on Wednesday night.

    I don't give much homework, but I always tell the kids, if I give it, it's important. And it needs to be done tomorrow for a reason. I appreciate the fact that outside activities are going on, but it may mean they need to get up 20 minutes earlier the next morning.
     
  17. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I believe that, every once in a while, life gets in the way of schoolwork. Not consistently, but every now and then.

    So, if I were actually in school today (instead of home with a sick child) and a bunch of my kids chose to watch the Yankee game instead of doing their homework, I could live with that. They're allowed to miss and make up up to 3, and if this is how they choose to spend one of those 3, it's fine.

    It's not going to have any effect on the kids who are faiing because they don't try; they already owe more than 3.

    But that good B student who could use a break has one if he or she wants to use it. The homework can be made up over the weekend.

    Hey, I'm home today because life got in the way of school-- it happens.
     
  18. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    Well, I don't believe in homework. That being said, I am required to give homework three times a week. I send home a folder with the weekly assignments in it with a homework sign sheet. The folder is due on Thursday, but I take them until Friday. I "suggest" to parents that they do the homework on three different nights, but some parents have their child do it all at once. This allows parents to look at the weekly schedule and pick the nights that meet their needs. When my son was a freshman, he played football on Monday nights on the JV team, Thursday he played 9th grade football, and Friday he "suited up" for the varsity team. He had practice everyday other day until 5:00 or so and we live 30 minutes away. If there was another activity, we were in for a long night. It would be helpful for us if the teachers had a schedule. Not that I am asking for no homework, but if we knew that on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday there would be homework in ________ class it would have helped us schedule for him and his younger sister. And on nights that each child had an activity it was torture.

    I have told this story before, but when my son was in 3rd grade I had his sister. Needless to say that he didn't get his reading homework done that night because we were a little busy with everything. She was in ICU. His 3rd grade teacher came to the hospital to see her and me. Debbie still punished Dylan the next day for not having his homework done. She told him, you knew the rules. No exceptions, not even the miracle of birth.
     
  19. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Wow!

    My kids would have had a brutal year last year if the teachers hadn't cut them some slack.

    Mom's mastectomy? Sorry kids.
    Grandpa's death? Sorry kids.
    Mom's radiation? Sorry kids.
    Death of their 2 year old cousin? Sorry kids.
    Death of their dog? Sorry kids.

    To get in trouble for missing homework each of those times, in addition to what was going on at home would have just felt like being kicked when they were down.
     
  20. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Unless it is an extreme circumstance or the child got sick, I don't let most excuses fly. And if the child is going to tell me s/he got a migraine and went to bed early, s/he MUST have a note to back up the claim. I don't accept word of mouth.
     
  21. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    I think I sent a note to school once, but intended as informational rather than a way to get my son out of any consequences.

    I'd be pretty irritated if a teacher didn't lift consequences for something like a birth or death, though. Not because I care about the consequences: there's pretty much no way any consequences levied in third grade are going to have lasting effects on a child's life. It's because when a teacher does something unreasonable, my child then comes home and tells me about it. Then I either have to agree with the teacher, or let my child know I think the teacher's being unreasonable. I really don't like undermining the teacher's authority, especially with a bright son.
     
  22. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Wait, before I am misunderstood, I want to make it clear...

    I hate homework. I hate it when my own kids have to do it, and I really dislike giving it. I don't know who is actually doing it (just last night, as my third grader was working on making tables to solve problems, I was thinking if I hadn't been there to basically walk her through this, she would have missed them all), and I REALLY HATE having to keep track of who turns in what and who doesn't, and whose is late, whose is done incorrectly, etc, etc, etc. It is SO MUCH easier for me to just design my lessons around instruction time, work time, and review/rework time, than try to fix what was done incorrectly.

    BUT!!!

    Like I said, if I do give homework, knowing what you know about my opinions, it is VERY.IMPORTANT. It is for a reason, and typically that reason is to move along progress towards a goal (this is why nearly all of the homework I give is math-after we have practiced, practiced, practiced in class). So if a parent tries to tell me that Junior's peewee basketball practice, that I KNOW lasted no more than an hour after school, got in the way of completing that important assignment, I feel slighted and a little angry.

    Does that make sense?

    I'm not the Tin Man when it comes to what's going on at home...in fact, I probably know way more about my student's lives than necessary (small town, you know). But I also know for sure that practice does not last from 3:45-9:00.

    And if it does, shame on the parents!
     
  23. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    While it was not a major consequence--to a third grader it was life shattering at the time. My son missed the Friday fun math time because he did not have his reader signed one day. I was very upset. I taught down the hallway from this woman. My son was at the hospital until his dad took him home to bed that night. She knew where he was and why. Was she wrong? Yes... Was she a great teacher who made a mistake? Yes She was one of the best teachers my son has ever had. She is important in his life still today. She "retired" from a regular classroom and is running an ISS class now. My son called her to tell her how much he missed her and how he was happy for her. He still loves her even if she did take his fun Friday from him.
     
  24. Bogart

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    I agree, but I always feel pressured to let it slide when a parent sends in a note no matter what the reason. I'm going to try and make it clear next term that unless it was an illness, death, or some other serious reason preventing them from doing their homework then they will still have to stay in.

    I'm also wondering though as someone pointed out above that maybe some of my parents have sent in notes as an explanation of why they didn't have it done--not necessarily to get them out of staying in.
     
  25. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Guilt complex, mostly. Especially in this day and age, parents feel it reflects badly on them personally if their child is less than 100% responsible. So if a kid forgets to bring his assignment sheet home, the note from the parent back to the teacher expressing that is really saying, "Don't blame me, I would have made him sit down and do it." Sometimes it's to head off potential curt teacher notes informing the parent that the child didn't do some assignment, which tend to come off as accusatory.
     
  26. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Well, first of all, if my kids have more than 30 minutes of homework, they were not on task at school. If they have any, it is usually 10-15 minutes consisting of their unfinished classwork.

    I will not excuse homework for sports because my kids would never do it. Ever. I teach in an area where nearly every child plays baseball. If I were to excuse it once, I would never, ever receive homework. It would be abused.

    I also believe academics should come first. It was that was in my home and both my sister and I were both able to do both without a problem. If a child does have practice or a game, it will at most take up 2 hours of their afternoon. We dismiss at 3pm. So, there is not reason for them not to find 20 minutes to do their homework.

    Sports do provide valuable life lessons. However, academics should not be put on the back burner in order to get those life lessons.

    Responsibility is big with me. I work 2 jobs and am open about it with my kids. We talk about how even though I work 4-10 after teaching, I still have to do my 'homework'. It is part of life.
     
  27. Allysundrop

    Allysundrop Rookie

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    I teach high school and feel I am dealing with the aftermath of some of the earlier grades teachers being too lenient. Even in our own school....9th grade teachers aren't allowed to give homework! On one hand, we are in a very low income school so I know that some of our students work and most do not have computer access. However, these are high school students. How are we supposed to prepare them for college (which is always the big push) if we don't give homework? Homework doesn't have to be on a computer. They could simply write a paragraph about what they learned that day!

    I'm sorry to rant, but it drives me crazy that my school is so against homework and my students pitch a huge fit on the few occasions they have to finish something at home. I think it's important for kids at all levels to have homework occasionally. However, I do think that more than 30 minutes in elementary school is too much! After school activities are important! And yes, excuses from parents for serious matters should be allowed.
     
  28. rachaelski

    rachaelski Habitué

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    However, kids and parents milk our kindness. I have a kid who was out for 2 weeks (first H1N1, grandmother's death, and brother in hospital--still trying to figure out why he could come to school for the latter). Our policy is 1 day for every day absent to make up the work. Friday will be the 2 weeks since returning back to school--the kid has not given anything to any teacher. His mother wrote me a nasty note about him working on other assignments and current work. I give 3 assignments a week, a weekly writing project, vocabulary tic-tac-toe (choose own words and own activities), and a reading log.
     
  29. Mrs N

    Mrs N Rookie

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    It's a bummer that you can't enjoy you're entire lunch in peace since some kids aren't getting their homework done. I like the idea of deducting points each day it is late or sending things home on Monday and having the kids turn them in Thursday. I teach first so the only thing I send home is book each night to read and an occasional math review before a test. Bogart- I think I know you and that you teach in the same district I do (just a hunch) so I'm sure you've gotten some doozies when it comes to parent excuses. ;) If it was totally legitimate, I'd let it slide. If it is frequent, I'd make a plan with the parents with regards to the habitual lateness.
     
  30. 2inspire

    2inspire Companion

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    I send home a note like this:

    Momma What's Your Name,

    Thank you for keeping me informed with what has happened. I made arrangements for your son to have some time to complete the assignment.

    You don't need to bother with telling them when the student made up the work (recess). It s a win win...you acknowledge the parent communication and get the work done.

    I do let my sports students know that high schools bench students who don't have acceptable grades and if homework is too difficult for a student to fit into his/her practice schedule I'd be happy to talk to their coach!
     
  31. tiffharmon2001

    tiffharmon2001 Comrade

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    Okay, here's my problem with the homework:
    Today, my 3rd grader brought home a list of 20 spelling words. These words are the ones that the textbook recommends for the story from the basal that the whole class is reading together (I know because the teacher told me at conferences that she was going to use them because it was too much work for her to do 3 separate lists for the three levels of readers in her room). My daughter's job is to put the words in ABC order and then write them 5 times each. However, my daughter reads above the level of the class and can already spell all of the words on the list. Why, then, should she spend her time at home practicing words she already knows? It's pointless. So, rather than playing outside or with her siblings or something else she enjoys, she is spending 30 minutes writing words that she doesn't need to practice. Tonight we have nothing to do. If it came home tomorrow night, she would probably skip it and complete it in the morning because she has gymnastics practice for 1 1/2 hours, plus we have to pick up her sister from swimming, have dinner, do showers, and prepare for the next day.

    If the homework was really valuable to her, I would have no problem making her complete it. But this stuff just seems like homework for the sake of homework.
     
  32. beccmo

    beccmo Comrade

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    Don't let your children know you think they are too smart for the homework they are assigned. It could create a monster of a problem in later grades.

    I have students now who think doing more than 2 physics problems is beneath them, since they know how to do it. Well, when they got their quizzes back, one-third of the class failed. Today's assignment was to practice correctly setting up problems to solve, ...NO SOLVING of any of the 27 problems given, just set them up correctly. Some students were grateful for the reteach. One student-who got a D on the quiz- claimed to have this skill down pat after the 4th problem, so why should he do any more? This is a senior who wants to go to college and major in aerospace engineering.
     
  33. tiffharmon2001

    tiffharmon2001 Comrade

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    I make sure to keep my thoughts about the value of their homework to myself (at least when the children are awake), as I do with my opinions of their teachers (we didn't get the cream of the crop this year).
    It's not that I think she is "too smart" for the homework but that she could better spend her time on other things.
     
  34. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I am going to keep my opinion of spelling tests to myself.
    But, homework not only enforces a skill, it also teaches responsibility. If nothing else, I'd look at homework that is too easy as practice at life- we often have to do things we don't want to do. I, personally as a parent, would come up with maybe 5 words a week to challenge my child if that were an issue.
    Last year I tried differentiating math into small 'guided math' groups. I even had an assistant that did 1 of the 3 groups. It would take me 6-8 hours PER DAY to plan, copy, grade, etc... It lasted a month. Was it good for the kids? Yes. Was it good for me? NO! I was drained, got sick, was tired during the day. I definitely would never kill myself over trying to do multiple spelling lists. I would give a pretest on Monday and if they got a 100, they would be excused from the spelling assignments for the week. But, I, personally, would not create multiple lists. Of course, I don't do spelling at all, but that is a whole different thing.

    I will fully admit- I was the student who got straight As and didn't have to do a thing. My mom was happy I got straight As and didn't push me further. I NEVER brought home homework. Ever. I finished it before I got home- even if it was on the bus.
    Well, it bit me in the rear when I got to college. I was in habit of not doing homework. I also did very little homework in college, because I was not used to it and hated it. I never read- I rarely even bought the book for a class! The result was going from a 3.98 GPA in high school to a 3.29 in college.
     
  35. tiffharmon2001

    tiffharmon2001 Comrade

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    So, what do the kids who are excused from spelling (or who would be if you did spelling) do while the others are working on spelling? My two oldest daughters work well above grade level and are often excused from things like spelling tests or finish their assignments quickly. Usually they are left to read independently or sent to "help" other students. They get little to no instruction that is on their level during the school day. Then, they bring home homework that is also below their level. It seems like a waste of their time.
    My girls never cause problems in their class because they are "bored". They are pretty good at finding things to occupy themselves while they wait. It's just really frustrating as a parent to be told that I need to give them extra work at home because they spent their whole day at school doing nothing.

    If you know a child has mastered the skill the homework covers, then why not excuse them from that assignment?

    I understand the work involved in differentiating instruction. But when we teach to the middle, we miss the kids at the top and the kids at the bottom. Those are the two groups who need instruction on their level the most.
     
  36. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I never let kids have 'time off' just because they had mastered something. Yes, sometimes they could read, but, usually there was lots more they could do, too.

    Your daughters could have alternate word lists or could use the class lists for writing. They could make their own lists from the books they are reading, both spelling and vocab. They could keep journals to record interesting words, figurative language, phrases that 'spoke' to them. They could respond to their literature in those journals, as well. The teacher wouldn't have to do any prep for that.

    Homework teaches responsibility, organization, respect. Yes, some teachers give too much 'busy work'. Oh, well. Your children won't always have teachers that are perfect for their individual styles. But, they will benefit by having you expect them to always do their best.

    I had the same experience when formally grouping kids in math, giraffe.
     
  37. Bogart

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    This is what happens to so many of our gifted and talented students. Everything has come very easily for them and they get this attitude that they're just smart, they don't need to study or do homework. Once they get to 6th grade though, when the content gets harder, they often struggle because they haven't developed good study habits.
     
  38. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I use Accelerated Math at school, so that is usually my 'fall back' if a child is finished with everything.

    I don't teach spelling anymore. I have replaced it with vocabulary. Studies show that memorizing lists do not build spelling skills- it is just memorization. My lower kids go to the reading tutor and she works with them on spelling- more parts of words (like tion or something similar).
     
  39. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Giraffe-this sounds exactly like my situation! I use AM too, almost exclusively. I love the amount of practice, and working to mastery.

    I also teach vocabulary only. It's great! We incorporate spelling, but by now, spelling/phonics rules are not meant to be learned, but practiced.
     
  40. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE AM!! We are losing it soon though :( We have Macs and when they upgrade to Snow Leopard, the Renaissance things (STAR, AM) will no longer work. I have no idea what I am going to do that will fill the void :( :( :(
     
  41. GoehringTeaches

    GoehringTeaches Comrade

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    Nov 6, 2009

    I give my kindergarteners a few pages of math and a few pages of Language Arts on Mondays. They are expected to have it turned back in Friday morning. Ideally, I would like them to do one page a night and have it all done by Friday morning; however, I have come to learn that most parents get it done as quickly as possible and usually in one night. Does it reallly make a difference? no! They are getting the work done. Plus, my 5th grader brings home the same type of homework packets for spelling and social studies. I push him to get it all done asap because 1. we never know what is going to happen during the week and 2. he won't have it hanging over his head to get it finished.

    My pet peeve now are projects. Don't even get me started on projects!
     

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