Little Eva is only six and in first grade, yet she has to do homework every night. Five nights a week, she has a math worksheet to do. Seven nights a week, she is required to read two little “easy reader” books. Since she was an infant, we have read a story or two to her every night at bedtime. Every night. This summer, Eva was happily reading easy reader books aloud to us as well. Now that she has to read them every day, it has become a chore and the joy of reading is already fading. Honestly, it’s killing me. My Masters in Education training and research taught me that children are better off learning to read at seven or eight. Furthermore, there is ample research on how children love to read until they are forced to do it for homework. School homework really can kill a lust for reading. I just never thought it would happen so soon. My friends who are the parents of second graders in the district warn me that the second graders are not only required to read every night, but they are required to write about it every night as well. This is just too soon.
When Eva gets home from a full day of school with a mere twenty minutes of recess and gym class only once every three days, she is very tired (don’t even get me started, my letter to the Superintendent about the need for more free play and recess has gone unanswered for over a month now). I’d much rather she have the choice to read aloud to us. However, if she takes a night off, she won’t get a cute stamp on her calendar for that day. If she doesn’t do her math homework, she misses out on the few minutes of “play time” which is really snack time. Incidentally, I don’t have her over-scheduled. On the weekdays, she has ballet one day a week and martial arts one day a week. On the weekends, she goes to Sunday school every week and Brownies once a month for an hour.
The other night, poor Eva was tired and didn’t want to do her math homework. She wanted me to give her the answers. When I refused, she flipped out. I had never seen her like this. She was knocking things off her desk, toppling furniture, kicking and screaming. She threw the worksheet at me and yelled, “Just rip it up Mom! Rip it up!” When I wouldn’t she grabbed it back and took a marker and blacked out all the answers she had done so far. This just broke my heart. She is way too young for this.
I am simply at a loss as to how I can change the homework policy at this school. They are so driven to get their scores up. They have made Kindergarten into first grade and first grade into third grade. My daughter is doing homework here in Skokie that my friends’ third graders are doing in Northbrook (schools with much higher scores I might add). Can I make a difference in this district that has been determined to excel at all costs? Would these administrators be willing to turn back the policies they just put into place in the last two years? I’d like to try.