Wednesday, January 13, 2010
How Paper Snowmen Became the Bane of My Existence
This week, in addition to the usual homework of journal-writing exercises and worksheets, the twins each brought home two paper plates accompanied by a note from their teacher that they were to create snow-people out of them.
Oh fun! An art project! (Imagine sarcastic tone.)
Okay, let me just say that I really, really, really, really do not agree with or understand the point of kindergarten homework. It's kindergarten! Sure, it's an important learning year - my goodness, they're learning to read, which is amazing. But they're still little, immature kids who tire easily, get bored easily, and in my estimation, should not be made to sit down and do more school work at home after having already spent several hours at school. And honestly, I don't want to spend the time I have with them breathing down their necks, setting timers, and entering into battle with them over homework. It's kindergarten! And we have plenty of things to battle over already. Like putting their dirty clothes in the hamper and eating their vegetables and not picking their noses.
However, since I don't have the time, the energy, or the resources to fight the system and change an entire policy, this is how we spend our afternoons: doing homework. And it's almost never a pleasant experience for anyone involved.
The snowman project started out okay. I stapled their paper plates together and cheerfully laid out a plate with raisins, Cheerios, and various sundry with which to create their snow people. I refuse to become too involved - I'm not going to decorate their snowmen for them (even if I could do a fabulous job). I don't want to be their teacher, I want to be their mom, so I try to just play the role of a consultant. Still, I end up being referee, because it was only a matter of minutes before they were fighting over glue and raisins. It escalated to the point that it was clear that we needed to put the snowmen away for the day (and the girls still had their journal pages to write and their worksheets to do).
This scene played out exactly the same for three afternoons running. Actually, Daisy, who is more self-directed than Annabelle, finished her "snow princess" on the second afternoon. Annabelle dawdled and became frustrated and demanded more time, more things with which to decorate her snow person, and I steadily grew to hate that damn snow man/person. I was extremely close to committing snowmanslaughter and chucking it into the garbage more than once. Every afternoon ended in tears and a mess of glue and glitter and stuff at the kitchen table. Finally this afternoon, I called it a day on the whole snow man project. Enough is enough. Here are the final results:
Annabelle's - the one that took THREE afternoons - is the one on the left. I don't know if you can tell, but it's almost bare. I'm almost (but not quite) embarrassed to send this to school with her tomorrow. It's not that she's not bright, and it's not that she doesn't have the ability - it was just a frustrating, stressful proposition. And honestly? Honestly, I have wracked my brain, and I still don't get the point of it. What skills or knowledge was this supposed to reinforce?
I'd like to tell her teacher how tough this was. How utterly stressful. I've already talked to her about the problems I have getting Annabelle to cooperate with homework, and she suggested some strategies which were helpful for a while, but Annabelle is balking even at those now. And I'm afraid that if I keep bringing up the problems Annabelle has with homework, she's going to be labeled a Problem Child, and that label is going to follow her for her entire school career. Okay, maybe I'm getting ahead of myself.
But really, what is the point of homework for kindergartners???