Thursday, February 02, 2006

Its all alphabet soup to him

I should be hunkering down to do the kids homework right now. This whole concept of homework in elementary school baffles me, frankly. I don't remember having homework every evening until at least grade six. At that point, my mother did not have to sit with me and walk me through it. Harry's homework involves weekly spelling words, and reading a book. Need I remind anyone that he is in his second semester of kindergarten? Academically he is doing just fine. He can sound out words, make sense of them rather quickly, and then read on. I bite my tongue when it comes to his printing - it seems to me that teachers are a whole lot less anal about that than they were in my day. This may be a good thing. But then again, I have relatively interesting penmanship. But who needs penmanship these days, I ask. I am surprised he is not in a typing class.

Given Owen's academic needs and challenges, homework time is never less than 45 minutes to an hour. He is slow, but amazingly persistant, resiliant and patient. All habits I wish I could better cultivate in myself. I know an hour each night sounds like a bit much for someone who is only in the second grade, but I actually like it. It probably is what makes the whole process bearable. I get some sit down, one on one time with Owen. Sometimes, he is painfully slow. Sounding out simple words, is a challenge. Making a simple sentence is a challenge. Its probably a benefit that I spent time teaching ESL. Sometimes I feel as if I am teaching a foreigner. You can tell that his brain is not wired to naturally come out with the deep grammar that English provides. But do you know what? I don't care. I can still marvel at that mystery - of what Owen's brain is naturally designed to do. The homework routine goes something like this: read 12 spelling words, then I test him (he has to write them down), then he has to construct 4 sentences containing a spelling word (he has to submit this on Thurs. so that makes 4 each evening). Then there is 15 minutes of reading, and then he has to do directed writing. This is the hardest part. He still struggles for words - although, again, I have to stress that this kid has an amazing amount of patience. He has a week to compose about a paragraph of writing. I suspect this takes most grade 2's an evening. And they can probably do it much more independantly. If he is given a situation to write about, he has a hard time knowing how to start, and then it comes out randomly - there is no real grammar, or consciousness of tense, or gender. I have to translate that random cloud of thoughts into a proper sentence (also appropriate for a grade 2 reader). Then he has to edit his work. Owen is very detail oriented, so finding mistakes such as proper punctuation and misplaced capital letters is pretty easy. He is also instructed to read each sentence and ask "Does this sound right?" I have to laugh. Its all alphabet soup to him.

"I ate cereal tomorrow" and "I will eat cereal yesterday" would probably make total sense to him.

And then there is the bedtime dance!

Yay for me!!


Gareth said...

I don't really have anything important to say, just that you write really well, and I enjoy reading your posts.

Thank you.

hotboy said...

Hope you're feeling more cheerful these days! Hope Eric's not too cold! My kid couldn't read at all when she was seven and couldn't spell at all (not on the scale) I was informed a year later. I had to teach her myself. Got top marks for English at high school. Anyway, you Canadians are really into education!! Hotboy
p.s. most kids starting first year at my school last autumn had reading ages of ten. Primary education in Scotland now is woeful!

MC Etcher said...

I probably say this a lot, but you seem like a great Mom!