Thursday, October 16, 2008

Homework 101

I deserve a frickin' gold star. Or a big-ass glass of Merlot. I helped my daughter complete her difficult math homework yesterday, complete with three tear-filled meltdowns and numerous 9-year-old expletives against the teacher, without a) losing my cool, b) giving up, or c) running away from home. I am proud of myself for handling this when I would have done one of the above in the past. Even though on the inside I felt like a seething mama bear and wanted to bitch slap have a strongly worded conversation with the teacher.

My daughter has liked all her teachers from kindergarten to grade 3. Even the firm, no-nonsense ones. This year we had to wait until the second week of school to find out which classrooms they would be divided into. The temporary teacher she was assigned that week was so nice, and she ended up getting all my daughter's friends. The remaining grade 4s ended up with our current teacher, who seemed competent and friendly on our first meeting. Although the kiddo was upset about not being with her friends, we told her she would make new ones and that this teacher was just as nice. Um. Yeah. I'm not sure what happened. 3 nights out of 5 she is complaining that her teacher is stupid because she doesn't explain anything. Most nights we are able to diffuse the situation and get the homework done, but last night she was damn near homicidal.

If my facts are correct, and I only have this second-hand, the teacher was yelling at the class, and specifically my daughter, for not getting the work right. First of all, the concept of "mental math", whereby you employ one of three methods to quickly add large sums in your head, completely goes against the principles of math she has been taught all her life. Adding left to right does not compute in her brain that is conditioned to add from right to left. So I understand her frustration. She told me she brought it to the teacher's desk three times, and each time she got in trouble for adding it incorrectly. Not that the answers were all wrong, but in the way she added them, one over top of the other. Who the hell cares? Not everyone is destined to add large sums in one's head.

While it's possible this could be exaggerated by my sensitive 9-year-old, this is not the first time I have heard tell of her yelling. She gets pissed at the class on a regular, if not daily, basis. They are a noisy, talkative bunch. But it's certainly the first time my girl has been personally yelled at. I'm pretty sure I don't like it. It makes for a really negative evening. Sure as I'm writing this blog, my husband and daughter are arguing over not calling the teacher stupid while doing homework. I'm tending the soup and tuning out to preserve my sanity this evening.

It really seems that this teacher is not prepared for this class. I don't know if it's because she's new to our school or she hasn't taught grade 4 or she has personal issues. If it's not obscure concepts not being explained, it's contradictory information being given (one day she says colour the map all green, and after it's coloured, do each province a different colour), or not enough information being given (which questions specifically to answer). I can't wait for parent-teacher night, because I need to find out why this woman is driving me to drink making school so f-ing difficult. I swore I wasn't going to interfere and ask to have her moved to the other classroom, because I don't want to send that message to my kid. But now...seriously wishing I had. Damn.

On a positive note, she did receive praise for sticking with her math homework and the evening ended with a smile on her face. So a gold star for her as well.

I would like to give a shout out to some moms who deal with shit like this times 3+ and have lived to tell the tale:

Scary Mommy, who is not really that scary (unless you piss her off), considering she's home with 3 young kids

Candid Carrie who has a never-ending supply of kids and patience (and cats)

Insane Mama who has a houseful of teenagers and a grandma!

I raise my glass to you! Cheers!


Lindsay said...

Ugh, you have given me SOOOO much to look forward to. Hopefully my husband's strong math genes pull through for my daughter.

I can remember getting so angry at some of my teachers growing up I was near homicidal myself. Particularly my 7th grade English teacher who was so abstract with what she wanted and extremely difficult to boot.

Best of luck the rest of the year (and with taming the beast of the 4th grade hallway).

Swirl Girl said...

I have a 9 year old in 4th grade too.

Thank god she has a great teacher who is anal retentive as I am.

We have daily homework tantrums - and it us usally me who throws them!

I tell my daughter that I am here to help her. If she wants to do things mediocre - I won't help. If she wants to do things well (and I am careful not to use the words "perfect" cuz it doesnt' have to perfect ) then I will help her set herself up for success. When the decision is hers to make, she usually chooses the right one.

thanks for visiting me too!

Crystal said...

I hear you! Homework is like a part-time evening job for parents. Especially, those special assignments that are meant for the kids to complete but the parent ends up doing most of the work. I have a daughter with special learning needs so we get 3x the homework from several different teachers. urrrr!
Nice to visit stop by I'm having a secret prize giveaway this week! cheers I'm a Inniskillin Late Autum Reisling girl! I noticed you like Merlot!