Weekdays are tough. Depending on my work schedule, I can come home as early as 5 p.m. or as late as 9:30 p.m. On early days, I make something for us to eat, and then homework begins somewhere around 6:30 p.m.
We usually start with 20 minutes of math, followed by 20 minutes of spelling (Fundations), and 20 minutes of reading. My favorite part is the reading! Math and Fundations are foreign to me. The math, which follows the common core, uses number lines, number bonds, arrows, and bar graphs. If I learned math this way in the 80's, I suppose it would make sense to me; however, since common core math follows completely different strategies, I'm lost. I find myself checking my son's addition and subtraction problems for the right answers, but I usually don't know if he chose "the right" way to get there or if there even is a "right way."
Here is an example of some of the strategies he may use; there are at least three more ways he's been taught to add and subtract too. Most of the time, I'm confused as to which strategy he should be using...
Spelling fundations confuses me as well. When I was eight years old (now I'm starting to sound like my parents), I was given spelling tests each week. We were required to "memorize" the spelling of our words. Now second graders need to know how to dissect the words as well. Does the word have a closed syllable, an open syllable, or a v-e syllable? A month ago, my son brought home a spelling assessment that was completely correct. However, he lost a significant amount of points because he didn't "dissect" the words properly... In my opinion, Fundations turns spelling into this weird form of word algebra. As a college English professor that loves to write and spell, I'm not a fan.
Little Lewie and I save our reading for the end of the day. We both love stories, so reading ends the homework on a good note. In the past year, he's grown so much as a reader, and I'm happy to say that he no longer needs intervention at school. (The continuous reading during the summer and the flashcards worked!) Lewie has taken interest in the Magic Tree House series, so each week, we find ourselves on a new adventure; we travel to far off lands like China, or we visit local places like New York City during the Great Depression. This week we're learning about Leonardo da Vinci as the two characters, Jack and Annie, travel to Florence, Italy in the early 1500s. I, personally, like to follow the Magic Tree House series in order--the books are numbered, but Lewie likes to take them out randomly--his decision is usually based on whether he likes the cover of the book. Since school started, we've probably read about 20 Magic Tree House books in all. We've learned lots of fun facts, and The Magic Tree House Fact Trackers (companion books to the stories) help us learn even more about history and geography.
Homework is certainly different from the 1980's. I'm not sure I always see the reason for the change or the benefit, but like most parents, I have to have some "blind faith" that my child is learning good techniques to help him through grade school, college, and life... For now, in my spare time, I'll continue to "re-teach" myself new math and spelling strategies, so I can be a tutor and mentor to my second grader...
Do you like these new strategies?