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So yesterday morning I sent that letter to each of my elementary school kids’ teachers via email, first thing in the morning.  I wanted to wait until the second week of school, when things were hopefully a little settled in each of the classes.

I have to admit that I was a little nervous hitting “send” on each of them – especially the one to my twins’ fourth grade teacher, because both of my older boys also had him for fourth grade and I worried that he would take offense given that we’ve never expressed a problem with homework to him in the past.  Also, all the dramarama that surrounded my fight against the homework policy last year kind of left me expecting less than positive responses.

To my surprise, however, within a couple of hours, both my twins’ fourth grade teacher (a GATE class, by the way – where you might expect a more . . . intense philosophy about homework) and Joey’s sixth grade teacher responded thusly:

Hi Lisa and Michael,
Thanks for letting me know your position. Given that I’ve always taken pretty much the same position, (40 minutes homework per night for 4th grade, well…45, 30 minutes reading, and 15 minutes other homework) I don’t see that we have any conflict.
Please know, that I always respect parents rights to determine what is healthy and reasonable for their child. If anything comes up during the year that’s a problem, please don’t hesitate
to let me know, and I am sure we can find a solution together.
Cheers,

***

Mrs. and Mr. Morguess,

Thank you for getting in touch with me about your priority of family time.  After all, that, versus homework, is really your focus.  As a mother, looking down the barrel of having my oldest head off to college next year and perhaps never live under our roof again, I too deeply understand that family time is precious.

With that being said, I think this year will go fine, as far as homework is concerned.  Reading with thoughtful response will be a daily homework assignment.  The plan will be to have students blog their responses, and the final deadline for those will be Wednesday of each week.  Math homework will start with practice of problems at home, but will eventually be “flipped” to allow students the time they need to thoroughly take notes (vocabulary, formulas, sample problems) and watch tutorial videos, enabling them to come to class ready to work through the problems with me in class.  I had very positive feedback from students and parents last year, stating that being able to immerse themselves in the note taking process at their own pace at home was very beneficial.  This set up also enabled me to be present with support in the classroom when students were challenged with the difficulty of transferring knowledge to application.  Vocabulary study is nightly, to prepare for the definition and spelling tests each Friday, but time spent should be within your homework timeframe.  Grammar homework will be intermittent throughout the week.  Science homework will be occasionally, but toward the end of the year will culminate in the science fair project, which will spread over several weeks.  I hope that gives you a general overview of the homework from homeroom and science.

I hope that helps clarify things.  I am looking forward to a positive experience with Joey and your family this year.  Please do not hesitate to contact me with further questions.

Thank you,

I have not received any response from Lilah’s second grade teacher, bu these were such a pleasant surprise in their tone and content, and I have to say, I feel extremely validated (and it does make me wonder how Lilah’s first-grade teacher last year thought it was perfectly reasonable to expect FORTY minutes of daily homework – including reading time – from six-year olds).

Just goes to show: if you take a stand, you just might get somewhere.

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