A Post By LeMira
I decided to keep J.R. in Kindergarten this year due to his social and language delays. So far, I feel very good about it. I also chose to put him in a charter school. Overall, I'm happy with that decision, although there are some major disadvantages there (i.e., the lack of speech therapy that he really needs). The biggest advantages are that he is able to go to first grade for math, and his Kindergarten teacher tries really hard to help him with his math page each day afterward. She really makes an effort to help him out and give him individualized attention. J.R. was doing Kindergarten math, but it was too easy for him. Homework lasted five minutes, which I think isn't bad for Kindergarten; however, he was getting nothing out of it. First Grade math seems to be on his instructional level, which all teachers know is exactly where you want them to be.
(Quick lesson in teacher lingo. There are three basic levels when it comes to a student's learning.
Too Hard= Frustration Level. At this level, you know you need to take a step back. The child is so frustrated and confused that absolutely no learning is happening.
Just Right = Instructional Level. The Instructional Level is the one where the child is learning and it may seem a little hard, but with some practice it becomes easy. Homework and classroom work should be at the instructional level.
Easy= Independent Level. Kids should be reading books at home at the Independent Level. Kids are who being taught too much at this level are bored with school, usually. You find most of your "troublemakers" at school are the ones stuck in the frustration and independent levels.)
Sooo. . . back to J.R. Once he started bringing home First Grade work, there was a huge jump in how long it took him to do homework. We spend at least 30 minutes, four days a week, doing homework. As a teacher, I might think this means it's at a frustration level because a First Grader or Kindergartner should be spending roughly 10-15 minutes a night on homework, not 30. The thing is, as his parent, I know this is just right for him. Why does it take so long? He doesn't understand the instructions or what the problem is asking. It's his language delay. It takes me three to five attempts to explain the problem/instructions just the right way so he will understand. Perhaps one day I will find that "one way," but I don't think I'm catching on.
When I first told J.R.'s teacher about his homework, she was surprised at how long we were spending. . . until I explained why. She understood completely because she experiences the same type of thing with him in class. The biggest difference is that he doesn't fight her. He always fights me. Always. Every day I hear, "I can't do this. It's frustrating." Without fail, I will hear that phrase at least once (if I'm lucky it's only once.) I admit that I'm glad that he chooses to fight me and not his teachers, but some days I can't hold back, and I join the fight; which only makes it worse. The thing is, I know that I get to look forward to this for the next twelve years.