Monday, April 18, 2011

Why have Parents do the student's work?

For the second year in a row, my 6 year old was asked to write a book for school. This included an "about the author" page, "dedication" and a typed, cut, and pasted story. For the second year in a row, we had the same result: My wife was able to practice writing children's books.

It seems that too often, especially in our younger classrooms, students are being asked to do projects that they clearly must have the parents complete. We're very proud of our boys and how well they do in school, but I have to be honest, I have not begun working with him on how to adjust margins, format text, change font, etc in Microsoft Word quite yet. Aside from a few illustrations, this project is completed by the parents for virtually every student and i must ask why?

There are several projects, particularly those in the science field, that students can conduct themselves. Children in elementary school are so easy to attract to learning, its almost heartbreaking to me as a parent when valuable time is wasted when real learning can take place.

On the other hand, my boys' classrooms have been following the web cam of the bald eagle family in Iowa. They have both come home asking questions and telling me all sorts of great facts about the eagle's habitat and diet. My first grader also learned about liquid's and solid's in his classroom and is very happy to point out examples throughout the day....this is what I mean by real learning.

Many of the companies I represent, specifically United Scientific and Culture Media & Supplies, offer hands on products to allow the students to learn at their own pace either in the science fair setting or in the classroom setting. Teaching young students how to create an electrical circuit, how a light switch works, or what items around the house grow bacteria can enhance interest and skills in our students.

My first grader's teacher gives her students a few minutes at the beginning of the day to write in their journals about anything they wanted. This has proven to be extremely valuable. At the beginning of the year, he was writing 4-6 words a day and usually the same thing "I like pugs, they are cool". Over spring break I was in utter amazement as I was reading coherent and literate 3-4 page entries detailing a special day, a special friend, a vacation, etc. He has learned so much from this......and he did it all by himself without mom and dad writing it for him!

Have a great week everyone!

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