Friday 30 Sep 2016

Flashcard
Jennifer Flaten

I bet you are unaware that 2nd graders need to be fluent in addition and subtraction facts to twenty by the end of the school year.

I know I was. That is until the handy dandy note came home telling me about the math fluency requirements.

I bet you also didn't know that "true mastery" isn't something achieved by school time alone.

Nope, school cannot guarantee mastery of math facts, for that you need flashcards!

These flashcards are in addition to homework and practice in school.

Of course, I can only assume that kids get math practice in school. Although, it would appear they aren't getting enough practice in school if they need flashcards.

It makes sense that if we need to use flashcards at home, then perhaps, something is missing at school.

According to the letter, it is impossible to achieve mastery through homework and class learning alone. My question is why not?

To my thinking, if we need flashcards at home then maybe something is lacking during class time.

On the other hand, maybe the teachers need to assign more homework.

Here at our house we take homework seriously. Every night we work together on homework. Except for the couple of times, I threw the homework sheets away.

Hey, it was an honest mistake. The papers I threw away didn't look like homework and they weren't marked as homework, so into the trash they went.

No worries, Once I fished them out of the garbage and scraped the scrambled egg off them they were as good as new.

You should see the mountain of paper that comes home from school. I hate paper clutter and I throw away anything that isn't homework, permission slips or treasured art work.

This means about 90% of the paper brought home goes in the trash. Yep, all those pleas for money and invitations to join the PTO go right into the garbage.

I know that sounds harsh, but just wait until you are sorting through the enormous amount of paper that comes home with your kid each day. Then we will see if you don't accidentally throw some homework away.

Anyway, we do our homework. I know the kids are only in second grade, but it seems like we could be doing more then one puny sheet a night.

I support the school education plan to the best of my ability.

Sometimes it is tough. They use very odd methods these days for teaching math. It involves rounding and working from left to right instead of the traditional right to left.

I won't confuse you with the details.

The whole teaching them to round and then add from left to right has me really frustrated, so maybe that is why this note about flashcards is pushing my buttons.

School is where you send your kids to learn. Whether your kids go to public or private school, you are paying for their education.

We all know that parental input, support and encouragement is an important component of a child's success in school. Still, I feel that the school is responsible for all the heavy lifting.

I don't know what they spend their time on, but it doesn't seem like enough time is on learning. Not if I have to use flashcards at home.

So far this year, our district chose to take three total inclement weather days. One early release due to a storm and two sub zero weather days.

We also have these goofy early release days. Two days a month, the kids get out at 1:30. Mind you, they start at 8:45. On early release, days they are pretty much going to school to eat their lunch.

The district insists that early release days are so teachers can work on district directives (whatever those maybe) and take meetings.

What is galling is that frequently on early release days my kids have substitutes because their teachers are at meetings.

Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't early release for directives and meetings?

Those aforementioned inclement weather days have come back to bite our district in the ass. We are short on state required attendance time. We have to cancel two early release days!

Oh no, how will the teachers ever find the time to get on with those directives?

Plus, now class is starting five minutes earlier. Yes, you read that right five, not fifteen, or twenty-five. I ask you, how much learning will take place in five minutes.

Think that is asinine? I got one better not, only are they starting five minutes early they are going two minutes longer. Yes, two whole minutes longer.

Uh huh. How productive is that extra two minutes? Perhaps they could use those extra two minutes at the end of the day to do flashcards.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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