November 11th, 2009

School Selling Test Points?

A little off my usual path, but just outrageous. There’s a school in North Carolina that was briefly selling test points to students to raise money. They’re arguing that it wasn’t be enough to change overall grades, but I have to agree with officials who say it’s the wrong lesson.

I have to agree with that. Teaching students that they can buy their way to a better grade isn’t helping them. They certainly won’t be able to buy better grades later in life, or better job reviews or… you get the idea.

Such a relief that they’ve been ordered to cancel the fundraiser and return all earnings from it.

Schools need money. There’s no question of that, and many need fundraisers to enhance the opportunities they offer to students. But fundraisers need to be at least somewhat in line with the overall goal of educating students. Buying test points, even if they don’t significantly impact overall grades isn’t emphasizing the value of learning.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

September 9th, 2009

Disappointed That My Daughter’s Class Didn’t Watch the President’s Speech

I’ve been watching people just about throwing fits about President Obama making a speech that schools could choose to show students. The controversy amazed me. I get that the original suggested discussion points for teachers weren’t exactly well done, being too focused on the President for many people’s comfort, but an awful lot of people seemed to be having fits over the fact that he was speaking to students at all.

Never mind that he’s not the first United States President to address a speech to students.

I’ve heard terms such as indoctrination, cult of personality and so forth thrown around about this speech. Never mind that it was just a speech about working hard in school and they fixed the suggested curriculum.

I truly loathe it when misinformation is deliberately handed out about these things. My inlaws were convinced that this was REQUIRED for all schools to show, which was never true. If you can’t complain about these things honestly, maybe the problem isn’t all that big!

I read the text of the speech. There really wasn’t anything political about it. Just a standard work hard in school sort of speech, the kind of thing that kids need to hear and probably tune out anyhow.

My daughter’s only in second grade, and I would love for her to be hearing that kind of thing from more than just Mommy and Daddy. She’s a good student but some lessons it doesn’t hurt to hear from multiple sources.

Frankly, a good, non-political, back to school speech from any President is something I would let my kids hear, even if I didn’t agree with that President’s politics. Some things aren’t about politics. And if something is said that I disagree with, that’s what talking to my kid is all about.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

June 8th, 2009

Tutoring – Weekly Work at Home Job Idea

Do you love teaching? Do you have the qualifications to teach on a particular subject? Why not be a tutor?

Tutors work at many different education levels. It’s not all K-12; college students need tutors too.

Qualifications/Training Needed?

Qualifications vary on the type of tutoring you want to do. Some may require that you be a credentialed teacher. Others may only want you to have a college degree.

You can work for a tutoring service or seek out your own students.

Job Duties

You may work regularly with particular students or be available at particular times for whichever students come looking for help.

The basic job, of course, is to help the students improve in whatever subject you are tutoring.

Your hours may be very flexible, but you have to be available at times that people are going to want a tutor.

Equipment Needed

If you’re an online tutor, you’ll need your computer and high speed internet access.

Where to Search for Jobs

Education job listings at Home with the Kids
Craigslist (beware of many, many scams!)
Hire My Mom
Home Job Stop
College campus bulletin boards if you’re going to tutor local college students. Post your information.

Related Scams

Tutoring is of course subject to the usual “pay to show your interest scam,” but there’s another interesting possibility.

You answer an ad for a tutor, and are told that you will be paid by certified check. They want you to cash the check, take out your pay and send the balance on to someone else.

This is related to the mystery shopping scam or payment processing scam where they tell you to take your mystery shopping pay out of the check. It’s fraudulent, and you are suddenly responsible for the money. Worse, you can face criminal charges.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

June 4th, 2009

Summer Vacation Vs. Homework

With school being almost out around here, I’m getting told by my kids’ teachers about the work they need to get done over the summer. It’s understandable… I mean, I know that kids forget a lot over summer vacation. But how much do I really want to push them?

I like thinking back to my own summer vacations as a kid, which were pretty leisurely. My school didn’t even give summer reading lists.

My daughter has about 3 pages of recommendations for what she should be doing over the summer to get ready for second grade. My son has a big packet from his speech therapist, which really isn’t quite the same in my view, as most of it is games to play to help him speak better, which is a real issue for him and something that needs to get better, ideally before he hits kindergarten.

And so I’m thinking on how much of this stuff I really feel like doing.

My own preference is to primarily make the tools available and encourage their use. I did tell my daughter that yes, she will be reading during the summer. She had been trying to say that she’d just do that every other summer. Kids!

I don’t really think she’ll try to not read all summer. She enjoys it too much.

Honestly, at this age I’d rather let them lead the way during the summer. We have plenty of workbooks and I’ll encourage their use, but that’s really all it takes most of the time around here.

So what’s your plan? Does your child’s school recommend or require summer homework?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

April 7th, 2009

How Important is Homework?

Using StumbleUpon the other day, I came across an article on arguments against homework. The article’s a few years old, but schools still give so much homework I found it interesting.

In first grade, my daughter gets 4 nights of homework a week. She has a total of 3 pages of math plus 3 assignments to help her learn a spelling list of 9 words, plus 20 minutes of reading a night.

I have to admit, I like the 20 minutes of reading a night. So does she. We often go over on that one. She even reads on her own sometimes.

But I found it very interesting that there’s no evidence that homework in the early years has any benefit at all.

Just think about it. Kids spend about 7 hours at school, then have to do homework too. That’s a pretty tiring day for a kid. And very little time for play.

It’s not an easy thing for schools to admit that homework might not be worthwhile, especially when they’re under so much pressure to show great academic results. It’s a rather troubled system these days.

My own feelings on this topic are pretty mixed. There are some areas where my daughter definitely needs improvement, but the main one is penmanship. She’s a sloppy writer even for a first grader. Then again, I’m not that neat a writer either.

But I’m also starting to get this feeling that if I wanted to spend time helping my daughter learn, I may as well homeschool. It would take more of my day, but less of hers and let her be more of a kid. If that made for a better attitude toward learning, it would be worth it. Just now she feisty, to put it kindly, about a lot of topics, and work in class and at home can take her far longer than it should just because she’s bored.

The trouble comes from homework that is more or less busy work. In the lower grades it’s hard for teachers to assign anything else. It can be more effective, I gather, in high school.

At any rate, I’m thinking more teachers and school administrators need to read The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing. So do parents. It’s worth questioning the worth of most homework assigned.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.