Thursday, January 15, 2009

Back in First Grade

All of a sudden, I've found myself back in first grade. I'm not too happy about it either. Don't get me wrong, I want to help my daughter do her best in school and to have fun learning new things. But I need a manual just to get through every week of school.

Has school gotten harder as the years go by? Is it more demanding now that I'm a mom, or have I just forgotten what it was like?

Part of the curriculum for this year includes the accelerated reader program. Those of you with older kids probably already know about this. It is a noble program because it gets the children interested in reading, and it keeps them reading. What I don't like it's the point system and the competition factor.

The school has an "honor" award to reward those kids who have achieved the goal for the year. This year the goal is 20 pts, that's probably 40 books because each book is worth half a point.
The kids have to take a test on the books they read, and if they pass, the score counts toward the total points.

Sounds simple enough, right? What's wrong with wanting the kids to read and become interested in reading?

I wish the focus was more on reading than on getting points, or reading approved books. We have several good books that are not on "the list" that are probably going to be put aside until summer simply because we have to get through the AR books. Then there is the test part. Where is the fun of reading a book if you know there will be a test afterwards?

I hated history while in school because of all the reading. I didn't care to memorize dates, history was, well, history. Until I became older and started reading about it for fun. It became something I wanted to know about. I didn't have to remember dates, I could just enjoy the books now.

I don't want Candace to become so focused on reading to pass a test that she will miss out on the joy of reading. I watch her read books because she "has to" that may not interest her; only because they are "approved" on someone's list.

I've found myself creating spreadsheets and cataloging books according to their AR status, and picking out of the "good" ones for her to read. I read them myself so I can ask her questions and make sure she understood what she read, so she can take the test.

How do I balance all this out so she can read what she likes and still have time to read the required books? I'm not sure. For now, we are going along with the required books. Hopefully she will begin to enjoy reading the books, and forget about the points. I hope.


LaTrina said...

I have had such a wonderful time reading your blog. I find myself getting emotional (could be the birth control pills) I guess because I feel I'm seeing you through new eyes (I know it makes no sense). So many hopeful words, powerful thoughts. They probably just seem like "random thoughts" to you..... but not to me. I don't know. I've run out of words. Plus Chewie just came and sat on my laptop. Guess that's my que.

Sandi said...

First grade is harder now than when we were kids. I'm amazed at some of what my daughter brings home.