3rd grade is no joke. There really isn’t any way around it, their curriculum is tough shit. I noticed this right away during the first week of school when some of the math my son was sent home to complete made me question how I actually graduated high school. And things only got more complicated after that.
I get that it’s a testing year, but the amount of homework my son was sent home with each night was straight up sad. To top it off, because my husband works late, I was left by myself every evening to tend to our newborn and help our son conquer his homework. (Translation: our weeknight evenings started to look like they'd been stocked by scenes pulled from a horror movie.) I was quickly getting to a place of being completely “over it,” and so was our son.
But beyond the “over it” component, I felt nothing but sadness for our little guy. Out the door each morning by 6:50 am, returning home at 5:15 pm, and then two hours of homework each night... that schedule just wasn’t fair, in my opinion. When was he supposed to unwind?
We already could only do weekend sports because of his grueling charter school schedule. When was he supposed to relax? Fortunately for me, I had wine. But my 8 year old – he doesn’t have the tools that adults do to manage stress while he’s pretty much working a full time schedule.
Then the notes started. Apparently some of his homework was being skipped or not completed, he was talking out here and there in class, and his behavior was going from great to not-so-great. I even got a note about the teacher complaining that he needed “redirecting” during class. What was I overlooking? It looked to me like everything was getting done each night. We were working on it for at least two hours, after all.
I thought to myself, “No shit. He’ll probably need re-directing until he’s well into adulthood. What do you expect when you sign up to teach a bunch of 8-year-olds?”
My son's teacher totally didn't get that even though these kids leave school at 4 pm, it takes time to get home, and with the work load being so strenuous, parents must enforce them getting it done as soon as they walk in the door. It can take them well into bedtime to complete.
Then, my husband got a call from our son’s teacher during the school day.
And he let her have it.
We totally get that the world isn’t fair and that our little guy needs to learn that, but what we most certainly don’t want is for him to look back on his childhood and feel like he spent his school days being worked to the bone.
So my husband became the dad who yelled at his son’s teacher. And I supported him in every single way.
We felt like my son was drowning. Heck, we were drowning. Enough was enough.
Later that night, my husband came home from work and told me that story. All the nitty-gritty details about his voice being raised and her totally not getting that even though these kids leave school at 4 pm, it takes them time to get home, and with the work load being so strenuous, parents must enforce them getting it done as soon as they walk in the door – since it takes them well into bedtime to complete.
We were completely unaware that we had little ears tuning in.
Our little guy then went to school the next day and shared the story with his friends, totally proud of his dad for sticking up for him. Little did he know that his teacher’s ears were also listening.
By the end of the week, my son was placed in a different classroom. It paid off because we now have a teacher that the whole family gets along with.
So don’t be afraid to speak up on your child’s behalf. And it’s okay if you and your family just don’t jibe well with a teacher. It can make or break a school year, and we would have rather our son’s 3rd grade experience be memorable not for grueling homework, but for joyful learning.