22 September 2010

No Sleeping 'Till Your Homework's Done

We have discovered that with kindergarten comes homework, at least at Isaac's school. I understand that other schools have different practices and not all homework is created equal. But I will not dwell on how I feel about Isaac's homework here, except to say that part of his daily homework is to read for 15 minutes. We are supposed to write down the name of one book we read during this time on a reading log each night. The goal is for each student to turn in one complete log (20 books) each quarter (9 school weeks).

I do not like to call reading "homework." We have been reading to Isaac since he was an infant and it is a rare night that passes by that we do not read at least one story, most nights we read five. In our house reading is not homework, at least not in kindergarten. I know quite well that there are families who would never read to their children if the school did not require it as homework and ask for the reading logs. Even with the reading "homework" there are still families who do not read with their children. But in our family reading together is something that is a nightly ritual. I want it to remain a time that Isaac enjoys for as long as possible. It is probable that reading for school will become something he dreads all too soon.

So we have been reading as usual every night and Isaac and I are fitting a weekly library visit into our schedule. Most of the books we brought home last week were not very memorable. I picked out a lot of nature themed books. Our nearest library branch has a strong environmental collection and this is a time of year that it is lovely to be outside so I was inspired to choose books on that theme. Isaac, however, was not as inspired.

He did like, love actually, Shark Vs. Train by Chris Barton . It is such a little boy book. Two boys pull a toy shark and a toy train out of a toy box and proceed to pit them against each other in contests. Which one is better at selling lemonade? Or high diving? The twist, though, is that the story is told from the shark's and train's perspectives. This book celebrates boys' imaginations and we read it just about every night.

Another book he liked from this week's pile is A Dark, Dark Tale by Ruth Brown. I thought he would like it because it reminds me of another of his favorite's, Big Spooky House by Donna Washington. (I've been meaning to write about that one -- maybe I will remember now that I have mentioned it here.) A Dark, Dark Tale is a simple, repetitive story. A little spooky, but with a surprising ending. After the second reading, Isaac could recite the words. It was a good lead up to Halloween books.

We have a new stash of library books this week. I am hoping there are a few more that Isaac gets excited about. We are going to start reading some short chapter books, too, since one of Isaac's teachers has introduced the class to Junie B. Jones. Not my favorite choice, but definitely a crowd pleaser. I brought one home in our bag of books, along with a couple of others I thought we would try. We will see how it goes.

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