This just in…

I’m suddenly suspicious that his teacher might be one of the people who commented on the article. Now I feel like the biggest jerk on the planet. This article wasn’t meant to be a personal attack, it was meant to be a look inside the mind of a first grade mother. There are too many of us, all over the state and country, who feel this way for me to stay silent when I have an opportunity to take a stand.

Unfortunately his teacher probably hates me. The worst part is that I really really like her. The only reason I haven’t gone in and complained is because we are desperately trying to make this work. It’s only October, I don’t want to holler about something before I’ve given it a chance. Besides, from what I’ve heard, she gives the least amount of school work in the entire first grade. It’s the other mothers who are having a really hard time.

And so, here I am, all stancy and opinionated, and not sure what to do. I still feel strongly about my article, and I think it’s my job to write something that will make people think. Sure, I could be all tame and pussy foot around the issue, but what good is that going to do?

What if this article is just what some poor mother needs to get up the courage to talk to her kid’s teacher? That’s what I want to see, parents taking action. Sometimes we’re silent because we think we’re alone. No one should feel that way, they shouldn’t be afraid to speak out and say something.

And in the meantime I’ve totally blasted my relationship with his teacher to bits. She probably hates me. They all probably hate me. Oh gosh, this sucks.

On a positive note, I did get an email today that totally made me feel better.

“Dear Annie,

Just want to compliment you on your essay in the Standard Examiner. You are so much on target. Elementary school children need playtime and book reading after school, not stacks of worksheets. Occasional homework projects that can be completed in cooperation with parents and/or siblings such as drawing/writing, making a puppet, doing a simple science investigation, etc. would be more appropriate. Research has identified the prevalence of fourth  grade “learned helplessness” resulting from repeated failure and frustration. Also research supports that homework doesn’t effect achievement in a positive way until about seventh grade. We are in a competitive society where people believe more is better, especially when it comes to homework.


Rosalind Charlesworth, Ph.D.
Professor Emerita
Child and Family Studies
Weber State U.”



  1. “What if this article is just what some poor mother needs to get up the courage to talk to her kid’s teacher? ”

    But Annie, you didn’t do that yourself—you didn’t go in and talk to his teacher on a personal level. Yes, your point is valid. I believe it as a mom and as an Early Childhood Ecducator. But it is a conversation that needs to be done personally, and not in a public forum. If anything good can come out of this, it may just be the lesson that you wrote above. Go in and talk to his teacher personally. (And tell all the other mothers who have issues to do the same. )

    I wish you luck. Truely.

    • annie valentine says:

      Like I said, we’re not having that hard of a time, but it’s my job to represent for all the mothers who are, hence the “First Grade Mother Hat” article.

      And thank you thank you thank you Marie, because of your comment I went straight to the school this afternoon to talk to his teacher about why I wrote the article. It went really well, like I said, she’s a wonderful woman and is way more understanding then I deserve. I should have told her ahead of time, and I kind of hate myself for not thinking ahead. Can you believe I actually thought that since I don’t use my married name she probably wouldn’t even hear about it? Big mistake.

      If I could do anything differently, it would be that next time I’d give her a head’s up that I was going to write an article, and I’d tell her exactly why and what it was about. Big mistake on my part and something I’ve repented for. Like she told me, we all learn from our mistakes. Amen to that.

  2. Your article was spot on. It is ridiculous the amount of work my children come home with. This is my kids’ first year in public school with all previous years being in private schools overseas. Not once in the last three years did my kids come home with anything other than a rare reading assignment. Home time should be time at home. I find it really interesting that our other schools all found the time to get all work done in the classroom, but here we get the bulk of the work to do at home. I am so glad you mentioned our curriculums as mothers! My time to teach them is precious, too.

  3. Annie, I’m glad you wrote it. For mom’s like me who are just trying to survive each day, it’s nice when someone recognizes that we’re all just trying to do the best we can for our kids and give them a well rounded life.

  4. I really can’t wrap my mind around this. Homework should take more then 15-20 minutes. I can’t imagine what they are sending home. My sons Kindergarten was overwhelming. 30 minutes a day. But again, he loved it so I did it. I totally see your point. Homework doesn’t necessarily do what they want it to do. In the end, it has just put my son further ahead of the other kids, which is working against us not to alienate him. Why isn’t the homework reading books? Isn’t that what first grade is about?

    Former Kindergarten Teacher
    Full time Mom

  5. I loved your article and thought it was spot on! I had a friend who’s daughter was doing hours of homework every day (6th grade) so he went and talked to the principle. The principle said the kids should be doing only ten minutes a day per grade. So ten minutes in 1st grade, 20 in 2nd grade…and so on. I still think thats a ton! I don’t understand why our kids spend hours of time at the school just to come home and do more. Whatever though, its a heated topic and I applaud you for taking it on. That would be scary! Sorry for the haters, but really you handled it so well! I also want to say that I don’t think it came off like an attack on your son’s teacher, not at all. But you’re a good person for going and talking to her, making it a better situation. You’re so much more mature than I am! 🙂

  6. I don’t like homework either and none of the mothers I know who agree with me are uneducated and/or half-witted.

    We all want what’s best for our children and our views on what ‘best’ precisely is, will differ.

    You may rub someone the wrong way, no matter if what you say is, “Pop tarts are bad for you.” You can be sure the Pop Tart Association of America would blackball you and never send you another freebie as long as you live and the Pop Tart Preservation Society would label you Public Enemy Number 1. Which doesn’t change the fact that pop tarts are bad for you. SO bad.

    Some people think enough of you to respond negatively but at least they respond.

    Because your opinion matters.

  7. What a neat response from the Rosalind Charlesworth. I’m thinking of enrolling my kids in the charter school by me. The boy I piano teach tells me they rarely have any work, and they go on many field trips.

  8. I still like you and I also agree with you. 🙂

  9. I agree with your article. I also agree that I could see his teacher being hurt and feeling blindsided by reading about your concerns in a newspaper. Sounds like you handled the aftermath very well.

  10. Nice conclusive validation, Annie. And that commenter had a PhD–so she’s got to know something to give you props on your stance. Suck on that, mean lady. Looks can be deceiving–for crying out loud! Who writes venom like that? Maybe she needs a refresher course on childhood, if only to be reminded that there are rules of fair conduct. Or in other words, “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Which is probably the advice I should have taken to heart before offering my tip the other day about the drill bit under your chin. Can’t you photoshop that already? The angle is really creeping me out.

  11. Florist, to me it looks like a necklace, and I think it works well with the design.

    (And as for the anti-homework stance, Annie, I do so so so agree. And am also glad to hear you talked directly to his teacher.)

  12. So glad to hear that you went in and talked to his teacher! I loved the letter you got. My sister has 4 kids in school. Can you imagine her after school process? (All of them need help with their homework too.) I feel this just sets kids up to dislike school.

  13. One of the MANY reasons I chose to homeschool this year (after putting 3 children through the public system all the way through to high school graduation) is that they spend ALL day at school and then come home and spend ALL their evening doing homework. This is just not right in my opinion. I think you were spot on! A little homework a day is fine, but not hours of it!

  14. I am glad to hear you are standing behind your article! And who cares what who thinks because it looks like reseach is behind you all the way. So if I were you I would be running up and down the streets yelling “I am right!”

  15. I COMPLETELY agree with you! Our kids spend enough time in school they don’t need hours of it at home to. People like to spout off about how our kids are not going to be able to compete in a global community with kids who got a better education in other countries. While this may be true it is not because we need more homework it is because we have a failing system. Fix the system, don’t add more unneeded pressure to our kids. That is why my kids are in Charter schools. The public school system needs to be completely rethought.

  16. Ugh! It’s gotten worse for us since we moved to Texas. My oldest, Buttercup, is in an Intermediate school. It’s what they call 5th and 6th grade so they can pretend it’s an elementary but treat her like she’s in jr. high. She has several hours of homework every night, after being in school for 7 hours. Plus, her Math teachers sends home instructions like, try this way of doing the math and if she doesn’t get it after 30 minutes and would rather do it the regular way than let her. Seriously? Math isn’t hard enough for some kids, let’s confuse her first and then see what happens.
    I’ve had to get her a white board so we can keep her homework and project schedule straight. I didn’t have this much homework in high school.

  17. I work at Weber State and can tell you the Dr. Charlesworth knows her stuff. I worked with her very briefly for a time in the education department, so please feel very validated with her comments. Your article was also the talk of my own department….with almost everyone agreeing with your stance. Rock on! Speak loud for the mommies! Hopefully we all can chime in with you!

  18. My daughter is in first grade as well and I really love the way her teacher handles the class and homework. We’ve never gotten a ‘packet’ but we get a weekly spelling list, a weekly list of ‘words to read and recognize’ and an occasional ‘do this at home and bring it back’ paper that takes about 5-10 minutes.

    Plus I think it helps that I am in the position to get to volunteer in the class each week so I really see how the kids are reacting to the teacher and what the teachers able to accomplish with the children. It’d be difficult, I believe, to have a first grader getting so much homework.

    I totally get ya. My daughter gets home at 3:40 and with a ‘normal’ bed time and doing things at a childs pace we’d be strapped for time if we tried to fit in more homework.

  19. Oh I am SO glad to see that letter from Ms. Charlesworth. I was starting to lose hope in the human race. Sheesh!! Heard of a chill pill people? Or personal opinion, or hyperbole to get a point across? WHEW! I completely agree with you. Kids are completely overwhelmed nowadays and it is crazy. Maybe there are about 15% that are not overwhelmed and love it all or at least slide on through easily. But there is so much busy work, and after 7 hours of being at school, I think it is ridiculous for them to have to come home and do more than maybe 30 minutes at that age. What about the rest of life??? It is NOT all about school. There is so much else to learn outside of school as well, and many other life experiences to grow from. I tried to comment on your article but the site wouldn’t let me. That lady quoting Obama… oh ok hard work is great – we all need to work hard. But hello – on school – constantly?? At age 6? Really??? UGGH. Give me a break.

    My 13 yr old son just went to bed 2 nights ago after 1 am. And he wakes up at 6:30. Was he playing video games all day.. watching tv? Nope – not an ounce. Except for eating dinner and a 30 min. break right after school, he was working on homework. I MADE him go to bed and stop doing it at 1 am. Is 5 hours of sleep enough for a growing boy?? No. Is life really all about hard work and homework? Isn’t there time for a little play or downtime?? Yeah he is a slower worker, but he is bright and gets great grades. He hates to read now though. He can’t take drums or other lessons right now if he wants any down-time at all. I did like that a few people realized we need BALANCE in our lives. Keep posting your opinions Annie.