Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

I’m not a teacher


I’m 39 years old. Oh, I didn’t mention my birthday around these parts this year, did I? Yeah. Last month. 9/11. I get lots of birthday love on facebook so I tend not to mention it here so much anymore. But husband bought me an ereader – yay! I promptly bought the Hunger Games trilogy and stayed up way too late reading for weeks.

Anywhooo, I’m *cough*39*cough* years old. I’ve had 20 years of formal education. And yet I had to google twice to help Sabrina complete kindergarten homework. I’ve also had to send in 3 or 4 photos in the past month. What if I didn’t have a printer? Or a camera? The assumptions irritate me a bit. We’ve received some information about what the class is learning but no information about HOW kids are learning/being taught. I learned to read (subtract…mumble mumble mumble, carry the 2) a lot of years ago. Things have changed in education. A lot. (See above – googling. Twice. For kindergarten homework. And see also the fact that google exists. And the internet. And home computers. And electricity.) A list of “sight” words that Sabrina is expected to learn by the end of the year was sent home. We didn’t do sight words – my understanding is that they are supposed to memorize/recognize the words rather than learn to read them. I don’t have any idea how to teach sight words. I don’t even really understand the concept of why we do that rather than teach them to read the words. And they seem to be using phonics heavily (I thought phonics were out? Not that I have an opinion) to learn some reading/sounding out words. Also, there seems to be an assumption that the kids know how to write all of their letters because the little bit of homework has required writing out answers. Are they expecting me to teach her the letters she doesn’t know yet or are they working on that at school? If they (they being the school or the kindergarten teachers) could send home a page or two of explanation so that we (we being the parents) know HOW they are doing things, it would be immensely helpful. I feel like every time I say something to Sabrina she tells me I am contradicting what her teacher tells her. I might be – I DON’T KNOW.

So that is my gripe. I don’t want to cause the teachers extra work but if you want the parents to be partners in this endeavor, please don’t assume knowledge on our part that may not exist.

If you want a more entertaining take on the subject, check out this blog post from barefootfoodie.

posted under parenting
9 Comments to

“I’m not a teacher”

  1. On October 9th, 2011 at 8:39 am starfish Says:

    I know! I got that list of sight words too. I basically just go over them with him letting him sound them out – I agree that he should be reading them. And sometimes I get worksheets telling me to teach him the days of the week or about “opposites”. Are there really still 5 year olds who dont know the difference between over and under?? Here is my other kindergarten gripe – every week we get a note asking for something – another pack of pencils (in addition to the ridiculous supply list we got before school even started), $20 for a trip, an apple. Why dont they just tack on extra money at the beginning for THEM to do all the shopping and not bother me all the time? Why is it my job to run your class? And isnt Catholic School tuition high enough to cover this crap??

  2. On October 9th, 2011 at 6:10 pm Nicole Says:

    Sight words are just words they kids should memorize based on sight. There is a lot of research showing that kids need a base of sight words early on to be successful readers. And reality is, we all become sight readers as we progress, as we don’t sound out every word. I would run through them flashcard style once a day, starting with one and adding a new one once the first one is mastered. Often these are high frequency words that one wouldn’t want to sound out every time they came to it (the, and, is, etc).

    I wouldn’t worry about the lack of writing of letters, that will come as the year progresses. But if you do, you may consider teaching her lower case, as most of what you write is in lower case.

    And the contradicting the teacher- why of course, the mama is always wrong, right 😉 {at least that is the case in my house!}

    Just some thoughts from a kindergarten teacher with her very own personal kindergartener, as well.

  3. On October 10th, 2011 at 7:36 am Shannon Says:

    I TOTALLY understand this. Emily makes me feel like getting her to trace letters is akin to hard labor at a prison camp. it’s TRACING! If she’s this cranky now, what is going to happen when they learn to like multiply fractions!?! I’m so not ready for this!

  4. On October 10th, 2011 at 8:50 am Alleen Says:

    Right there with you. I’m not sure what I think of sight words either, but it does appear that is what all the schools are doing to some degree. She has two words a week that she has to learn. So, every day at homework time, we get the list and she reads them off. But, I’m starting to think I need to put them on flash cards because I really think some of it is she has memorized which word is where on the paper.

  5. On October 10th, 2011 at 12:11 pm Stefanie Says:

    Sight words are sight words because they do not follow the general phonetic code. Thus, we don’t sound out “from,” because it breaks the short o sound rule. We learn it by sight not sounds. If your sight word list contains phonetically regular words, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Hopefully that makes sense to you.

    Stefanie, a reading teacher, and mom to a kindergartener — and a Guatemalan one at that!

  6. On October 10th, 2011 at 2:05 pm heather Says:

    Yep, I find that’s not that I don’t know how to do their homework, it’s that I don’t know the new way to do it. Honestly as Jack has gotten older, I find that the new ways of math would have really helped me when I was in school. Unfortunately, now it is just a pain in my butt!

    But yes, it would certainly be helpful to give some guidance to the parents about what is going on and how to handle things from their end. I have found that we don’t get a whole lot of that until after the Fall parent-teacher conferences. It has been difficult for us the past few years with Jack, but he is my organized kid, so not too bad. I worry as EJ gets more into school that we will be in trouble!

  7. On October 10th, 2011 at 7:49 pm Jill Says:

    I made a memory game out of sight words, adding new ones as they learned them. She not only had to match the words, but say the word, before she could take the match. It seemed to make learning them more fun. Now, math is a different story…

  8. On October 11th, 2011 at 3:08 pm Ashley Says:


    We are doing PREk5 and let me tell you, it’s NUTS! Madeline had to highlight 89.. EIGHTY NINE words in a little book. She’s 5! That’s absurd!

    Our sight words so far have been all of the colors, then a words (airplane, alien, apple, am, and at), then s words (six, see, and something else..) – I’m definitely worried about kindergarten at this rate.. and yes, she is expected to know her letters.. and numbers.. also, the one time we did get the letter home about highlighting it was half a page typed and made ZERO sense.. I even read it to my BFF for her input and she has mothered for 24 yrs!

    It’s a new scary school world, sistah.

  9. On October 16th, 2011 at 3:37 pm Bobbi Says:

    Wait until they start bringing home math homework. I seriously would fail anything past first grade now!! It is absurd!! You are not alone!!!