Sunday, October 26, 2008

First grade homework

First, let me go on record as completely and totally against "family" homework. But since I'm still not in charge of the world (and I question why not), I have to suck it up and help out with such homework when it comes home. Now I freely admit to offering as little adult help as possible because of my dislike for these projects. After all, I went to school and did quite well, thank you very much, and now I'm finished.

So tonight in an effort to avoid repeating first grade, I sent D. downstairs to help T. instead of helping myself. The task was to find 3 facts for the first grader to tell his class about catfish (his chosen animal for the animal mask he also has to make--all due tomorrow, of course). For those of you without young children (and I honestly don't know why you would read my ramblings if you don't have kids but, just in case...), it is important to note in all of this that first graders are 6 years old. So you know the mask was going to be crap and the facts would be basic. Apparently though, D. forgot that. The facts that T. reappeared upstairs carrying, all written by dad, were:

1. Catfish are a very diverse group of bony fish.
2. More than half of all catfish species live in the Americas.
3. Catfish have one of the greatest range in size within a single order of bony fish.

Sounds like a first grader to me. Doesn't it to you? Now I ask you what self-respecting parent expects a 6 year old to be able to read this sort of thing to his class? (Or be interested in these dreadfully boring facts?) The poor child wouldn't know what he was saying, never mind being incapable of reading some of these words. Thanks for all that help with the kid homework dear!

Incidentally, when I helped T. find new facts to replace these stupid ones (not that I'm judging, mind you, we came up with these--rendered in first grade writing and spelling with translation to follow:

1. Catfish wiscrs are calld barebells. (Catfish whiskers are called barbels.)
2. Catfish have no sacls. (Catfish have no scales.)
3. One cind of catfish can walk on land. (One kind of catfish can walk on land.)

I guess I would be okay in first grade again. At least I'd know age appropriate responses to the homework!


  1. Uh, I hate to do this, but I liked D.'s facts better. And I bet your first grader could have learned to say them.

    My 2nd grader much prefers odd and boring facts, or facts that seem to contradict themselves or that otherwise make a mockery of the assignment. I shall send him to D. for help next time he needs it.

    To finish, I present a poem that I probably learned in first grade. Ignore the fact that most catfish are fresh water fish, please:

    The catfish he
    Can swim in sea
    Inside the ocean
    (something that rhymes with sea)

    The catfish he
    Can walk on land
    Over the dunes
    And over the sand.

  2. It's not the learning to say them so much as it was that the first grader had to be the one to write them rather than dad and then be able to read them at a remove of 2 or more days. Given his hereditary, complete lack of spelling skills, any of D.'s facts would have made this tough (both the writing and the reading later on). As a matter of fact, I have my doubts about him being able to read his sloppy writing with the facts he did choose. I did try to throw out D.'s second fact for inclusion: that most catfish live in the Americas but the 6 year old wrinkled his nose, shrugged, and said "No," so...

  3. Don't catfish mostly eat poop? That sounds like an important fact, and one that he'd remember. Bottom feeders -- that's an important vocabulary word.

  4. I tried bottom feeders as a fact too but he wanted no part of that. Personally, the fact that interested me the most was that catfish actually sink (negative buoyancy). They are also the ones who can drink sperm and still fertilize their eggs. I found it more politic to avoid that fact though as that might have brought up questions I didn't want to answer while we still had last minute homework to finish!


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