I hate doing my kid's homework, a mom's blog

Kids should have a voice in their education

October 20, 2017

Most every student in Idaho (third through 12th grade) will be asked to complete a short online survey this spring. The survey will give students an opportunity to voice how they feel about their education. (Click here to read the details at IdahoEdNews.org)

Some of the questions are:

  • How often do your teachers seem excited to be teaching your class?
  • How often do you worry about violence at your school?
  • How fair or unfair are the rules for the students at this school?

This simple questionnaire could help us better understand our kid’s teachers, classrooms and schools.

I love it. I have spoken with other parents and they love it.

Feedback and test scores both provide us with information. The more information we can get, the more we can understand our kids. The more we understand our kids, the more we can adapt to what they need.

Some kids don’t like their teachers, this is true. They don’t like teachers who are mean. They don’t like teachers who treat them poorly.

They do like teachers who show them respect. They like teachers who try to understand them and their learning needs. 

As a parent, I know that sometimes my kids don’t like my rules and sometimes I’m not very understanding. Being a great parent is hard. Because I know it is difficult, I read books and talk to other parents to discover different parenting strategies. I also ask my kids for feedback. I use all of this information to change and adapt my parenting styles.

At school, our kids are constantly being tested on what they have learned. This survey could help us understand why they are (or are not) learning.

As a parent, I’d like to see students and their families have a voice in their education.

Here’s what I learned about the college application process

October 13, 2017

I have a high school senior who wants to attend college after graduation.

I want to help him pursue his education, so I contacted the high school counselor for a meeting. It took two tries, but she finally was able to meet with us.

Here’s a list of what I learned from our meeting;

  1. All of Idaho’s graduating seniors are pre-admitted into six colleges in Idaho. They still need to apply, but if they use the Next Steps website, they can apply for free.
  2. If your teenager wants to go to school out-of-state, then you need to check out the Western Undergraduate Exchange program. The WUE offers reduced tuition rates for colleges in 14 of the Western United States (and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands). If your senior is interested in the available majors, the WUE can significantly help defray out-of-state tuition costs (apply early).
  3. All Idaho juniors take the SAT, free of charge at a cost of about $1 million (thank you, Idaho taxpayers). If your teen has already taken the test and you do not know the scores, you can get a copy of them from the high school or look up the scores on college board. If your teenager is like mine, and can’t remember the login info, you can call the number on the website and they can help you (they are really nice… it must happen all the time). Click here to find out how Idaho SAT scores compare to the rest of the nation.
  4. Before taking the SAT (or ACT), you can request to have the scores sent to four colleges or universities. You will not be able to see the score before it is sent to the colleges. If you want to wait to see the score before sending it, it will cost $12 per school.
  5. If it’s not a financial burden, take both the SAT and ACT test. Some students perform better on one test than the other. Your student can sign up for the ACT here.
  6. Help your senior write a resume. This will help them with future job applications and requests for letters of recommendation.
  7. Speaking of letters of recommendation, your senior will need at least two of them. It is best to have the letters written by adults who know (and think highly of) your senior.
  8. If he/she wants to apply to multiple colleges, the Common Application can consolidate the process. You fill out one application, for multiple schools. Check the list for your colleges. It only had one college from my son’s list, but it had three from Idaho.
  9. Lastly, I learned that the counselor does not know my son as well as I do. She knows his scores and his face, but she’s not invested in his future like I am. It is up to us, the parents, to help our kids find the best path to their future success.

What have you learned that has helped ease the process of college applications?

My morning madness

October 13, 2017

My school mornings — and afternoons, for that matter — are a bit maddening.

My kids attend three different schools, all with three different start times. My mornings usually go something like this:

I wake up before my kids, so I can make them a decent breakfast (pancakes with peanut butter are the best), help them make their lunches (so it’s not just chips and cookies), and fix their hair (usually only the girls want my help). Once everyone is ready, then I start my shuttle service to and from schools.

My high school kids start at 7:40, but they have to leave by 7:20 to avoid getting stuck in traffic (and thankfully I have one licensed high school driver).

My middle school kids start at 8:20, but they need to leave before 8, also to avoid traffic.

And my elementary school kids start at 9:05.

By the time I have finished running everyone to school, I am spent, and I haven’t even had time to shower!

Did anyone think this through? Do any other parents struggle with the spread out start times?

Hi, I’m Melanie

October 11, 2017

I don’t know a lot about Idaho education policy. But I do have vast knowledge about bell schedules, lunch menus and dress codes. And, with seven kids, I have become an expert at homework.

But doing homework with my kids is not enough. I want to know more about my kids’ education.

I decided to start reading IdahodEdNews.org and looking at school data at IdahoEdTrends.org. The more I learn, the more questions I have.

I have questions about standardized tests, graduation rates and what lawmakers and schools are doing with our tax dollars. I want to know how my school’s data compares to the data in other districts, other states and across the nation. I want to know more.

I know that if I have questions, other parents must have questions, too. Now that all of my children are in school — two in elementary school, two in middle school, two in high school and one in college — I am committed to asking questions, talking to other parents, learning more, and sharing what I learn on this blog.

I am a normal mom.

Sometimes I am even outstanding (leaving sweet notes in lunches). Sometimes I am terrible (forgetting to sign up for the SAT before the deadline).

But most of the time I’m just a normal mom.

I love my kids and I have high hopes for them. All seven of them. I want them to have all of the opportunities that a good education can provide. I want them to know how to learn, to be safe and to be happy.

I want to do more than chaperone field trips and sort papers in the classroom (even though I’m really good at sorting papers). I want to be informed so I can participate in school-wide decisions, from the Capitol building to the classroom. I want to be an educated voter.

I want parents to have a voice in our kids education. No one loves our kids more than we do.

Let’s learn together. Let’s join the conversation.

Tell me what are you curious about, and let’s find the answers.