Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How I made my kids miserable yesterday

Thought I'd keep some track here of how my kids are doing on that summer homework I mentioned last week, either as a record of success or lazy failure. Here's what we did yesterday, 8/9/10:

The Spanish workbook I'm using with my son tries to make things interesting by throwing in celebrity names -- as in yesterday's exercise, which required matching famous relatives with the Spanish terms that described their relationship (for example, "Goldie Hawn y Kate Hudson" with "La madre and la hija," "Luke y Owen Wilson" with "los hermanos," and "Darth Vader" with "El padre de Luke Skywalker." Cute idea ... except my son's awareness of popular culture pretty much ends at Nickelodeon and PBS Kids. So I had to explain who everyone was before he could have a good guess. Kind of wished we could skip over "Paris y Nicky Hilton" -- I try so hard to pay no attention to them at all.

Also on the table for my son was a geometry worksheet about identifying angles. This book also tries to make things fun, in this case presenting the angles to be identified as the legs of little cartoon gymnasts. Female gymnasts, with arrows pointing to their crotches so we knew just what angle was being asked for. I don't think it registered with my son, but ... maybe not the most tasteful way of presenting the information, ya know?

My daughter did a worksheet from the remedial math review sheets posted on her college's website, my bid to make her as prepared as possible for her upcoming remedial math class. This particular sheet was about order of operations, or PEMDAS as my kids have been taught to call it, and some of the problems were quite complicated, with exponents and square roots and parentheses and brackets. I had to Google for instructions a few times before I could help her out, and even then we came to the conclusion that one of the solutions on the answer sheet was just wrong. More often, though, it came down to her copying something incorrectly as she moved from step to step. Oops.

Because I am mean and want them to be unhappy, I'm also requiring them to read with me for the rest of their summer. Yesterday they each started books -- Bridge to Terabithia, iBooks for iPad version, for my son, and an old coffee-stained copy of The Color of Water for my daughter, who hates to read but will sometimes agree to nonfiction. She almost read The Color of Water her freshman year in high school, before the resource room teacher came back from maternity leave and supplanted the sub who thought that was a good idea. I saw it was on a list of books that might be used in her college remedial reading class, so we'll give it a try. I may have to do some pretty heavy bribing to keep her going.

What unpleasant academic chores are you forcing your kids to do? Share in the comments.

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