2005-05-12 / Other News


My daughter bugs me every month to buy her books and other stuff from the book order form she’s given at school. The fact is we can’t afford to buy books every month, and I’d rather use the library. Sometimes I wish that my daughter didn’t receive the order form every month.

Learning to use the library is certainly an excellent skill for your daughter to develop. However, how would your daughter react to being the only one in her class to not receive or have to refuse a book order form? There are positive and affordable ways to use a book order to serve your purposes.

For instance, I know my son always loves to look at the book order form carefully; he actually reads the blurbs about the book. Doing this may help your daughter decide on books she might want to check out of the library. Perhaps you might let your daughter order a book every second month, perhaps as a reward for good grades or for finishing two or three library books.

Book orders also contain many items that are not really related to reading. You should speak to your daughter frankly about your financial situation and suggest that she might enjoy a shopping trip with you for some special occasion.

Also, if you can afford only a couple of dollars for a book order, limit what your daughter can purchase by giving her a dollar amount that she can spend. Make her do the math, using estimation, pencil and paper, or a calculator to find out what she can afford, thus giving her an important lesson in budgeting.

Another positive is that book orders allow a teacher to earn points that allow her to purchase books or other educational items for the classroom outside the normal classroom budget. I also know teachers who save their points and buy books for their students to give to them at holiday time or at the end of the year. These gifts are much more appropriate than candy or trinkets.

I never know how much help I should offer my second-grader when he has a major project due. Recently, he was given a clothespin and asked to make a doll as part of the unit in Social Studies on immigration. Some suggestions were given including using a glue gun to assemble the doll’s clothes. Now I know that the teacher isn’t expecting my second-grader to use a glue gun. So how much help do I give?

You’re correct; a glue gun in the hands of a second-grader would be a mistake. But glue gun aside, teachers often assign projects such as the one you described because they want you to have fun with your child in an educational way. Teachers often assign projects with plenty of time built in for you to find the time to plan the project together and then carry out your plan. Projects such as these are not intended to be completed in one sitting, but instead are often offered to help students practice planning ahead and structuring their time so the project is handed in by the due date.

You need to find the educational purpose behind the project. If your son is studying immigration, then you and he may discover additional topics about immigration that will add to his educational experience.

Send questions to: Answers from the Teacher, P.O. Box 54, South Egremont, MA 01258. Questions may also be e-mailed to answersfromtheteacher@adelphia.net

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