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Is this NORMAL?!


Junior Member
Hi there,

I posted awhile back under the generic name of "perspective" about communication problems with my son's 4th grade teacher. Well, that hasn't really improved. I decided to ask just for a general outline of how their reading time is structured...how long they have to read...are the worksheets completed while reading, etc. Instead - she sent home a 1/4 page typed sheet that had each subject listed and what was due that week - but NO READING!!! What on earth?!

OK. So - now on to issue #2. She assigned EVERYONE in the class a 150 page book on Tuesday. That was the FIRST day they saw the book. It was due THURSDAY with a test. 150 pages in 2 days?! Is that normal?! In addition to that assignment they had to complete a packet of all the New England States...each state required a crossword, coloring, and labeling of the capital cities. Due the same day as the test...handed out on Monday. In addition to that...they had their spelling words - handed out on Monday, but "oops" she handed out the wrong one (which he started studying) and handed out the "right" ones Tuesday - but the test is still on Friday like always.

Is this normal? Is this the "standard" amount of work expected of 4th graders. It just seems absolutely ridiculous to me - and he was up 2 hours past his bedtime each night to get it all done.

Again, I was a former teacher - and would never have acted like this or assigned like this. I just need your perspective as teachers - and if you think it's overboard what is the best way to handle it? It seems that she doesn't understand anything when I ask her (i.e. see paragraph 1 of this long post :) ). Thanks!


Senior Member
I think that is a lot of work for a 4th grade student to do for homework.

Spelling----I can see making a mistake by handing out the wrong list and still having the test on Friday. Correct words were given out 1 day late and most kids don't study until the night before, if at all.

New England Packet--was this just homework or homework and class work? If it was just homework it is WAY too much, in my opinion. I looked online to see just what states this would cover(thought I knew, but wanted verification) and the interesting part is it can be anywhere from 5-8 states. Let's go with the minimum, 5, and I still say that is a lot for homework because more than one per night needed to be done.

The book---that is absurd!! I would never have expected my students to read 75 pages per night!!! At least they'll be prepared for HS when they get thereLOL


Junior Member
The New England packet was 6 states. I'm so glad you agree about the book and packet! How do you think I should handle this? Talk to the teacher (again) or go higher up?


Senior Member
I would talk to the teacher. I currently teach 3rd, but I've taught 4th and 5th in the past.

I can understand the spelling mistake. I would talk to the teacher to find out if the New England packet is something they are working on in class.

I would also ask about the book expectations. That seems a little unrealistic to me, even if they have time to work on it during class.

I would just ask for clarification from the teacher.

It's so hard to balance mom/teacher somedays, isn't it? I know that I haven't done a good job supporting my son at IEP meetings because I know how hard I work and I automatically want to give the teachers the benefit of the doubt. I've discovered that the world is very different at the high school level, and the special education world (especially dealing with kids with dual exceptionality) is extremely hard to navigate

Good luck.


Senior Member
Isn't the Rule of Thumb

for home work 10 minutes a grade, 0r 40-50 minutes for your son? The book assignment is ridiculous, 150 pages plus worksheets! And then to go assign New England states at the same time unbelievable. I would talk to her in person and let her know your concerns and find out why she felt she needed to assign all this work. I wonder how many students actually learned from the assignments.


Senior Member
Always talk to the teacher to make sure you have the correct story. Tell her your concerns. If she seems to brush you off or you don't get anywhere with her, talk to the principal about your concerns.


Senior Member
If you have the correct story, it sounds like she expects you to teach him at home! What are they doing all day at school? I'm both a teacher and a mom. I firmly believe that at the elementary level, homework is supposed to be for PRACTICING something you already learned at school...not learning new information on your own.


Junior Member
That's exactly what my husband and I said - he didn't learn ANYTHING from the book - just got it done. I don't know WHAT they do during the day. She is very hard to communicate with. I've called - e-mailed - sent notes for other issues (I have a thread here somewhere about it). She either doesn't respond or responds with information that I didn't ask for - and no information for what I did ask for (did that even make sense? :p).

I'll try ONE more time to get the story from her - but I talked with another mom of a boy in the same class and she said had the same story and concerns. *sigh* thanks!


Senior Member
This sounds like

just one side of a story to me. It doesn't sound like the whole thing. I have trouble believing that there's any teacher anywhere who would expect fourth graders to read 150 pages in two days. Something is not right with this story. If a teacher did things like this, she wouldn't last. No parents or administrators would put up with such nonsense.


Senior Member
One time I had a student go home and tell mom she needed to do an entire animal research report complete with bibliography, poster and speech due the next day (4th grade). Mom called to confirm and thank goodness because the assignment was to PICK AN ANIMAL TO RESEARCH!

That funny story told, I am concerned because it's now 2 students with the same story. My suggestion would be the same as everyone else's. Try the teacher one more time, document when and how you have tried to contact her and then go to the admin about it. My guess you are not the only one concerned or unhappy.

Your poor son! I personally think 4th is the best grade and what he's going to remember is unreasonable expectations and a terrible teacher! :(

Good luck. I, personally, would like to be updated on this if possible. I want to know if any teacher would actually expect this from 9 and 10 year olds!


Ask for a conference

If all of this is true, then yes it is too much work for a 4th grader (I teach 4th). However, you don't know if you're getting the entire story - not that I'm in any way suggesting your son isn't telling the truth, but there may be some confusion. Ask the teacher for a conference and that way you can bring up all of your concerns face-to-face and there won't be any confusion from emails or phone calls. Bring a list of concerns and questions if you have to so you remember everything. If you get nowhere with trying to schedule a conference, then contact the principal.


Senior Member
I agree

that you should personally contact the teacher. I cannot imagine anyone giving 4th grade students a 150 page reading assignment that was to be completed in two days-that would be a lot for any age. However, I do know that I have said plenty of things that were totally misunderstood by my students (last year I had a boy who told his parents that I had taken away his recess for the entire year) this type of thing is usually cleared up with a quick phone call or meeting. Usually it is just a misunderstanding. However if all of this is true, I would definitely talk to the principal. I would imagine a lot of parents from the class will be contacting him too. Just out of curiosity, how long has she been teaching? Please keep us updated. I would love to know how it all works out.

Maybe Tired

conference time

Is this the same child who had some confusion about completing a reading assignment and was faced with a test? If so, I would arrange for another conference to see if your child understood these assignments. Is your child able to work on it in class during the day? If so, is he using his time wisely? Is he having a hard time? Is this a higher level class-does he need to be movied to a lower level class? Go to the school and talk to her! Sounds like you no longer like this teacher. I hope you are not expressing your opinions within ear of your child.. sometimes kids accidently hear negative opinions and use them as an excuse for not working in class/twisting events to cause more negative conflicts between the teacher and the parent.


New Member
I've been told

that the general number of minutes a night depends on their grade time 10 minutes. i.e. 4th grade is 4 x 10 so 40 minutes a night... 5th grade is 5 x 10 so 50 minutes a night... When I taught in 4th grade, I stuck to that timeline... I hope this helps.


Senior Member
I teach 10th grade and I would NEVER assign this many pages or expect my students to read an entire book in two days! I give anywhere from 20-40 pages of a paperback a night and that includes in-class reading. Not all HS teachers are unreasonable.


Senior Member
don't teach lit, but

I know our teachers who do, at 7th & 8th grades, and they would never give that assignment. Insist on speaking to the teacher, not a note since that hasn't worked in the past for you. If the teacher will not meet with you , or not quickly enough, phone the principal with your concerns. I am not usually one to suggest principal, but this seems like an unreasonable amount of work for 4th grade.

When you do speak to the teacher, ask when the assignment was given and exactly what was required. Perhaps your son had been distracted and didn't hear the assignment correctly? Take your next step based on her answer. Good luck.


Senior Member
Once more

I'm telling you, this is NOT the whole story. I don't believe for a minute that a fourth grade teacher assigned that. This sounds like a child's tall tale to me.


Senior Member
I would check with the teacher. How is communication handled from home to school and school to home? Does he use an agenda book to record assignments and due dates?
Two days for 150 pages? Seems a bit extreme. It just does not feel like you have all the information.

I also teach 4th grade and give 40-50 minute homework. However, sometimes my dear little darlings drag it out at home and it can seem like a lot more than what it actually is. I try to make sure they have time in class to complete it..or most all of it. Time management....always seems to be a big issue..at school and at home.

(Also, a child will almost always go to the least resistant adult when things don't quite go their way.) :rolleyes: I will be curious to know how things turn our for your son. Keep us posted.