I knew that with the start of first grade, homework wasn’t far behind. I’ve seen other parents on Facebook and Twitter talking about how young they start kids with homework now, so I was prepared. When the homework folder arrived in Cordy’s backpack for the first time, I turned off the TV and sat at the table with Cordy to help her complete her homework. It took about 20 minutes for her to do all of the worksheets, which seemed like a lot of time to devote to homework each night for a six year old.
And then I found out that was her homework for the entire week. Oops. Ah well, at least she had several days off from doing homework, right?
This week, though, one of her worksheets stumped me. I knew that someday she’d ask for help with homework and I’d be unable to help because I would have forgotten advanced algebra or the process of photosynthesis because they just aren’t practical in my everyday life and my brain cells needed room for more important things, like the bajillion passwords I have to remember for every online account or the lyrics of Katy Perry’s Last Friday Night. I never thought I’d be unable to answer a question about first grade grammar.
The worksheet had several sentences on it, with the instruction, “Write the naming part of the sentence below each sentence.”
Wait – the “naming part” of a sentence? WTF?
“Uh, Cordy, I’m not exactly sure what you’re supposed to do for this worksheet,” I explained. “Do you know what the naming part of a sentence is?”
“No, mommy. I don’t know.”
I turned to Twitter, where I was mostly met with silence and the one suggestion that maybe it was the noun in the sentence. Apparently most of Twitter has forgotten their first grade grammar as well, which made me feel a little better. Unity in cluelessness.
I then turned to the all-knowing Google, where 90% of the links agreed that the “naming part” of the sentence is its subject.
Obvious response: so why not call it the SUBJECT then?
Dear textbook editors: I understand that writing new versions of the same, dry material can be boring. But syntax naming is not an area for you to flex your creative muscle in order to freshen up the lesson. You’re confusing the hell out of us parents and making us look like we couldn’t pass a basic elementary school standardized test. Also? What’s wrong with “subject?” The “naming part” just sounds babyish. Stop dumbing down my kid’s lessons!
I’m sure this won’t be the last I see of these changes, but I really hope I’ll be able to translate her homework in the future. Next thing you know she’ll have to find the “doing-stuff part” of the sentence.
(OMG, please don’t let that be on next week’s homework or I swear I’ll homeschool her with my 1980’s curriculum, when we actually had to know the real names of the parts of a sentence. And use non-safety scissors to cut things. And walk uphill in the snow to school. Both ways.)