This is the sixth post by FedUp Mom, the mother of a fifth grader. FedUp Mom’s daughter used to attend a public school in suburban Philadelphia, but this year FedUp Mom moved her to a private Quaker school, hoping for a more relaxed environment. You can read her other posts here, here, here, here and here.
I Hate Reading Logs
by FedUp Mom
Every time I think we’ve solved the school problem something comes along to bite me in the rear. This week it’s the dreaded reading log. We found out about it from a letter the teachers sent home:
“Your child will be expected to read every night. We ask that you sign the log each night … We will also check the log regularly, in order to ensure follow through on your child’s part… Please sign the form below and return it to school tomorrow with your child.”
And now, the fun part:
“Thank you for your partnership in your child’s education.” (!)
And how does following the teacher’s directions make me a partner exactly? I feel more like an unpaid employee. Wait a minute — we’re paying them!
There was a little form at the bottom of the letter that said:
“I have read the above letter and agree to help my child by signing his/her log each night.”
I crossed this out and wrote in:
“We trust our daughter to do her reading.”
Then we signed it.
Then we sent the following e-mail to the teacher:
Teacher X: we have chosen not to participate in the reading log. We’ve experienced reading logs before and have these objections:
1.) They turn reading into a chore.
2.) They send a message that we don’t trust (daughter) to do the reading without meddling and micromanaging.
(Daughter) will do the reading she needs to do, but she won’t be logging the pages. Thank you.
I’m hoping that will be the end of it. I’m really tired of conferences and I’m sure we all have better things to do with our time.
1,097 thoughts on ““I Hate Reading Logs,” says FedUp Mom”
Interesting comments. In order for the partnership to work between the teacher and the parent, you must be a dictator to the very parents that really want to partner with you for the benefit of their child. Interesting concept. I would think that since each family is different that the partnership between teacher/parent would indeed be slightly different for each family. Partnership has never meant blindly do what I say except in terms of the teacher/parent relationship.
It’s interesting to hear the perspective of some parents, but what is disconcerting is the unbalanced perspective voiced here. How many parents here have actually volunteered in the classroom and understand the responsibilities of a public school teacher? It’s easy to criticize someone, until you’ve been in their shoes. Parents are truly the first teachers of a child; and truly devoted parents are far more influential and powerful in a child’s life than any teacher can be over the course of one year. One teacher balances the personalities and different family situations of 20+ children. Teachers are also responsible for teaching an uncompromising set of standards and ensuring that each child reaches those standards, irregardless of the student’s intellectual capacity or family involvement. This leaves little room for passionate educators to cater to the individual personalities of each student, and that is frustrating for all parties involved. We pay teachers meagerly, respect them even less, and give them one of the most important jobs in the nation. The system needs a lot of work, but criticizing instructional strategies or teachers themselves will do little to solve the problem. Get educated, lobby your legislatures and follow-up with candidates who advocate for public education. You’ll be setting a powerful example to your children about problem solving.
New Teacher asks:
How many parents here have actually volunteered in the classroom
Well, I know I have, and I expect many other parents who write here have done the same.
However, reading logs don’t happen in the classroom. They happen at home. We parents see the effects they have at home. It’s not about the classroom.
This is in reply to Anon’s comment:
America offers education to all children no matter what circumstances the children come from. In other countries, they pick and choose who gets to go to school. This is the reason why America lags behind in the big subjects like math and science. However, I love the American Education system for the fact that they do not hold anyone from getting an education. America rocks!!!
What hateful people on here! To the original poster: Maybe you don’t like the reading logs, but for some families, they are necessay to get parents involved in their child’s education.
What energy you have put into be mean spirited, lacking understanding, and selfish-minded. Reading your rants make me want to cry for the state of our country. You have no grasp of the education system. You have no idea the work that goes into being a teacher…parenting children because many of them do not have parents at home that are pulling their weight, whether by choice or family situation.
Sign the log and get over it. What is your behavior teaching your child. Pick your battles. Important ones.
I’m glad you are a vigilant parent, but not everyone can be like you. Teachers can’t meet your every need. They have much more important needs to contend with.
Parents….do you know or realize what teachers have to deal with?
All teachers are asking is for you to log what your child reads and sign it. If your child is already reading, then it should not be difficult just to log it and sign.
Are you too busy to do that? Parents should always be there for their child every day. It only takes about 1 minute to fill in the log and sign it.
Follow Nike’s advice…..Just Do It!!
ESE Teacher, you seem to have missed the entire point of FedUpMom’s post The reason we parents do not like reading logs is not because we are uninvolved in our children’s education or can’t make the time. It’s because we are extremely involved, are passionate about reading and want to use our home time wisely. Namely we want to be parents who instill and inspire, not mandate useless logs that have shown time and time again to do far more harm than good.
And please don’t lecture me about non-readers who suddenly turn into bookworms because of this tedious task. Research shows the opposite. And even if so, how does that address the voracious reader? Mine devours books. So why do need a log? In the time it takes to fill one out, she could be reading another book!
So much time is wasted in school on mindless useless tasks. Why waste our time as well? Just for the heck of it? Childhood goes fast. You no longer have my permission to waste another second of it. You say you need my log to prove my daughter’s reading? Just ask her! Or me. She and I would gladly talk your ear off about the pile of books she consumes.
Forgive the period omissions. That function key is stuck on this laptop. Knowing that, I went back and tried to insert them but missed one or two. I certainly know better ;(.
Here’s a terrific discussion on a teachers’ forum:
including this remark from a mom and teacher:
If kids read, they don’t need reading logs. If they don’t, reading logs won’t make them.
I’ll add it to my master list:
You say that it is wasted time for your daughter who could be reading another book instead of filling in the log, why don’t you fill it out while she is reading her next book. This way the time for her won’t be wasted. How long could it take?? Maybe 1 minute?? If it takes more time than that, well then, that’s a bigger problem.
The larger question is not how long it takes but why do it? Why do you need it? Think long and hard about that one. You want to know if she’s reading, just ask her!
She was a very shy child. She was starved for some teacher attention. Engage her. Talk to her. Talk to her on the playground when she’s lonely. Ask her about the books she’s reading. You could start a lovely relationship with a serious child who has a passion for books. She would never forget you. But you’d rather do the log thing. Sigh…
Ah, so you want me to do it? If you are asking me to do it, then I’m going to tell you what I read. And it’s going to take a lot longer than one minute. I read a lot.
Ooo good one HWB. I’ve never thought of that one, but if the issue of logs comes up this fall and I’m supposed to sign, I’ll have to get busy.
Hey, I’m on to something. Woo Hoo! Fill out your OWN log. And ask the teacher for verification that she read it!
I was going to give my students a reading log to help them keep track of their reading, but I guess I won’t. I sometimes get discouraged as a teacher because no I am the blame if Johnny can not read. I can try all day to teach him but if it is not reinforced at home then what’s the point. Does a child learn to walk by just trying it one time? No you have to bribe them to walk by encouraging them, supporting them and making them do it when they do not want to. But if you parents feel that learning only is suppose to happen at school, then homeschooling will not work either. It takes all kinds of teachers, support people and PARENTS. You don’t learn to drive a car by taking a class, you have to practice once you leave the class or you will never pass the driving test. Thank you,
A teacher who is leaving the school three hours after the bell has rang.
Does a child learn to walk by just trying it one time? No you have to bribe them to walk by encouraging them, supporting them and making them do it when they do not want to.
Stacy, you must not have children. If you did, you would know that what you wrote is exactly wrong. Kids teach themselves how to walk, on their own timetable. You can’t force it, and you don’t need to do anything. In fact, if the kid hasn’t taught herself to walk by a reasonable age, it’s a marker for developmental delay.
I sometimes get discouraged as a teacher because no I am the blame if Johnny can not read.
If your job is to teach Johnny how to read, you bet I blame you if Johnny can’t read.
It’s as if we had a plumber on here complaining, “Those darn parents! I do everything I can, but they blame me if the toilet still won’t flush!” Yes. Yes we do.
Yes, we parents have fond memories of “making” our toddlers walk when they don’t want to. Anyone who has actually raised a child knows this is impossible.
The idea of forcing any living being to do anything through coercive means is nasty business.
As a teacher, I now know that not only am I battling school board decisions, state regulations, the public view of teachers and the parents.
Teachers are no longer highly regarded anymore. In the eyes of most, we don’t know what we do. Where I work, I don’t have much parental support. So, yes, I believe that reading logs are important. (HomeworkBlues) I do actually look at the logs and check to make sure they are filled out and signed by the parent. So, if you feel that I need a log to state whether or not I look at it or not, you will always get a YES I DO and I will have my mom or dad sign it saying that I do look at the logs.
ESE, so you look at the log. Wonderful. And this justifies the task how? This justifies taking time out of yet more reading how? This ignites a passion and a curiosity for reading how?
I cultivated a love of reading. I instilled a desire for it. I’ve done my job well. But you have a job to do as well, teacher. If the best you can offer is that you check my child’s reading log, I can just eliminate the middlewoman and keep her at home, no?
As FedupMom said previously, yes, it’s the teacher’s job to teach reading. That’s what we hire you to do. As for me, don’t worry about our home time. Trust me. She reads plenty.
I’m back to my original premise. Reading logs are a mindless task, pure busy work. And if we can argue that in the time it took to do it she could have been reading more, we’ve already proven our point. You don’t want homework to take AWAY from more learning. At best, it should enhance it. And it does not seem to. Chuck the endless paperwork. Wouldn’t you want more free time to plan scintillating lessons?
Well, for some it might be a mindless task. However for some, the only parent involvement that I get is that they sign the reading log. So, you keep doing what you’re doing, and I’ll keep doing what I am doing!!!
I read a few of the comments. I dont’ oppose completely, but have some point on reading logs. First of all, I am a mother and a teacher. I am an English teacher and I do think that doing anything at school without a purpose is worth discussing. Reading logs should have a purpose and not only to respond to the reading itself, but to show us teachers what they think and how they are applying critical thinking/reading skills. However, if this is dreadful and difficult to do then we should consider why…Is it hard for them to write…I don’t mind having a parent write what their child is telling them. The point is children should be able to express what they think in a simple way…before they can start writing academic essays since we want to prepare them for life after school.
I am writing this because I am also a special ed teacher. I know that many of my students want to go to college and I know and have learned what they need to do to survive and succeed not only at school, but in life.
Wow…I wish all my students’ parents had the problems y’all have. I also wish they had the time and resources to complain about it on a blog. Be sure to pat yourselves on the back before you go to bed tonight.
Oh, knock it off. I’m so tired of being patronized. You can’t win. If you are involved, you are sneered upon as uppity. If you are not involved, you are a deadbeat parent who is to be blamed for all the ills of society. You may see blogging about these very real and serious concerns as a waste. I see involved passionate parents who actually care about their children’s learning.
No, we don’t pat ourselves on the back each night. We’re too busy crying and tearing our hair out of our heads, thanks to the chaos and trauma, brought on by homework overload and useless busy work. We see the tatters of a once solid family relationship and know that unhealthy homework brings on more tears than knowledge.
Yes, I know, you teach in an inner urban school. God bless you. I fail to see how that answers the questions here.
To add, I didn’t realize it took resources to comment on a blog. All we need is an internet connection, available in the library as a last resort.
Well said, HWB.
Are there families in the world with bigger problems than a reading log? Of course there are. But my family happened to experience this problem, so I wrote about it. The fact that the discussion is still going on, 3 years and 1000 comments later, shows that I struck a nerve.
I am a public school teacher at the very high school from which I graduated.
The problem – yes, singular – with public education is that it is reactionary and often reverts to the lowest common denominator.
The parents responding here are likely those parents who care enough to imbue in their children a desire to learn. I doubt few here are languishing in poverty: I doubt few here are flourishing in affluence. In short, we represent the middle road of socioeconomic status. We also represent the group most likely to take an active role in our children’s education.
But with the advent of standardized testing at the state level, public schools are – rightfully – panicking and – not rightfully – attempting to address all students with strategies aimed at ensuring that the lowest-achieving (and, by correlation, lowest socioeconomic) students have the same support at home that they have at school. Often, and I would dare say usually, this is not the case for this group of students. Each year I have at least one class period of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds along with two or more AP English classes. The difference in turn-out between the two groups at Open House is staggering. If I call the parent of an AP student about a concern, a conference will be scheduled the next day. If I call the parent of an English II Regular student, I get a disconnected phone, or an answering machine, or another live-in relative who never relays the message and couldn’t care less to do so.
Of those groups, which brings the standing of the school down? Of those groups, which will likely have more attention paid to it?
Is it right? No.
Is it understandable? Yes.
What can we do about it? Start by understanding.
Start by understanding that most public schools are trying everything they know to get all students to achieve.
Understand that most public schools would rather have a concerned parent than an evasive one.
Understand that forums such as this can have one of two outcomes: a conclave for vitriolic invective that argues in the present tense and does not work toward a solution, or a convocation of minds deliberating ways in which school and community can provide an environment for each child to learn and grow and achieve to his potential.
So don’t hate reading logs, or the teachers who give them, or the schools who produce them, or even the system that engenders their existence. Don’t even hate the parents who are not as involved as we are with their children’s education. No amount of hate aimed at everyone or everything will help any single child.
January 14th, 2009 at 11:52 am
Reading logs are just a way to get the parents involved in their childrens education. If kids start to hate them it’s because you, the parents made them hate it. Take your own advice and make it fun. Or better yet, take your kid out of school and do it yourself. Know it all parents like you make teaching painful!! I’d love to know what you do for a living so I can come to your place of work and do nothing but criticize! Participate in your childs education or not, but all you are teaching her is to disrespect her teacher…good job mom of year!
Diane, not going to respond. Don’t have the patience. You haven’t been listening, have you? Read up on this blog and then we’ll talk. I don’t have time for these useless circles.
Reading logs are just a way to get the parents involved in their childrens education.
Diane, do you hear how patronizing that is? Why don’t you talk to us parents as equals, and find out what kind of involvement works for us?
Its funny too
You have all been very patient on this. Speaking as a mother, home-schooler, parent helper, elementary middle AND high-school teacher (not all at the same time) I have to agree that reading logs are the most mind numbingly boring things. It is bad enough when you have to just list what you read but when they become learning journals or book reviews!
Like almost all teachers I have been concerned about how poorly our children read and write so as a Science teacher I decided that I must do something about literacy. What better than some comprehension exercises based upon the topic we were studying. Knowing that none of the students really liked reading I prepared some fairly detailed text about antibiotics and some very explicit questions. I expected the students to struggle with this as the language was fairly technical and the questions were quite challenging. I settled down to some marking expecting the activity to take 1/2 the lesson. Imagine my surprise when the work was finished within minutes! I collected the work in to mark expecting it to be poorly done but guess what – almost 100% perfect scores. I have repeated this on other topics with the same outcome.
What I conclude from this is that the ability to read text and extract information from text is good when the answers are clearcut. Reading isn’t the problem at least when looking for facts. It is the boring pointless pontificating they have to do.
Ok, I am new to this blog so bear with me 🙂 I have 3 children in a very good public school. 2nd, 3rd, and 5th 80% of our taxes go to our schools, we have teachers making over 100k. I know all about these reading logs and truthfully we do them with a lot of fighting.
I agree with you all that it takes the fun out of reading. I suggested to my sons teacher to let him read mag articles or the newspaper on subjects he liked not a chapter book. Because he was writing the log but it was never good enough and he now hates reading…..the articles are shorter, but he is reading!I We work an average of three hours a night with my children doing homework, try and have dinner together and talk about something other than homework, keep them clean, take them to dr’s, dentists…etc. I am so affended from the teacher above to find out how alot of teachers feel about us parents and quite frankly OUR children. All of this is a test to see if I take a part in my childs life????? My children and us are being punished for someone not taking care of their child…. Shame on you! There are after school programs after care etc. for those in need.
I am a stay at home mom who quit work to raise my children but, on top of being a parent I am a teacher also and no I didn’t want to be one. I have many friends that have to have a two income house but when they get home they now are up with their children doing homework. They are involved!!!!! I think now a days parents are more involved than ever. I will have more to say later but have to go get ready for my children to come home! I really hope you are not one of my childrens teachers you will do more harm than good! and I don’t want to meet you when I come in for your dreaded parent/teacher conf. Then you can tell me how my son needs to put more detales in his reading log and when I don’t agree you can call me a helicopter mom or whatever you want….. I am not asking you to raise my child only teach him! Give homework that will reinforce what was taught that day, not busy work for them and us. I have fun keeping busy with my kids all by myself. You really should find another profession like maybe a prison guard.
Have a nice day all, I do hope something can be worked out for some kind of balance.
ValerieKat, thanks for an uplifting comment. Brava to you for finding interesting teaching methods that ignite students’ passions.
This is your most seminal line, though:
“Knowing that none of the students really liked reading…”
Over and over here on this blog, we keep hearing about kids who hate reading. The very next comment substantiates this too. So many children do. It’s heartbreaking. I was a bookworm and so is my child.
We all know the answer. Mind numbing reading logs haven’t really done the trick now, have they? Our kids hate reading. ‘Nuff said.
Last night: got home @4:00, had snack, jumped in car at 4:15, went to religion, back home @ 6:30 (had to pick up pizza no time to cook din) 6:45 hit the books.
2nd grader- done @ 8:00, 8:15 in shower, 9:00 in bed!
3rd grader- done @ 8:45, 9:00 in shower, 9:45 in bed!
5th grader- done @ 10:30, 10:40 in shower, 11:00 in bed.
I am a parent that does believe in some homework. Like for example 2nd grader go over spelling words for your exam. He could have been done by 7:00 and sat and watched a movie or played a game, but his homework was write all twelve spelling words then trace them each 3 times with different colored crayons, then a 2 sided math sheet, and a 3 page worksheet on measuring, then read 20 min and reading log. And he is the youngest you can only amagine the other two…. The oldest had an essay and reading log to boot. Isn’t he already reading and writing? Then read and write on the reading log. My husband and I are running from child to child like chickens with their heads cut off. And before others ask yes we have them seperated while doing homework because well look at their ages lol… But also while some are doing homework the other is showering so with that come cleaning ears etc… I am so tired of people telling me it’s easy, that I need to manage better. Please people there has to be some solution, I think 10 min per grade would work! I miss my children, I want to spend home time not school time with them. Sad! I am going to attempt to talk to teacher but feel I probably will get no where! Sorry just my thoughts have to vent…lol
Sadly, I think there is nothing to LOL about. I sense the exhaustion in your post. If you feel stressed as an adult, what your children are experiencing is worse because they don’t have the life experience to balance the psychological burden. The rest and relaxation your son would have gotten from watching a movie helps him academically too, not just churning out the math sheets.
I applaud your willingness to talk to the teachers, but ultimately it is your home and your children, and the only way the school dictates what happens in your home is if you let them. You can unilaterally declare the 10 minute per grade rule in your own home! Be brave, your kids will only benefit.
I second PsychMom here. Anonymous, take heart. You don’t have to just do whatever the teacher says. Believe me, there are plenty of kids already who don’t do the homework. Tell the teachers that the homework has eaten your family life, and you will start making decisions about what your family will and won’t do.
Your 2nd-grader’s spelling homework, for instance, is a complete waste of time. Why do it?
PsychMom, beautifully written response. Kudus to FedUpMom as well.
To recap: it’s your home. You do what you want. As FedUp says, you tell the teacher homework has eaten your home life. Tell her you’ve heard from other moms with older kids who wished they’d put their foot down. There is no benefit. If you do nothing, all you will be left with is regret.
Don’t ask. Tell. It’s your home. You have every right to make the best decisions you can for your own family and no teacher can take that right away from you. Don’t be afraid. Stand your ground. You can be respectful but do be firm. Remember. It’s your home. Your children. Your life. YOU and only you decides that.
Hi there. I’m a teacher, and I don’t like reading logs, and I don’t use them. And I don’t appreciate FedUp Mom’s tone. Thank you, though, for an interesting post (and so many comments!).
Thanks, Mark. I don’t appreciate your tone either. Thanks for your comment!
It is a shame to read such angry messages, from parents.
No, reading should not be a chore…but your daughter is not the only student in the classroom environment, and there are parents out there who DO NOT read with their children and need a helpful reminder.
Sometimes students need to learn how to self-manage, it is NOT about trust/not-trust…just a mini-lesson on time management…..and integrating reading into our lives everyday. Implementing reading logs is just a very small piece of the puzzle.
However… you are entitled to your opinion…but why is everything you right so negative? If you hate school systems why not take your daughter out.
OH and I have a spelling error “right”—-“write”, maybe because of my exhaustion because I am STILL at school…..but you should pay us right?! Ha.
The Amount of Homework we get is too DAMN High BULLSHIT HW!
DedicatedTeacher, the problem is that reading logs don’t actually produce the results you want them to produce. They don’t teach our kids time-management skills; they don’t make eager readers out of kids who don’t want to read.
Instead, they send the message that reading is an unpleasant chore, and turn kids who used to like reading into reluctant readers. Many parents, and teachers, report this result. Take a look at my master list of anti-reading-log material:
Join the Chorus Against Reading Logs
Sometimes anger is the justified result of spending years trying to be heard.
The above message was from FedUpMom. I’m not sure why my comments are now going through as Anonymous.
i hate readin logs i have to do 70 pages a week
Hi! I’ve been reading your blog for a long time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Houston Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the excellent work!
I’m in year 8 in high school(Australian school system) and my English teacher has given me a reading log……*sigh* I didn’t have any reading logs last OR the year before. Why assign them now? Well, anyway, I’ve lost track of it now, There is just too much to cope with now, what with having close to 10 subjects giving out homework. I just don’t have time for it and it’s also a big fat time waster.
My son’s 6th grade teacher insists on a weekly reading log , 30 minutes a day plus a parent signature turned in every Monday. If it is not turned in on time or the parent signature is missing, it will be marked as an F in his grade book.
My son proves to be a reader , as the teacher admitted that alone in the school library he checked out 22 books this semester and he does a book report every 3 weeks on a new book.This doesn’t even include the books we check out at our local library.
My son didn’t have a reading log since 3rd grade and would read with me or alone, but since he is supposed to log, I have noticed, that he will count out pages and look at his watch constantly and not enjoy his reading , but it has become a chore for him and he will not log until the Sunday night.
I am appalled by the thought, that he would be graded on me having to sign. I don’t police my son’s reading. I want him to read on his own time and to get into a book, which should be a reward in itself. He hates the reading log exercise, which in my opinion is just busy work.
Most of my son’s friends admit that they either not read at all, but construct the reading log to get a good grade or forge the reading log in some way to fit the teachers criteria. She only gives As or Fs !!!
I asked the teacher to excuse the reading log exercise for my son , as I am not willing to sign his reading logs anymore. We went so far as to have a meeting with the principal and he said it was up to the teacher to make the call.
Apparently in our school district there is a million word challenge and the only way to participate is to log and have the parents sign. The teacher insists that this logging business is an authentic way to measure the reading done by students. I feel this million word challenge has become a million word fraud !
She gave him another F , while we were in discussion over this issue and announced that she will giving him Fs , if I don’t sign. I feel violated in my rights as a parent or a person.
Isn’t there a law which will protect me to have to sign a contract every week , that I believe is counterproductive and hindering my son’s development ????
Beate, your comment horrifies me. I raised a ravenous reader and I remember also becoming worried that certain homework assignments were going to turn her off to reading. Reading is my daughter’s passion. It’s the only homework, besides math, that we didn’t have to coax her to do. She can read to abandon. She’s the kid sneaking the flashlight to read all night under the blanket.
You don’t want to risk having your son develop a negative attitude towards reading. That’s too risky.
I wouldn’t do the assignment. Let the chips fall where they may. Here’s what I suggest. And you may discard it, thinking it’s too confrontational. But if you don’t, you’ll look back and kick yourself.
Have a meeting with the teacher. You can be respectful, non-confrontational, but be very firm. You are not asking, you are informing. You tell the teacher your son will no longer do reading logs. He will not fill them them, you will not sign them. You have observed that since the reading logs have been instituted, you’ve seen an alarming change in his reading. Your son is clearly worried about the grade, fear of failing, fear of annoying the teacher, fear of getting into trouble, and the requisite pages and words are turning this once pleasurable activity into a chore.
You explain that your goal is to raise a life long learner, a child who loves to read who will grow up to become an inquisitive intellectual educated young man.
You know too many children who despise reading. You know too many children who knock off the required pages, watch their watches and breath a sigh of relief when the chore is done for the day. You aren’t looking to raise a compliant reader but a passionate one.
You’re not doing it. End of story. It’s 6th grade. What’s the worst that can happen? It’s your child. Your life. Your future. Long after your son will be a faded snapshot in this teacher’s classroom photograph, you will have to deal with the consequences of reading gone bad.
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