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At-Home Projects and Homework for Young Pupils

February 21, 1993

I am professionally embarrassed and personally appalled that I was misquoted twice in the Feb. 4 story about homework, "Learning Life's Lessons Young."

I did not say that children have to learn how to read "by first grade." That would be developmentally inappropriate for most children. I said that if a child doesn't read appropriate material during first grade, then we start getting nervous.

I never said that I "wish I could lighten my homework assignments." I very strongly believe in homework as a review, as a bridge between school and home, and as a signpost to parents about what and how their children are doing. If anything, I'd like to increase the amount of homework I assign.

I also would like to amplify on a comment attributed to me about teaching students how to "write phonetically." That is only part of the story. I do teach phonics and consider it a vital component in the learning of literacy. But I emphasize how to write with fluency, and how children can easily express their thoughts on paper, without hesitation or mental blocks caused by worrying about the mechanics of writing. Children use "best guess" spelling plus phonetic knowledge when they write in my class. As their experience expands, their writing comes closer and closer to standard spelling and form.

I work very hard at my job and I have been privileged to teach many youngsters how to read and write. Your article makes me sound uninformed and less than competent.

NIKKI FISKE, Santa Monica. Fiske teaches at Franklin Elementary School in Santa Monica.

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