“Common Ground” column for Sept. 18, 2013

Progress report cards are out and the honeymoon period for my three children is over.

With the state’s new Common Core Standards in place, we are finding out firsthand its effects: reading, writing, math and more reading homework.

Every child in my home, ages 7, 8 and 11, is working on a book report assignment this week and practicing nightly on math and word problems.

Common Core Standards are a set of student achievement benchmarks, outlining what students should know and be able to do at each grade level.

Sometimes my kids complain about it, but it’s keeping them and myself challenged and on pace, I believe.

My son, a third-grader, completes daily homework assignments using short stories he reads in Highlights magazines. In the past month, I’ve noticed him becoming stronger with retelling and comprehending a story.

Common Core Standards will take some getting used to. Some parents at my children’s school have complained that the homework is increasing and the school work is harder — but I sense that overall it will benefit all children and prepare them for the demands of society in our technologically advanced age.

The State Department of Education has described the purpose of higher standards and academic benchmarks as helping “students extend the learning they have acquired by applying knowledge and skills to real life and work situations.”

Not only is my son turning in a book report this month on “The Mouse and the Motorcycle,” but he was assigned to build a clay or paper model of his character. I’ve never watched him grow so excited about a reading assignment and a tub of clay.

My second-grade daughter is doing short word problems, reading a fairly sizable chapter book for her first book report assignment and practicing timed reading assignments nightly.

My sixth-grade daughter’s English teachers have asked parents to support novel reading this year to help meet standards in place for ELA (English Language Arts).

Times have changed. I didn’t really start writing book reports until around fifth or sixth grade.

Timed reading was unheard of and I never worked a division problem until maybe fourth grade.

There were also very few standardized tests during my elementary and middle school years.

But teachers worked hard to keep us challenged with the day’s curriculum — using poster contests and other fun incentives to keep students involved.

The stakes are higher than ever for school children this year and communication with our children’s teachers are the key.

Weeknights are busy in my home and it’s impossible for my husband and me to not be involved with their homework demands.

Sure, we may grunt and moan at times with the homework and the extra reading assignments, but I can truly see some positive outcomes happening.

In 15 or so years, our children and many others will likely be better able to apply their learning to everyday situations and to their jobs and careers.

Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance writer. She can be reached at chantewriter@hotmail.com.