So I'm going to get this out of the way straight up - I don't like homework.
Now don't get me wrong I understand the need for it - there are a lot of expectations on teachers to ensure young people stay on track with their learning - homework is an option toward meeting targets.
In fact, I sympathise with teachers as they try to make sure they cover off on all topics on the curriculum. No doubt it would often feel like they are flying from one topic to the next with very little opportunity to stop and ensure the detail is understood by all children.
Furthermore if a child doesn't quickly grasp a particular topic they could easily be left behind.
Needless to say homework is one of those options that enables a teacher to put expectations on each child to go over a topic a few more times - just to make sure there is a comfortable understanding. No doubt there is also the presumption that young ones will get a little bit more one-on-one support or guidance from their parents.
I would just like to say that is a presumption that the parents have any clue themselves.
I always thought I was a reasonably intelligent person, or at the very least resourceful. I also felt confident that I had solid back up from my husband.
My blind faith was that surely one of us would be helpful when our children needed assistance with their homework.
I have always adopted the policy that homework must be done by the child - not the parents as can sometimes be the case - but I have also been prepared to offer assistance where needed.
These days homework is a distant memory in our household but on reflection it felt like our children had homework every single week night throughout primary school. In fact, I'm almost certain this was the case. There were also the term assignments.
And while all three children independently approached the after-school tasks there were many times when they turned to their presumably all-knowing parents for assistance or further explanation.
That, multiplied by three, often equated to chaos and stress - and that was just from the perspective of the parents.
Things started off relatively well in the early school years. Nightly reading was enjoyable - we listened and marveled as the reading skills of our children advanced. The simple infants' work sheets were also fine.
But then, all of a sudden, our children were bringing home worksheets for maths, asking for advice and then telling us "that is not how we do it at school".
I had always thought I was reasonably proficient at maths. My husband has to be proficient at this subject because he uses it every day in his work - and not just the simple stuff.
However, somewhere between our time at school in years-gone-by, and the present, some of the processes had apparently changed. The answers remained the same but the steps taken to determine those answers were different.
I spoke to a teacher about this and she informed me that the changed process had occurred to make it more understandable for the children as they learned.
It seemed fair enough but unfortunately it had me left right out as far guiding my children through their maths homework was concerned. From that point the best I could do was look at the answers determined by my children and let them know if they were correct or needed to look at it again.
It was probably at this same point in time that I developed a greater dislike for homework. But regardless of how I looked at it this required after school activity was a chore that had to be done. It was chore my children had little interest in after a full day in the classroom, and it was a chore as a parent to keep them on task.
For those of you who have read previous Mum's The Word articles you will note that I like to think outside the box to make chores more enjoyable...or at the very least less tedious, and maybe even a little rewarding.
Needless to say I reassessed my own negative attitude to the work sent home day after day and identified that guiding my children to stay on task was actually a valuable life lesson.
Firstly, I helped them develop skills to work through the necessary, but tedious, task noting this would help them develop self-discipline and organisation. This included setting up well with all necessary equipment for the task - pencil, eraser, sharpener etc. They also set a time limit of 15 or 20 minutes on worksheets and the same time on personal reading.
This helped them to realise that homework was finite and therefore less daunting. It also helped them to appreciate the skill of telling the time in those earlier years.
Secondly, I encouraged them to recognise the sense of achievement and relief enjoyed once the work was completed.
It was during this time that my children learnt the valuable skill and sense of achievement of careful planning and setting aside a little bit of time each evening, rather than cramming at the last minute.
The great news is that it was a lesson that clearly resonated. My youngest recently completed a course packed with assignments. She told me that doing a little bit each night was hugely beneficial in easing her stress. Even better news is that she passed with flying colours.
Mumma Jak has three children and is familiar with the challenges of parenthood. She is well aware that every child is different, every day can be different and a parent's approach needs to be different according to the situation at hand. She is happy to say she fumbled through, motivated from the perfect starting point - unconditional love. The good news is that all three of her children have become normal functioning adults.
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