Thursday, 6 September 2012

Back to homework

So after the first few hectic days of trying to get the kids up early again and remembering to label everything and coping with the back-to-school nerves and hunting out PE bags that have been lost in the bottom of the wardrobe, we can breathe again. It's amazing how quickly we settle back into the routine of the school run, the sigh of relief when they're safely dropped off and they become someone else's responsibility for 6 hours, and the joy we feel as they run out of school with a smile on their face, having had a good day.

And then there's the homework. I suspect that we will get our first homework on Friday this week, but some of your children may already have been given homework assignments or books to read. Now I have mixed feelings about homework. Part of me feels that my children have worked hard enough during those 6 hours at school, so why, when they're shattered, should they have to do yet more work. And then another part of me wants to be involved in their learning, and knows how important it is to involve parents in their child's education, and so I enjoy sitting down with them and finding out what they're learning in school, and thinking up ways that I can enhance their learning of a particular topic, and help to make learning at home fun too.

Even the dullest homework activities can be adapted and made into something more exciting, with a little bit of enthusiasm from us as parents. A school reading book can be read together in the garden, in bed, or in the bath. You can tell your child to shout the words on one page, and whisper the next page. You can ask them to tell you what happens next, after the book is finished. If they want to read alone, get them to retell the story to you in their own words, or suggest they make a comic strip telling all or part of the story. Make up a wordsearch, or play hangman or other word games to help them learn their spellings. Go the the library together to find "real" books to research projects, and then sit down at the computer together too. Make a sticker chart with a reward for when they have completed their homework for the week, or a certain number of pieces of homework. Rewrite maths problems on individual cards to do one by one if a whole sheet of problems seems overwhelming, and decorate this with stickers too when they get the answers right.

Teacher friends reading this, please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think any teacher would mind if the homework is not returned on the same piece of paper and in the same format that it was given out on. The aim of a sheet of spellings is to learn to spell those words correctly, and returning a different sheet of paper to the 'Look, Cover, Write, Check, then write ten super sentences' one given out will not matter as long as the spellings have been learned and the sentences written. If the maths homework comes back to school on flashcards and decorated with stickers it may be a pain to fit into the child's file, but teachers can work around that I'm sure. And it's a better option than having a child who either hates homework, or refuses to do it at all.

So let's not be scared of homework this term, but embrace it with a new enthusiasm which will hopefully rub off on the kids!

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