When my daughter joined school last year, I was so shocked to find out they were not supposed to bring homework home.
When we asked the teachers we were told that children of a certain age were supposed to play and relax at home after having a busy day at school. Well, that did not sit down well with me as I thought this would certainly not help my daughter get 450 marks needed to go to a national school after sitting for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education.
Yeah as any other Kenyan parent, we are used to looking at the marks, national schools and so on as a sign that your child was a performer. It doesn’t matter if they are forced to cram, if they have to go for tuition until late into the night, she has to get those marks. Homework, I believed played an integral part in the child. I got used to the situation until things changed and they were now old enough to bring homework home!
Homework time for us was an almost always a tear-jerking experience characterized by some shouting from me, frustrations on both ends and faking illness on her part. There is a day she got so frustrated that she threw the books on the floor at this point I should mention that pattern writing can look as difficult as algebra if you do not know how to go about it.
Desperate for help, I sought for help from my experienced friends and colleagues and they all seemed to agree that I should try and make homework time more fun or my daughter would resent me along with anything related to education. So here are some of the tips I got from them,
- Gauge their mood before starting
We all have bad days and this includes our kids and it is advisable to gauge their mood and try and lift it if you want to get anywhere with homework fast. You can try offering their favorite snack, let them watch a cartoon of their choice or play shortly with friends outside.
- Make it creative
Asking your child to add one plus one can be made much simpler if you use things like bottle tops and beans. Make the lessons practical with the aid of colorful and engaging learning materials as well. Her teacher can help you in this.
- Ensure that the space is conducive for learning
There are certain distractions that can make homework time quite difficult for the two of you as well. Such distractions include the television, phones and people walking in and out of the room. If you have space you can turn one room into a study room to be used by any member of the family whenever they need some peace and quiet to work. You can include some necessary imagery and color to ensure that the room will inspire them to learn. You can add some academic essentials such as writing utensils and paper to make things easier. Some supermarkets also sell little desks and chairs for little children to aid them in being comfortable as they work.
Having a reward system in place can help motivate the young child look forward to homework time as well. I often ask my daughter what she would like to eat after school and once she answers I promise to make it if she will complete her homework in time. I also had to make some starts in color red and green (her favorite color) to give whenever she gets things right or meets our objectives. I remembered that this used to really motivate us back in class five and would make us really competitive towards each other.
- Do not isolate your student
It is often difficult for kids when they have to work while the rest of the family is watching TV or doing other things together. You can sit down with her as she works and this time will not only help you bond but you can use it to accomplish some of your other tasks as well. Such tasks may include finishing up on your budgeting, replying to emails or pay your bills and so on.
- Be patient
Whenever my daughter failed to understand something, I would find myself losing my temper and would shout at her. This is most regrettable and I have since learnt about that and I try as much as possible to bring myself to her level. I usually note down the things I was unable to cover with her successfully and seek help from her teacher on how to do it better.
- Talk to her Teacher
Remember, you are not a professional when it comes to teaching so you should not be so hard on yourself. It is okay to ask help from her teacher, afterall, you are partners in this. Let her tell you the simple tricks you can use to make things easier for both you. The teacher is in a better position to know her weaknesses and she can show how she deals with them.