Monday, 20 September 2010

Middle-class mother worries (or 'How Pr.C-W will beat her mother's record at school).

My girl is now entering her third week at senior school and there has been a lot of homework. Way more than she ever saw at primary school.

Now, I confess to not being an advocate for homework b/c a) school has my child for 6.5 hrs a day, surely they can fit everything they need to learn into that timeframe and b) I sucked at homework and probably handed in seven essays and assignments throughout my entire senior school career but since she does get it she has to suck it up and get it done. To this end I have been harrassing her every afternoon to find out what needs to be done and by when.

My issue is - when does 'helping' become 'doing'? She has an essay (her first ever - oh my baby I am so proud!) for History -'Were the Vikings are cruel and barbaric race?' Leaving aside the issue of a culture being a race I talked her through the topic, we read through the notes she brought home and looked at the layout suggested by Mrs Lurch the History teacher.

The one really big thing I want her to understand is how to write an essay so while I sanded the cupboard door (the boring bits of her room's makeover continue) we discussed how to plan one. Firstly I explained how, starting with the intro, each paragraph answers a question and then there is a conclusion to wind the whole thing up. Then using the info she had been given and her own general knowledge I teased out the responses to each question she had set for each paragraph.

I did not write her essay. I did not tell her what to write. I did help her understand what is expected in terms of homework, in terms of constructing the answers and also in terms of managing her time.
I don't want to be the mother who gets cross with the teacher because 'we' got a lower mark than we deserved. In fact I won't be the mother who does that because I don't do her homework. What I will be is the one who teaches her how to address this whole new world she has been thrown into.

(what I hope never to be again is the mother who discovers a piece of homework is due in today just minutes before said child walks out the door for the day. Between 0805 and 0815 was not the finest time in my life to date.)


  1. I haven't any experience with teaching my own kids, but what you did sounds a lot like what I used to do for a one-session class on "Writing a Paper." I would set up one question (for an initial paragraph, for example) then draw out ideas for information that could be used in response to that question. After the first question, the students came up with 95% of the questions & answers - I was there mostly as a sounding board. Seemed like the practice at formulating ideas - and especially expressing them aloud - was most helpful.

  2. We have the "no rescue' policy at our house. If you need help and ask for it in good time you will get it. If, you have done nothing and ask for help the night before.....nothing!
    We are a cruel and barbaric race in this household.

  3. You sound like an ace Mum, not doing it all, but definitely guiding her along in all the right ways.

  4. Guiding is a whole different ball game and time management is a skill I haven't learnt but am trying to teach my kids , getting there ! Oh yes you won a book at my blog , yay for you ! Contact me , pleasie !

  5. I have to agree with Jodie.
    And, I hated homework and disagree with it entirely. In fact, when a survey was sent home a couple of weeks ago, I pointedly said that homework was added pressure that parents and children don't need.

  6. Been there, doing that!!! My biggest peeve is that kids are asked to do things (eg. like make a speech) but not given any guidence either in primary or secondary school, on how to plan, write then say said speech. I'm darn sure I didn't train as a teacher yet I find myself over and over again teaching my kids how to do the most basic of stuff that I'm positive was drummed into me while at school. I'm not doing their homework - just guiding them like you are. Well done - sounds like you are on the right track. And like you I don't bother about the marks the kids get - so long as the homework is done that's all I worry about. Got to admit though never had the last minute rush on homework. Maybe mine realise how much trouble they would be in if they left homework that late....vbg...and I'm not talking about trouble at school.

    PS the word verification for this comment was "nough" so I shall take that as a hint and get off my soap box....grin.

  7. Here's another hand up in the Jodie camp Trash. If they don't check their diary then I can't bde responsible.

    I do however agree with you on the no homework. Home time is for doing fun kiddie stuff!!

  8. I'm with Jodie on this one... but then I have four sons who seemed to go through their entire schooldays with doing only the bare minimum of homework and seemed to get away with it!

  9. It has been my youngest son's first time at secondary school. He was excited and nervous. The new school had promised to help all the children settle in, help them in the transition from small village school to massive secondary school. They would look after them, be helpful and understanding. They would be kind and pleasant.

    They lied.

    On day 4 my son was slapped a detention for forgetting his ICT log in number. On day 6 he was given another one for daring to touch a piece of paper in art.

    Just don't even start me on the subject of homework Trashy, don't go there, I might explode.

  10. I have never done my childrens homework, but I've tried to guide them like you do.But I don't like their books...they have no examples,and if a child haven't understood math or grammar in school, it's impossible for me to try to explain it!

    Btw: the answer to Pr.C-W's essay is of course that the Vikings were neither cruel nor barbaric1 In fact, we were adventourous, handsome, and very very clever;-D

  11. i am laughing at jodie's response...which is pretty close to what mine would be!!! :)

    on the other hand, as you know, you are pretty much my choice for "BEST MUM EVER" b/c of your own policies in matters like these!

    i suspect at some point, there will be a situation in which no rescue is POSSIBLE, at which point the lesson of seeking help rather than waiting for it to be offered will be traversed and thus happiness will reign in the land of homeworkia!!! ♥

  12. Poor Dot is reading this post over my shoulder and groaning about all the times I have taught her about the importance of planning her work! But she agrees now that it was one of the best things I have ever taught her! L x

  13. I suggest cheating. Use the question to answer it. Then read for examples and write those in. Then hand in essay and demand cake... it's a long shot but it just might work!

    I hated homework too, skool is for work, their time is their own, not the skool's. I also suggest reading the Molesworth Omnibus by Geoffrey Willans for tips and wheezes.