Monday, February 24, 2014

Mom's homework woes

Since the twins started P1,the most common question I am asked, by parents who have primary school going children, is how do I cope with homework from two different schools for the same level. This is especially so because they are in Primary 1 and the concept of independent homework has yet to be mastered.

So to say the least, two different sets of spelling in English and Chinese and different paces at Math and various different pieces of oral work have left me extremely confused and frazzled regardless of my efforts to keep everything organised.

But there are little things that help me give up, retain some sanity and have some lunch while making sure they get homework done.

1. Show me the work
Rather than dig through their bags for homework, I make them dig through their own bags and pull out everything they need me to look at, sign as well as homework. It doesn't really save a lot of time but at least they come to me rather than my going to them. That way, I can be having lunch and barking at them to bring out their stuff. By the time I am done with lunch, they would have finally gotten everything out onto the table. Yes, it takes them that long, in between chatting, running off because something caught their eye or a bird flying by.

2. Combine the spelling lists

Cruel but convenient and I'm sure all the tiger moms out there would approve. Evan has 10 spelling words, Jordan has 8, so for the week, they get to learn 18 words. They haven't caught onto it yet but I'm sure when they have, I can't do this anymore!

3. Level the playing field

The homework isn't consistent. As a rule, Jordan seems to have more than Evan does. So to prevent the complaining, Evan gets to do Mommy's homework while Jordan gets through her stuff. I try to work on Evan's Chinese while purposely ignoring Jordan while she does her work. This is in the hope that she will slowly learn to read instructions on her own and work out what she has to do without my sitting beside her. Eventually, I hope to graduate to not being there during homework time though I would want my presence to still be felt!

4. Make it fun

We have taken to making spelling fun by deliberating telling them to make the most ridiculous of sentences or stringing all the spelling words together into ridiculous sentences and having them write it down. Purists would probably burn us at the stake because we are totally ignoring semantics here. Anyway, it gets them chuckling and raring to hear the next ridiculous thing that has been made up.

The truth is, for the life of me, I cannot remember how I learnt how to spell; possibly why I spell so badly as an adult. But I know for a fact that writing it down a million of times is not just boring and may not be the most effective way of getting them to remember the words.

Both of them love using different mediums to learn it. Physical letters, writing it on our glass door, using chalk, sticks, paint and playing word games. Occasionally, I get the opportunity to do something fun that totally appeals to them. Jordan had to learn how to spell her shapes. Muffin has a set of shape stencils. So, I told her that after she did the boring write-the-word a couple of times thing so that she could draw out the shapes and label the shapes (not using the word 'spell' in my later instructions). She loved it and insisted on cutting each one out and then use them to teach Muffin.

5. Playing Teacher

I think because children are exposed to teachers so much of their day, they inadvertently want to be teachers. I suspect it has got to do with the fact that their teacher wields ultimate power and subconsciously, they all want the same thing.

I let them take over the testing of each other. They are way more Nazi than I am with their 'student' not a lot of time in between words and great mocking and teasing ensues when mistakes are made. But they take it in their stride, revel in getting their own back when it is their turn to be teacher and all the while, not just having to learn their own set of words but their student's set because Mommy doesn't allow the spelling list to be used during the marking.

These don't solve my problems but they make things slightly easier or slightly more entertaining and easier to bear. I never thought I would dread homework more than I did when I was in school, but we discover new things about ourselves everyday!

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  1. Haha I love points 2 and 5 in particular! Point 2 is sheer genius. Kudos to you for coming up with it. As for point 5, I think the 'friendly' competition is good for them, and playing teacher is fun for them, so it's a win-win situation. To be honest, reading posts about P1 is really scaring me, even though my child isn't even two yet. I have to bookmark these posts for reference! Thanks for sharing. :)
    Adeline @ Growing with the Tans

  2. My son loves to come home and create a full math worksheet (somewhat similar to his school work) and have me complete HIS homework. Oh the things I oblige my son!

  3. I remember how my mother used to do my homework when I came home from school. She used to work a lot for me. I was a kid, just a spoiled one you can think of me. I never cared that later on it would been harder for me to cope up with studies. Mothers are great!

    Patria Jase
    Diaper Bags

  4. Funny how everyone likes Point 2!
    @ Adeline, I won't deny that it is frightening. But for now, we're just rolling with the punches and it's be ok.
    @homeschoolsg, I suspect it's the power that their teachers wield!
    @ Patria, hopefully JED will, on hindsight say the same things!