My daughter began her schooling in the United States where the education system is not as strenuous as it is in India. We moved back to India last year in June and she went straight head-on to the traditional education system. Just like the ones we studied in! Except a tad more rigorous than our times. While we began cursive writing much later, kids in India begin schooling with cursive writing. I remember subjects that were taught much later to us, being introduced early on in the curriculum for kids today. The pressure and competition has definitely mounted on in far greater measures than ours.
As a mother, my focus has always been to see that my child enjoys the process of learning. So, that way, I really liked the stress-free style of education in America. The parents have no clue when the tests are being administered and they are given to the child in a candid fashion. The child doesn’t go through any pressure of learning. However, as a parent, I did make sure that my child stays not just abreast but ahead of what was being taught in school at home. I used to teach her English, a bit of Math and even the basics of Hindi because I knew we were going to go back to India. So, she had the luxury of the best of both the worlds. A fun education learning process at school and at home. I really liked her teachers there, the style of teaching and more so, the free arts, gym and music classes. Those extra curricular classes were amazing.
Back in India, my daughter had a tough time adapting in the first 2-3 months. Apart from cultural belonging, she found the system drastically opposite to the education system in America. She couldn´t dress in clothes that she liked and had to wear a uniform. She couldn´t style her hair in any fashion or paint her nails or grow them long. She found it very restrictive. The classes were rigorous and the home-work even more so. Thankfully, post 3 months, things have been getting better and it´s okay now. But one thing still remains, her dislike for home-work. Ha-Ha! I try to make it as less strenuous as possible for her though. How
I attended my daughter´s first Parent-Teacher meeting last month for this academic year. Things have begun looking a bit more positive this year. The Telangana Government has put a cap on the the weight of bags carried by schoolchildren and issued a strict notice to all schools to follow the same. This is a much-needed move. At the PT meeting, we were given forms to ask us, parents whether we wanted homework for children. Another step in the right direction, I thought. Until I saw that I was the only parent who signed up for no homework. Every other child´s parent in the class voted for regular daily homework. And, I instantly knew I was standing on losing battle-ground here.
Personally, I think our children go through enough learning, revision and activity in school. I am not against home-work per se but it needs to be thought over. Most of the time, it is a repetition..writing the same word or sentence many times or sticking pictures. I remember one home-work activity pretty clearly which was cruel in my personal opinion. My daughter actually scored 10/10 for dictation and yet, she was still asked to write those set of 15 words, 5 times each. That meant she had to write the words 75 times. She was in a state of immense fury. And as a parent, I felt helpless and sorry for her. I questioned the logic of such homework. It makes sense for those who scored less but for those children who scored full marks, writing these words were nothing short of torture. But, can you fight the system as a parent? Or even the traditional mindset of the majority of parents. The answer is ´No´, unfortunately!
Here are some of my strategies that I use to make my child complete her homework
- Make the torture fun – This idea stemmed from my dislike for doing certain chores. As a stay-at-home Mum in America, I detested ironing clothes. But, I learnt to eventually go through the weekly ordeal in a fun manner. I would listen to a podcast, listen to a Youtube video or music and Voila! the task would cease to be so torturous. I use this strategy for certain homework which I feel is pointless as a parent. Repetition homework like writing the same thing a zillion times falls under this category. I let my child listen to her favourite songs on the side while completing the task.
- Explore and revise – This strategy comes in handy for the homework that truly matters. Some of the homework tasks given are quite productive. So, before my daughter attempts such homework, I make sure she revises her class and text notes before doing it. Some homework assignments are truly innovative. It gives the parent and child the opportunity to go beyond the school curriculum and dig deeper for some fun facts. Have a mock quiz at home.
- Appreciation – There is nothing more affirming and soothing for a child than appreciation. So, when the going is tough and our tough children get going, I make sure to appreciate her hard work and responsibility.
- Constructive criticism – Homework is a great opportunity to fill up those learning gaps and smooth those rough learning edges. So, as I watch her do her homework, I offer her my 2 bits on what is going well and what she can do better. Where she needs to pull up her socks and where she needs to continue maintaining the same momentum of excellence!
- Play – This is super important. Many times, our idea or play is very different from that of our child. This is one area where I don´t impose my rules on her. Whatever makes her happy makes me happy. So, she is the boss here and I let her play, however she interprets it. So, alongside homework, she gets enough time to unwind, her style.
At the end of the day, Homework is great for helping your child stay focussed on her academics. It´s upto us to see that they view it in the positive light as it teaches them not just facts and figures but also finer life skills like responsibility, commitment and character. Also, be appreciative of their efforts and sensitive to them.
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