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Old 20.10.2010, 00:11
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Re: ...and how about the homework of the children?

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I personally think it would benefit the children more if they get whatever interesting lessons or tutoring, but be left to do the homework themselves. My children (1st and 3rd grade) do learn a lot but trying to solve whatever they get from school themselves - that teaches both problem solving, and, maybe even more importantly, to be able to work alone and unsupervised.
I too am personally on the 'it's their homework, not mine' end of the spectrum, for the benefit of their education and my free time. But most if not all of us on the thread so far are talking as parents of fairly newly-arrived kids who are being educated in a foreign language.

Mine are in their 3rd year, itsme's their 3rd month, amaraya's his 2nd year, I think... these aren't kids to whom you can delegate sole homework responsibility. The 'problem solving' skills they would need are beyond the level of 'not quite understanding Question 4', to often 'not remotely understanding the whole lesson today in which they explained column multiplication in French'.

My son used to bring home worksheets on a maths concept he hadn't yet encountered in the UK (or one time when they taught him a totally different and in the UK archaic method for column subtraction from the one he already knew). Or perhaps it would be a grammar rule, like adjective gender agreement, that doesn't even exist in his own language. And we would sit down and run a little dining room table home school going over the rules, principles, step-be-step processes, etc. Once he'd got 'it' straight, sure, THEN he could do the sheet on his own.

Kids also need help with the constant drilling and testing of memorised stuff here - verbs, weekly spellings, poems to recite and so on. And presentations was also another big thing for us in Grades 3 and 4; 8 yr olds don't know how to distill a set topic like 'dinosaurs' into a 5 minute script with reference to visuals but it's a great opportunity to go through things with them like brainstorming, mindmapping, and then not droning down to the paper, point to display board at key moments and add little off the cuff comments, perhaps ask a rhetorical question of the audience, etc. I would lay money that none of these 'soft' skills are being taught in class, not at this age at least, but my small, shy, barely French speaker actually came to like doing presentations because he could see that the other kids were enjoying his talks (and the good marks he got helped jolly him along too).

We were very lucky with timings as it turns out by arriving a couple of years ago, because primary homework was perhaps an hour a week tops, whereas 5th Grade homework is usually 1.5 hours, sometimes 2 hours a NIGHT. Only now his French is good enough that he can tackle most of it himself, and just rely on me for the odd explanation (not answer) and to test him on the rote learning bits.

I am, and shall be able to be, a lot more hands-off with my just-entered-1st-Grade daughter, because she's had the benefit of becoming fluent in enfantine before starting school. I'm hoping that when she's learning a past tense, it'll just be learning how to record/ spell something she already knows, not the steep mountain of 'right, let's see what you've got on this sheet, then... so here's the difference between perfect and imperfect, here's how they're used in English <gives examples>, here's how they change depending on the subject pronoun, such as 3rd person plural... what's '3rd person plural'? And a 'subject'? And a 'pronoun'? Well... <takes a deep breath and mentally cancels all plans for the rest of the week>'

Hopefully just a 'remember you can't always hear the written endings, darling' as I drift past to make a cup of tea should suffice with her.

'Chance favours only the prepared mind.'
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