Sunday, 23 November 2014

a diorama and a brief rant










Life is like a fast flowing river and I find it difficult to stop and think just now. I haven't taken many photos, on the few occasions that I wanted to take a picture I didn't have my camera. The photos I am sharing today are really Annie's. They show details of her diorama. She had to choose a book that inspired her and create a 3D model of a typical scene in the book. Annie chose "Wonder" by R. J. Palacio. I don't know how many times she has read the book now. She talks about it a lot. If you look closely, the second photo from the top shows August. She wasn't too sure how to illustrate his facial disfigurement and decided to symbolise it by sticking a piece of paper over his face. Isn't her class room amazing? There are so many details that I continue to discover them every time I look. Annie spent hours and hours working on it. I once discovered her glueing after 11pm. She takes such projects very seriously. I am amazed what children get asked to do at school! As if the academic load wasn't bad enough already, they bring one project after the other home. We are running short of shoeboxes and other re-usable material and the glue gun seems to be constantly on. My patience is wearing thin, I really can't be bothered to support the creation of yet another cereal box robot or another under the sea scene in a shoe box. I am also tired of researching knights and castles, Romans, the Titanic and space. I don't want to do 19 different engaging spelling activities with my child, or do mental maths in the car. I just want to enjoy the little time we have after school, have a chat,  go for a walk,  play a game, snuggle up on the sofa and watch re-runs of Scooby Do, or prepare food together. Last Wednesday we had enough (ok, I had enough), we stopped doing homework for the rest of the week. I wrote a note for the teachers and that was that. I feel much better now. I think I needed to get this off my chest.

Do your children get ridiculous amounts of homework? Do you always do it?

Can you believe it is nearly December? When did that happen? I must have been living in a parallel universe, where November is shorter than here... Have a lovely week! Cx

P.S. A big thank you to The Foggy Knitter over at Notes From the Slow Lane for linking to my kite paper star post into a Ravelry discussion. I wondered why there were so many visitors checking-in via Ravelry.

26 comments:

  1. Annie's construction is amazing Christina, such beautiful detail. I'm now going to have to look into that book, I haven't heard of it. Like you, I'm not a fan of homework. What I am a huge fan of is after school, kids being outdoors doing kid-stuff. We're very fortunate at our small school of some twenty students, that they are on the same wavelength as the parents, perhaps we've trained them well, and our homework is limited to learning their times tables as the maths component and a list of spelling words they learn and write a few sentences with. It doesn't take much time. Project/assignment work is rather limited and mostly done in school time.
    Good on you for writing to the teacher, home time should be just that. Wishing you a wonderful week.

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  2. Christina, I am with you on the acres of homework given to our children. And like you the stuff I find hardest to deal with is the 'creative' tasks, not because I am not creative, but some tasks are just SO tiresome, and sometimes in the midst of glueing, constructing or finding new ways to learn spelling words I find myself wondering if the teachers are just doing it because they are under pressure from above, and in turn those task masters are under pressure from above and so on up the chain to an Education Minister who is busily trying to prove how fantastic they are in order to keep their jobs. A day at at school is like a day at work as far as I am concerned, and who wants to bring their work home? X

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    1. I particularly hate rainbow writing, whereby the children write their spelling words in different colours. A different colour for each letter!! The little ones hate it, too. I guess the Curriculum for Excellence has a lot to answer for.... I don't mind reading books, this really helps with many other skills (spelling, too). x

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  3. My eldest has also just completed a diorama although they did it all during class time; the detail of Annie's one is incredible! It seems that the further our children progress through the school they attend, it depends on what teacher they have and on the child in question as to how much homework (if any) they get. There is prescribed reading material and spelling sent home with new entrants (5 year olds) up to Year 2 (6-7 year olds). Year 2 also introduces a 'presentation' segment to help build public speaking confidence, so each week they must prepare a topic to talk to the class about. Then from Year 3-4 (7-9 year olds), homework is not given unless something has not been completed during class time or it's to help with extending their learning. From Year 5 until Year 8 (9-12 year olds) (this is anecdotal as my children aren't at this level), homework assignments are given but children are given the option as to whether they complete it or not. It all seems very relaxed - and of course relies on your child being self-motivated enough to do it. It is nice for the children to unwind after school, I agree. Homework levels are manageable for us at the moment purely because we have no after school activities this term - that's when it becomes more of a struggle. Reading, writing, maths are the only areas I oversee - any creative tasks are left to them. Even if they aren't given homework, I still test my older two every so often on maths (basic sums/timestables) and spelling as a pop quiz in the car on the way out somewhere just to check that they aren't going to school just to climb trees. We read a bedtime story most nights so even if they don't willingly pick up a book themselves (which makes me feel sad as I LOVE reading), it is a nice way to close out the day. I can see the benefit of having research-based assignments in Years 7/8 as it prepares them for what will be expected of them at high school and beyond and anything that encourages children to be self-motivated, critical thinkers and to adhere to what a person in authority has asked of them (within reason) is a good thing. That was a massive comment - sorry!

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    1. Wow, that is a comprehensive comment! Thank you Leanne. I think we are struggling at the moment because there is just so much of homework! The teachers always say do what you can but my children always think they absolutely have to do it all. xx

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  4. We don't always do the homework here, not at all. Sometimes it seems vague and wishy-washy and the children might be happily engaged in doing something which is of more value (in my opnion!). Sometimes we just don't get round to it. I often hear similar thoughts to yours from other mums at the school gate.

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  5. Annie's project is fantastic but I do completely agree with you. Children need time to relax, be outdoors and forget about school at the end of the day.

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  6. wow that is so detailed, she has done a brilliant job.

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  7. I have been a Primary school teacher and homework is a tricky thing. Some people want it, others don't, children are all from different family backgrounds and circumstances it is one of those things where no one is ever really happy as well as teachers who set homework and then it is not done or it is criticised for not being challenging. Ah! happy days - I am in adult education now so I let it wash over me. My children have quite a bit and we always have 1 hour on Saturday morning 8:30 to 9:30 where we help them, provide resources etc. and if it is not done during that time then the moment has passed because we are enjoying our family weekend after that. On the whole because it is part of our routine they just get on with it so that they can go and choose what to do afterwards. That seems to work for us, the routine helps me too. Love Jo x

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    1. I don't mind homework in principle but I think one task a day for a 5 year old is plenty. We sometimes have to read a book, do the spelling and do mental maths all in one day. The project work is on top of all that. Luckily I have a creative daughter :) I wish we had the foresight to work on a Saturday! xx

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  8. Forgot to say BTW, that is a brilliant effort your Annie has put in. Bravo!

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  9. oh that's wonderful. I loved that book.
    I hate big homework projects with a passion, the school sets 6 week ones, the children don't know where to begin, so don't and the last few days are a Dreadful panic................

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  10. Annie's diorama is wonderful, so carefully made and with lots of good ideas too. I am sure that other than reading, we didn't have any homework until we were in secondary school - age 11 - and I really don't think that it should be needed for children under that age. I don't have children though, so I may be wrong, but I wouldn't be keen for any small children to be doing lots of school projects at home at that age. xx

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  11. Hey Christina,
    On the whole I am a homework advocate. But I also think that it's totally appropriate to flick the homework switch off one in a while. You and your husband obviously want to spend time with your kids, and you take them places, you talk to them about things. There are books and newspapers and discussions and all the rest of it. It's not the same in many childrens' houses, and they don't have the benefit of parents that give a shit.
    Olly has not had any homework, thank goodness. Alfie doesn't get enough. And Sam patrols his own. It must be crazy sometimes with four children, and I can see how you might have had enough. I have always supported my kids with their homework, especially when they were younger. But I have never done it for them. Pointless. I know people that do, and I'm sure that teachers must realise this. My sister in law has always done my nephews homework, and now he is in his gcse year, and has no clue about revising or constructing a timetable. Or even just being ok with the fact that life contains tests, and sometimes you just have to buckle down and get on with it. She's not done him any favours whatsoever. In fact I am going to be tutoring him after Xmas, to try and get him through his exams. He's in for a shock!! I think Annie's diorama is bloody brilliant. I have not come accross the book, but it has gone on my wishlist as possibles for Alfie's stocking. He is ploughing through Lord Of The Flies at the moment.
    Sorry about that! I have had many an argument about the hw issue over the years.
    Hope you have a good week. Think of me as I try to construct a bookworm costume for Olly's nativity (bookworm being a euphemism for "crowd." I will never be the mother of a Joseph).
    Leanne xx

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    1. I am the mother of a hopeless camel and of a crowd person. Never to be a mother of a Joseph either! I am the same with my older children, I assume that they do their homework. If not, I'll get a text from school for Sam and a call for Annie. I do not correct homework at all, I merely sit with them and help as necessary. I don't believe in doing your child's homework. Even the tiny ones are now able to do their spelling homework with minimal help, although I think they might cheat and look at the spelling words they need to learn. I only comment on spelling if a word is known to them (ie the first 50 common words). I don't mind homework in principle, it is the sheer amount that gets to me, and the project work on top. Have a lovely week Leanne! x

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  12. I totally free with you, so much of these projects are just so time consuming and they learn little from them, so much busy work. I am glad you took a stand. I made the stars with two of the little girls I work with, we had construction paper, not kite paper and they looked really great.
    Thank you for the idea.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  13. When I was teaching we were required to assign homework, but for the most part all I assigned was for the student to read, read, read. I don't think doing homework helps anything. I once watched a neighbor's child writing her Times Tables (10 x each as homework). She wrote all the top numbers, then went back and wrote all the multipliers and then all the answers. I doubt it made any sense at all to her.

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  14. Oh boy. This is exactly what I'm dreading down the line. My son has just started learning how to read and gets quite a lot of homework. The requests for shoeboxes, loo rolls, milk cartons and the like have already started rolling in, so I smell a rat (read: project) on the way. Yikes. Totally sympathise with you, Christina. Good luck there xxx

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  15. p.s.: I think Annie's diorama is truly amazing. Can't believe her attention to detail - super! xxx

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  16. I don't really feel it is appropriate for me to comment on homework as we have opted out of the school system.........but you are heard and I do feel for you. Annie's diorama is amazing, her attention to detail is incredible!

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  17. Annie's diorama is fantastic, so much detail. I have a beef with certain bits of homework too. Reading and spellings are OK, times tables we're in a lull with at the moment but I do have a CD I put on in the car sometimes. My Yr1 daughter gets more homework than my Yr5 daughter in the way of comprehension sheets which I baulk at! Luckily we've escaped the Yr5 teacher that sets learning log homework each week. They were a pain in the bum when Mr.C was in Yr5. Now he's in Yr7 and homework is at an acceptable level which he mostly does independently except for the termly science project which requires the kind of creative input from me which makes me rant. What about those children whose parents either can't do or are unwilling to support them to do this sort of homework. They have a massive disadvantage unfortunately. x

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  18. I have to agree that Annie's diorama is realy great. It's quite a while since my children were at school. they seemed to get quite a lot of homework and also some projects. I have heard that there are schools that never have homework - they say it doesn't do any good. I certainly believe that too much homework is counter-productive. By the way - I used to work in Harland & Wolff - the shipyard where the Titanic was built.

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  19. Annie's diorama is amazing! Please tell her how much I love all the details she captured in it. I loved the book Wonder, and actually blogged about it after I read it. I think everyone should read the book, no matter what age they are.

    As for homework, I homeschooled my kids, so homework wasn't an issue. To me that was one of the advantages of homeschooling. I don't think any child below the age of about 12 should be given homework. The school has them for a big chunk of each weekday, and the rest of the time should be open for kids to explore and use their imaginations and pursue their own interests. They learn just as much, and perhaps even more, doing those things than filling out worksheets, completing busy work projects, and memorizing facts.

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  20. Christina, we've been matched for the Christmas card exchange. My email address is: janetg@coastalnow.net.
    Send your address and I'll send mine.

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  21. The diorama is fantastic!

    Working in classrooms, with children, I really see the benefits of homework and parental help with things like reading and spelling does make such a huge difference, however, I am also very in favour of children having family time and time to play and just be children and I think there can often be too much emphasis on homework at the expense of other learning opportunities that arise in life and family time and so on. I'm not a fan of rainbow writing either, but it does really help some children. I'm lucky in that the schools I've worked at don't make too much fuss over homework - children do have it of course, but not huge amounts and nothing unmanageable.

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  22. My two six year olds are at school in Mexico at the moment and they are expected to do a minimum of an hours homework a day, half in English and half in Spanish. Like many many of their friends they have a tutor a couple of days a week to help out. I do get fed at times. Ruth

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Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, I love to hear from you, I really do. I sometimes reply by email but I am not all that reliable... Christina xx