Thursday, 13 September 2012

School gets tougher for parents too

My son has just embarked on another passage in his education.

He has just started learning within the Key Stage 2 curriculum.

It’s a four-year period of learning that has a general target of preparing children for the next part of their formal learning, high school.

Something of a step up that my son was in fear of.

His last school year (or the two in Key Stage 1) was a success.  Given his appetite for fun, and his disdain for things he finds too difficult, I was very worried that when he moved from play-based learning (nursery and reception class) his love for going to school would rapidly dwindle.

I though his teacher had her work cut out keeping him motivated while he moved to the more formal ‘desk and pens’ way of learning.  She did a great job, and we both paid our respective thanks.  My son's thank you note being better than the thank you card I created.

Year three represents another level of learning and expectation, but not only of the children it seems, but of the parents too.

When he got back from his first couple of days last week, I was completely bamboozled by all the information I was given, and the amount of work ‘expected’ of the children at home.

I was overwhelmed by the expectations of my child reading a school book every day, learning two sets of timetables, having a weekly spelling test to revise for as well as weekly literacy and numeracy homework tasks.

Too much, surely?

I’m not a huge fan of school work straying past 3pm for young kids, I may even have said that homework is evil in the past.

But, by being in school, talking to teachers, parents and children, it has become apparent that refusing to do it would be counter-productive, and lead to isolation, struggle, and ultimately, my child not enjoying going to school.

My girlfriend, bless her, got me out of my state of panic and prodded me to think about how best to schedule my boy’s work, trying not to make it too much of a chore for either of us.

I’d previously always tried to schedule homework at night, often before bedtime, but realise that was not the best way to end a day.

Now we sit and read each morning before school.  Recite times tables during any car journeys we make (trying to make them fit to music adds a fun element).

Spellings, some are done on the fridge with magnetic letters after dinner and before dessert is issued, and then Max practises writing them out as part of his night time routine before I read to him.  Which just leaves us to fit in the weekly ad-hoc homework tasks when it best suits us.

It may seem like organisation overkill to some, but it allows me to breath easier, and while I know we’ll miss these tasks on occasion, it means I am not panicking that Max will fall behind and be sad because of the impact that might have on his school life.

So hopefully he'll go to school more:

And less like this:

And I’ve just thought I’m missing a trick here myself.  This blog post has spreadsheet written all over it.

Ooooooh Excel xxxxxxx