So. Holiday homework. Projects. The bane of every parent. The nightmare of every mum and dad. Every time I see someone with a harried look on their face, walking around clutching plasic folders and A3/A4 sheets, chart paper and thermocole, getting into the car for a quick dash down to the stationery shop for buying some glue or feathers, my heart melts in sympathy.
Been there, done that, you know :)
I don't know how it is in other cities, but the Delhi newspapers have been full of articles like this. We ourselves have a "homework uncle" in our neighbourhood, who for a fee will execute your ward's school projects. Is it any wonder that when Ads submits his projects or assignments, he comes back carrying tales of how terrific everyone else's project looked, as opposed to our home-made, eco-friendly output? I've seen some of these works of art displayed in the school corridors during the Parent-Teacher meetings and I'm ready to bet my last dollar that no first or second-grader could have made them. Or else, there are a heck of a lot of super-talented moms out there. I refuse to believe the latter too, it would be too damaging to my ego :)
This year as well, Ads got homework in all subjects (English, Math, EVS, Hindi). Now I simply don't understand why kids need to have homework during the holidays. Its a holiday, in case nobody noticed. Kids should have nothing to do during vacation. In fact, today's generation needs idleness much more than we did simply because most of them don't seem to know how to handle boredom. And when can kids just be kids if not during the summer vacation? They definitely don't have the time during the school year. Why add the pressure of homework on top of the classes and summer camps that they are probably going to anyway?
Someone definitely had put in some serious thought into the homework assignment design, that much was apparent. I did appreciate that. The theme was to compare the era of Ads's grandparents (1950s to 1960s) to the current era. In English, they had to interview each grandparent and write down about the differences in communication technologies and why these changes occured. In Math, they had to look at the currencies in vogue then, and also calculate purchasing power of the rupee (by comparing prices of staples across the years). In EVS, they had to figure out the differences in fashion and textiles. In Hindi, they had to discuss modes of transporation then and now. Pretty interesting stuff, really.
What they had forgotten or conveniently overlooked was how much parental input would be required to complete the assignments. None of them could be completed without my active assistance. My policy of limited screen time/no video games backfired on me since Ads couldn't use the laptop to download and print stuff. (I still stand firmly by my policy, btw :))
Between my mom, Ads and me, we managed to complete the whole thing. The whole thing was quite pointless, if you ask me. I also know that most other kids in our complex have either outsourced their projects outside or else their mommies have done the whole thing when the kids were at school! What's the point???
Children only retain what they want to and it's a fact that they do forget a lot of what they have learnt, during the summer vacation. I also know that not everyone's home environment facilitates or encourages reading, craft and learning. Instead of overloading hapless kids and parents with homework, I would support if they asked all children to keep a daily or weekly journal (in both English and the second language, if they like). I'm sure they would be astonished at the creative interpretations the kids would come up with. Ask them to bring to school all the artwork they did during the hols. Make them write a story on that family holiday, with pictures. Let them describe something new that they learnt during the summer. Any of these options (just one, not all at the same time!) would be so much more age-appropriate and more valuable that the impractical stuff they come up with now.
As for Math, any decently involved parent will make their children do worksheets every week. I did. When it comes to Maths and Science, I think we don't need to doubt the Tiger mom qualities of Indian parents :)
I'm going to give these suggestions to the school. I hope they do something about it. This year, when Ads cribebd about the homework, I gave him a way out. I said, I will support you in not doing your homework. Go to your class teacher and say your mom doesn't have the time and the homework is too hard to do without any help, so you haven't done it. Do that, and I'll back you up.
Needless to say, our conformist thought the whole idea was insane. Coward :)