The year is in full swing and the novelty of being back at school or starting in Grade 1 has probably already worn off. The excitement of a new grade, new teachers and new friends has been replaced by the reality of tests, projects and busy afternoon schedules.
Grade 1 pupils are starting to get used to “big school” with all its challenges. One of those challenges for parents and children is homework. Parents are eager to get their children into an afternoon routine to create a suitable environment for homework to be completed. However, parents of children of all ages are often overwhelmed by the volume of homework being sent home and are not sure whether they are helping their children correctly.
Schools in many first world countries, and even some in South Africa, are moving away from the concept of homework. They believe that children should have enough time to play and have reading programmes instead of homework. These theoretically reinforce concepts taught during the school day. The reality is that this has not yet taken off in South Africa and most teachers will agree that completing the curriculum relies on concepts being reinforced at home.
Parents of children in primary school can try the following tips to make homework less tedious and frustrating:
1. Keep R1 coins to use as counters for Maths homework. This will help the child to see the link between addition and subtraction using real-world examples.
2. Skip counting is an important skill to master and becomes the foundation of times tables. Trace your child’s hands on a piece of paper and write the numbers of the skip counting in the fingers. The child will associate the number with the finger used to count on.
3. Print 100 chart templates from the internet and let them colour in every second, third or fourth block, depending on the number being counted in. This will help them to see the pattern created for each number as opposed to trying to remember a list of numbers off by heart.
4. Create your own set of flashcards for sight words. Review words covered in previous weeks’ lists on a regular basis.
5. Let your child break spelling words into sounds. This will help them to develop a strategy for attempting new words.
6. Use the sounds of letters (“a” for ant) as opposed to the letter names, such as A (ay), B (bee) and C (see) when reinforcing reading.
Parents should not feel alone in fighting homework wars! Speak to your child’s teacher or book a remedial assessment if you suspect that your child is unable to cope with the demands of his or her grade.
Chrizelle Prinsloo is the owner of Kip McGrath Education Centres, Walmer. She has a background in psychology and has taught in mainstream and special-needs schools both locally and abroad. Chrizelle is passionate about helping children gain confidence in their own abilities and about finding different ways to help them learn.