Monday, 17 November 2008

Homework Happiness (?!?!!)

Today my comments on a blog I often read were featured as a stand-alone post. It's got me thinking about homework again.

I've never been a big fan of homework - which is kind of funny coming from a teacher. I was shocked into re-thinking homework philosophies back in 1998 when I was teaching at a Charter School. One of the parents in my school was a Deepak Chopra follower and would often talk to me about her beliefs and philosophies. I really grew to appreciate her calm and sensible approach to parenting. I had a number of parents who nagged me for more homework...and she was exactly the opposite. She felt like kids needed time to just be kids and thanked me for less homework. Over the years as I've grown into my role as a parent I've come to realize I agree with many of the ideas she shared with me. And the longer my kids are in school the more critical I seem to become about homework.

Recently Jill's been doing a novel study. Some of the work was done at school but most of it was done at home. I think I need to write a note to the teacher about how much I enjoyed that homework assignment.

One of the things we have both mourned the loss of from our half a year of homeschooling last year was the copious amounts of reading she was able to do. I would guesstimate that on average she read about 100 pages a day while we homeschooled. I really began to realize the value of reading, the learning that comes from reading, and the great experience it was to read together. My approach to Language Arts started to evolve into an approach based entirely on reading separately and together. It was a fantastic experience

Our discussions around homework when it comes home in the duo-tang revolve around nagging. However, that was never the case with the novel study.

We both read the book. At first she was slow to get into the story. I snuck it from her and read it the first week she had it and when she saw me engrossed in it she seemed to catch the spark. In the end I think she loved the book way more than I did as she spent a lot of time telling me why she thought it was great. She said she hasn't read a book that worthwhile since reading the Happy Potter series. :0)

Not only that, we had great discussions about the book and even discussions centered around the booklet she that was assigned. I could tell she was thinking about it often because things would come up when we were eating dinner or driving in the van or while watching Peirce swim or while walking the dog or just before bed (her favorite time to bring up something to talk about!) I even overheard discussions with classmates about the book. She also really loved working on the final project assignment. Truth be told, I think she re-did from scratch it about 3 times because she'd realize there was something missing or want to add a little more detail or challenging questions to her game. I've never seen her go over an assignment so carefully!

If her teacher decided to send a novel study home every month I'd be thrilled! I felt like it was really a rich experience. It would be interesting to see if we couldn't come up with a list of books that related to the curriculum month by month, and have those books assigned as homework. As a matter of fact, I'd even be happy to do some research to help come up with a list like that....just the kind of thing I love!

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