This 'parenting' gig has been quite an adjustment for me. I didn't like parenting much when I was 'mommy-ing' it a few years ago, and now it's not so much a question of 'liking' or not 'liking'. It's more a question of remembering how to do it in the first place! Like, for example, Homework!
Since living in England this has been a struggle for me. Not because I have a problem with my children having homework. My problem was that I just believed them when they said they didn't have any! To put it bluntly they were Lying Toads. In the Connecticut town where I spent my homework years, I would not have dreamed of not doing my homework and it would be done on time, too. I had homework in every subject every night -- hours of it in high school. We had to turn it in. It was part of our grade come report card time. There was no escaping it!
And that is another thing. The schools here don't have report cards! In fact my mother kept all of my report cards and gave them to me a few years ago! Report cards came out 6 times a year and had to be returned, signed by a parent. Report Card Day was a big deal...it was reported in the paper, the names of A and B honour roll students were in the paper. The kids could not keep it a secret very easily.
So it never occurred to me that my boys would not do their homework or that they would deny having any. I don't know where or when it was, but alas and alack for Sam, I have discovered how it works. First of all I now know about 'homework books/diaries'! I know that I'm supposed to sign them each week. I also know that if I don't sign them, I won't hear anything from the school.
My brother has a theory about homework -- at least it's true for where we went to school. He says that if you do your homework every night, you will do well in school ...
Homework here is quite different. But then school is different. In Sam's school the schedule is over two weeks and you do not have the same core subjects every day. Core subject to me are English, history, a foreign language, mathematics, science.
Now it is 2013 and we have the Internet. Things have modernized! Sam's school has a website and on the website there is a 'Learning Zone' where I can go and download major project assignments -- like two that Sam is working on at the moment -- and which I am over-seeing. I look at my job as teaching him the difference between doing what is 'necessary' and doing what is 'the best' he can do. Usually, we have to compromise. But I only compromise a little!!! At the moment he has two projects about medieval castles. One, in history, entails learning enough about the nature of a castle to design one himself and to develop a budget from a list of what you would need for your castle and to defend it from enemy attack. The other project is to design two medieval characters to be used in an animation for an IT game. The biggest problem is that Sam tends to be sloppy and lazy in his work and convincing him that he should use the computer and transform his sloppiness on the computer. He is always pleased with the result, but it's always an matter of firmly insisting he do it!
But the third assignment is the 'jewel in the crown' for me! The assignment is to research 5-6 ofShakespeare's plays. Imagine being 12 years old and not knowing anything about Shakespeare -- other than having heard of Romeo and Juliet!!!! How does one begin -- besides joyfully, that is? The best part is that Sam is loving it! I confess to have chosen the six -- two tragedies, two comedies, and two histories. (Of course, he only wanted to do five!!!). I am not making him read the plays -- He has found synopsis and I shall pick out a couple of famous passages for him. The first one he read was Richard III -- which I chose because it is topical and I thought it a good opportunity to read about the play that has made it so topical. He was completely absorbed. Now he reading the synopsis of Hamlet! I'll let you know what he thinks -- but he has been quietly reading for a while now and seems to be giving out very thoughtful signals ... Coming up are Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, and Henry V. And then write his own version of what each play was about -- he probably won't like that bit ... but you never know!