Pages

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Laying Down the Law -- Grandma Style

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!

24 comments:

  1. Kathie, You are the best grandmother ever!!!! I'm sure your grandson will develop into a fine young man who will love you for all the attention you will have given him. He may not realize it at first ... but I'm sure he will, one day. You are doing a great job! Congratulations. Martine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Martine, thank you -- but, believe me, I have my limits! One thing for sure -- it's more fun than being a parent!

      Delete
  2. As a regular setter and marker of homework I'd say that your approach is very thorough. How long does he have to complete this work? It seems quite hefty for a 12 year old. We set between 30 and 45 minutes per core subject per week.

    I'm glad Sam is enjoying the reading. It's natural to push against the limits. I'd say it's better that he does this at home than at school - better for the teacher!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He has a very reasonable amount of time. Three weeks for the Castle and 4 weeks for the IT game. The Castle project was only supposed to take a total of 3 hours -- which seems short to me. I think he had two weeks for the Shakespeare. Of course he put it off as long as I would let him! Having all three at the same time, was good for him though as it was also a lesson in planning.

      Delete
  3. I can fully imagine being twelve and not knowing Shakespeare. I knew at thirteen, but that was only because my brother was a freshman in HS and reading Julius Caesar. By the time HS was done we'd both been immersed in Bill's works.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Julius Caesar is in many ways my favourite -- not because I think it is the greatest play -- but it is so much fun to perform! The lines are made for learning!

      Delete
  4. Oh, I love this. I have recently been mulling over my own possible trouble in Camelot essay. I'm glad you are coming to terms with doing this all over again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What's really hard is worthwhile constructive criticism and what needs to be left alone! What I try to do is give advice before he writes and then see how or if he manages that advice in the final effort.

      Delete
  5. So glad he is enjoying Shakespeare, even in synopsis form. I don't know about his workload...but yours must be formidable!

    The 'budget' puzzles me...do they accept looting, pillage and royal grants as sources of funds?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahhh! The 'budget'! I'll explain that. Each child was given a copy of 'the project' -- in our case we downloaded it from the school website. The project is several pages long and explains the different things the child must cover in his paper. He is allowed to spend 250 shillings on his castle. Included are three pages of different items and how much each costs: a well costs 7 shillings, an armoury 4 shillings, a tower 20 shillings. A priest costs 5 shillings, an archer costs 2 shillings -- and so on.

      Delete
  6. If I knew ANY Shakespeare as a young adult, it went right in one ear and out the other. I had to grow into a young mother perusing books at the library to get into the classics. I don't know how I must have missed it in school. In my day we did very little homework! Maybe that's why. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well it caught up with you in the end! Motherhood has a way of doing that! My homework load was atrocious! 3-5 hours every night :-( I would gladly have traded places with you!

      Delete
  7. It's tough being the "hard" grandmother! You are truly inspiring, since most of us have forgotten how hard it was to parent properly, to check homework, run off to the stores the last minutes to get materials needed at school, or for projects that the children just forgot to alert you in plenty of time.

    I know that my children started reading Shakespeare in their freshman year in high school.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am not sure but I think I started reading plays in high school. It's hard to remember because I was exposed to Shakespeare by my parents. My father was an English teacher and there was no escape! The first play I remember seeing was Richard III -- the movie with Lord Olivier!

      In fact, I did have to run to the store at the last minute to buy printer ink -- and wow! was that an expensive trip :-(

      Delete
  8. This sounds like very hard work for you and Sam, but it does also sound as if you are both enjoying it. From the time when I taught in the US,I reember how different attitudes were to homework, from my experience in England. However I do recall there were 2 kinds of student in the US just as there was in England.....those who like you, could not imagine not doing homework, who saw the report card system as sacrasanct as you did.....and then, the others, who never handed a piece of work in, who found ways around the system to fool their parents....or of course, whose parents didn't care.
    Sam is very lucky having you to provide such wonderful support. I hope you both continue to enjoy it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are right, Janice. Perversely, I am enjoying it pretty much ;-) Especially, when I see him respond to the Shakespeare. I can see his interest will grow and grow...

      Delete
  9. G'day Broad. What a wonderful person you are. Sam is just so lucky to have you. It's great that he is enjoying the Shakespeare. Well done, both of you. Take care. Liz...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Liz. It's really appreciated...

      Delete
  10. So happy I am not in charge of anyone who has homework!
    I didn't much like it when I had it. Did okay with the three girls but they're now grown and the youngest grandchildren live near Boston so their mom does homework duty. They have lots as I understand it and I think kids need to have as much time to play and be creative as they do homework. Good luck with Sam.
    Don't forget to take care of you too!
    Blessings, Barb


    My books on Amazon
    Vada Faith, contemporary fiction
    Ezra and Other Stories, collection of short stories .99 for month of March.
    Barbara A. Whittington

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, Barb, that can sometimes be a real problem. But at least American kids have those long hot summers to recuperate!

      Delete
  11. We see our two going through this with their children now, Broad, so I know just what you're dealing with. Homework has changed so much since I did it and even since our children did it 30 years ago. No designing mediaeval castles for us, but rather learning lists of dates and facts, which are much easier to tick off as done.

    However I do remember doing Shakespeare from the very beginning of grammar school at 11 - one play a term and I really loved it.

    You're doing a wonderful job with Sam and should be very proud of yourself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, designing a medieval castle doesn't seem much like homework, does it!!! But I suppose it may be as good a way as any to become fascinated by the history of that time. One of my favourite books of all time is looking at the history from the dark ages to the renaissance by following the trail of the architecture of castles from Provence to Versailles!

      Delete
  12. Oddly enough - or maybe not, since I was a boy - I began to enjoy Shakespeare when I found some of his less popular but more bloody works. I especially enjoyed Timon Of Athens and Titus Andronicus. Since I'm a generally non-violent sort, this still puzzles me :-)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Dear Broad, I doubt very much if twelve-year-olds here in the States are learning about Shakespeare! The program sounds both interesting and challenging and I bet Sam's going to learn a lot--with you standing behind him!!! Peace.

    ReplyDelete

Receiving comments is a joy and I thank you all for taking the trouble and showing your interest. Makes me feel all gooey and stuff!