Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Help me with Homework!!!

My son this week came home with his spelling words...well 2 of the 10. He obviously thought if he only writes down two then he only has to learn 2 words. Sneeky!

Even though I am a teacher I find myself often pulling out my hair to get homework done. Often parents clash with their children when it comes to homework. There are a couple to reasons for this.

a) you are too much like your child and easily push each others buttons
b) children are constantly testing the boundaries- seeing how far they have to push to get out of doing something...
c) it is too hard or they don't have a long attention span

Here are some useful tips to try to help you  get through the homework witching hour!

1) Remain calm! Even if your inner temperature is set at explode try as best you can to bite your tongue. Leave them for a moment or two if need be. (Yes easier said then done!) Children will see how far they can push you.

2) Ensure you child and you both understand the what is required with the homework. If you are not sure ask.

4) Make sure your child is not too tired. You need to remember they have had a long day at school so adding homework on top of that day is going to a failure before they start. You may find that having some afternoon tea and a bit of TV for half an hour first will help rejuvenate them.

5) Make sure the homework is in achievable chunks. If a child sees they have a whole page of work to do this will instantly stress them out. Try starting with the hardest activity letting the child know that you are doing that and at the end they can do something they like to do- computer game?

6) See what parts of the homework you can combine. When it comes to having to write spelling words into sentences I get my son to see how many he can put into a sentence. This then reduces how many sentences he has to write. Try not to do the sentences for them and don't worry if their sentences are too basic. You can always suggest some other words to add to their sentence to make it more interesting for next time.

7) Eliminate what you know they don't need practice at. With spelling words at the beginning of the week I ask my son to spell them to me out loud and I tick which ones he gets right and these ones we don't need to learn. If he has to write them out each night I make him do it as handwriting practice.

8) Try to have no distractions, no TV. Noisy siblings. Some music in the background down low may work for some children too.

9) Be positive and keep reinforcing what they have achieved in the time you have had not emphasis what still needs to be done.

10) Negotiate with the teacher- what is really important to get done and what is less important. For those weeks where it doesn't seem like you are winning the battle just do the bare minimum.

11) One complaint about homework from parents is that it is taught differently from when they were at school or they don't understand the teacher jargon. You tube has a wealth of videos demonstrating how to do almost anything.  The website schoolatoz has a wealth of useful information. This link will take you to the teacher jargon page. You may also like to check out a free mathematic library.

All I can say is goodluck...some friends have taken the pressure completely off and have hired people to do the homework with their children. Maybe an option for some?

This looks like a good book!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Jump Starting Reluctant Boys to Read

Recently at parent teacher interviews a huge number of parents said that one thing they would like for their children this year was for them to read more.

So the question is how do we get our children hooked onto reading. The answer is simple choose books that are engaging and at their level. Below are some books that I recommend for different ages.

The first group of reluctant readers I hear from parents are younger boys. Homework can be like pulling teeth! I find that often boys get switched off reading from an early age and why? well it is simple they don't want to be reading about fairies or fluffy animals or baby books. Boys want boys books with adventure etc. I would also suggest that you should read a page and then get them to read a page (or paragraph). This may take 20 minutes of your day- well worth it.

These two books could just do the trick: 

Hey Jack! : The Circus Lesson - Sally Rippin

1) This series of books is good for boys who are struggling with their reading but are wanting to read chapter books. (check out Booktopia or Amazon Books for more selections). This series of books are written just for boys and are full of down to earth stories that are imaginative and fun. The text is broken up with pictures throughout the book which makes a page not such a daunting thing.

Zac Power Test Drive : 10 Books in 1 - H. I. Larry

2) And one of the most popular series of books that has a range of levels is the Zac Power Series. The series is based upon the adventures of Zac Power, a twelve-year-old boy, and his fifteen-year-old brother, Leon. Zac is a secret agent for the fictitious Government Investigation Bureau (GIB), and Zac's adventures frequently see him saving the world.

Find the series at Booktopia or Amazon Books

Over the past few years there has been a lot more books written for our boys. For those students in Year 3 and 4 there are also a few choices to look at:

Diary of A Wimpy Kid : Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series : Book 1 - Jeff Kinney

1) The Diary of a Wimpy kid is perfect for this age group. There are 7 books in the series and seem to engage reluctant readers. They are filled with hand written notes and simple drawings of his day.

Kids also love these books due to them being made into movies.
The Birthday Party of No Return : Goosebumps Hall of Horrors Series : Book 6 - R. L. Stine

2) The Goosebump series of books. These are oldies but goodies. They are simple to comprehend and a quick read for boys. Perfect. There are over 60 books in this series. Boys also love them because they are full of horror, humour and supernatural themes.....wooooooooooohhhhhhh!!

And then there are the big boys. There are two books that I have used in my class over the last couple of years that I find are infectious and once one boy raves about them I find the whole class wants to read them.

1) Holes by Louis Sachar. This book has also been made into a movie. I find that kids that have seen the movie also like to read the book. The main character is Stanley. Holes is about how he overcomes his problems, both those created inside of him and the ones imposed upon him at Camp Green Lake where he is sent after allegedly stealing a pair of running shoes. He grows stronger, physically and emotionally, and emerges a happy, confident young man. Boys and girls love this book. My class are begging me to buy the sequel Small Steps....which I must do this week and will let you know if I think it is as good.

Trash2) The second book that my boys love is Trash by Andy Mulligan. This book has really got the boys in my class hooked into their reading- every spare minute they have it out and are reading! I hooked them in first by showing them a book trailer from youtube. They straight away wanted to start reading. I loved reading this book too! It is about a boy who lives on a trash dump and how life changes when he discovers something important in the Trash. He and his friends take it in turns to write a chapter from their point of view and the adventure that unfolds from finding a bag. They know that it is important as the police are way too interested in it. 

I hope this helps. I will add to my list as I find other little gems that capture the imagination of our boys!