Monday, 24 March 2014

Getting My Homework Done

I never wanted to be one of those parents who ends up doing their child's schoolwork for them.  But as Nathan gets deeper into grade one and assignments keep on coming, I find myself struggling a bit with finding the balance of having him be successful and him doing the work.

I know that if I just leave Nathan on his own, the work won't get done or he'll have trouble understanding the concepts of what he's supposed to do.  At a minimum, he needs guidance.  But too much guidance and he'll just be passively accepting what I tell him to do rather than actually learning.  On the other hand, repetition is the key to learning, so surely if I have him do it often enough, he'll pick up the skills and then I can wean him off the instruction.  On the fourth hand (am I on feet at this point?), by helping him, am I creating an artificial impression of skill which could lead his teachers to believe he needs less help than he actually does?  But other parents must also help their children and parent participation is supposed to be one of those defining factors in a child's academic success ...

See why I'm having trouble?

The assignment du jour is a book talk.  This is the third book talk this year but the first in which he has to read a non-fiction book. 

Fun fact about non-fiction books: they have about 10 times the amount of material as a fiction book, even if the books have the same number of pages.  Nathan is supposed to read the entire book three or four times before his presentation.  However, the amount of material makes that difficult.  So I'm introducing a new technique to him: notes.

I'm teaching him to take notes about the key points in the book and we'll review the notes at each session.  At this point, that means I'm pointing out what is and isn't a key fact and using dots to help him write out the sentences in his notebook (since he still has trouble with writing).

I worry I'm subverting the point of the assignment, which is to practice reading.  But Nathan reads quite well.  It's just not a preferred activity.  And taking notes is a useful academic skill.  But is it expecting too much from a Grade 1 student?  Should I have made him pick a more basic non-fiction book? ...

I think I'm going to stop second-guessing myself before I get dizzy.

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