I think I’ve mentioned before that we live in a complex with lots of kids. This is one of the first things that attracted me to the complex. I remember the first unit that I went to see…it was in an absolutely appalling condition…there was so much work that needed to be done IF you had the money to do it. Then the estate agent told me that a friend was selling privately in the same complex and if I was interested, she could take me over to see it. The first thing that caught my attention was the number of kids running around playing. At the time (almost 6years ago!), I pushed Ethan in his pram up the driveway toward the unit, and I remember feeling this warm feeling. Yes, THIS is how I wanted my kids to grow up. Playing together with other kids in the complex in a safe, happy environment.
So we moved in, but at the time, the kids were quite a bit older than Ethan and Ethan was too young to really be playing with other kids. About a year later, the neighbours across the way moved in and they had three kids – one a year older than Ethan and another two years older – the eldest was the same age as the other bigger kids in the complex. Then a few weeks later, two houses up, another family moved in with a child the same age as Ethan and a baby on the way. Fast forward years later and these kids have become my childrens’ best friends. There are things that I don’t like about complex living like having ALL THE KIDS IN OUR YARD OVER THE WEEKENDS OR ALL OF THEM PLAYING X-BOX IN THE LOUNGE PLUS THE SMALLER ONES PLAYING WITH THE TOYS. At one stage, this made me want to look at moving into a stand alone property, but the benefits far outweigh the “issues” so to speak. And so we are happy in our little “village” and even happier that our kids are happy.
Ethan and his bestie D started grade 1 together this year at the same school. They are not in the same class, but they play together every.single.day. D is not into sport at all. He plays sports with the other kids in the complex from time to time, but he has no interest in playing any sport at school, neither does he participate in any cultural extra murals. Ethan on the other hand is obsessed with sport! And the school encourages that each child does at least one sport and one cultural activity…we listen…he does both. D’s parents both work full day and have no support structure or help at home. As a result, he goes to aftercare after school. At aftercare, they do homework first so when he gets home after 4, he is free to play until home time.
The other neighbours who go to a different school are muslim and attend madrasa at the mosque every day after school. Because of the time that it starts, they are unable to juggle extra mural activities, so as a result, they also don’t do any sport or cultural events at school at all. They get home after school and do their homework, then head off to the mosque. Once they return from the mosque at around 5, they are also free to play until home time.
Ethan gets home after his extra mural for the day – currently, he has something every day except Friday. And this is not forced activities, he has chosen to do these things as he enjoys them! When he gets home, there are usually no other kids home as yet (except maybe Riley on some days when they get fetched together), and so the first thing he does is his homework because well…homework comes first! This is usually basic maths and English. Our nanny assists where she can and checks to the best of her ability, but I like to do his spelling test every day when I get home and also his reading – this is usually done after bathtime. Let me just stress here that currently, Ethan’s homework doesn’t take long, perhaps half an hour if he sits and does it in one go. The way we split it, it’s usually 15minutes when he gets home and another 15minutes after bathtime.
Then there is the odd bit of homework that’s “extra”. This week, it’s preparation for book character day on Thursday. His outfit was sorted a few weeks ago as Riley had the same event at school two weeks ago, and so I thought it easiest to buy everything at once. But the actual preparation around the oral hasn’t been done. So we started it yesterday. When I got home, he was busy playing. So I told him that he had till 5:30, at which time he needed to come in, make some corrections to his homework, and start his oral preparation. When I called him in at 5:30, there were no issues. He started the corrections and then we started with the oral. About 5minutes into the oral preparation, the sulking started. He wanted to know whether he would still have time to play with his friends. He was getting all teary when I corrected him on the way he was saying things. And it went downhill from there! Of course we got through it, but by the time we reached 6pm, I sent him to his room to pull himself together. He was full on crying. Crying over homework guys!!!! Anyway, we quickly got over that and moved on with the evening.
On the way to school this morning, I reminded him that after our morning prayer and listening to the pop quiz on the radio (I can’t help it – I need to listen to it every day, hehe), we were going to continue preparing for the oral, afterall, we drive for 20minutes…why not be productive!! [Let me add here that we often read a book or do some maths practise in the car in the morning, so doing school stuff in the car is not foreign to him]. 2minutes into it, he started getting teary again. He didn’t understand why he needed to do this now in the car. He also started getting stroppy with me, saying things like – why do I need to say that, you said it mustn’t be like that, I’ve already said that before why must I say it again. Boy child is so lucky I was driving ‘cos at that point, I had just about lost it. So I gave him a long lecture about homework and why it’s important. How all the other kids have homework too, but because they don’t do extra murals, they finish it at a different time. How he had all day to play at school and weekends and holidays to play all day with his friends but that during term, it was important to work hard to get good marks and a good report. I also maayyyy have slipped in that a good report resulted in rewards…bribery and corruption, it’s a real thing with kids y’all!!! Then I explained how we’re only doing what’s best for him and excelling at school and trying your best is very important. Fortunately, he took the lecture very well, and by the time he got out of the car, he was all chirpy and ready for the day.
How do your kids cope with homework?
More importantly, how do YOU cope with homework?
All I can think about is how conscientious Ethan is. Generally, he’s very diligent and loves school and the school work that goes with it. But if he’s already starting to moan now, how will it be a few years on where there will probably be little to no play time in the week???