Fundamental Foundations

Train: To teach a particular skill or type of behavior through practice and instruction over a period of time.

Teach: To instruct, train, explain and educate.

“Direct your children onto the right path and train them in the way they should go. Start them off the right way in keeping with their individual gift and when they are older they will not turn away from it or leave it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

This post may come out as a bit of a ‘rant’ and for that I apologise. Firstly, I want to start by saying right up front that I honour my children’s teachers and I think teaching is an incredible profession. In fact, many of my closest friends are teachers and I think they do an amazing job. To be a teacher is to have both a calling and a gift. I also have no problem with homework.

Unfortunately earlier this week, I felt the need to post the following message to teachers in regards to overnight homework:

“Dear Teachers, Please stop expecting so much homework to be done OVERNIGHT. Some nights we don’t get home until 7.30pm due to sport commitments and then we eat together as a family and spend quality time together. The pressure of overnight homework stresses everyone and it always ends in tears. By 9.30pm our kids should be in bed so they aren’t tired for you at school tomorrow NOT sitting up trying to do the overnight homework you have set. Just saying. Thank you. Nicki.”

I was quite surprised by the responses I got from people. Everything from encouraging me to get involved on the school board (sorry, Jan I’m not interested) to suggesting that I should move to France where homework is illegal (Sounds appealing Sam but sorry, I’m not interested)!!! Clearly I’m not alone on my little rant.

The main reason I was so upset about the overnight homework issue is that we had been enjoying our family dinner, albeit a lot later than I would have liked due to footy training not finishing until almost 7.00pm, when one of our children announced he had homework to do. It was cold and dark outside but warm inside. Plates were empty and we were sitting around the table together chatting and laughing and sharing the “high-lows” of our day. The TV was turned off, the curtains were drawn and the lamps were on. The phones were on silent and Facebook was ignored. It was getting close to 8.30pm and I was looking forward to sitting down and enjoying time with Tim when the tears started. We didn’t have any orange A3 sheets of paper (I ask, do you have every colour A3 paper in your cupboard ready for school projects?!). We didn’t have ‘Windows Publisher’ on our home computer (do you?). And we didn’t understand what the teacher was asking him to do (neither did he!) An hour and a half later, we were all exhausted. The mood was broken. Doors were slammed. The atmosphere was cold and unforgiving. We yelled, recommended, screamed, cajoled, suggested, forced and finally gave up and sent him to bed without even starting the assignment.

Perhaps we are the only family that experiences this situation when overnight homework is set. But I doubt it.

Now, if my child had come home from footy training (cold, wet, hungry, dirty and tired) and had eaten a packet of 2 minute noodles and then gone straight to the computer and gotten into his homework, he probably would have worked it out and got it finished in time. I probably would have acquiesced and driven to K-Mart (thankfully open 24 hours) to buy a sheet of orange A3 project paper and all would have been ok in his world.

But would it?

Part of my role as a Mum is to teach my child. Just as it is also the job of those employed as teachers in my child’s school. But I believe that the most important education I can give my child is not found in irrelevant overnight homework assignments. It is found every night at the dinner table, over a home cooked meal (even though my kids will tell you I’m not a very good cook) surrounded by siblings and Mum and Dad. It is here that my children learn more than they ever will by completing an overnight homework task. They learn how to eat properly, using table manners and holding their cutlery properly. They learn not to interrupt when someone else is having their turn at “high-low”. They learn how to laugh. They learn how to listen. They learn how to accept criticism. They are encouraged when we ask about their day. They learn patience when they are chosen as the last person to be “high-lowed”. They learn what it means to be part of a family. They learn that they are loved and accepted.

You might think I’m just some fundamentalist Christian wanting to raise my kids to be Godly. Well, you’re right. I am. I want to teach my kids some important fundamental foundations such as loving God, loving each other, loving themselves and loving their life.

I don’t expect you to raise your child the same way I am. As parents, we each have a choice to make. But it’s what I choose to do and all I ask from my children’s teachers is some support of me, their other teacher. Instead of expecting overnight homework to be completed, how about teachers set homework tasks that include helping me cook dinner, helping set the table, helping clear up after dinner, discussing the events of their day and learning what it’s like to be part of a family.

My role as teacher is to instruct and teach my children skills and behaviors over a period of time as I direct them onto the right paths according to their God-given gifts and talents and abilities. I want to help start my children off on the right path. Why? Because the world will do everything it can to screw them up and get them onto wrong paths, therefore, I believe that what learn from me, their first teacher, will be enough so that when they are older they will not depart from what they have learned.

I don’t think that’s such a bad thing to rant about. Do you?

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