As a supposedly creative person, I should LOVE creative homework.
For starters, my kids are 8 and 6. I don’t believe that they should even get homework, apart from a bit of light reading. When I was a girl, etc etc… I occasionally imagine my mum’s response if she had been tasked with some of the things we are called upon to undertake. It would have been short and to the point, and would almost certainly have ended in off. And I turned out just fine.
Ironically, at school I was the sort of person who always got their homework in on time, and even early on occasion. Now, though, the tables are turned.
My kids’ school is great, apart from the homework. Occasionally I share my pain with work colleagues, and we commiserate over awful writing assignments or the time I had to Google a phrase in Danish for assembly practice.
Creative homework, however, takes the biscuit. It generally comes without warning, and it takes soooooo long.
The first step is deciding what to do. ‘Please assist your child to create a 3D model of any London attraction’ (year 1). This will involve negotiating with your child to make something which is close enough to what they really wanted to make, so that they will participate, but actually achievable, given your limitations. London bus in Lego, yes. To-scale working model of the London Eye, no.
The next part is blocking out some time to do the homework. Not too much, because everyone will cry. Not too early, because you’ll waste it and then have to find more time. Not too late – again, everyone will cry and there will be shouting.
And finally, striking a balance between satisfying your own perfectionist attitude over what a bus/Mini/jellyfish/treasure map should look like and getting the child to do some of it. As you can see from the picture above, a child was clearly involved in the creation of the eggbox Mini. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said, aggrievedly, ‘This isn’t my homework, you know.’
Sometimes the creative homeworks turn out like the ‘Nailed it!’ posts – horrific caricatures of the loving tributes they were meant to be. In some ways, though, it’s worse when you catch yourself getting into it, when it isn’t even your homework and there are so many other things you could be doing.
Indeed, the creative homework even inspired a story. It was a typical busy weekend – big shop, the Forth Bridge of the washing and dirty dishes, getting a run or two in, trip out with friends…I only got to the homework books late on Sunday afternoon. And of course, it was ‘please can you make some aquarium creatures from recyclable materials’. I dug through the stuff in the kitchen recycling bucket (I’m not proud). Slim pickings…but there were plastic water bottles. To cut a long story short, I entertained friends while coaching my six-year old through making two jellyfish out of rubbish. The ridiculousness of it inspired ‘0 Out Of 10’, which, bizarrely, won a flash fiction competition.
So perhaps I shouldn’t complain. After all, my son did get 5 team points for his ‘octopus’.