The reason I ask is that my eight-year-old has been given a half-term project to build a model of a WWII Anderson shelter.
There were instructions provided and even a random piece of card to enable an eight-year-old to construct a basic model which could, with appropriate labelling, be identified as an Anderson shelter.
However, the instructions went on to say, “if you like you can add to your model by….” and went on to list additions and embellishments which, in a conservation area such as ours, could possibly require planning permission.
Now this whole, optional extra aspect to homework is like a red rag to a bull to a lot of parents.
Even sensible ones who should know better, can’t help feeling that the optional extra is tantamount to a good parent test. I will applaud the parent whose child turns up to school having made the basic model by themselves.
Also if the kid is enthusiastic about the subject and wants to go that step further, it’s a tough parent who says “no I can’t be bothered and I’ve got to make your dinner”, regardless of how true that may be.
So unless your kid is Anthony Gormley, you’re going to have to get stuck in, because once the papier mache comes out, shit starts getting real.
I got a bit carried away. I think it was when I found myself hand stitching miniature sandbags that I started to question my motives but it wasn’t until I was stringing up the little washing line I truly hated myself.
At least my son has come up with the ideas, but I have done 70%-80% of the leg-work. I’m not sure if this is really ok. Don’t get me wrong, there is no chance that the model will have the polished finish which implies a parent’s involvement. I’m pretty sure I have some kind of presentation dyslexia which means that anytime I try to make something look all pretty and nice, it looks, well, …. I guess crap is the word I’m looking for.
Even in this post, I know I’ve over-egged the italics. There is clearly something very wrong with me.
Despite this fact, I still feel a bit pushy-mum by basically doing most of his homework for him.
I know I’m not alone, one of my friends who has yet to tackle the assignment with her son asked me if it wouldn’t be easier for her to just do it herself when he goes to bed. My honest answer? Yeah, probably.
Why do the school set these homework assignments which so obviously require parental involvement and then deny it’s the case? They are being naïve at best to think that a kid is going to maintain their enthusiasm for scale replica making for more than five minutes.
Sure they love it at first, they rip up loads of cardboard smear glue everywhere, slop paint around and generally muck up the kitchen table, then they realise they have to read instructions, wait for stuff to dry and hey, Simpsons is on.
So they end up hitting a younger sibling, just to get out of the situation, because at least on the naughty step they are free to explore their own thoughts and contemplate Lego without someone forcing them to recreate one of the most traumatic aspects of civilian life during WWII using an empty Weetabix box.
Model making is just a short-term high for kids, if you doubt me, just look at a model railway museum. I should know, I’ve been to a few. They are exclusively populated by three kinds of people.
1) Small children (mainly boys)
2) Middle aged men (including dads)
The small children will run in, run through, run out in less than 5 mins. The mother will wander around at a pace directly related to how much it cost to get in the damn place and wander out. The middle aged man will stay there examining everything until the need for food or water overwhelms him.
Now presumably the teachers at a junior school have met a few eight-year-old children. How they can possibly imagine they’ll still be interested enough after 40 minutes to fashion tiny carrots out of plasticine, I do not know.
Maybe they don’t expect them to do it all themselves, maybe we are supposed to help, I don’t know, I’m so confused, but I’m pretty sure that Anthony Gormley only did the Angel of the North for a bit and his mum had to finish off the wings.