Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Anticipating the results of weeks of hard work

For the past 3 weeks we've been caught up in a flurry of school-related activities. The older kids were bombarded with projects and tests, which usually have me all stressed out and grumpy.

Strangely, this time, I actually enjoyed most of it. I thoroughly enjoyed preparing the kids for their tests and it seemed that the less they knew at the beginning of their study sessions, the happier I was - because it enabled me to live out my 'homeschooling mum' fantasy, which I don't think will die very soon. This term Shakeel (14) worked quite well on his own - for the most part. He'd ask for help here and there, but I was happy to see that the study methods which we'd used over the years (when I used to work more closely with him) are standing him in good stead and allowing him to cover the bulk of the work without my assistance. 

Shakeel working on a project with his friend and classmate

Making time to play with one of his lovebirds

Working with Tharaa (11), on the other hand, took up the bulk of my time, energy and patience. In the previous post I mentioned how I would no longer write about my kids in a way that could embarrass or upset them when they read the post later on, so I'll just say that Tharaa and I had some challenging moments, but thank goodness, that's all behind us now. On the one hand I was alarmed to see that, a few days before her tests, she often did not even understand the typed handouts in her book (upon which all the tests were based). I am not one to automatically blame the teacher, as it is possible that she was not paying attention as she should have been. What was so alarming was the fact that she had achieved the top scores across the entire sixth grade during the first term, yet now, a few months later, she was completely baffled by the contents of her books. It also didn't help that the school's talent show, in which she sang and for which she had practised so hard, took place the night before she was scheduled to write History and Maths!!! 

Like I said earlier, although I was alarmed at the fact that she was so unprepared for her tests, I was thrilled to have this clean slate upon which to practice my teaching skills (because, really, she was a clean slate - it was as if she was seeing the work for the first time!) But I enjoyed it and she responded well. Maths required much revision of the basics and I let her use the invaluable to brush up on her newly acquired skills. For the other learning areas (History, Geography and Natural Science) I firstly familiarised myself with her typed notes and textbooks, after which I set about explaining it to her. She grasped concepts instantly and answered questions accurately - which has me absolutely baffled as to why she did not know what was happening in any of these subjects when we started studying. After all, the study period is supposed to serve merely to refresh one's memory and consolidate that which one has already learned - especially at Grade 6 level. But, my concerns were outweighed by my own silent glee and pride (in myself) each time she yelled out, " NOW I understand!"  once I'd explained a section of work. (Yes, I know - I really need to get a hobby - or a job).

Written by Tharaa - dedicated to her best friends

Tharaa hard at work

Projects were an entirely different story. Her Natural Science project involved making an electric circuit using a battery, conducting wires and 2 output components (a buzzer and a light). They were required to construct a game using the circuit which would result on the buzzer or light being activated by the flow of the current. Although I understood that the game should involve closing a break in the circuit allowing the current to flow from the input component (the battery) which would then activate the buzzer and light, I had no idea how this would be done. Fortunately this type of challenge is what gets Mo (her dad)'s juices flowing, so together they built a game which earned a her 100%. 

Although I am happy with her result, I have a HUGE problem with this type of project, which clearly requires heavy reliance on an adult. Although I agree that parents should be involved in kids' education, what does this type of project mean for children of parents who have absolutely no education? Tharaa told us about a girl in her class being raised by a single mum, who submitted a cell attached to a light bulb, which sadly did not work. This girl only managed to get 30% for her and her mum's efforts. Why should children's grades depend on their parents' abilities and educational level? One thing is for certain - if I were the only one guiding Tharaa through this project, my daughter would have achieved far less than her friend's 30%. Why should the fact that my daughter had McGuyver to guide her, stand her in better stead than her friend whose parent's skills do not extend to building circuits. This project, in no way, reflected the ability of the kids to build circuits or even on their own understanding of their workings. 

So after much explaining, pain, confusion; followed by small moments of sweet victory, Tharaa's tests eventually ended. 

With the older kids' assessments and Aisha (3)'s new bout of unexplained tantrums, poor Nuha (8) once again fell through the cracks. I know that she too was busy with formal assessments, but I had very little time left to help her. She was preparing a project and an oral on solar systems, when - upon giving it a quick once-over (which, sadly is how I check her work most of the time) I came across words like "interstellar" and "centaurs",  which forced me to take time out to explain the concept of plagiarism and how one cannot simply copy huge chunks of information from Wikipedia. I got her to read each paragraph to me and then explain it in her own words before writing it down on her poster. This also made memorising the information much easier as she understood the concepts quite well. I really have to get the older kids to work more independently so that I can spend more time with my patient and understanding daughter. 

In addition to me neglecting Nuha's studies during the assessment period, I'd very often rely on the poor angel to keep Aisha busy so that I can focus on the heavy workload of the older kids. 

My most independent child (not by choice, poor thing)

Aisha, in the meantime, apart from throwing the most frightening tantrums at the drop of a hat, is also busy practising for her school concert. To maintain the element of surprise, parents are being kept in the dark about the performances, but I'm told that she surprises her teachers each time by coming out of her shell completely when the music starts and then proceeding to shake her booty shamelessly. 

So now we eagerly await the assessment results which we'll receive at the end of the school term (in 2 weeks time). We are also really excited about watching Aisha's very first concert this Saturday. The following few weeks therefore promise to be really exciting for our family as we reap the rewards (hopefully) of many weeks of hard work. Let's pray that it all pays off.


Ayuni Ayatillah said...

Masha Allah, you have such a beautiful family :)

Looks like you have your hands full but I am sure you are enjoying it!

Keep on writing!

Savouring mommy moments said...

Shukran so much Ayuni for your kind words. Yes, I enjoy it - just trying to savour as much of the good moments as time is flying by so fast!