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The way you measure a society's soul is by the way that it treats its children.
Nelson Mandela

Kidz Newz no. 152 – 31st May 2016

Welcome to Kidz Newz, especially all new subscribers – including those from the EYES conference Perth and the Move to Learn workshop at Armadale Primary School. Kidz Newz is a regular newsletter with information and teaching tips for anyone involved with young children. You are receiving this because you have attended one of my workshops, purchased a book, or you have requested to be on the mailing list. Thank you. Please forward this to anyone you feel it may be of interest to. Feedback is welcome. Don't forget to stay in touch on our Facebook Page and watch out for our exclusive fan page competitions.

 

Homework

In doing my research on Finnish schools it was interesting to note that they seldom give their students homework and yet in Australia we continue to do so at younger and younger ages.

I personally don’t have an issue with getting students into the habit of ‘homework’ by doing things like reading an early reader to a parent, thus ‘showing off’ their skills; singing their kindy or school songs because they are enjoyable and they want to; or practising any physical skill, like skipping, because it is such fun. When the activity ceases to be pleasant and becomes a chore, however, I draw the line. I do so because there is a problem there. Why doesn’t the child want to do it? It is about forming good habits early. If the child is learning to play a musical instrument, for example, he or she usually does so because the parents think it’s a good idea and the child is keen to try a new skill. The music teacher will soon tell the child to practice this new piece every day. Because they are learning to do something they’ve never done before, they usually want to practise to master that skill and because it’s fun to be able to play something on the keyboard or whatever instrument it is. Similarly, if they want to sing or read or dance because it is fun, then that’s all there is to it. They do not need to master the skill – they already have that skill so they don’t need to ‘practise for homework’. So it does depend on the age of the child and what is being accomplished, what is the purpose of the homework, otherwise it’s a pointless exercise for the sake of it.

The child who struggles, however, is in a different category. Rather than giving homework, thus making the child do more of what he or she is already struggling with, it is necessary to find out what the child’s problem is. The child may be sick, have dietary issues or sleep issues, have psychological problems, emotional problems or physical problems meaning the child cannot perform the activity. Whatever it is, giving the child more homework instead of addressing why the child can’t cope, is not the solution but just aggravates the problem and makes the child start hating school and thus start behaving badly. It’s all too familiar. In Finland, an assistant is provided to work with the child to help address whatever is going on.

The other aspect is the trauma it can cause children. I was talking to a friend recently who has a pre-primary aged child. The mother was beside herself because the child had homework and she was worried about the child ‘getting it right’ because when she was a child she was traumatised by some of the homework demands and consequent punishments. All her childhood fears were revisited. She phoned me for help and advice. At first I thought she was joking and so I laughed. The child was in pre-primary for heaven’s sake! The activity? Telling ‘news’ that he had had to do a bit of research on. It was about his pet – food, habits, sleep and so on. Given he didn’t have a pet, his Mum was asking me for help as I have two cats and the child knew them well. We sorted it all out but the Mum was seriously concerned! It could have been very funny had it not been so concerning. Yes it’s an isolated incident but the moral of the story is to beware of giving homework. Ask yourself first what it is and what its purpose is. If the Finns don’t do it, why do you? If the purpose of pre-kindy is to prepare children for kindy, and the purpose of kindy is to prepare children for pre-primary, and the purpose of pre-primary is to prepare children for school, why do you need homework? The experience is enough. Remember that although the Finns have educational institutions for children aged 0-7, formal compulsory schooling does not start until the child has turned 7, that is, the child is in his or her eighth year. Even then, the child is so prepared for learning that homework is not necessary.

It is a very interesting topic. On the one hand we want to instil good habits but on the other hand we don’t want to turn children off school. Instead we want to engender a love of lifelong learning. What are your thoughts? I hope I have sparked some debate. Let me know – info@kidzfizbiz.com.

 

Move to Learn and Kidz-Fiz-Biz Workshop 4th June Perth

Owing to the success of the last workshop, Winsome Richards in Perth is running a full-day training session where I will also be presenting. Click here for details.

 

EYES Winners

At the recent EYES conference in Perth there were two lucky winners of the Scarf Magic pack – Tanika Hewston and Sarah Bradley. Congratulations to both winners. I hope you enjoy using this resource.

 

Quotes of the Week

For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself… 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

- Steve Jobs

 

Testimonials

From the ANCOS conference Hobart Tasmania January 2016 –

What would you tell other people about this presentation? –

Marlene knows young children and movement – really good expertise. Thank you for sharing.
Interesting songs with actions and movements.
Thank you for another wonderful session!
The book and CDs would be useful in the classroom.
I would definitely tell people to do this presentation.
Thank you! It was great.
It’s a good workout/warm down/stretch for tired bodies.
I thought you did well to fit all that in one hour! It was a fantastic session to add many more scarf ideas to my existing ones. Thank you. I chose your session because I haven’t seen your resources before.  

 

Entertainment

Quote from the late Will Rogers –

Never miss a good chance to shut up.
Always drink up-stream from the herd.
If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it back in your pocket.
After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring.
He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him.

The moral: When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.

 

About The Author

Marlene Rattigan B.A., Dip. Ed. (ECS), CELTA

Marlene Rattigan is an Early Childhood teacher, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and from 1987-2000 was a nationally accredited fitness leader. Her background is in music education. A keen interest in motor development in children led to the creation of Kidz-Fiz-Biz which she taught successfully for 13 years. Marlene also conducts workshops for children, teachers and parents at schools, in the community and at festivals. She has produced teaching manuals complete with audio CDs which are an extension of her ‘Kidz-Fiz-Biz’ program.

Kidz-Fiz-Biz
PO Box 6894, East Perth WA 6892, Australia
T: +61 8 9355 4890 M: +61 (0) 410 64 2781 E: info@kidzfizbiz.com

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Until next time … continue being a legend in your classroom.

Marlene Rattigan, Editor
Kidz Newz

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