As a mentor under the South Essex 60 minute mentor project, I have been assigned to work in a secondary school in Essex.
On 6 November 2018, I spent the day in a secondary school in Leigh-On-Sea, Essex with a group of year 8 male students aged between 12 and 13 years.
The programme involves one to one and group sessions with year 8 students. The sessions cover a variety of topics such as help with choosing GCSE options, career advice, general well being, issues of concerns that the students may have, academic progress and many more.
During the session the issue of homework was discussed at length with a number of students. We talked about the importance of homework and the consequences of failing to do homework.
Whilst on the topic of homework, I would like to add the following:
Parents and children sometimes find homework tasking; questioning the importance. Some even believe that it is a pointless exercise. Whatever your thoughts or beliefs are, I am going to be focusing on the positive aspects of homework.
Why homework? Students work hard enough in school. Parents are busy and send their children to school to learn so why ask parents to help their children to study? These are some of the questions that are sometimes posed.
Well, I would say that homework helps a parent and child to bond and costs nothing but your time. If you are unwilling to invest time raising your child, my advice is that you should think again!
Homework helps your child’s thinking and memory. Your child will develop positive study skills and habits through homework.
Your child will learn to be independent, self – disciplined, organised, acquire research skills, confidence and of course more knowledge through homework.
Homework teaches children the importance of starting and completing a task. In so doing, they will acquire a number of invaluable skills.
For a child that may be struggling with some subjects, it provides the platform for the child to learn and be taught. For the child to explore topics at their own pace and confidently ask questions without feeling embarrassed or pressed for time.
For parents, when you help your child with their homework and or show interest in the work they do, it gives you an opportunity to monitor your child’s progress, help the child with their studies, get to know the work your child is doing at school and how your child feels about school. Homework time gives parents an opportunity to discuss other topics including sensitive and difficult ones with their children such as sex, drugs, peer pressure, confidence building and many more.
Turning back to the year 8 students and the work we covered during this November 2018 session.
I helped the students to think about their GCSE options. In doing so, we looked at things they liked doing, their skills, hobbies, passion, favourite and enjoyable subjects.
We also considered in great detail subjects that were relevant to their possible career choices. It was interesting to see how majority of the students were determined on choosing a career path that they were interested in and believed they possessed the necessary skills to pursue. It was not a case of ‘ I want to be a Nurse because my parents said I should.’
Having said that, there were some students that expressed an interest in being professional sportsmen, celebrities and so on. Without trying to shatter their dreams I explained that they could still pursue such careers and felt it necessary to advise them to have a back up plan in the event that their dreams did not materialise; they would have a career or profession to fall back on. My advice was very well received.
We also spoke about behaviour and I was asked to explain the consequences of poor behaviour in line with possible police intervention. I answered the question deliberately avoiding the mention of police to avoid scaring anyone. I explained the need for young people to strive to be well behaved whilst acknowledging that sometimes it may be difficult and therefore not happen due to raging hormones, the desire to push boundaries amongst many other things. I explained that it was necessary for parents, caregivers and responsible adults in their lives to set boundaries and use appropriate discipline when the need arises. I went on to say that as much as they may disagree with setting of boundaries and effective discipline that it is done for their benefit. It helps to mould them into responsible, independent, happy, healthy individuals.
We discussed the importance of being polite and possessing good manners. We talked about being respectful and valued, the fact that it is a two way process. One who is respectful is often respected and valued for such positive behaviour. I talked about the need for friends to encourage each other by modelling good behaviour. I went on to say that good behaviour is necessary not just in school but at home, in public and wherever they are.
We discussed making their parents happy by being well behaved and avoiding the school calling their parents or sending letters home to report poor performance and behaviour. The students accepted that it was vital for their parents to receive good reports from school about them.
Then came the fun part. Tree climbing, yes, several students informed me that this was their hobby and went on to explain the thrill associated with this; particularly climbing to the top. I was in awe of their stories and began to wonder if I am too old to engage in this amazing hobby of tree climbing. 🤔🤣😜
Boys, boys, boys and their games! There can never be a session without discussions on gaming, famous YouTubers, streaming , fortnite and so on.
A number of students told me how they plan to make money from their knowledge, experience and skills on gaming and Information technology. I do hope they will remember me when they make their millions.
Oh and the question asked by all students (okay they were told to ask me 😁) was whether my GCSE subjects help in my current job. I responded explaining that although the subjects that I find most useful are English, Maths, French and Law the others have been equally useful not just in my current role but in life as a whole.
The sessions ended on a happy note with distribution of sweets and action plan for our next meeting in the New Year.