Thursday, October 18, 2012

School Homework Portuguese Style

So here we are the first month done in school!  So far, so good.  A whole new world opened up not only to my daughter but also for me.  I have to admit the first few days felt strange, being a new 'school gate mum' (fortunately we do not have the 'school gate mum syndrome', as you find in the UK) among the crowd of Portuguese parents and grandparents waiting for their child to appear.  And of course with new school, comes new routines and things to do.  One of those being homework....

Now, I quite like homework but Im lucky in that I have the opportunity to sit down and help my child, as some parents I know are not so fortunate.  She gets a piece of homework every day, and to be honest before it started I wondered how much she would get and worried about what would be too much.  I thought every day would be too much, but to be honest it is not.  She usually gets a couple of activities to do, whether it is handwriting, some maths (I say maths but at the moment, it is more about positions and obsrvations than numbers) or other things, normally takes no more than 15 - 20 minutes.  Now I would think having some work to do after a full day at school would be a bit too much, but it really isnt.  And I think doing it every day sets them up with a good daily routine.  She happily sets about her homework once home and no problem, job done.

But for me, it has also given me a challenge!  As of course the homework is in Portuguese.  Now my reading is ok and generally I understand 95% but still having to understand and assist a child who cannot read proficiently enough to follow the instructions is interesting to say the least and strange to be doing homework in another language which I am not proficient in.  Its a strange experience but also good for me to learn as well.  And of course, if stuck we have Daddy on hand (for the moment) to help, as my pronounciation is terrible and having to read phrases is my downfall for sure!!

But I have to say I am so very proud of Sophie for how she has adapted to 'big school', after struggling a bit in pre-school.  She is learning well and developing much better than we expected to be honest, not that we thought she couldnt but like any parent you worry.  But what I am most proud is how she is learning all these new things in two languages.  Of course, her English is proficient as her first language but her portuguese has and is developing greatly (again, another vast improvement on the last pre-school year).  And to be able to understand and explain new concepts learnt in two languages is amazing to me! A very proud mummy!


  1. Glad to hear she's settling into school and homework so well. We don't find the homework in France too bad. Some of it is a bit pointless I think - for instance learning increasingly difficult poems off by heart seems to be a favourite - what purpose this serves I struggle to see! I work until 6pm and so the kids stay behind at the after school club and often do their homework there (which is a great help). We struggle with the proununciation too, but our 10 year old helps the 7 year old and our 18 year old used to help the 10 year old (except he's gone off to uni now - how inconsiderate!) The 10 year old seems to be coping alright on his own now and rarely asks for help. The 18 year old (who was 10 when we arrived) has largely had to cope on his own with homework as by the time he went into secondary school we could no longer really help him. He's managed well though and never found it a big problem. I think it helps them to develop confidence in their own abilities when they have to work it out for themselves.
    As you say it's amazing to see your children coping so well in a second language, switching from one to the other without a second thought. I feel proud too and so pleased to have been able to give them this wonderful opportunity at such an early age.

  2. We get homework at the weekend and occasional my boy is sent home with some classwork to complete if he didn't finish it in class.

    I have to say I like that my 6 yo son gets homework, it usually takes about an hour or so to do, but it gives me a chance to see what he does in school and how well he's performing. I have the added issue of the third language, ie I speak Spanish(albeit badly) but my boy learns in Catalan, so it is helping me with the language as well.

    Obviously as he gets older I think I will find it increasingly more difficult to help him with his homework, but thankfully he's a bright boy and now he seems to finally be mastering the language for himself I don't see many problems ahead.

  3. luckily Leo's not getting homework yet but hopefully when he does my Greek will be a lot better. (hoping to get a place on a government language course this winter) He seems to be picking it up already and my friends children of a similar age who have been in school / nursery over a year already are doing very well, understanding everything said to them even if they can't speak it all so hopefully he will be the same.

    It's amazing how they adapt so well, you must be very proud :)

  4. Homework is a major battle here (Germany), sadly. This is probably more to do with my child, to be honest! However, she is in a year group above the one she would be in if we were still in the British system. And due to various circumstances, her past year of education has been sketchy to say the least. This means she is a long way behind in certain subjects.

    She has about 2 hours of homework every night, and weekends too. There was also an assumption that we, her parents, spoke fluent German (we don't) so that subject's homework was impossible to decipher.

    It's been a very tough few months, but I think (hope) we're making progress.