Homework…Ishaan’s First Assignment, Undone!

Where there’s school…can homework be far behind? And one mustn’t forget, this is India, where ‘learning’ is sadly secondary to exam results.

So I wasn’t quite surprised (just a little sad) when Ishaan brought home, his first ever homework assignment – coloring, just surprised at the detailed picture he was supposed to color! It seemed way beyond anything a toddler would have the skill or patience to do. Ishaan like all almost 2 and a 1/2 year olds is incapable of sitting still for more than a minute at a time. The only exception being when he’s watching cricket (with Sachin Tendulkar in it), when that period can stretch up to two minutes 🙂

The picture he had to color was one of ‘Shera’, the mascot for the Commonwealth Games to be held in India next week. My only knowledge of said Games is that they have been mired in controversy…everything from the actual ‘bid’ to the construction of the stadia and athletes accommodations has provided sensational headlines & fodder for the Media, tainted as they are, by scandal, corruption and shady politics. Sadly, none of this surprises me, cynic that I am.

"Shera"...the Tiger. Mascot for the 2010 CWG to be held in New Delhi. Pic from Google images.

But I digress. Some quick research on Google (Where would I be without it? Indeed where would any one of us!) and within minutes, I had a print-out of the Mascot for ready reference. He is rather cute! Ishaan however was completely uninterested! The most he would do was repeat ‘Shera’ after me a couple of times and after the fifth time, he just grabbed the printout, crumpled it up into a ball and proceeded to play cricket with it…sigh…what am I going to do with this boy? I persisted…mostly because the worksheet had two tiny clock-faces on it with start and end time to be indicated, one could only presume, by drawing tiny clock hands on them! But Hey! No Pressure! I handed him his crayons and the test of wills and patience begins…and please, no prizes for guessing who comes out tops! I’m just human after all 😛 He picks every crayon and either flings it across the room or lays it aside with contempt (Yes, toddlers do feel and display contempt!), and eventually the living room room floor is colored with bold strokes of green and blue, while Shera remains quietly watching on the sidelines, pristine, untroubled by color (except for a few blue strokes that bisect him in two), black on white! I give up after 10 minutes…I’ve decided to write a note to his teacher saying I tried but he’s not interested, which is the truth. I glance at the paper and read that the objective of this exercise is for Ishaan to identify Shera with India, his country! Ambitious! Too ambitious methinks!

I postpone the note-writing until late Sunday night. As I write, I’m aware of a vague sense of failure, probably, coz somewhere within, I feel like I haven’t done my homework, like I’m failing some crucial test, and worst of all like I’m failing Ishaan, in a way that will forever scar his future ‘homeworking’ ability! I should, I could have tried harder, longer, been firmer…sigh…I know I’m over-reacting, of course I am! My rational self scoffs at all the crazy thoughts in my head, but there it is, another lesson learnt, parenting is not always rational is it? So I write the note and it goes into his school folder. Eventually it will come back to me with his teacher’s comments and staying with irrational, I dread the day, as if her assessment of this one thing left undone will decide Ishaan’s academic future! Why do I allow so much power to slip away from me to another human being where my child is concerned? Another unanswerable.

And so this story ends here…a tale of homework undone but lessons learnt. I’ve learnt that I need to trust my knowledge of my son’s ways & interests and leave the homework-obsession to those who care 😛

12 thoughts on “Homework…Ishaan’s First Assignment, Undone!

  1. That school should be hauled up! Anyone ready to help me establish a Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Toddlers in School?

    Why don’t you scan the result and show it to us?

  2. I haven’t received any feedback yet…probably will only after we come back from Bombay. The folder stays in school from Monday to Friday. But don’t judge them too harshly Mamaji. Had a talk with his teacher and principal today and they were attentive and helpful, which is more than can be said for a lot of schools!!
    But your idea for a SPCTS sounds good and is probably required!!

  3. Wow…he’s in day care, right? I assume you’re paying to have him there? If my day care ever sent homework home, I would have been pulling my kids out right away! If they want to try to get him to colour the picture there, that’s fine, but don’t send it home for me to deal with!


    1. Not day care Wendy…that concept hasn’t caught on in India yet. He’s in a Montessori school in something called the Red Environment if you’re familiar with the system. He’s there from 9 am to 1 pm, Mon-Fri and yeah I’m paying to have him there! This homework thing sort of blind-sighted me coz one of the things they told us when we visited was that there wasn’t going to be any for kids his age!! That’s quite something in a country where everyone – schools, parents and sometimes even kids are obsessed with exam results.
      Still…will see what feedback I get to my note before making any decisions! It’s tough in India to even get into a half-decent school…sigh…such is life!

  4. What on earth? The school expected you to time Ishaan’s coloring progress? I’m surprised he lasted even 2 minutes. I just know the same situation would have made Henry slide slowly off his chair and onto the floor, and Ollie would have put his hands over his face and cried.

    If you do figure out a way to get a little boy to sit still for more than five minutes, please let me know. 🙂

    Ishaan 🙂 He’s such a good boy! I agree–I think crayons are for throwing, too. 😉

  5. I know Maura…and they’re qualified teachers! Not to be rude…but surely they’re aware of a toddler’s attention span?? That’s why I gave after 10…sigh.

    You and Ishaan would get along splendidly 🙂 Especially if you throw ball with him 🙂 I do hope Henry & Ollie don’t have homework at all! If I had my way they wouldn’t have HW ever…little boys aren’t supposed to!

  6. I know all this sounds cruel Harsha, but thats the thing that works in schools here. They will definitely not judge you or Ishaan on that performance and neither should you give it that much importance. Colouring with crayons is supposed to be a fun activity for the children to do while honing their motor skills. Thats all!! If I may make a suggestion, forget the timing part of it. Download and print some bat and ball pictures for him. Get a box of crayons out and leave them in his sight when he is in the room with you. (Or else he might colour everything else in the room!!!). My walls still have pictures of Spongebob on them. Sit and colour some pictures yourself when he is around. DON’T force him to sit and do them with you. He will come around. One thing I know for a fact is that colouring definitely helps the kids in the way they hold their pencils a little later and eventually even their handwriting. Forget Shera, go for the bats and balls and ALL IZ WELL!!!

    1. Thanks Uma! Those are great suggestions 🙂 And you’re so right…I’m not going to give it much importance. Coloring is supposed to be fun…and timing the activity is totally silly. I still can’t figure out why it’s important! Maybe they’re timing the mother’s patience 😉

      So for now…Bats & Balls and who knows…maybe a Sachin? 😛

      1. And remember that kids (any age – 00 to 100) learn by imitation. So, behave, in front of him, the way you want him to behave. If you throw crayons around, he will soon start throwing crayons around. If you keep them in a safe place, and then nicely take them out, and sketch something on a paper, and then keep the crayons and paper neatly somewhere, I am sure he will begin doing just that. I have many stories of this kind to tell, pertaining to kids whom I handle (typical age range: 17 to 47), but this text box is too small to write them down. See, I too, am imitating Fermat!

  7. God. Finn is 3.5 and only just beginning to have any genuine interest in colouring. I don’t think that’s really a developmentally appropriate exercise. Schools often give these exercises because they think the parents want to see the children doing work or they’re not getting their money’s worth. You’re smarter than that, it’s your child, so you make the decisions on what he’s going to do with his precious toddler years. If it doesn’t look like fun, you can just bin it and tell the teacher why. Good practice for later when you’ll really need to have a strong will to stay out of the ratrace mentality!

    1. True Karen! I sent a note to the teacher saying he wasn’t interested. Having said that I know quite a few parents who insist on homework, coz that tells them the kids are being taught! At the moment, the ONLY thing that interests Ishaan is cricket which he plays and will watch on TV, 24/7 if allowed! Everything and anything else comes a distant second 🙂

  8. Harsha, I love Ishaan and his creative out of the box thinking…what else can you do with a paper meant for colouring? ..Make a ball out of it. Give him a few more papers and he might even make paper planes (my cousin did that with his question paper when he was in grade 2 or 3) and let them fly out of the window. You might even have new inventions, designs, products coming up. Thats what this world is after right? Creative skills and innovation!
    But seriously, what else to expect from a 2.5 year old? Just let him be..for sure he will learn how to colour. This timing stuff reminds me of Kumon maths!!Today 10 mins and eventually colour the page in 20secs??
    Anyways am waiting to hear the teacher’s response :)..on the other side of the fence for now 😉

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