Monday, 25 February 2013

Calmer, Easier, Happier Homework


A review of

Calmer, Easier, Happier Homework by Noel Janis-Norton


Published by Hodder & Stoughton 
Retailing at £14.99

I was lucky enough to selected to review Calmer, Easier, Happier, Homework by Noel Janis-Norton.  I have four children aged 3 to 9 and have always valued homework. It was always my belief , as a teacher,that home was the most important learning place;after all children spend more time at home than they do in school. Even as a teacher I found that working with my children at home was very different to working in a classroom. There are a lot more distractions and my own children know how to 'press my buttons' whilst my class was structured and other people's children never 'pressed my mummy buttons'.  

I read this book from cover to cover, agreeing with it and being quite scared at times. An hours homework six times a week! Ahhh. How was I going to manage that. Once I completed the book and re-read some key passages I shared it with my husband. We then agreed on a plan of action to give the programme a go. 

As I live in a quiet rural area swapping after school clubs to the weekend was an impossibility. So I decided to not panic that I couldn't deliver the Calmer, Easier, Happier Homework programme in its entirety; but would adapt it to fit into my lifestyle. Reading extracts from other parents in the book, some had done this too. 

We could only do a long homework session on 4 nights a week but could manage 5 minute verbal sessions on other nights, whilst driving the children to clubs etc. So the 5 minutes verbal sessions are now our 'sound and word building', 'times-tables' and other mathematical facts sessions. We also discuss general knowledge facts whilst eating tea, travelling or watching informative television programmes together. 

Noel's strategies to use 'think- throughs', 'descriptive praise', 'Never to say anything twice' and developing ' reflective listening', were strategies I used as a classroom teacher and did use them sometimes with my own children but not consistently. Consistency is the key. 

I had slipped into the habit of saying things more than twice!!! As I think all mothers would hold their hand up to! I started to wait until the children were looking at me before I spoke to them ( this took some practice!). I tried the suggestion of not starting a sentence with a child's name but am still practising this one.

Noels book is full of information, strategies, tips and certainly provides any parents with enough ideas to get their children on the effective and positive learning track they need to be on. If you decide to give Noels strategies a chance then you will see a difference in the potential homework battle field most families experience at some time. 

The pure delight and radiance of my eldest daughters face when she finally cracked her 7 and 8 times tables was reward enough for me. C3 loves doing her sounds and words and simple calculations. We are working on C2 but things are getting easier every homework session.  As we all know our children are all so very different, some strategies worked better than others depending on the child's temperament. 

I urge you to give this book a go if you find homework a nightmare. 

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