Every parent knows that you can’t take education for granted. We expect our children to go to school and come back with knowledge and skills learned in the classroom, but we know that the process involves quite a bit of follow-up work at home. From reviewing difficult concepts, to practicing learned skills, to remedial efforts, to demonstrating acquired skills; students complete homework assignments to help them achieve their goals...and, did you know that parents learn a lot from helping!
Helping with homework assignments can be enjoyable when parents look at the experience as personally fulfilling. I learned about California when my son was in fifth grade. Studying the history of local Native Americans tribes was very intriguing, more so as an adult that as a fifth grader. Over the years, reviewing algebra concepts left me invigorated, and of course, English assignments are usually a delight to see on the kitchen table.
My daughter is now taking an independent study English class, and so we often discuss the assignments, read the passages, and watch videos together. I think our discussions help her complete assignments, and I know I enjoy revisiting Shakespeare and Chaucer, and most recently, Jane Austen. I confess that I let her down on Shakespeare. I once taught the Bard’s works to high school students, and I loved my Shakespeare classes in college, but I failed her in my Macbeth support. I fell asleep during the video, and I could not keep the characters’ names straight – but the kid kept it together and completed the assignments without me!
However, I could not resist the Pride and Prejudice lessons. Mr. Darby’s charm and mystery is as relevant today as it was in the 18th Century. The BBC videos that were assigned were delightful to view, and we both wished the stories would continue (a pleasant change from current TV dramas). On a recent trip to the bookstore we stocked up on Austen’s novels, and in time we will explore Emma, Sense and Sensibility and others. I think I enjoyed the lesson more than a night on the town.
Learning should not be limited to children; adults need intellectual stimulation, too. My friend, Doranne, belongs to a book club in Pennsylvania. They select books for discussion, and after reading each selection, the group gathers to dissect the passages and share interpretations. My friend remains impressively current on issues related to politics, sociology and pop culture – due in part to the book club.
The Fountain Valley Library hosts a book club that meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 4:30 p.m., in a library conference room. Space permitting, newcomers are welcome; but Jane Deeley, senior branch librarian, offers assistance to anyone wanting to start a new reading group. Space is available at the library for meetings, and Deeley will supply guidance in choosing books, developing discussion questions, etc.