When I was growing up, life was, well, not exactly easy but rather straight forward. Go to school, cram everything the teachers tell you, memorise your abc’s, sing your numbers, play with lots of mud, sit for an exam, touch your opposite ear with your hand and you are good to go to class one. That’s it!
Nowadays, life has become more complex. Take my little boy for example. From day one of being in school, he had homework! That really upset me! Not so much that I cared about the burden that they were putting on him, but the burden that they were suddenly installing on ME! You think that is even upsetting? Wait till you hear the rest of the story!
So, things hadn’t been too bad, because most of what I was expected to do is just read him stories, for at least 30 minutes each day. Then came the burden of all times! Wrapped up in something called Phonics! Yep! I knew you were going to wear that what-in-the-world-is-she-talking-about face! If you are like me, and I imagine a number of us are, you have no idea what this is all about. And lucky for you, you need not worry about it much, unless you have a hyper-inquisitive boy who will want to learn everything they can and every third phrase out of his mouth is ‘what is this mummy’? Back to the story about the monster called Phonics.
Apparently, some scientists somewhere decided that Phonics are the best way to teach children how to read and apparently write. I am not so worried about writing, seeing as he is learning how to type, so we are covered there. Now the reading bit. According to the all knowing wikipedia, Phonics involves teaching how to connect the sounds of spoken English with letters or groups of letters. It’s quite complex really. No really! It is! Instead of reading ‘c’ as you would in the alphabet, you imagine it’s a word, and read it as ‘short ka!’ You beginning to see my dilemma?
Now, try telling a three year old that you don’t know that sound, which sound they were told to practice at home with parent or guardian. At this point, he is not even transferable to anyone, considering not many people understand this Phonics business. So, when I am asked, ‘mummy, what sound is this?’ I look at the poor boy, quite clueless I might add, until somewhere between messing about with my laptop, watching cartoons, whizzing by in a blur and yelling his favorite nursery rhymes because they sound better loud, he remembers what the teacher told him the sound is! And bam! Homework can go on! And I am ‘that’s great baby! Exactly what I was thinking’. I know that will not sell for long, and he will expect me to take up my role as the all knowing mummy in the world, so I have a sit-down with his teacher and explain our dilemma in homework tackling. The teacher, without even batting an eyelid, quite matter-of-factly says ‘You will need to enroll for a few days, then we can teach you the 26 Phonic sounds, if you really want to help your son’. I look at her, laugh out loud, with evil, hideous laughter, realize I am actually alone in the laughter, shut my mouth, look at her in confusion and then with dejection, upon realizing that she was dead serious. She goes on to hand me the speech of how my child is the most important thing in the world, and I should not be embarrassed to go back to Kindergarten, if only to learn Phonics. ‘We won’t even charge you for the lessons’. She goes on to add. I guess I should be grateful for free education.
This I presume is less embarrassing than waiting for a three year old to remember what sound they learn’t in school so that I can assist him with his homework. At least I keep telling myself that. So, in a few days, I shall be going back to Kindergarten, to be taught my Phonics, and maybe later, word building. Look at it this way, I might break the record of the only mummy who went back to Kindergarten at the tender age of …… Surely, you were not expecting to see a number there now, were you?