Wednesday 29 February 2012


What to Do If Your Child Does Not Like to Do Homework?

Recently I returned from Singapore and was amazed at the depth of the nusery and kindergarten curriculum. They have homework to bring home too. I think the children in the States do as much too, but not the children in Denmark. The children here basically play the whole day and they have never heard of what homework is!

I do not know what is the best - the Singaporean's way of approaching learning that has the tendency of choking the appetite of the child's love for learning,  or the Danish way of approaching child development and learning that brings the child 3 years' behind other nations, but seems to have the advantage of nurturing creativity in its population.

By the age of 15, the Straitstimes dated 18 February 2012 reported an Australian study's findings that children in Europe, USA and Australia are in general 2-3 years behind their peers in Shanghai in Maths.

I am vexed... I am confused... I am a Singaporean Chinese living in Denmark. One way to solve this is for us to move back to Singapore or Shanghai, but I am very happy here in Denmark.

So what is the most important?

I read the book "On Becoming Pre-schoolwise" by American authors Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam, and I agree with the book that one of the most important roles of parents is to ensure that their child acquire good attention span and concentration skills. And the daily habit of doing homework is actually one of the best ways to acquire attention span and concentration skills. I want Joshua to start young in developing good habit of self-control, discipline, attention span and concentration skill.

Recently, Joshua doesn't seem to be interested in doing homework. While I was back in Singapore, I noticed that my 4 years old nephew wasn't too keen in his workbook either.

I have to find ways to keep the good side of the Singapore system of discpline, and at the same time, retain the good side of the Danish system in nurturing the passion and interest of the children towards learning.

How am I going to do it?

I don't know. But I am going to jot down my progress along the way and what worked for me here.

Here are some ways which I have experimented that worked for my 3 year old Joshua and my 4 year old nephew:

1. Start Bedtime Routine Earlier

Start the bedtime routine earlier, so that it leaves you enough time to squeeze in colouring activity and homework, before your child goes to bed. Most children would not want to go to bed and sleep. So I will give Joshua a choice - Do you want to go to sleep now or do you want to do your homework? Given only these two choices, normally, they would prefer to do homework than to go to bed. This worked with Joshua and my nephew.

2. Invest in Colourful Activity Books

The Singaporean kindergarten books are of very good material in terms of content. They contain a lot of information and knowledge, and explain in a step-by-step way. However, they are black and white (to keep educational cost low) and very boring. My nephew loses interest in them. I bought colourful activity books for my nephew that contains similar lessons, and I was surprised that he took to it very well, and even completed more pages than I can keep up to mark! Initially, I thought that my nephew just isn't motivated to learn, but this success has shown otherwise. We have to work harder to find ways to make learning a worthwhile and fun pursuit for our children.

I did the same with Joshua. Above pictues showed one of the colourful and interesting activity book which I bought for Joshua from the Singapore Popular Bookshop ( It teaches pattern recognition, logic, shapes, matching, etc.

However, I do buy the black and white Singapore kindergarten books just to keep abreast on what is taught, and learn about milestones that children at those ages can reach and to get inspired on what I can teach Joshua.

Having said that, I acknowledge that this method do cost money and may not be affordable to many families. I hope my blog will provide the free resources and ideas from the books that I have invested in and benefit others.

3. Turn the Academic Kindergarten Textbook Curriculum into Montessori-style Activity

Most children and especially boys learn best by playing. One way is to make the textbook come alive using real tangible materials such as beads that the children can touch, rather than showing pictures of them in the textbooks.

Here are some examples of the activity I have created, with content inspiration from the Singapore kindergarten textbooks:

It is a challenge that requires creativity, thinking and time, which are not always available to us working parents. One tradeoff is that I do not really have time outside work, as my time is invested in turning textbooks into fun activities. It helps that I enjoy doing it. This is a sacrifice that I make. Long gone are the days when I get to go shopping for myself, pedicure, manicure, planning vacation, etc. - they are all tossed out of the window.

4. Incultivate Discipline and Endurance at a Young Age, Not with Homework, but with Play

What do I mean by that? Do you need discipline to play?

The answer is yes.

Have you ever seen some children jumping from one play activity or one toy to another? This child may have the same habit and approach to homework, when he grows older.

How to overcome this?

Hard as it is, introduce Blanket Time, when your child is only a baby, and then Room Time, when your child is a toddler or pre-schooler. I am still working on this with Joshua. I have not succeeded yet. But I am pressing on.

Good enduring habits developed at a young age will stand your child in good stake, when he has to start school. Time flies, and the day will come soon, when he has to start school. It would be too late to work on attitude, when the time comes.

5. Pray

Lastly and most importantly, pray and put your trust in God. Ask God to give you creativity, ideas, energy, perseverance and for turning into good any mistakes that you make along the way, as you embark on this. Looking back from the past 2 years, I saw the fingerprint of God and his faithfulness. I will continnue to trust Him to enable me and equip me as I embark ahead on this challenging role as a mom.

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