Why can’t I help my eight-year-old with her homework?

Thalia's easter bonnet

Thalia's easter bonnet - Credit: Archant

Homework leaves us confused, and covered in feathers, says Jo Malone

Underline the fronted adverbial in this sentence, says one question in Keola's homework.

'The what?' I ask.

I know there's a fine line between ensuring homework gets completed and doing it for your child, but neither of us can do this.

It's part of her SPAG homework, according to her sheet, and I've no idea what SPAG is – nor has Keola, who I manage to confuse even further when I suggest it's spag without the bol and we have one of those conversations which ends with me telling her to forget it, it was just mummy failing to be funny.

Back to her sheet though and it's full of finding determiners to underline, noun phrases to write and a picture of a girl cleaning her teeth and an instruction to write a 'present progressive sentence'.

Neither of us have any idea what to do. I convince a very unhappy Keola that she should leave those she doesn't know, then her teacher will know what she doesn't know.

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I'm intrigued by what SPAG could mean, probably not 'Stuff Parents 'Aven't Got-a-clue-about' but our internet is on a go-slow, again, so I can't look it up.

We look in Thalia's book bag and find out what she's supposed to be doing. Decorating a hat for an Easter bonnet parade, says one letter. This I understand, and this, in a house well supplied with glitter, can be done.

She even has a hat Nana gave her as part of a hat decorating kit last year; it just needs me to peel off the rather well stuck-on crepe paper and ribbon.

Thalia isn't sure what she wants to do, but turns out it very definitely isn't any of my ideas. I'm pushing her towards the nest theme; lots of hay, a couple of chicks, a mini egg or two, a sprinkle of glitter, done.

She's certainly not going to wear hay anywhere near her head, she tells me, firmly, several times. Nor will she wear a flower pot with some flowers, nor a big cardboard Easter egg she could decorate, nor put the big duckling Grandma bought her ages ago on her head.

We wind up the internet and head to Pinterest where there are clearly people way craftier than anyone in our house, with too much time on their hands, and with access to the best stocked craft cupboard ever.

Typically Thalia is adamant she wants to make the most complicated of the hundreds of pictures - the hat with the windmill and flowers, chicks, rabbits, tumbling feathers, painted eggs - and a house.

We rummage in the craft box, well, I rummage and she complains that everything I find is the wrong colour.

I try to explain how the picture is to inspire her, not to copy. She's not convinced, but after several hours of trying to draw windmills, flowers and a fairy door and stick tissue paper which sticks to everything apart from the hat and make one-eyed creatures (don't ask), she's so covered in glue and feathers and sequins herself she's forgotten the original idea.

A few sprinklings of glitter and she's almost happy.

I'm feeling smug as we're a day ahead of the deadline and I doublecheck when it needs taking to school. Smugness disappears - seems they also need a decorated egg for an egg rolling competition.

Back to the craft box…

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