It’s a tale as old as time and a well-worn excuse: the dog ate my homework. As far-fetched as it seems, this gem has been used by many a student trying to worm their way out of producing an assignment. Local educator Wyzelle Warner has heard and seen it all. Warner has close to ten years’ experience teaching students in both the public and private education system. And while she concedes that the demands and expectations are slightly different, there is a constant: homework delinquency.
“I have noticed that homework has been a major issue in both the public and private sector in terms of teaching. You would think that with all the technology that we have, parents have more time to spend with their children or to do homework or children have more access to things that will help them to complete their homework. But in actual fact it’s the reverse. Most times they will say “mommy was not there to help me or I came home late because I had extra-curricular activities. By the time they came home they were tired and couldn’t complete the homework.”
There are considerably more tools available to students nowadays which would aid in timely completion of homework but Warner thinks that may be a double edged sword.
“I think because of technology, because you have more time, you do more things and because you do more things then you have less time. So it has always been a slight battle for almost 80% of my students where homework is either never on time or it is incomplete or I get the complaint they don’t understand what they were supposed to have done or they misunderstood.”
This prompted Warner to offer a solution: the WFW Education Centre, located at the Aquatic Centre in Rodney Heights.
“I decided to help out parents and students in a way and provide a service where students can come to my centre where they are given the environment in which they can complete their homework. They also have access to extra lessons. If that’s one less thing that parents can do at home, I’m sure they’ll be very happy for that.”
The centre offers three main services. One is homework and study skills support where children from grades two to five can come in Monday to Friday from 3-6 pm. They are allowed half an hour to 45 minutes to unwind before settling in to do their homework. During homework time, the teachers and support staff supervise and address concerns or provide clarification. For those unclear on certain concepts mini tutoring is provided on the spot. A lessons programme is also on offer two days a week from 3:30 to 5:30 in language and mathematics, with a particular group in mind.
“At this point in time we are only focusing on grade threes. The focus on grade three is because of that gap between grades two and four. With minimum standards you tend to prepare the child for the exam and certain concepts may be lost. That class is very crucial in bridging that gap and ensuring that certain foundations are met. If you don’t know grassroots concepts in grade three, you will have trouble moving on. As the centre grows there will be room for expansion to lessons for other grades.”
Finally, there is the student assessment. Using skills gleaned from her studies at the Teachers Training College, students are given a written assessment which is then graded and a report is generated identifying the student’s strengths and areas of need.
“I am providing that service to parents who want to know whether their child is ready for the grade that they’re in, to know the concepts their children are strong in or what concepts they need help in. What you do with that report is up to you. You may decide that you want to give extra lessons.”
Why all this attention on homework? Contrary to popular belief, it is not a task that teachers just love to assign.There is a clear purpose.“Homework teaches that you have a deadline, you have a responsibility to hand in something on time. If you can do that I know later on that concept plays out in life all the time.”
The centre is manned by well qualified staff. Warner possesses a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of the West Indies in addition to being a certified teacher. In fact it was during her studies in Montessori theory that she discovered the philosophy that she continues to subscribe to.“The premise is teaching the child, not to sit an exam, but teaching a child for life. To be prepared for life, to be self-sufficient, to be independent and if you can teach that child from a very young age to do these things it will carry into their education, their work ethic, their religion, every aspect of their life. So if you can instill that very early, then you know you have a well-rounded individual.”