Written by Hazel Davis

Lifestyle

Hey! Teachers! I’ll leave my kids at home

Hazel Davis and her fella have decided to home-educate their kids. This week, it’s fingers on buzzers.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Hurrah. My child has inherited the quizzing gene. And I couldn’t be more delighted.

If we are in the car anywhere near 10.30am EVERYONE has to be quiet because PopMaster’s on (I am really tiresome to go on a driving holiday with).

I can also often be found shouting obscenities at BBC Radio 4’s Counterpoint, and it’s only because I am SO competitive that my heart actually couldn’t take it that I’m not in a pub quiz team. Seriously – I’ve been in them in the past. I care too much. It’s not good for me.

It’s a direct line from my dad (whom I was in a pub quiz team with) through me, down to my eldest daughter. I suspect the youngest couldn’t give a shit as she assumes she’s always right anyway – the other day she argued that a nearby building wasn’t Victorian, just for the sake of arguing. She’s three.

I’m not saying I was a dork BUT one of my Christmas highlights as a child was going to my Auntie Pauline’s house on Christmas afternoon where I knew there would be an enforced game of Trivial Pursuit.

My dad loved a quiz. When he could stay awake for longer than three minutes at a time we’d play pre-war sporting trivia or guess-the-capital-city. I can still hear his smug pronunciation of Asunción and I will NEVER forget that it’s the capital of Paraguay (who have never won the World Cup but have been in the final eight times).

I’m not saying I was a dork BUT one of my Christmas highlights as a child was going to my Auntie Pauline’s house on Christmas afternoon where I knew there would be an enforced game of Trivial Pursuit.

The oldest turning five last week carried quite a few advantages. It meant all manner of new challenges could be presented to her as a special treat now she’s five. One of them was A SPELLING TEST!

Now I just need to get something clear. Despite being a home-edding lover of lentils, incense and Joni Mitchell, I also quite like a test. All things being well, I fully intend for my children to take GCSEs (or whatever the equivalent might be then – though not the European Baccalaureate, like I fondly imagined), and beyond if they want.

I AM against putting children under unreasonable pressure for little gain. But I think tests are good for the brain and the spirit. Tests give you a sense of accomplishment and something to work towards. Tests, handled the right way, are just quizzes.

I suspect the youngest couldn’t give a shit as she assumes she’s always right anyway – the other day she argued that a nearby building wasn’t Victorian, just for the sake of arguing. She’s three.

“I’m FIVE NOW. I can do spelling tests!” she gloated to her sister (who, no doubt, was chuckling to herself about the time she intends to refuse point blank to do them). I numbered a list 1 to 5 and then made her prevent me from seeing her answers (top parenting tip that you can have for free) and I walked around the kitchen naming random items like the William G Stewart of the home-schooling world.

It was a hit. On her first attempt she scored a reasonable 3.5 out of 5 (she got the P the wrong way round on pencil, and used an S, which is to be expected according to the stupid non-rules of English anyway). She also missed the ‘a’ out of teabag but really, why does it need one?

The lure of improving her previous score proved irresistible and when I returned from work the following day my other half handed me a wodge of paper with a weary, “She made me do THREE of them”.

I’m so giddy about this that I intend to do all learning from now on in quiz form. Instead of actually teaching them anything I am going to make them guess it first and then when they get it wrong, point out the right answer. And when the other one is a bit older I can make them compete for their dinner. I might even get them buzzers.

Read all of Hazel’s adventures in home-edding here. 

@hazedavis

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Written by Hazel Davis

Hazel Davis is a freelance writer from West Yorkshire. She has two tiny children but the majority of her hours are taken up with thinking about Alec Baldwin singing sea shanties and the time someone once called her "moreishly interesting".