COLUMN: Homework help available at North Delta’s Mackie Library

Frances Thomson, community librarian at the George Mackie Library, shares some of the ways the library can help students with school.

George Mackie Library

“Homework, oh, homework! I hate you! You stink!”

These are the first lines of a humorous poem by Jack Prelutsky which sums up the sentiment that many children (and some parents) feel about homework.

With students settled back at school, the homework assignments may have begun to roll in. According to the B.C. Ministry of Education’s prescribed minimum hours of instruction per school year, a student will spend almost 12,000 hours in class from Kindergarten to Grade 12. When you factor in homework, reading and/or music lessons, by the time children reach the age of 18, they will have spent more time learning than doing anything else in life.

For homework help the public library is not a replacement for the school library, but it can be an additional source of assistance. There is knowledgeable staff to help with reading suggestions and information resources.

One of the best ways for parents to support young children who are learning to read is to read to them. Books designed for beginning readers are excellent for practicing reading skills as they usually tell a simple story with a limited number of words while reading stories together and talking about them increases children’s vocabulary and background knowledge.

In everyday conversation, we only use about nine rare or unusual words for every thousand; even the simplest children’s picture book uses almost 30. Children’s reading comprehension and listening comprehension do not sync up until about grade seven.

The more they are read to, the larger the vocabularies they will have and the better they will be at reading these words when they see them in print. Many schools have home reading programs for students to track the number of nights or books they read. Library staff can make recommendations for surefire picture books or novels to read with your children.

For students in intermediate grades who have home- work assignments, the library can help with resources. Non-fiction library books are written by authors who are often experts in the subject field and/or have done a lot of research. For online research, Google is quick and easy, but it should not be assumed that it always has the right or the best information! The library’s website has links to reputable, authoritative sources of information for formal and informal learning.

The online version of the Funk and Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia covers a variety of topics in 25,000 entries. The articles can be translated into a variety of languages, including French, which is useful for French Immersion students.

For those projects about countries of the world, Global Road Warrior is an excellent database for up-to-date cultural and travel information, maps and reports for over 175 countries. Also included are recipes for a few popular dishes for each country, and news feed links to current news, business and finance. Various maps for each country are available as downloadable PDF files.

Cooperation between home, the school and the public library can help children work up to their potential and make learning more enjoyable, and homework will stink less!

Frances Thomson is the community librarian at the George Mackie Library. For more information about books and events at the library, visit fvrl. bc.ca.