Homework shifts out of the house and into after-school centers

Homework is moving out of the house and into new study centers that are starting to open up all around Greece. These new centers offer parents who work long hours a double service. They look after children whose parents are still at work, and help them focus – without distractions like television – on their homework or on bridging any gaps in their school subjects. These new centers are not the only places that mind children after school. Many kindergartens also accept children of primary school age after school and help them with their homework. The kindergarten owners concerned have usually expanded into this activity at the request of parents whose children had attended the same nursery schools when younger. Then there are private lessons for primary or junior high school pupils, usually taught at home by recent graduates or even students, and costing 8-15 euros an hour. This expenditure, necessitated by shortcomings in the official education system, represents a huge drain on family budgets. A typical example of the new kind of study center is run by Antonis Kontakis, 28, and Yiannis Tremoulis, 26, after discussions with friends who didn’t have time to help their children with their homework and had nobody in the family who could look after the youngsters in the afternoon when the parents were working. «The center helps the parents, many of whom are either too tired after work to help their children with their homework or don’t have the knowledge to do so,» Kontakis told Kathimerini. At the center, children concentrate on their work for a specific number of hours, so they have quite a lot of free time. And the teachers at the center, after telling the parents, make contact with the children’s regular school teachers to discuss their progress and note any weaknesses. The center currently caters to 11 children from the three upper levels of primary school and 12 from all levels of junior high school. A primary teacher helps the elementary school pupils and a Greek language and a math teacher help the junior high school pupils. The children spend four hours at the center after school, for a monthly fee of 100 euros for primary school age and 120 euros for junior high age. At a new center in Argos, pupils can do their homework with the help of a teacher, study a foreign language, music or dance, or use the gym. Similar activities are also available for their parents. «I believe these types of centers are the coming thing,» teacher Alexis Totsikas, who owns the center, told Kathimerini. «Pupils can stay as long as they like after school, and spend their time as they wish.» The center also has a library and organizes cultural events. The monthly fee per child ranges from 120 to 170 euros. Foreign-language classes Tuition colleges offer more than math and physics. They also teach foreign languages, mainly English, more thoroughly and at higher levels than they are taught in many schools. The programs, which help children study systematically, are offered chiefly at primary and junior high school level, when children spend time on language learning before going on to senior high school and shifting their focus to subjects that are required for university. Classes are usually on weekdays, though some colleges run intensive summer courses.