I’ve not had any experience with Primary Schools since I was in one myself which, er, is a while back now! So, when Jake started last September I hadn’t really thought about how much they would have changed. I knew that their equipment would be better, that their knowledge of how children learn would be far improved, that the school dinners would be much healthier and the trips would be more interesting but one area I hadn’t banked on was homework.
When I was at school (trying not to sound about 80), we went to school, we played, we learnt, we had fun and then went home at 3:30pm and watched Andy in his broom cupboard until Neighbours came on. Being at home was our downtime. It was time to get out of our uniform into comfy clothes and to enjoy time with the family. And most importantly, time to relax.
Things have certainly changed now…
When I bought Jake’s book bag I did wonder how much use it would get but as he had one for pre-school to bring books home I assumed it would be the same at school. I mean, I did attend the meetings, I did read all of the paperwork yet I must have missed the part where homework was covered somewhere along the line because I was surprised (shocked!) when he came home with a homework diary in the first week. I didn’t have a homework diary until I started secondary school!
Er, he’s 4 what on earth does he need a homework diary for?
Second thoughts, er, he’s 4, he can’t write so I’m guessing this is down to me to fill in then, yeah?!
Gradually, the homework began. A book to discuss, then education city, then keywords to learn, then a library book, then handwriting, then model making, spellings… They even wanted to set him homework whilst we were on holiday in Florida!
Take one overtired, overstimulated child, one tired parent, one whiney baby and you have a recipe for homework disaster!
He had been at school a matter of weeks, he was completely exhausted, he was still learning to understand that school happened every day, he was struggling with the dinners, he was wiped from learning so many new things and here he was being told that he needed to continue this learning at home.
I tried my best with the keywords but they soon became the biggest bane of my life. I was faced with tears, tantrums, frustration and stress. He just couldn’t get them. Eventually, it got to the point where I decided enough was enough. I wasn’t going to push him on any of this, he wasn’t and still isn’t, quite ready for it all.
I voiced my concerns to the school and explained the situation yet even though I was told it was ‘optional’, the homework still kept coming as did the notes in his homework diary telling me that he didn’t know his keywords well enough. I would write notes back explaining but they didn’t make any difference. I felt as though there was only one way– you get on and do the homework.
But this is me and I did what any caring parent would do. I stopped going over things. I took each day as they came and I allowed him to get his rest. Yes, we still have to do some of the homework otherwise he will be missing out and/or getting behind the other children but I am certainly not taking it all as seriously as I was at the beginning. Stressed children do not learn. They are not happy and it doesn’t make them want to attend school. I want my child to be able to be a child. I want him to look back at school with fond memories and I obviously want him to be a happy child.
This is why I believe we shouldn’t be setting homework…
- These children are so young, in my case 4 and 5, they are still babies
- They are learning so much at school we do not need to overload their brains
- It causes unnecessary stress for some (if not most) children
- They need downtime to allow their minds to rest
- It overstimulates their brains
- Family time in the evening and at weekends should be priority
- There are plenty of years ahead of them for this extra work
- Children NEED to have fun!
- Parents end up doing most of the homework, not the kids anyway
- It is extra stress on parents
- This extra work can actually have the opposite effect on their learning
- They learn other skills at home and learn from visiting places, museums, attractions etc.
- It can cause upset which can impact on their mental health
In a time where mental health well-being is being highlighted more and more perhaps, we need to conscious of how much we are putting onto people from such a young age?
There is plenty of time to be overworked, stressed, overstimulated and exhausted as a working adult, let’s let our kids be kids for as long as we can, eh?
Homework in Primary school? It’s a no from me.
What are your thoughts?
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