Picture the scene: you’ve had a long day at work, you’ve just got home and sat down at the kitchen table with a glass of wine, you’re about to give a huge relaxing sigh of relief when your five year old dumps a rucksack in front of you and informs you they have to write a 12,000 word dissertation on the philosophical complexities of the French Revolution.
Okay so we might be exaggerating a little bit but The Homework Problem is a very real one for modern parents, especially those who work full time.
Why is there so much??
A common complaint amongst parents today is that they never received anywhere near as much work to do at home when they were kids. The good news is: you’re right! The current guidelines for the amount of homework required for schoolchildren came about in 1998, recommending anything from 10 minutes a day for 5-7 year olds to a whopping two and a half hours a day for children studying for their GCSEs. Pair that with a normal six-hour school day and that has 15 and 16 year olds working days just as long as their parents.
All work and no play makes nobody happy.
How does it affect my family?
One of the biggest changes in the regulations is to do with the amount of homework required by primary school children. Currently, schools are under ever increasing pressure to produce good results at Key Stage 2 and so younger children are finding themselves loaded up with more homework than ever before.
Not to mention the damaging levels of stress this puts children under themselves, this is also where things often become tricky for families. While secondary school children tend to complete homework alone with occasional help, primary school aged children require supervision – meaning parents need to spend time with them to make sure everything gets done. When the work is extensive, written (rather than play-based activities) or takes a form unfamiliar to parents from their own school experiences, things can become fraught and stressful.
Is there any good to it?
That’s not to say all homework is bad. On the contrary, studying at home is a great chance to practise and embed skills learnt during the school day as well as helping parents to get involved in what their child has been learning. It also helps children to develop their independent study skills and self-discipline, which can be crucial for adult life, especially if they’re headed for university.
They don’t have to go right away though…
When to say, “Enough is enough”
That being said, there is such a thing as too much homework. Learning through play, exercise and socialisation are all just as important as schoolwork for developing young minds and these skills can often be stunted by keeping a child at a desk all evening. If you’ve taken time to work with your child and incorporate homework sessions into your routine yet you’re finding that your child’s school is still overloading them, it’s crucial you meet with their teachers. Whether the school really is assigning too much work or whether the form of homework is just not suited to your child’s learning style, it’s important to work together with teachers to come up with a solution that allows them to develop all the necessary skills they need in the right way for them.
Leaving you free to relax and enjoy real quality time together. Bliss!