The main problem I hear from parents when I mention education is the true stress that homework puts on their child. Either they have too much on a daily basis or the most common reason, that the amount of homework to complete within a very short period of time is overbearing. The discussion normally sways towards the conflicting consequence the stress has on their very young child.
The other day I read the article Michael Rosen: Why curiosity is the key to life, where his main point was that priority for life learning is to”explore ideas and to learn about everything. He says parents can be their children’s best teachers – through the stuff of daily living, not lists of dry facts”. It triggered two images in my mind of parents around a table discussing the day in one image and the conflicting image of parents watching T.V. with their child, without much in the way of conversation. With so little time in the evenings with our children, it is obvious spending all this time in front of T.V. is not best for our children, but is spending this precious time in front of textbooks the best use of this time either.
Last week I brought my 3 year old to the park and got chatting to a parent about our children. After a short while the topic of schools came up and the parent said, “my child does not go to school. We home-ed”. The main reason was that her child was getting too stressed at the age of 7 with elements of schooling such as the amount of homework, and the difficulty of it.
The latter conversation reminded me of an article I read about a year ago, in a letter to the Daily Telegraph signatories including academics, teachers and some writers and charities,said early schooling was causing “profound damage” to children and that they shouldn’t start homework till the age of 7. Well now that Michael Gove is out of the picture, this may be the time to debate the benefits of homework and include experts in the conversation.
The merits of homework are hotly contested worldwide. According to research in the US, homework beyond reading with your children has little significant effect and can even be harmful.
But in the UK, the findings of the these studies are challenged by Bill Lucas, professor of learning at the University of Winchester. “While there are a small number of parents that do more harm than good, the same could be said of teachers or politicians,” he said. “Across the world the research on the positive benefits of parental engagement is of high quality and widely accepted.”
Impact of homework on parents
Schools and organisations around the country are providing free literacy and maths support to adults, and thus going a long way in preventing the stresses that can coincide with children bringing back homework that parents are unable to help with.
Is computing homework going too far: Not since the start of this month it isn’t. Computing lessons are changing from the previous ICT subject to put more emphasis on programming. A survey of parents by O2 in May found that almost two-thirds did not know about the new computing curriculum and one-third were worried that they would not be able to support their children. With the NSPCC, O2 is launching family workshops in up to 100 stores. Are parents going to feel this is one more sting to an already very burdensome homework regime.