It seems that the great homework debate has been hitting school car parks, parents all over social media, dinner party conversations (for those of us who are still wild and crazy enough not to be in bed by 8.30pm) and I'm sure, school staff rooms, hard and fast this last year.
I for one have always been an advocate of no homework, we've never really been fans. There was of course much excitement a few years ago on the first day of Grade 1 with my daughter as the homework bag got pulled out and we started our journey with Biff and Chip, but honestly - that excitement lasted a day and since it's been a struggle. (And yes, I know that there are many many kids who do love homework, just not mine, and I'm cool with that - maybe I've even influenced that.)
The thing is - I hate having to break up any of their games they're playing outside for them to come and do their homework. (I'll admit that we are privileged to live in an estate community where there's generally a small gang of kids playing in the road, or at the park which does make for fun and adventurous afternoons without having to helicopter parent them all the time.)
Here's a list I read of some of the drawbacks to homework (I got this list off a newsletter that the headmaster from Merchiston Prep in KZN sent out to parents recently and which was forwarded to me this week.)
For me, parenting my two kids - my main grudge against homework is that quite simply I just agree with the point above that the academic benefit of doing homework is negligible and not a great investment of their time (excluding reading of course). It really does go against my instinct to call them in from playing outside to count to 100, and do some bonds. For me - they've had their time at school where they've had to sit still for most of the morning (there's a whole other post), and we know that kids learn better through play, so dammit, let's let them play.
And so here is actually the crux of my thoughts today - doing away with homework is not done because homework is a hack for parents, or because the kids don't like doing it, in my opinion, it's done away with because their time can be better spent playing, or reading, exploring, thinking, making mud potions, engaging with friends, learning social skills... the list goes on.
The problem though is that doing away with homework has the potential to become another opportunity for more screen time, or to fill their afternoons with even more formal 'afternoon activities' and that, I believe, is totally not the point. So parents... it's up to you and me to ensure that we are actually parenting our kids through this shift. Yes, let's advocate for no, or less homework, but then let's follow through with that and make sure that our kids are using that time for what it's intended for, and that it's done for the better of our kids well being - not to get us off the homework hook nor to get them in front of a screen.
Let's embrace this opportunity for more adventures outside, more fort building, more hide and seek, pretending to be Chips riding our BMX's around and more mud potions. Let the kids play, make the kids play... we're up against tech which is a hard act to compete against (and it certainly does have it's place!) but honestly, let's LET THEM PLAY.
Jude is a mom of 2 youngish kids. Much of Jude's parenting journey is influenced by the learning and insights she has gained through working with the team from TomorrowToday who are both experts on the Future of Work and pretty awesome parents of older kids.