Rufus started back at school a couple of weeks ago and now he’s all grown up and in year one with a proper assigned seat, workbooks and no settling in time on the carpet. Needless to say the adjustment has been challenging for both of us. However I am pleased to say that he actually seems to be loving every minute of it, at least the academic stuff (he thinks P.E is a waste of time).
The biggest difference this year is that now the children are given homework on a Friday which should be back in on the following Wednesday. When Rufus began at the school I made it very clear that I would not be encouraging him to do homework. School is tough, it’s challenging and most importantly it’s tiring. By the time Rufus gets home from school what he needs most is quiet time. Time where he can think, relax and play – often implementing things he has learned at school. I have no intention of adding to his workload by getting him to sit at a table and answer inane questions. Thankfully his school has been very supportive and although they don’t advertise it as such, the homework is optional.
As I have been so vocal about my dislike of homework for Primary school children, Rufus is not even being given the homework on Fridays. This is perfect as now he doesn’t even have to worry about not doing it, which would be very anxiety inducing for him. Instead, he comes home on a Friday, plays with his toys, watches television and chats about whatever he wants to chat about. It’s lovely, relaxed and entirely dictated by him, which after a day of doing what he’s told, is a great opportunity for him to lead the play.
What I have found particularly surprising though, is the number of parents who are embracing the homework. Perhaps it’s because they’re not aware it’s optional but they actually seem to like the idea. They are even signing their kids up for Homework club after school (a concept which seems like a prison sentence to me). When did we become a nation where we valued sitting and filling out prescribed worksheets over imaginative play. The games that Rufus plays allow for creative thinking, problem solving and independent thought.
On the one hand, I am lucky. Rufus is smart. He picks up academic skills fairly easily so extra practice doesn’t really seem like something he’ll need to do anytime soon, but even if he does start to slip a little – I don’t really care. Rufus is 5 years old, he likes learning things and he knows what subjects interests him. I don’t care if he can add large sums in his head, or spell pterodactyl. I care that he stays enthusiastic about learning. I want him to want to learn. I had that as a child but then went to a very academic high school which managed to squeeze every last bit of enthusiasm out of me. I am determined for Rufus to feel encouraged to study and explore the things that excite him. Currently he loves space, and weirdly enough, philosophy (on a basic level) so we’re talking about those things in a relaxed and playful way.
Earlier today I read that Rob Delaney, the comedian, is unhappy with the level of homework that children in this country get (see link below) and it was the last prod I needed to write this post. This topic has been on my mind for a couple of weeks and I’m curious to know what other people think.
I am part of a Facebook group called ‘Let our Kids be Kids’. It’s a group that is fed up with our kids being constantly tested, prescribed homework and generally have the fun time squeezed out of life and learning. I love this group and will be striking when Rufus gets to the age of SATs (the most pointless, waste of time known to man). If you want to check out what this group is all about your can take a look at their website here https://letthekidsbekids.wordpress.com.
So proudly I say, I’m going to be that mum who stands on a soapbox shouting about children having a childhood, but at the same time only a parent knows what’s best for their child so if I’m alone in my thinking then I will just make my isolation a place of fun.
Let me know what you think in the comments.