I’ve made no secret of my thoughts about schooling and that we are considering home educating Mr D and Miss E. There are many things that bother me about the current system in England and Damian and I need to make some decisions during 2016 about what our own children’s educational journey will look like.
Like, I guess, many people I am a member of various groups on Facebook. One of these is an early years group and it is (mostly) early years and reception teachers that share ideas and resources in there. I love seeing some of the brilliant ideas that they post up in there as well as just taking an interest in some of the conversations about the general job and the politics of being a teacher today.
Recently I spotted a post that surprised me… It was about homework packs being created for nursery children. When I looked at the detail of the homework packs I was really surprised. Some of them were just general things for parents like prompting conversations or ideas for how to introduce counting. Others were much more detailed and required the child to ‘write’ about their weekend.
Now, for me, giving homework to a child who attends nursery for 15 hours a week seems a bit over the top. If Mr D was in nursery and coming home with a homework pack I don’t think I would be too impressed. These are homework packs for children aged from just three years old. Seriously, THREE year olds. I’m not sure a three year old should have ‘work’ to complete or deadlines to meet.
Learning should be fun, especially in the early years. Creating tasks that ‘have’ to be done is not, for me, a good way to help children learn. The things that I do with Mr D and Miss E are based on their real life experiences. For example, our recent vet based activities and other things such as learning about the weather have all taken place using real world examples that have helped embed their learning. Instructing them to do something just because it’s written in a homework pack isn’t, I don’t think, going to help them learn.
I posted about these homework packs on my personal Facebook page – something along the lines of I found it odd that homework packs were being created for such young children. Those of my friends that have children in nursery and primary schools confirmed that yes, children get homework from nursery onwards.
I find this so sad. I don’t know how we got to a place in society where children are routinely placed in paid for care at a young age (this isn’t a dig at working parents, more a general comment on how much and how quickly society has changed. I know some people want to work, others have to work). I don’t know how it became the norm for the majority of children to be in early education from aged three. Children are being educated every single day. They learn through play, through life and experiencing things day to day. Getting homework on top of their 15 hours of early education just seems absurd to me. Surely a young child would be much better talking through their day, running in the park, helping prepare the evening meal, or, simply playing with siblings or friends.
The benefits (or otherwise) of homework are unclear. A quick google will show that there are as many articles claiming the benefits of homework as there are saying it is pointless. What is clear is that there is no conclusive evidence that homework increases achievement across the board. There are many, many studies that have been undertaken as to the effectiveness of homework and it seems that under certain conditions and for certain groups of pupils, homework can have some positive effects. Other studies suggest is has no effect and there are some studies that suggests it has a negative effect.
I just feel so sad that childhood, which is already so fleeting, seems to be being eaten into more and more and more. I am glad that, for now at least, I don’t have to worry about homework.