If you had asked me in December where I stood on the homework, you would have found me faltering weakly on the fence. On one hand, I know there is a lot of research coming out that homework has either no effect or a negative effect on marks. On the other hand, I am a bit old school on issues like self-discipline and good work ethics.
But this year, I started to fall off the fence. Because my son is in Grade 2. Yes, you read right – Grade 2 – not Grade 4 or 7 or 9 or matric. Grade 2.
“I don’t really believe in homework,” said our lovely teacher at the beginning of the year. I still think she is lovely, but if this is someone who doesn’t believe in homework, then I don’t know what’s in store for us in future years. From an adult point of view, it’s not a lot of homework. Maybe about half an hour a day.
But seven year old boys don’t work in linear time, and my whole afternoon is taken up yelling, “Have you done your homework?” and “When you’ve done your homework”. As a result, my son doesn’t hate the homework, he hates me.
And then this weekend I bumped into a Grade 3 mother from my school, and she told me that next year they start doing so much sport (which is great) that they get home late (which is not) and have even more homework to do than before (which is terrible). It sounded like such a nightmare that I nearly lay down on the floor at Sandton for a cry.
As adults, we don’t expect ourselves to do a 7am to 7pm day, and then still work in the evenings. (Well, I don’t. If you do, you need to take a good long look at your life. Sorry, but you do.) But apparently from mid primary school, we expect this of our children.
And while it may help consolidate what they learn in the day, and it may teach some elements of self-discipline, from what other moms tell me, it mostly just serves to make life at home miserable. And home is actually where our kids are supposed to feel safe.
I’m still a bit on the fence. I don’t know that homework per se is the problem. But something isn’t feeling right when the part of my week that causes me to take the deepest breathes is Grade 2 homework.