Firstly my question would be, what is the purpose of homework?
Some say it’s to consolidate learning that has happened at school.
Others say it’s to enable children to develop independence and prepare them for revision in later years. Maybe it’s a bit of both.
Some children regardless of needs thrive at school and love nothing more than the challenge of homework, revising for tests and completing projects at home. Fantastic! These children should be celebrated.
Some children don’t want to feel different. For these children academics are a challenge to them and they don’t love completing homework, but they would rather do it, at a limited standard, than deal with the feeling they get from not doing it.
Other children, generally those with significant additional needs can not, will not, and point blank refuse to even entertain the idea of mixing school with home! And these are the children I am referring to.
So, should we, as their parents force them to do it?
Should we allow the school to punish our children for not doing it?
100 % NO on both counts!
Children As young as 4 spend 6 hours a day actively being taught a curriculum which they are expected to memorise and then regurgitate in a standardised test to prove their worth. They are ALL expecting to learn exactly the same and in the same way and if they don’t memorise enough, we as their parents are told our children are falling behind – another words ‘they are failing’.
Now let’s be clear here.
Your child is NOT failing! the system is failing your child!
Your child, like all children, regardless of any additional need, will learn at their own pace and in their own way.
Children that are so called ‘failing’ at school will find the school day an immense struggle. The speed of expected learning will be way too fast and they will feel like a sinking ship.
Their self esteem will be rock bottom and no doubt their behaviour will be reflecting their insecurities.
So when the bell goes at 3 o’clock and they break free from the prison of doom they finally feel safe, back in the arms of unconditional love.
As parents our single most important job is to love and care for our children, keeping them safe from harm.
You are not a teacher of academics!
The time we spend with our children is undeniably the most valuable time on the planet. It’s when we teach our family values, our beliefs and our traditions. It’s when we share our experiences and we express our emotions. In everything we do we are constantly role modelling expected behaviour.
We consciously and even subconsciously spend every opportunity building their self esteem by celebrating their personalities and each and every micro achievement that they make and most importantly we are the people that know and believe in our children.
In society we all harp on and on about having a work/home life balance. Those who bring their work home with them are stressed beyond content, suffer mentally and as a result their family life suffers!
So why do we think that it is acceptable for children?
It’s not! Children need time to be children, they need time to learn who they are and they need the time to be that person. They need time to partake and enjoy other aspects of life.
Learning at home happens all the time. A bedtime story, fun games intertwined with life to support times tables or science. Creating thank you letters. Knowing what topic is being studied at school and visiting related places as a family. Grow broccoli. Cooking together and eating your delights together (or in my case probably not quite so tasty delights). Laugh and have fun.
But DO NOT sit down and force a disengaged child to do homework.
Do not sign a home/school agreement to say you will do the homework set and do not allow your child to be punished by the school.
Go into school and have a meeting or write a letter.
You are not being a lazy parent or allowing your child to fall further behind – you are simply doing the single most important job a parent must do, which is to love, care, and keep your child safe from harm.
The picture is of Jazz and myself attempting to grow broccoli after I discovered at 11 years old she thought broccoli was made in a factory!