A couple of weeks ago, I posted on my Instgram stories all about how Beau had been sent home from school with his interim school report.
I was happy with the report and so was Beau. On the whole it said that he was at a level and skill in all areas of learning that would be expected of a child of his age. (6 years)
Except, I then got a letter home from the school, “inviting” him to take part in an after school maths club. The club was to be by “invitation only” and would run for a number of weeks.
I was surprised by this letter especially as just that week Beau had won “Star of the Day” at school for his “outstanding” maths work in class. So, clearly no problem with Beau applying his maths knowledge then so why was he being invited to take part in a special after school club?
I’ll tell you why, because its all based on numbers and statistics rather than fact. Beau had been ill a lot in December with a nasty chest infection and had to have some time off school and this in turn meant that he had fallen behind in his at home maths homework. Therefore statistically on paper, Beau’s “score” was down highlighting that he may be experiencing some difficulties which he, of course, was not. Beau decided to go to the Maths club, entirely his own decision, as he likes maths, simple as that.
By way of background, Beau is expected to do reading homework and maths homework which is a series of maths questions on a tablet or computer every evening. In addition he is also expected to do writing and spelling homework. With regard to the online maths homework, Beau is expected to earn between 50-100 stars (answer correct questions) a week.
In my opinion, this is all simply too much. The boy is only six years old! I feel there is too much pressure being placed upon his young shoulders.
In fact over the Christmas holiday’s I made sure it was just that for Beau, a holiday. We did no homework at all. instead, I allowed him to be a child enjoying the magic of Christmas rather than worrying about how many maths stars he had collected.
On Beau’s return to school, however, he advised me that every day they go through a list of who has done what with regard to their maths homework and that there were even some children in his class who had been doing homework on Christmas Day!!!! and others who were earning up to 900 stars a week!!!
Now don’t get me wrong I not blaming the teachers here, not at all. They’re just trying their utmost to try and keep up with the ever increasing pressure and workloads put on them as well. Nor am I have a dig at other parents, as for all I know these children may have decided to do this extra work all entirely off of their own backs. However, it does make me feel sad to think of my six year old little boy being worried, concerned and anxious about homework and how he is performing in school in general. Surely a child of this age shouldn’t be put under such pressure and should just be allowed to be a child.
It would appear from the responses to my Instagram stories on this that so many of you feel exactly the same. That children today are coming under far too much pressure too young to perform academically.
I even had one instagramer contact me telling me how she had actually written a university paper on this very subject. the paper was entitled “Too much, too young.. should schooling start at age 7?” Personally, I think I am inclined to agree with this sentiment. Myself and this lady spent some time discussing the issue and she advised me that in Sweden children don’t start their schooling until 6/7 years of age as in Sweden they believe in the importance of childhood. This seems far preferable to me, so why isn’t this a practice that we can adopt in this country? Why do our children need to start schooling at such a young and tender age?
Another mum, contacted me and said that her son too was having some issues with homework in particular the home maths learning on the computer. She said that in her family they had always tried to limit the amount of time their children played on electronic devices instead preferring to encourage interactive and outdoor play and now here she was having to encourage computer time instead. Another problem she had now incurred was that she would set her son up with his maths homework and then go away for a minute or two, come back and find that her son had switched off the maths homework and was instead playing a computer game!
I must admit, that we had a similar experience, in that that we always said as parents that we weren’t going to allow Beau to play on computers or have any hand held devices of his own until he was much older. We’d witnessed too many children over the years absolutely glued to these things and we didn’t want Beau to go this way too. However, when Beau started school, it became quickly apparent that all the other children were computer literate knowing how to navigate the systems with ease whereas poor Beau really didn’t have a clue. So sometimes, I guess you just can’t win can you!
Beau loves being at home and being able to play with his younger brothers, however, I feel constantly under pressure to put pressure on him to perform and I don’t like it. If I don’t though, what will happen? well, he’d probably get in trouble at school for not having done his homework and would fall behind his peers in class, and this is obviously something that I don’t want for him either.
I just feel that all the fun is being zapped out of childhood nowadays. Children are at school for approximately 6 hours a day 5 days a week, is that not enough? Can’t their own time be just that; their own time? A time for them to chill out and just have fun like children should? Why does there have to be “Home Learning” every evening and weekend as well?
Its clear to me already from my earlier Instagram stories that I am not alone in these views, but if any of you have anything further to add then I would welcome any comments you may have.
In the meantime though I’d love to say to Beau in the words of the David Bowie song “Kooks”…..
“and if the homework brings you down, then we’ll throw it on the fire and take the car downtown…”
Thanks, as always, for reading,