Thursday, 22 February 2018
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June 2017

Parents’ Opinion: All Work And No Play

The sun’s out, but school’s in and that means despite the lighter, warmer evenings there’s still homework to be completed before playtime outside can begin…

Or does it? Social media has been buzzing with a copy of a letter sent to the parents of pupils at Markethill Primary School in Armagh in which the Principal advises that literacy and maths homework will now stop during the summer term to encourage children (and parents) to instead ‘get outside and get active’, ‘go for walks and cycles’, ‘develop a new hobby’ and ‘spend quality time with friends and family’.

Sound good to you? We wanted to know if other NI parents would also welcome ditching written homework in favour of more time outdoors during the last two months of the school year and took the question to our Ni4kids Facebook followers to find out.

We received a huge response from parents overwhelmingly welcoming the idea and hoping that their child’s school would soon follow suit. Tracey Pollock is a mum with a child at Markethill Primary and commented, ‘It's been lovely to have additional family time together. Learning isn't just about being stuck in books, our children have so many positive things to learn from the world around them.’ Parent Andrea Johnston is delighted that her children's school have followed Markethill's example and believes it’s a fantastic idea. She wrote, ‘Children can learn just as much from playing outside. We get such few days of good weather here, it's a shame to keep them in.’

Fiona Waller applauded the school for their approach and mum Jen Louise was also in total agreement responding, ‘I emailed our school Principal about this and we then got a note home to say written homework will be stopped this week and children are instead encouraged to use the time to play outdoors.’ Wanda Lyons Oneill loved the idea as her concern is, ‘Kids are stuck in class all day and then when they get home it’s straight into homework.’ She votes for, ‘Give kids a ball and let them play.’

Via the discussion we soon discovered that many parents would take a step further and actually be in favour of a total ban on schoolwork coming home - rain or shine. Judith Durrant got in touch to say, ‘I've been reading The Homework Myth by Alfie Kohn and listening to TED talks on education, creativity and IQ. I'm no longer a fan of homework , especially in the early years.’ And this was an opinion voiced by many mums like Cailin Hitchen who stated, ‘I personally believe that homework for primary school children should be very little or abolished altogether. On a normal school day children get home, then it’s time for homework, dinner and any extra activities they may participate in which leaves very little time to socialise with their peers. Markethill Primary have the right idea.’

Pamela Ferguson pointed out that not all families have the benefit of Saturdays and Sundays together noting, ‘Family time at the weekends is all well and good if you don't have to work. Children spend long enough hours at school and should be allowed to relax when they come home, not forced to do extra work. In my opinion it should be banned altogether… reading should be sufficient.’ And Amanda Reid observed, ‘As adults we don’t like to take our work home with us so children aged 11 and under shouldn’t have homework (except readings and spellings). All education should be covered in the classroom leaving time for relaxing and socialising with their peers and family.’

There was however some support from parents for teachers continuing to give written homework, despite the allure of more free time to enjoy the sunshine. Sharon McCabe Kerr said, ‘I must be in the minority reading the other comments but I'm of the opinion that 30 minutes a day of homework isn't excessive and can be a learning curve for both parent and child. The world we are in is a very competitive one.’ Catherine McEvoy thinks many parents do not understand the rationale for giving children homework, highlighting, ‘It is a hugely valuable part of their education. Children need to learn how to discipline themselves to work independently and outside the classroom environment. Half-an-hour of homework is not excessive and they have plenty of time to play outside as well. My children do their homework outside in good weather.’

And mum Lorna Dunn believes her school have found a happy medium with a policy of giving all homework out on a Monday to be completed for Friday. Outlining the benefits she commented; ‘I think this is an excellent system which teaches children to prioritise from an early age. It means we are able to fit homework into nights when we don't have activities, and it’s useful to have this mentality for the next level of schooling.’

Ni4kids View

No written homework for the last weeks of third term is a really appealing idea. It’s lovely for families to make the most of our few summer days when they appear and there are lots of valuable lessons which can also be learned outside. Homework is however invaluable for children to revise what they have learned in school while the topic is still fresh in their memory. Perhaps though, on very sunny days, a bit of flexibility to swap sums for just spellings and reading in the sunshine will keep kids, and their parents, enthusiastic and smiling.

Join the debate on our Ni4kids Facebook page and you could win a £10 gift card for M&S!

Your Comments

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