Loreto in Rathfarnham has decided to do away with written homework. This decision was taken with the input of both parents and teachers and the intention was to take the pressure off pupils and their parents in the evenings. As the mum of a primary school kiddo, I think it’s a wonderful idea.
It's a familiar childhood memory for many of us. You are sitting at a table with dad or mum or whoever was around to support you through the agony of homework. The kind and once patient volunteer becomes restless and frustrated because you just can't get your little head around the sum or grammar in front of you.
The adult becomes louder and angrier and the child becomes tearful and confused. Suddenly the words you have written in pencil begin to blur on the page. Needless to say, homework has ended in tears, again.
If it wasn't like that for you, you are the exception. Most of us have memories of struggling with homework. Even those who thrived in the classroom environment will shudder at the word. You might have even begun to notice this phenomenon from a parent’s point of view, with your own kids.
This is the problem with homework. When you are running a household-especially one with two working parents- you spend less than four hours a day with your children during the week. Out of these four, at least one or two can be taken up with homework.
This time spent with your child is not exactly quality time. It's a time when both of you are tired and cranky. The 'homework mood' spreads from you to your child and eventually to the rest of the household. The precious moments with your kids, the ones you looked forward to during the working day, are spoiled.
This is why ditching written homework assignments seem like the ultimate solution.
Don’t get me wrong- homework that brings the joy of learning to you and your child makes sense. Reading a chapter book, fun spelling quizzes and interesting discussions can be a fantastic way to spend time together. It can also be a wonderful way to keep us mums and dads up to date with what's going on at school.
However, frustrating written assignments or headache -inducing long division, benefits no one. The opposite occurs actually, and our little students tend to adopt that all-too-familiar rhetoric of how much they HATE mathematics and Irish.
It’s a brave move, scrapping something that has existed in our education system since forever, but families are so different from what they used to be, and time together is all too precious to be gritting your teeth at your children at the kitchen table every night.