One mum's letter to her daughter's school about homework is a must-read
I have very ambivalent feeling about homework in primary school.
On one hand, I do see the value in learning to sit down to study and apply yourself to something. On the other hand; I strongly feel that children today do enough sitting as it is, and that outside of school, especially when they are really young, they should be allowed to just be children, to have the time to just play and relax and spend time with their family and friends.
In Finland, children in primary school have no homework – and the Finnish education system is known for being the best and most child- and family-friendly in the world.
I think a lot of us adults agree that while it is important that children get their education and do well in school, currently, homework is taking up a too large part of the time they spend outside of school – a time which is meant to be their chance to switch off.
These feelings were probably what US mum blogger Bunmi Laditan acted on when she recently shared on Facebook that she had written an e-mail to her daughter's school, letting them know she would no longer be doing any homework.
In a heated post, the mum behind the very popular The Honest Toddler blog explained how her 10-year-old daughter, Maya — who is already in school from 8am to 4pm every day, is then coming home to another two to three hours of homework each evening.
"My kid is done with homework," Laditan wrote in a Facebook post. "I just sent an email to her school letting her know she's all done. I said 'drastically reduce' but I was trying to be polite because she's finished."
Laditan explained how her daughter "loves learning, but has become more and more stressed by school. She's developed chest pains, and she's begun waking up before dawn worrying about her workload."
I think we can all agree that when 10-year-olds are starting to suffer from what sounds like pretty severe stress, then we have a problem.
"How does homework until 6:30, then dinner, then an hour to relax (or finish the homework) before bed make any sense at all?" Laditan asked in her social media post. "Is family time not important? Is time spent just being a child relaxing at home not important?"
And she continued:
"Children need downtime after school the same way adults need downtime after work. They need to play with their siblings. They need to bond with their parents in a relaxed atmosphere, not one where everyone is stressed about fractions because — SURPRISE — I'm not a teacher. Children need time to just enjoy their childhoods or is that just for the weekends . . . although we also do homework on Sundays."
Laditan's letter to her child's school came after the mum-of-two had consulted both a tutor and a therapist, and she let the teachers know she wasn't going to allow her daughter to get herself so worked up and stressed out over homework anymore. She also explains she is not sure how the school is going to react, but that will consider home schooling if necessary.
"We all want our children to grow up and succeed in the world. While I believe in education, I don't believe for one second that academics should consume a child's life. I don't care if she goes to Harvard one day," she said. "My kid needs to be a kid."