As a new school we are spending a lot of time talking to families about what The Aquila School will offer and how we will differ from other British schools in the region.
A subject that comes up time and time again is homework.
I often turn the tables round and ask families about what their view is of homework for primary aged children and I am pleased to note that many families feel that there is too much pressure on primary children to spend a huge amount of their weekend and evening time – and that this puts undue pressure on families. Therefore, instead of being a shared learning experience it becomes stressful and meaningless – and in many cases the adults end up doing the homework for the child just to get it over and done with. In the many years I have worked in the UAE, I regularly see children proudly carrying huge models or projects into school, and when quizzed about who did the work, very often we would learn that the parent or family helper had – with the child being an observer on the side.
I fully respect that different schools and different families will have a whole range of views about homework – and any decision cannot please everyone – in the same way that any organisation cannot be all things to all people.
So – based on over 20 years of being a school leader and talking to countless children, teachers and families – this is my view about Homework.
In primary school, children work very hard all day – engaged in actively learning. They will have taken part in a wide range of activities and after a busy day learning they will be physically and mentally exhausted. We want children to develop into rounded individuals with a range of interests – and so time after school can be spent pursuing them. We also want children to have time to relax, be with their families and reflecting on what they have learnt that day. Therefore, for me, primary school homework should include
- Regular reading with an adult at home – an enjoyable shared experience
- Giving the children the opportunity – if they wish – to talk about their learning at home – consolidating and reflecting on how their learning can be applied to the real world
- Completing individual projects that link to what is being learnt in class – but only if they are intrinsically motivated to
For me – it is as simple as that. Give children amazing learning at school – and allow them to enjoy exploring other interests and enjoying childhood when they get home!
Everyone needs time to relax and switch off – even school Principals!