Is it Good for Mental Health and Learning?
A 2014 report for the Department for Education showed that year 9 students who spend between 2 to 3 hours of homework each weeknight were 9 times more likely to achieve 5 good GCSEs (grade A-C) compared with children who didn’t do any. After a day at school, children are being asked to continue learning by completing a few hours of homework. It may have been shown to deliver good results. However, is it good for stress levels and mental health? And what about children at primary school and reception? So, do they really need to be given so much homework?
Celebrity Parents Have Their Say
Parents have been using social media to discuss homework concerns for some time and now celebrity parents are sharing their thoughts on the subject. This celebrity response was triggered after a teacher in China set her students the task of counting 100 million grains of rice. The purpose of the exercise was to teach the pupils critical thinking, how to work smart and analyse the problem, according to the teacher.
Comedian Rob Delany went to Twitter to express his concerns.
His Tweet asked: “Why do they give 7 yr [sic] olds so much homework in UK and how do I stop this. I want my kid frolicking & drawing & playing football. Who knows more about stopping this madness & can help me?”
Gary Lineker is one of the celebrities standing also against homework. He retweeted Rob Delany’s Tweet and added his own thoughts on the subject. He said that he believed homework to be a waste of time. Gary went on to say it brings stress to the home, harming the child, the parents and the relationship between child and parent. Lineker went on to say that reading each night should be enough. Do you agree?
Homework Around the World
Piers Morgan weighed in on the Twitter debate regarding homework. His opinion was that homework is important and that the UK falls behind the educational standards of other countries such as China. So how does the UK compare to other countries?
The average hours of homework set for 15-year olds vary in different countries:
- China – 13.5 hours
- Italy – 9 hours
- USA – 6 hours
- UK – 5 hours
- Finland – 3 hours
China gives their children far more homework than any other country and they achieve the highest average PISA scores as a result. On the other hand, Finland has one of the best educational systems in the world. Yet they don’t put a lot of emphasis on extra work or on testing, unlike China and far less than in the UK. Finland achieve the second highest average scores, scoring higher than Italy, USA and the UK.
All Children are Different
The national education system isn’t the only thing to consider. Scores on tests and in exams are not only impacted by the amount of work that is completed, even if it does make a difference. Other factors must be considered, such as the home life stability and the ability of the individual pupils. In some cases, the act of demanding more homework will not have any impact on the results achieved. The work life balance remains a concern for children in a similar way it does for adults.
Creating a Healthy Work Life Balance
It can be hard to establish a healthy work life balance as an adult let alone as a child. Giving children two to three hours of additional work does mean that they have a lot less time to themselves. Which is crucial for relaxation, hobbies and out of school activities. As well as exercise, household chores, weekend jobs and spending time with family and friends.
A study by the London University’s Institute of Education showed that homework can cause problems in family life, often causing arguments that supersede the educational benefits. A more recent study by Stanford University showed that 56% of students said homework was the main cause of stress.
The government recommends creating an organised homework programme that can help children develop their skills and attitudes that are required for successful learning. So how can you help your child create a healthy balance between school work and life?
- Find out exactly how much homework is being given to your child. Work out how much time should be spent on each task and schedule it into the working week. Once the schedule is created, try to stick to it as closely as possible.
- Be available to help or talk through their tasked work but don’t sit and stare, be close by and ready to help if asked.
- Try to keep weekends free from extra work because it’s important to have a break. Have some Be Together time and allow your children to Be Creative in this time.
- Discuss any concerns you have regarding the amount of homework with your child’s teachers. You may find one or more teachers are handing out a lot compared with their colleagues. Voice your concerns and express what you feel is practical.
- Talk to teachers about your child’s learning style along with any mental health concerns that might be triggered with homework. Other options might be more suitable.
- Encourage your child to take up subjects they really enjoy.
- Take children to galleries and museums.
What Do You Think?
The debate continues to roll on. There are clear benefits for a lot of children, and clear downsides too. What are your thoughts? Not joined our community yet? All you have to do is head on over to our Facebook and Twitter pages to join our community and join the conversation with like-minded people. Tell us about how you deal with your children’s out of school workload.