It's no secret to long-time readers of this blog that I'm not a fan of homework.
But... my daughter goes to a school that gives children homework. Since she was four, Flea has brought home a steadily increasing amount of work, and this term that includes spellings, sentences to write, a book to read, and a maths sheet to complete. On top of that, she's expected to practise for her weekly guitar and singing lessons.
My issue is this: Flea gets up at 8am or thereabouts Monday to Friday to go to school. She generally gets home between 8 and 9 hours later, and has at most, three hours of free time before bed.
It doesn't seem right, or balanced, to me that she spends up to a third of that time on further learning.
For me, childhood isn't a training camp for being a good worker or getting good A-Levels, so I don't mind if the only thing Flea achieves in a day is to have a lot of fun and get dirty. And actually, you can learn a lot of good stuff having fun and getting dirty.
I didn't do homework until I was at secondary school. Neither did Flea's Dad. And between us, we have two degrees, four MAs, and a certificate for typing. We did fine, academically.
To be fair, we've been really lucky with Flea's teachers in that they have been pretty understanding of my point of view – and this year her teacher has said providing Flea keeps up with her work, don't panic about doing homework every day. It's okay to miss homework on any given day if there's a "good" reason, and Flea catches up later.
I just wonder – what's a good enough reason?
How about the evening Flea doesn't tend to do homework because she has cubs and gets home too late to do anything? Or the evening she goes for her swimming lesson? Those seem like solid Good Reasons.
But what about the evening she's collected from school by my parents, and taken out for an early dinner with her cousins, before going to their house for an hour so they can play together? In our family, it's the only time we're all together each week – it feels pretty important to me.
And how about the Friday afternoons when I pick Flea up early, dash to the cinema to catch a film and then head out for dinner together? It's a rare time in a busy week that I get to spend dedicated time with my daughter without phone, email or Twitter distracting us. It's precious to me, and I think to Flea, too.
And of course there are Saturday mornings on the beach, or at the park. Getting some fresh air and some freedom to run around is pretty important for kids, I'd say. As is getting cosy at home on a Sunday afternoon and pulling out the big box of LEGO or Playmobil.
Here are some of the reasons Flea didn't do her homework over the past week, aside from our regular trips to the park and beach, and swimming. Personally, I think every single one of these was more important than spellings and sums. What do you reckon?
- Spending an entire afternoon playing with Playmobil's new Western sets.
- An overnight residential trip with school. After being nervous for weeks, turned out Flea adored it.
- Learning to use Skype and chatting with her best friend, who had made a Powerpoint presentation called MY BFF: Flea.
- Visiting her grandparents, where she spent the afternoon drawing comic strips for them to read and admire.
- Being invested and officially joining the local cub group.
- Making home-made pizza after school and settling down to watch a movie together.
I'd love to know – what's on your More Important Than Homework list?
Who's the Mummy is a blog about me (Sally) and my fantastic daughter, Flea.
Our blog is a record of the things we do, and the fun we have together.
Our family motto is 'It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how'. We tried 'Dignity at all Times' but honestly? It wasn't a good fit.
Blogs at: Who's The Mummy