Homework is an essential part of learning independent work and self-discipline… and I think that kids are getting far too much of it. Homework should be given out with this specific purpose in mind and not because there is so much schoolwork that it can’t fit in to the school day.
If kids are getting too much, it is your responsibility as a parent to take a stand. Get together with other parents in your child’s class and have something to say about it. Play, fresh air, fun and down-time are as important to a child’s development as formalised learning and discipline, particularly in the Foundation and Intersen Phases.
This fits in to what I have said before about too many extra murals: Children, like all human beings, need time to be – not busy performing or excelling or proving their worth, just being.
So how much is too much? If you look logically at the typical day of a school child this should become obvious:
6am-7am Waking and getting ready for school
7am-2pm School time
2pm-3pm Sport / extra murals
5pm-7pm Dinner, bathing etc.
7pm-8pm Story time or quiet time
8pm-6am Sleep (children of 7-10 years need around 10-11 hours per night)
This only leaves between 3pm-5pm for homework AND games, TV time, outdoor time, playdates etc. I would say that anything more than around half an hour per day is unreasonable at Primary School level, and certainly not more than an hour.
Look logically at your child’s day and make sure there is always down-time, unscheduled time, time to just be.
Life needs to be in balance and we need to help our kids with this by not overscheduling their time, by taking a stand on homework and by modeling this for our kids by getting enough rest and down-time ourselves.