Children need some playtime too
Kids need the right balance of work, rest and play, says Erin Reilly.
When I was a child, homework was a regular after-school ritual. But parents all around the country are staging a mini uprising against home learning, all in the name of their primary school students’ after-school freedom.
Tania Browne is a mum of four primary school-aged children. ‘‘My kids are in school for six hours a day,’’ she says. ‘‘By the time they get home, all they want to do is be kids for a while. If a teacher can’t teach them within the six hours that they have, what are we paying them for?’’
She has a point. The average child doesn’t get home from school until roughly 3.30pm (later if they travel on the bus). Then they need a snack. Then it’s homework time. Then it’s music lessons or football practise, or whatever other extra-curricular activity they’re into. Then it’s dinnertime, bath time and bedtime (oh, and don’t forget wine time formumand dad).
But when is it playtime? Surely the greatest thing a parent or caregiver can do with their children after school is play with them? In fact, some experts think playtime is where kids develop more imagination, creativity and collaboration.
‘‘Homework for primary school students mainly focuses on further progressing numeracy and literacy skills, rather than taking a holistic approach to child development,’’ says a husbandand-wife teaching duo who wish to remain anonymous because they both teach at primary schools where homework is compulsory. ‘‘We believe that after-school hours should be reserved for building relationships and pursuing personal passions and wellbeing.’’
But Auckland teacher Rochelle Lawrence thinks home learning has its place.
‘‘Children gain independence with age and maturity, and home learning is one way to instil this,’’ she says. ‘‘Younger children especially need parent support to help them find success in home learning, and kids will develop the personal skills they need to manage their home learning at their own pace. Teachers also want your kids to be wellrounded, engaging in a range of activities that spark their curiosities and passions.’’
While homework might not be your kids’ favourite activity, learning at home outside the constraints of a structured learning environment is still essential.
If you can’t beat it, there’s always joining it. Think about establishing a homework club for the children on your street, where kids can study in a fun environment and parents can have a break; use Neighbourly to gauge interest.
At the end of the day, though, children need time to relax and have fun.
‘‘We understand what it’s like spending a day with overtired children, so they need time to rest and be kids,’’ says Lawrence.
‘‘If parents are concerned about the home learning expectations placed on their child, they should contact their child’s teacher.’’
Some experts think playtime is where kids develop more imagination, creativity and collaboration.