Jill's Blog: Don't Let Homework Define Your Parenting Skills
Now that I am doing my best to actually talk to other grownups at school pickup, I’m hearing much of the same frustration across the playground. One of the most common themes is Homework.
My eldest is in year one at a highly rated local state school. He (we) is expected to do 15 minutes of reading a day, maths and English weekly, and a Home Learning Grid 3 times per half term which includes things like growing a plant and tracking its progress, using varied art mediums to create a day in the creation story and researching and writing a song about the weather in the Southern hemisphere. Needless to say, parents are a bit stressed out.
And why shouldn’t they be? How much of the above is work for the kids, and how much of it is work for the parents? Don’t get me wrong. I fully support my children’s education and would love for them to be studious and love learning and school. I know I sure did. Got brilliant grades, joined all the honour societies, and took college classes in high school. But what I didn’t have was the happiest, most connected, supportive home life. I didn’t grow up with bad people. There was just so much dysfunction and bigger things to manage that no one seemed to care what I did or didn’t do, or did or didn’t achieve. I worked to impress my teachers, to make them proud because the grades they gave me defined my self worth.
Now, I fully appreciate that the school has targets to hit and things it has to say and do because it is an educational institution. What isn’t fair is that this puts more pressure on overworked, under resourced parents who are likely already full of doubt over their parenting skills because their kids to after school club, or have endless meltdowns, or don’t write their name in perfect cursive. Gone are the days, really, of one parent staying at home and having the time available to write a song. It isn’t feasible in this current version of reality and maybe the system needs to shift to address that.
Maybe we need to trust that our kids are learning and growing because children very rarely stay the same. They will learn and grow through the natural course of existence. And more than anything else, it’s time and connection with your children that matter. 10 minutes a day where you talk and laugh and smile – that’s what matters. That’s what we all need. Connection and affection and love from the people we care about. The best grades in the school will mean nothing if you don’t feel support by, and connected to, the ones who matter the most in your world. I wish more parents knew that Life happens, and that is your reality - not the rules to some beanbag hoop game the Home Learning Grid says you must come up with.
So prioritise the fun over the learning, even if just while they’re young. And trust that you’ll know when they need a push and that you will be able to accomplish it to the best of your ability at that given moment. Because you are their parent and if you listen with your love for them, you will know what’s best to do.
Jill is an American ex-pat living her best English life on the border of London and Surrey. She spends her days pretending she knows what she’s doing, creating some fun things along the way. With a passion for storytelling and the gumption of a New Yorker she’s raising two cheeky, clever boys with deep imaginations and an annoyingly cunning use of language. With a husband, cat and hamster along for the ride life is never boring. Even if sometimes a bit too stressful!