I have dozens of posts in my head at the moment, but never seem to find the time to put my brain in gear enough to actually write them. But reading this article made me want to respond.
I absolutely agree with the heading: Six-year-olds need to play more than they need to spell; but I think the author needs to think more about what ‘the education system’ is.
As parents, we are responsible for our child(ren)’s education. Not school, parents (and I include anyone with parental responsibility under the umbrella term ‘parent’.)
The relevant section of the Education Act (1996) states [my emphasis]: The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education [..] either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
If school is our chosen education system (and it is a choice), why should our responsibility end at choosing a suitable school and ensuring our child attends? Why should we blindly support said school in whatever they choose to subject our child(ren) to? If we care enough about our child(ren)’s education to support them with it, why are we complaining about homework for six-year olds and yet forcing them to do it?
I will never make my children do homework. I have chosen to pass my parental responsibility for education to a school, and it was a considered choice. It’s not a school that starts homework in reception, and not one that gives masses of homework early on. At present, half way through Year 1, MG gets a phonics sheet daily with words to read; a reading book (that we normally ignore) and a homework book with one worksheet weekly. The weekly homework has only just started.
MG loves doing homework. I have said to her that I will never make her do it, but at the moment she bounces home and happily attempts everything. If there are any bits she doesn’t want to do, she doesn’t do them.
She’s almost six, and neither far ahead or far behind of ‘expectations’. Recently her form teacher (and deputy head) told me to “carry on with what you’re doing at home” in the last parent’s evening, as they were so pleased with her progress.
I know every child is different, and as a parent you may feel that you need to push your child to ‘keep up’. But most children get there in their own time; leave them to it, supporting their questions, and their interests will guide them to the development they need.
I thoroughly agree with the author’s closing line: “We need [..] fewer league tables, to encourage teachers to engage with primary school age children and their crazy world of playing – to appreciate it and to build on it.” However we mustn’t forget: we parents can support this; school is only part of their lives, not all of it.