We’ve all had to suffer homework. It’s the fate of children worldwide. Parents have suffered and so children must. Or should they?
Many educators will argue that homework adds nothing to a child’s progress and understanding, and can actually do more damage than good. Some might argue that homework can rob a child of their love of learning, and add extra stress to children who already work hard at school and have a busy extra-curricular life. And no-one could argue that homework does not impact on family life – whether it’s stealing important time spent together or the cause of many an argument about time-management and quadratic equations.
Here at Roselyon we have taken the dramatic move of cancelling homework. Homework, in its traditional sense, does not have a place in our school. This means if the weather is fine, Roselyon families enjoy the beach after school, without the worry of a worksheet due in the morning. Mums, dads and children can go to a movie, concert or sporting event as a family, or celebrate Gran’s birthday together. That’s what family life is about.
Of course, there is reading to do (sharing a good book together at bedtime – who doesn’t enjoy that?) and spellings and tables to learn, but the rest of the time it’s up to the children and their parents. Our ‘homework’ is in the form of longer-term projects, which are chosen by the children and are so thrilling to them, that they really want to engage. On a wet weekend in Cornwall, they can get on with research into something which truly excites them, which is far better preparation for independent thinking and learning than traditional ‘homework’ is.
We have designed our school day to be a little longer for the older children, so that they can reflect on all that has happened and what they have discovered in their research. Our subject teachers are thrilled to learn about topics outside their normal experience and the children are enthusiastic to share their knowledge. Often there’s time to share a story or play a game together at the end of the day and then go home full of tales of sport, art, music, science, geography, history, Latin…the list is a long one! We value all subjects and give the children a chance to immerse themselves in their learning.
So, yes, it’s a bit different to what we all know as ‘homework’, but our approach means the children have a hand in planning their own learning, they are able to pursue their own passions and interests, and they learn to think for themselves – all of which make for more engaged children and better lessons. We’re delighted with the system – and so are the children.