A primary school in Rathfarnham is currently trialling a new policy which means no homework for students.
My son arrived home from school yesterday with the biggest grin on his face. He was literally shaking with excitement because he got his “first-time homework”. He couldn’t wait to sit down and show myself and his father what homework he had been assigned.
While it was completely adorable, myself and my husband had a little giggle about the fact that this enthusiasm for homework would very likely disappear throughout his schooling.
Homework is quite a contentious issue. School teachers will often reiterate the importance of having a positive attitude towards homework as a parent. If parents are filled with dread at the prospect of nightly work, then how on earth are children supposed to approach it with an attitude that is different.
It does make sense. As parents, we are encouraged to be proactive and invested in what many teachers feel is an important part of a child’s education. In many ways, homework is considered to be the link between home and school.
As it turns out, a lot of teachers and parents strongly disagree with homework for a plethora of different reasons. Many parents feel that the school day is long enough for their children and homework leads to their child feeling exhausted and anxious.
Other parents feel as though it puts too much pressure on a child (and their parents) and all of these things can lead to a negative attitude towards learning in general. Whatever your stance, it is very likely that this evening your child will be sitting down to homework that must be completed or there are consequences of some kind.
We learned from Jen Hogan's informative piece that one Dublin school have made the brave decision to make their own rules when it comes to homework. Jen has become synonymous with approaching a change in homework policies in Irish schools. At Loreto Primary School in Rathfarnham, there is a no homework policy in place.
The school decided to trial this policy due to the huge levels of stress that homework appeared to be causing for the pupils, their parents and indeed, their teachers. Every class, except for sixth class, leave the formal learning at the classroom door when they finish each school day.
The school principal, Sr Maria Hyland, believes that the purpose of learning is to create possibilities to invent and discover. In her experience, homework was leading to a lot of time wasted.
She listed time management and logistic issues such as taking home the wrong school books as some of the obstacles that homework was inducing.
In response to this, the school have decided to try to combat the issue by moving away from homework altogether. Maria feels that it is more beneficial for children to have an opportunity to recharge their batteries and explore something that interests them when they are at home.
The reaction from parents has been extremely positive. Many were consulting parent WhatsApp groups weekly to ensure that they were approaching homework the right way so this is eliminating stress across the board.
The pupils of the school have reacted positively too, and it has had a positive effect on time management within the classrooms as it has allowed for more teacher-pupil contact.
Parents have reported that without the stress of homework, there is now time in the evening to properly catch up with their child and enjoy other activities such as books and boardgames.
Another important factor is a possible rise in children’s self-esteem as many parents found it very difficult to negotiate those times were homework was being done “incorrectly” and mistakes were being made.
Happier pupils, parents, teachers and families – seems like a bit of a no-brainer?