Karen van der Berg
In certain Scandinavian countries primary-school learners do not get homework anymore. The British newspaper, Daily Telegraph, recently also reported that homework had a stressful impact on primary-school children.
According to the report many British teachers feel that young children should be excused from homework up to the age of 10 years because they are already tired after a long school day. Apart from this, it could cause stress at home because homework usually have to be fitted in between bathtime and bedtime.
At home one often hears the shock of new Grade 1 parents about the amount of homework that a six-year-old also has to fit in every day.
“I was shocked and speechless when I saw the amount of homework that my son, Johann, had to do in his first school year,” says Liesel van Niekerk of Midrand. Although she realises that there are certain things that have to be revised, it does not make sense to her that children of that age should spend the whole afternoon on schoolwork as well.
“To my mind a child is still a child and playing is much more important. In any case, a child of that age cannot concentrate for so long.”
Parents who complain about their little ones’ workload clearly do not understand the South African school system, says Charmain de Lange, a Grade 1 teacher from Bloemfontein.
“Our classes are big, there is a lot of work to be done and if children do not do revision at home, they are simply not going to make the grade. Homework simply is important. It has never harmed any child. In any case, the earlier a child starts learning and doing homework, the better the chances that the child will make a bigger success of her academic career.”
What do the experts have to say?
Mari Rossouw, a child psychologist from Johannesburg, says that a young child does not have the energy to concentrate for more than 20 minutes.
“Overloading a child with homework that could take up to three hours simply is not fair. A child can only absorb so much at a time.”
To her mind the solution would be not to let children between the ages of 6 and 10 do homework that would take more than an hour.
“There should also be a rest period every 20 minutes.”
She says homework should not be intended to overload the child. It should be a basic short revision of the day’s learning. This should be sufficient.
“At this age playing is very important to children. When playing, they learn a lot about themselves, about their world, about their imagination and how things fit together. It is critically important and should under no circumstances be taken away early.”
Additional source: www.telegraph.co.uk