In my job as an After School Care Educator I see some children every day of the week. This year we have seen a large increase in the number of children doing homework, so much so that even though we set aside the largest table as our homework table we have also had to add another table specifically for homework and that is also always full and children are using whatever space they can for homework.
While I understand that homework can be important, these children aren't just doing their school homework. Most of them have homework from tutoring on top of their regular school homework. Then there are also ones who are preparing for scholarship testing, which adds yet another level and set of problems to work through or things to write. There are also some who are learning another language (also in addition to what they are learning at school) and they have homework for that as well.
Some of these children spend their entire time as OSHC doing homework. They finish their school homework, then straight away move on to their tutoring homework. The tutoring isn't to help them get better at something that they are struggling with, it's to get ahead of the pack. Even during the school holidays there were children doing tutoring homework when they came to Holiday Club.
I was talking with one of the children last week and they were complaining about how much they had to do and the fact that as soon as they left OSHC they would be going to tutoring class, then on to another activity. I asked this child if they have time to relax and they were told only when they were at Grandma's house.
Later in the week we had a parent asking us if we could make sure their children did their homework because when they got home they wanted to have fun with them and not have to worry about the homework.
So, my question is, when do these children actually have time to be children?
When I was growing up, we had reading to do for homework. Occasionally there was a project or class work that hadn't been finished. There was time to play, to use our imaginations, to run around, laugh and just have fun.
Tutoring was just to catch you up if you were having trouble, not to push you ahead of where it was expected you would be based on your year level.
And I haven't even mentioned music lessons, team sports and other sports or activities that children are being sent to on a daily basis. Even their weekends are filled to overflowing.
Play is an important part of children's development. And kids also need time to be quiet, not running from one thing to the next.
Please, please, please ... let your kids be kids while they can.