Family, motherhood and children

Do our children have too much homework? We follow up seven Primary children.

Six and a half hours of exercises per week. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Spain is one of the countries where more duties are put, but are tasks really essential for the intellectual development of children, prepare them for the future or only serve to generate frustration between children and parents?

Do you have yes or no duties? Here is the great debate of recent years, what has all our parents on a war footing, both sides sharpening their number 2 pencil and willing to defend their arguments in alphabetical order. On the one hand those who think that homework teaches children to have a work routine. On the other hand, those who think (we think) that we live in a system obsessed with overtime and homework are the "same" for the little ones.

But the worst is not the debate it has generated, but more and more parents have doubts about the effectiveness of the system. What is the point of my daughters spending so many hours in school if when they leave there we have to keep repeating the same thing they have been doing all day?

I am not in favor of children spending the afternoon wandering on the couch. Moreover, I am one of those mothers who have television schedules controlled and to let them play for an hour, the Wii must have a strange planetary confluence where the lunar orbit converges with Venus at its peak. I am worried about their future as the one I want the most and I want them to become adults for profit. But they are girls! In my humble opinion children need to play or, like adults, rest and have a good time touching your belly. After a hard day of my own work, I am infinitely sad to have to sit at my daughters desk to spend an hour arguing because that division by two figures does not come out. The three of us are tired. The three of us are looking forward to finalizing this process. The three of us want to hang out together, but not this way.

But maybe my case is particular. Maybe it's not happening in every home in Spain. Although something must be happening when I hear more and more voices around me protesting the burden of homework. Every time I read more articles in the media on the subject. Or when this video jumped to the fore last year:

The video was part of a campaign initiated by Eva Bailén, Telecommunications Engineer, along with a request for signatures on "for the rationalization of duties in the Spanish education system." The reason? She was tired of seeing how her son, who was in fifth grade, barely had time to play with her sisters.

"Spain is one of the countries where more homework is sent and where there are more teaching hours." Enric Roca, Professor of Education at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and director of the Edu2 initiative.

The impression that all parents have is that it is useless to spend the afternoon locked up at home encouraging children to not decay with so much homework. The results in our country's PiSA report remain disappointing and our high school dropout level, which on the other hand, I begin to understand. I don't know if I had had such willpower at his age. Or with a few more years. But as I imagined that I couldn't get carried away just because of my experience, I began to collect testimonies from other parents, from other cities, from other ways of living each afternoon of homework. Only in this way could I get the idea of ​​how it was for others to live with this drama that I live on a daily basis as if it were a Venezuelan soap opera. One per day of the week.

Monday: Sandra (8 years old), Madrid.

Alicia, Sandra's mother, is very lucky. He has a job that allows him to pick up his daughter every day at five in the afternoon at school. “The bad thing is that we can't do anything else. Neither to the park, nor to buy, nor to extra-schoolers… We run away home because if we lose time we arrive at dinner time and we are not done with homework ”. It takes Sandra an average of two hours to do her homework every day: "You have to do a calligraphy sheet, another problem, four operations and what you have not finished in class". What is not over in class is the real problem. "Daily brings several math exercises and many other language. And there are days that also of other subjects. If you see them pointed it doesn't seem so much; the problem is that you have to copy all the sentences and it takes us hours ”.

Tuesday: Pedro (10 years old), Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Sole, his mother, is considered the warrior mother of the school: “Getting home every afternoon near 5 and having to sit at least for an average of one hour and forty-five minutes or two hours (if not more) seems crazy to me. I do not understand that of writing the statements of the exercises in the notebook. If it's because of the spelling, look for something that motivates them, things like writing a short story, copying a child's poetry, a riddle ... I think that method bores them and they don't even know what they have to do".

What they could do in twenty minutes becomes an hour and a half of homework to copy three sheets. ” Sole (La Palma de Gran Canaria).

She does not consider herself in favor of abolishing her duties completely, but she does want to call attention to the number of them. "Why not put a few days some subjects and other days others?" What he considers neither normal nor logical or healthy is to keep children and adolescents glued to the chair two more hours after having spent another six sitting at school: “Now we have the pediatrician mosqueado because he does less sports… So to choose sport or to sleep less. They crush us at the school with which they have to have time for rest and sport, but if I get home near 5, snack, shower and sit down it is 6, if we finish our homework at 8-8.30 ... Quiet that until 9.30 it gives us time to go play with the calm of the neighborhood to football ".

Wednesday: Lucas (7 years old), Barcelona.

Lucas's mother is delighted this year: "They put us at the beginning of the week the list of duties to do and we decide how we distribute them". In this way we can go to the pool to train or skating, Lucas's passion. “If we have skating on Tuesdays and we know that until 8.30 we will not get home, and we will also make it tired, we try to advance on Monday or do it on Wednesdays”. This way they have no problem completing the to-do list each week. And they are not heavy either.

Thursday: Andrea (8 years old), Gandía.

Andrea has diagnosed attention deficit syndrome and regardless of whether she passes the exams, her teacher refuses to do so because in her opinion she has no reading comprehension. Paloma, his mother tells us that the teacher told him “That he forgot to play and that the extra-school children had finished. With eight years! ”. An afternoon means sitting at 5.30 and getting up at 8.30. Non-stop. The first? You have to read a reading comprehension notebook and answer some questions. But he also has to study Valencian, which is at the same level as language and mathematics with twice as many tasks. All this added to the fact that he has exams every week, a continuous evaluation of topic by topic. His mother complains "Is that even if you want to keep up, it's impossible". They take advantage of the journey from home to school so that Andrea snacks in the car, because they don't have time to do it at home. “And it is impossible to shower daily, one day yes and another no; we can't waste so much time ”.

"He told me that the girl would forget to play and that the extra-school children had finished. With eight years!" Paloma (Gandía).

Friday: Laura (11 years old), La Coruña.

Both Laura and her sister have a lot of homework on a daily basis, but it seems good to their parents. "I start from the base that we like schools with a certain level of academic demand and that our daughters have always responded well to that demand", his mother tells us, but also clarifies: "I do not believe in the duties mandated by teachers who are not able to comply with the agenda during school hours, that is, those who send when due to lack of time or organization they have not been able to perform in class. I do not believe in the duties that They intend to turn our children into copyists, notaries or future officials, exercising their memory to unsuspected limits. I don't believe in the duties they want to turn fathers and mothers into skilled craftsmen. I don't believe in the duties that leave children without time for leisure , family or friends ". In his opinion, homework is necessary when they help reinforce what is given in class, it teaches children to think on their own, to investigate, to be creative, aware of their work and their effort. "Because this will make them responsible and mature people, able to face all the difficulties that they will encounter throughout their lives. Then we can say that the educational system works."

Saturday: Rodrigo (10 years old), Toledo.

Rodrigo has an hour and a half of homework on a daily basis, but on weekends it brings much less. Although that does not mean lowering the pace for their parents, because when studying in a bilingual school this year the subjects as natural and social are becoming especially hard. "And I don't know any English", recognizes his mother, "so I dedicate myself to translate with Google the schemes that you have to study in order to understand what we are talking about. In addition, last year we realized that there were terms that I knew how to say in English, but not in Spanish. My son didn't know what a pistil was, but he did have a pistil, so I also study each lesson twice, once in English and once in Spanish. ". The weekends are especially stressful because they have to catch up with the whole study that they have not been able to dedicate on weekdays. "We have been told that next year we have a" revalidation ", but that the questions will be in Spanish. If the agendas are in English and do not explain, for example, the names of the muscles in Spanish, how will you know? ? "

Sunday: Silvia (8 years old), Madrid.

I have waited on the last day of the week to tell you my own experience. Sundays are the days we take to stay with our family and our friends. And every Sunday we are late for our appointment. The reason? Silvia, who is in third grade in Primary, has a mountain of homework that does not differ at all from the mountain she has for the rest of the week. Operations, problems, statements that copy of math and language, a comprehensive reading sheet, some crafts ... It is normal to start doing them when you finish breakfast and at half past one the whole family flit around asking "when do you have left?" ? " I don't know who has a worse time. Nor who despairs before. Weekends are planned at the last moment, when Friday comes out with the weekend's to-do list. Organizing trips is complicated, because we never know if we can do our homework or not. And to all that we must add to study for exams, something that during the week, between homework and extra-school, is impossible to fit.

And what do homework teachers think?

Dialogue with the entire educational community must be vitalThat is why I also found it interesting to have the teachers' point of view. The first one that came to mind was The Hematocrit, but not because he is an ace of Twitter but because he is a great Primary teacher and I was very interested in his opinion. When I asked him what he thought about six and a half hours of homework and why he thought we had reached this situation with homework this was his answer: "A kid who spends five to six hours a day working at school has more than enough space to develop his school skills. The rest of the time should be devoted to developing their interests, to play sports, to play. Let's have fun. Consider the duties "they should be exceptional activities or at most very punctual".

Julia, is a tutor in the Primary room of a school in Malaga and tells us that she usually does three or four activities per given subject and those who don't finish take it home. “80% finish in class”, it states. "Another teacher of another subject in my tutoring forces these children to study and summarize all the epigraphs of their subjects on a daily basis, such as university students. I repeat: a child of 8-9 years has to study a subject daily for an hour or more so that later in the exam he does not suspend. My soul breaks when parents tell me that their children cry, that they are overwhelmed with the subject and consider looking for a private teacher… ” According to her, this happens because we have to prepare them for ESO.

There are alternatives: "the" flipped classroom "reverses the classic terms and turns the house into the place where" you listen to the lesson "(through presentations or videos prepared by the teacher) and the school in the place where they carry out the practical activities", we Hematocrit comments.

For Rocío, a teacher in La Coruña, the key is "Stressed children in primary school and parents who already have their own stress and get even more stressed. And they end up pulling the shortest path (or the only one, sometimes): either the father does it or the private teacher does it". Exactly, another important issue and that we cannot forget that according to the OECD, homework is a burden for students with socioeconomic disadvantages. That is, the duties generate inequality for those children who cannot receive support from their parents due to lack of time or training. When asked whether the duties generate inequality, the Hematocrit believes that "Yes, of course. From the moment in which there are children who can afford private teachers and others not, although it does not generate an inequality greater than other aspects of life. From the mobile, to footwear or vacations."

I imagine this It is not an easy problem to solve and that homework is so attached to our educational system that it is difficult to imagine our school system without them. But I think that It is really important to convey to society what we live, those of us who have children with such a daily load of homework.. It may not help today, maybe tomorrow either, but I hope that someday the schools realize that something has to change and that that there are other formulas so that our children take advantage of their time at school.

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