I feel lucky that my eldest breezed through his GCSEs without breaking into a sweat. He didn’t stress at all. My younger son doesn’t worry about homework much either. But my daughter is a conscientious girl and I always feared she would be one of those kids who stresses over homework.
I love that she’s conscientious. I love that she cares. I love that she always gives 100% and does things to the very best of her ability.
But she’s only in year 7. I don’t want her stressing about homework now. To be honest, I don’t want her stressing about homework ever. Homework is important, but it’s not worth losing sleep over or, even worse, making yourself ill.
It started when she’d been at her new school precisely one week. The new school and new way of life is making my daughter tired and she knows she has to go to bed early. With her dance lessons as well as her long school day, she’s a busy girl and I think it’s important for her to get some downtime, even if it’s just half an hour of TV a day. But just a week after she’d started school, she was sat in front of the TV at 8.40, not watching what was going on, and desperately colouring.
In true year 7 style, nearly all of her homework in the first week was to decorate the cover of a book or draw a title page for a topic. For a girl like my daughter, that sort of homework is a dream. But it is very easy not to stick to the 20 minutes she’s supposed to do.
‘Maybe you should stop it now. Maybe you can finish it tomorrow.’
‘But then I won’t get my geography done.’
Unlike my boys, all her homework is in her head – exactly what needs doing for what subject on what day with what deadline.
But all of the deadlines were a week or more away, so why was she desperately colouring at a time when she should have been either relaxing in front of the telly or going to bed?
‘I’ve got to do three homeworks a night and I haven’t done three tonight.’
She hasn’t got to do three homeworks a night. It’s amazing how kids can take a simple piece of information and get it confused. She was going to be given three pieces of homework a night. She didn’t have to DO three pieces of homework a night. She could do some at the weekend. She could do one or two one night, none another night and four another night. It really didn’t matter. And at the very start of the school year, she wasn’t even being given three pieces of homework a night.
But she was already getting herself into a stress thinking she had to do three a night.
I’m now looking carefully at what she’s been given and what the deadline is to help her manage her time. I’m very happy that she is keen to do her homework as soon as it has been set. My boys could definitely learn from her there (they always do theirs the night before and occasionally it goes wrong and they’ll be stressing over it at 11pm on a Sunday). But she could also learn something from their laid back approach.
Homework is important. But it’s not worth losing sleep over.