Is too much homework making our children strangers to us?

A grunt,.. that is all you get when the poor boy walks into the house, carrying his heavy school bag on his back. Oh, that and monosyllabic answers for the rest of the night as he pores over his homework.

That was a complaint from a parent online. Upon inquiring from other parents,  the agreement was that their kids were taking tons of homework home. They also felt that their kids are becoming strangers to them because of this.

Beffin Kilonzo, mother to young Bradley said that her son comes home past papers everyday, with instruction to answer all the questions. Sometimes, he has to answer two of those past papers and some exercises from a textbook. What’s worse is that, since Bradley is in a public school, his class does not receive enough textbooks; he, therefore, has to go and share with his friends across the road.

In some instances, the children leave for school at five thirty in the morning to work on their homework before their teacher walks. It not uncommon for Beffin to set her alarm for four in the morning so that  Bradley can finish his homework in time.

Apparently, this is replicated in many households in Kenya.

Another parent said she opted to let her daughter do what she could do in one night then explain to the teacher why she could not finish her homework. This worked for sometime but eventually, her daughter ended up lagging behind.

According to teacher Shirley Wawuda, some teachers have to give much homework to their students to meet the requirements of the syllabus. Most schools also need to rate the teachers and students, and homework is one way of doing this. Wawuda also faults some parents for using homework as a way of proving that their children are learning anything.

I do not get why there should be a problem meeting the syllabus requirements, considering the subjects were reduced from the twelve to five. While I understand the need for homework, I am still baffled at why too much homework is used to gauge learning.

Why should each teacher give learners past papers to be completed in one night? When do children have time to interact with their parents and siblings? When do they get time to keep abreast of the current affairs of the country? When do they get time to read a storybook, enjoy their hobbies and interests or just chat with their friends in the neighbourhood?

Children as strangers

Children are now strangers to us because the time taken to banter and exchange views has been cruelly taken away from us by homework.  It is also creating a rift between parents, who have to figure out how to spend time with all their kids and other duties including preparing for work the next day. This may be misinterpreted as an unwillingness to help the child which will not go down well for the parent, the child or both.

Teachers and parents agree that homework is very important for a child’s development. The problem arises when the homework is too much that the child regards it as a torturous duty or that they complete it just to impress their teacher rather than as an avenue for learning.

Is anyone else out there concerned that the kids may actually start resenting a particular subject or teacher that they may have otherwise loved if not for too much homework?

In some cases, kids just end up copying what their peers wrote without understanding the head or tail of the problem. They just want to avoid the strokes of the cane (yes it is still very much alive in some schools), cleaning the class among other types of punishment.

Parents and teachers need to come together to discuss what amounts too much homework?Teachers, can we try to give our students time to revise on their own and gauge their performance?

I believe this is possible because we are all acting in the interest of the child.

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