Education is about far more than intellectual development. The British school system plays an invaluable role in progressing children both emotionally and socially, with the primary years in particular being crucial in preparing kids for the rest of their lives.
It is why certain figures within the education world are voicing criticism of those who set primary children homework to be completed during the holidays.
A primary school teacher from York said that she believes holiday homework can do more harm than good for a child’s overall development, and that holiday time can be productive without the need for school tasks.
She commented: “With the Christmas break coming up, many primary schools will be setting work to be completed at home, but doing so can create stress during a supposedly relaxing period.
“The children are worked hard enough during term time and holidays are supposed to be when they can just enjoy being young and have some fun. During the holidays, kids can spend more time with their friends, playing sports or spending time with family, and through these important formative years, such activities play a valuable role in helping a child grow up.
“Children can learn the value of teamwork and communication through sport, while learning social skills and developing maturity while at family gatherings. All these beneficial parts of life are shortened or even removed if homework is set for the holidays.”
New research by home education provider Oxford Home Schooling has investigated the issue of homework and found that more than one in ten primary school children (13%) are spending at least five hours on such tasks every week.
So, are primary schools placing too much pressure on young children?
According to the study, a third (33%) of primary school parents believe their kids are stressed about their exams, while two in five (40%) parents of pupils aged between five and eleven feel there is too much pressure on their children to perform academically.
Such figures are particularly concerning when compared to secondary school pupils, whose exam stress levels have been widely reported on recently, with the revised GCSE system. The research showed that 37% feel stressed about exams, while 46% of their parents feel they are too pressured – only slightly higher than much younger children.
Dr Nick Smith, Principal at Oxford Home Schooling, said: “It will be a shock to some to find out that almost as many primary school children are stressed by exams as secondary school pupils. Although school is a place for learning, in primary education it’s just as important to allow children to feel comfortable, so that they can learn more efficiently and effectively.
“The classroom itself can be a stressful setting for many, and that can stick with children for a long time. It’s therefore very important for parents and teachers to recognise when a child is stressed and find alternative ways of helping them cope. Home schooling can be one of the most effective ways of doing this.”
Click the link for advice on how to approach exams for parents and home schooling tutors.