Yikes… Microbe’s school has suddenly ramped up the homework regime. They seem to have an annual tradition of giving them an easy ride for the first 6 weeks and then introducing the new regime after autumn half term.
Until now we’ve had two reading books per week and occasional spellings. But suddenly we’ve got a book-bag full of maths, spellings and other stuff that they’ll be tested on – plus a log-in to an online learning tool.
The problem for us is that the poor boy goes to FFS for 3 hours after school, in which he wastes almost half a day failing to do ball sports. By the time we pick him up after work he’s totally knackered and hungry and almost ready for bed – and in no fit state to practice reading or spelling or anything else. I tried reading with him the other evening and he was falling asleep after one chapter.
I think kids whose parents work full-time are at a real disadvantage. The ones who get picked up at 3:15 every day have hours of wide-awake time in which to play, eat and do homework. But we’re going to have to cram all of his homework into the weekends, and/or try to fit in a few minutes before school each day.
I raised it at parents evening the other day but his teacher told us not to worry because he’s a bright little cookie and showing no signs of falling behind as a result of it. (Nice to know – but not really the point). School is such a black box that we were genuinely delighted to find out that he’s doing well and seems to be happy, with a nice, close-knit circle of friends. The slightly sad thing, for me, is that the only topics that appear to matter this year and next are maths and English. I got a very strong sense of this at the curriculum evening, too. I don’t think it’s the teachers’ fault at all – they’re clearly being pushed extremely hard to get all of the kids to an officially assessed level of maths and English and, to a lesser extent, science. But, as a result, all other subjects seem to be treated as mere fluff, or ‘nice to haves’.
Having a supremely arty child, it seems a shame that art is not recognised as something to strive to be good at. But they are at least doing arts and crafts, nevertheless. On parents’ evening the boy showed us an amazing portrait of Benjamin Zephaniah that he’d done, up on the wall. He also achieved his year-long ambition last week of being named ‘star of the day’ because of a drawing he did. Bless him! He has been dying to be star of the day for so long that he blurted it out to me the nano-second he got picked up.
I don’t suppose focusing on the arts will do him any long-term favours anyway, the way things are going. I fear increasingly for either kid’s chances of ever being able to move out from their mum and dad. The other day the boy reminded me of his wise plan to have two jobs when he grows up. Unfortunately the jobs he has in mind are zoo keeper and artist. Bless his cottons. I’m sure his banker friends will come and visit him occasionally in his squalid bedsit…