My father and elder sister were recently on phone talking about the school workload of my nieces and how it is so much more than her school work. I also was chiming in with my thoughts.
Strange that through this discussion, I did not think about what is ‘not good’ about our formal education system – which is a lot by the way. And, that is the topic for a separate post.
I instead sat thinking about what is good about school and what can be done about tackling student load.
What School Does For Us
First, the best thing that school does for students is that it gives them an environment where they develop the capacity to learn. For this reason alone, students should apply themselves diligently and with focus while at school. They will not use a good part of what they learn in school but the capacity to learn will serve them well through their lives.
Tackling School Workload
There are a lot of innovative ways that can be used to make education fun and far more useful. J Krishnamurti Schools and some other experimental schools are using some of these.
Those who are close to me know that one of my dreams is to open a school – that is a dream for students and their parents in terms of the what it will teach them and how it will teach them. I am several years away from opening it so the next best thing I can do is write about what I think will help. Today, I am writing about how student workload helps and what parents (and students in a small way) can do to help tackle it better.
Let’s start with a reality check. Truth is that the workload is increasing. But the feeling of drowning under school work also might be due to the fact the generation that makes up the current parents grew up with fewer distractions. Today you have 24×7 entertainment and mobile phones. The parents also work longer and commute longer these days leaving less room and mind space, to help with their kid’s homework.
To tackle this busyness of parents, and also to make life easy for parents and students, some schools do away with homework. But students at most schools get a full load of homework.
Homework is not bad altogether. It allows for the practice of what has been discussed in the classroom. It also involves parents more in the education of their children and allows for the extension of knowledge between them. At times, it can also get the students to prepare for what’s coming up in school.
Good schools also include tasks in homework to help build higher order thinking and problem-solving skills.
With school workload and homework a reality for most parents, let’s see how to tackle it.
How To Tackle It
Here is what you can do to help your kids.
Establish A Firm Routine
This should be non-negotiable. Decide a place and time for your child to finish the homework. And, at this hour be with your child.
Help them, Don’t Do It For Them
These days I have seen a lot of parents do the work of their children because it takes less time and hassle than teaching them to do it. Don’t do it. It will kill one of the few good purposes of school – building the capacity to learn.
Be Fully Present While You Help Them
Don’t get on the phone while your child does what you asked them to. Instead, take this time to learn more about their work and study.
Use Some Of Your Time To Learn About Good Study Habits
Find this time by staying off WhatsApp Journalism. Then teach what you learn to your kids. With good study and learning habits, you can save at least one hour or more from your kid’s study time.
Understand That It Will Take Work, Then Fully Commit To It
It is not easy to raise kids and help them become self-reliant, contributing members of society. As a parent, you have knowingly or unknowingly taken this responsibility. Now do what it takes to do it well.
Be enthusiastic about it and become a small partner in your child’s education. Some of your enthusiasm will brush off on your child. And the school work will turn less into a battle and more into a fun daily routine that serves an important purpose in the life of your child.
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