The happy heads on my children as they skip into school every day is a sight to behold. It’s matched only by the laughs and shouts I hear as they play with school friends on the road and green, reunited once again after so much time apart. I knew the last few months had been tough on them, but the delight that seems to be permanently etched on their faces in recent days, makes me wonder if I had underestimated quite how tough it was.
The form has never been so good. The objections to going to bed are a little less (though let’s not overstate things here, we are dealing with children). And the mornings, though incredibly stressful thanks to multiple staggered drop-offs and the inevitable missing shoe, are still generally good- humoured, as the day ahead is anticipated by happy minions everywhere.
But possibly the most notable change of all to our new school day routine is that we own our afternoons and evenings again. Homework is gone, for the moment anyhow, and it only took a pandemic to get rid of it.
I’ve been banging the “down with this sort of thing” drum about homework for years now. I’ve never seen the benefit of it and countless studies suggest, at best, it’s of little to no benefit for primary school children. Yet, because we’ve always done it, there seemed to be a determination in most schools to continue doing it – the reason for doing lots of things that we’ve continued doing over the years, even if it made little sense on reflection. A pointless ritual of sorts
Work, rest and play
I’m convinced the continued good form here, is down not just to the return of school and their delight at seeing friends and teachers again, but also to the fact that for the first time, in the longest time, my children have a healthier balance of work, rest and play.
The evenings are drawing in adding to the greyness of the year that is 2020. Opportunities to get out and play in the shorter daylight hours of winter will become fewer, but they can be still capitalised on if common sense prevails and homework stays away.
I dared to dream it might happen when the message first came from our school to say that school books would not come home. The rumours and whispers were rife on twitter as individual school reopening plans were issued and the abandonment of homework for a period was referenced alongside plans for books to remain in schools to avoid cross contamination. But it was only on the first child’s first day back that those three little words I long to hear were uttered in absolute heartfelt tones,
“No homework tonight,” he announced smiling. “Actually, teacher said there’ll be none for the next little while,” he continued. My heart soared at the mention. This was it, the moment I’d been waiting for. I wanted to run out on to the street and hug random strangers, but alas, the pandemic.
There’s very little I’ll miss about these pandemic times when they eventually pass, though undoubtedly they’ve caused us to take a long hard look at how we have lived. Long commutes are a distant memory for many who now flock to the kitchen or dining room table instead of joining the daily gridlock. And few enough will be keen to fully return to the time poor society we once were. We’ve found situations previously considered unworkable, workable – because needs must and the nation’s hand was forced.
A new flexibility may be uncovered, with room, hopefully, for a better work-life balance, which can only serve to improve our wellbeing and our family’s wellbeing as a whole. Just because there was a way we always did things before Covid-19, doesn’t mean we should continue doing things that way after it. To live and learn is pointless if the learning is not taken on board.
My children’s wellbeing is thriving. They are happy to be back at school. They are happy to be reunited with their friends and teachers. They are happy to play outside in restriction times with a freedom they rarely had in the pre-Covid homework afternoons of old.
Wellbeing is the priority as children return to school. The children have been through enough this year. Their happiness is now palpable. They’re coping nicely without homework battles and I’ll be honest, I’m coping nicely without it too.
Much has changed, changed utterly – maybe an end to homework could be the one positive in the coronavirus legacy?