Friday, 14 October 2011

Once Upon a Week - A Place for Homework

Since school began this term Sophia has been bringing home more homework. Homework in year 1 consists of spelling, reading and sometimes, maths and handwriting and occasionally things she'll need for a project and a special topic.
I took for granted the days when walking home from school was a slow stroll and a chance of ambling through the park at a pace where we can chat about our days. Coming home to get cosy, to discard the uniform for the day and spend time together as a family, doing what we love doing together before a leisurely supper, bubble bath and then the tucking up into bed with a story and the promise of a beautiful sleep.
Now, after school there is a military precision to the few hours left we have together in the day in which we need to all complete our tasks that are required of us.
Sophia will, before discarding her uniform, sit at my desk, little sister on one side colouring in and me on the other guiding and showing the kind of enthusiasm for the homework that would win an Oscar. Beginning with her spelling worksheet, which she insists on doing in her best most beautiful joined-up hand writing. Then if Oona gives us the chance we all sit together whilst Sophia reads us her new book she has brought home that day. I must say she is an excellent reader and loves to read to us despite the distractions her little sister throws up; 'what's that?', as she tries to turn the page before her sister has finished. 'Look, that's Oona, that's Sessi and that's daddy. Which one do you like?' But big sister has more patience than Mary Poppins and talks Oona through the story as though she was leading a class of nursery children and carries on, giving Oona the extra narrative that she asks for as she goes.
As soon as homework is finished its a race to cook a nutritionally balanced and brilliant supper, avoiding what might have been on the menu for school lunch less I be reminded that she has already had meatballs/fish/creamy chicken today!
As the oven beeps and I call the girls to the table I think of all the other parents who are also doing this fine balance of after school 'activities' and wonder how I'll manage when Oona too brings home a bag of school work. I think about the rampage that Kirstie Allsopp has been famous for, believing homework disrupts the most important part of family life and that children should be free from it, left instead to bond, play and spend quality time as a family after school. I admire her for standing up and saying 'This is not right'. I can understand her argument and I admit there are times I want to rebel and say. Right. No homework today, instead we're going to play dressing up, snakes and ladders, paint some pictures, you girls can go and be free and play together (having had the day apart) or we're off to see this or do that or visit so and so for the afternoon.
But, no, I go along with what's expected, too worried that Sophia might fall behind her classmates if I do, and then perhaps I'll be called into the headmasters office and be questioned as to my parenting abilities.

But today is Friday! There is no homework to be taken to school tomorrow and today we rebel against the routine and are free to be a ourselves.
We'll meet friends for supper after a play in the park and then we'll all do what we want. The school bag will remain unopened until late Sunday afternoon when I'll be thrown into a panic at having ignored our tasks and we'll spend Sunday afternoon at the table together bonding over a list of words that contain the sound 'igh'.

Though all that Sophia is learning in school is incredibly important and of course I want to support her, show her my enthusiasm and let her see how interested I am in all that she is doing and also to be a part of it, I can't help but feel that perhaps our life together, spending time as a whole family unit rather than separated by our chores and tasks might perhaps be a better lesson to learn and a more important life skill?

In the meantime I will occasionally fall short of what is required by school and I will go to the park instead to kick the autumn leaves, because childhood is too short, too precious a time to let slip away and quite selfishly I want to enjoy each day we have together just being us.


We'd love to hear your views and perhaps learn some tips on how to get the balance right.

This is a new series - Once Upon a Week - where we give you a glimpse into the lives and times behind the scenes of Sisters Guild.

We also publish other series in our blog including our Monday Makery, Tuesday brings the closing of our series 'The  Story Behind Our Collections' inviting you to take a closer look at the designers we house and the beginning of a new series 'Tell Us Its Tuesday'Wednesday we show you our favourite seasonal pieces and Thursdays is dedicated to the 'Art of Living' in which we share ideas and inspiration from places to visit, things to see and articles about things that enrich our lives.

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