THE mum-of-four talks family life in her weekly column. Today Peta, who is married to Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish, tackles homework.
AS an adult I look back at when I used to get school homework.
I would give an arm and a tired leg to return to those days and have a project to half-heartedly Pritt Stick together. But at the time, homework seemed like the biggest killjoy ever.
I always felt I was running out of time to do anything non-educational by the time I was in and had done a club (an after-school one such as netball rather than the Ibiza kind).
When I read this week about a mum sparking a debate on Twitter after she complained about the amount of homework her Year 4 child was getting, I kind of got her drift.
I can empathise with both from the angle of a frazzled scholar and also as a mum whose children need an extra hour or two in the day to get a balance of work, rest and play.
RAPPING TIMES TABLES
My eldest, Finnbar, was a nightmare to get to do his homework in primary school but manages his time ten times better now he is in secondary school even though his workload is more.
Delilah is my juggling act. She does a lot of extracurricular sport, which is great but means she often gets home much later than a standard day.
We then have times tables, spellings, 20 minutes of reading and a subject homework sheet or project, every night. She is seven years old.
We often find ourselves rhyming times tables at the dinner table or in the car on the way to school to squeeze them in. I am a big believer in stretching our children to reach their potential in all areas of their life, including the academic side.
However, I do think that somewhere along the line we have maybe lost sight of what contributes most towards nurturing well-rounded little humans, such as exploring outside, chatting with family or playing with friends.
The weekdays can transform into a military routine in which we service the needs of these little information sponges, but time moves too fast for them to enjoy what they are absorbing.
I try my best to make homework fun. Rapping our times tables is my particular talent and if I can get a glue gun on a research project, then perfect.
But I believe – especially at primary school level – learning should be about creativity and fun, while our children are still finding their paths and strengths.
As a parent I struggle to decipher some of the homework set for my children.
Of course, I understand we need to spell (let’s pretend we don’t have Spellcheck) and do times tables (let’s pretend we don’t have calculators on our phones).
But in this day and age when families are working later and moving faster than ever, factoring in time to relax and enjoy being young is more important than ever.