When my oldest teen started secondary school, I signed up to take part in the online parents forum. It’s supposed to be a space where governors, teachers and parents can discuss educational matters and share information, which on the whole is what it’s used for. But occasionally it veers into what I call “middle class professional parent” territory. I have never posted on it, but like to dip in and take a look from time to time, in the way you follow annoying people on Twitter, or blogs written by people who only ever post pictures of themselves in “kooky” outfits.
Middle class professional parents are experts in all child related topics. They are nutritionists, psychologists and often doctors, but their specialist subject is education. Despite the fact they may be an interior designer, or work in the city, they know far more than their children’s teachers, or even head teacher, about how and what should be taught. And they are not afraid to say – usually in front of all the other parents and teachers on a forum, or in a whole school/year meeting. Their extensive educational knowledge will however, only be relevant to how their own child should be taught, as they are very clearly so much brighter than all the other children – some might even say gifted, or they may have a syndrome – NO middle class child is EVER just a little bit thick.
When I opened up an email from the forum this week, the latest subject being discussed was homework. Admittedly the school’s homework policy is not always adhered to and it seems to be pretty much down to the individual teachers as to whether it is set, or marked. Which is annoying if you have nagged your child all weekend and then ended up doing it for them! (BTW I got an A for my art last week) But hello, it doesn’t take long to work out which ones are strict about it (RE) and which ones don’t give a toss (maths), so it’s not rocket science to work out which subjects to nag about!
Quite frankly I gave up nagging my son in year 9, when I wrote in his homework diary “as no’one ever checks this, I am not going to bother nagging anymore, as I am tired when I come in from work and as long as he is doing ok in school I don’t really care about homework.” I didn’t get any feedback, so figured we could just get on with our lives. From then on then on after school he went out with his friends, played sport and PS3 and had a life, and I got on with mine.
So when I read the MCPP’s comments about how their children simply don’t get enough homework (apparantley the homework policy says they should get fours hours a week) I had to restrain myself from posting a sarky reply! Who are these people who think their kids should be constantly working and have no social life? What were they doing when they were 14, cos I cant remember ever having any homework. In the 70’s it was all about hanging about spotting the boy you fancied and watching Crossroads!
Teenagers have so much pressure to succeed and get good results, some parents seem to forget that spending time with friends, fitting in and developing social skills are as important (if not more sometimes) as getting A*s in all three sciences. But say this to the kind of parent that fills every waking hour of their kids lives with mind expanding activities and they will look at you as if you have been behind the bike sheds smoking skunk.
So here’s a word of advice if your child has just started secondary school and you are stressing about homework. If you think your child is a genius, struggling to keep up, or somewhere in the middle, give everyone a bit of a break. Next time you feel a nag about homework coming on, go and buy a packet of biscuits, switch on Come Dine with Me and snuggle up on the sofa together. Before you know it, they will have gone to uni and you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about – and there will be no-one to nag them there!