Homework used to be something your teacher doled out if you’d failed to get your work done during school hours, but today home learning is an increasingly important part of many schools’ curricula.
What’s more, advances in technology mean it’s easier to learn at home today than in years gone by, and there’s less pressure on parents to remember what they were taught when helping their children with a tough question.
The Internet has proved to be the biggest revolution in home learning, with the answers to a myriad questions literally at your fingertips. While many schools discourage straight ‘copy and paste’ from websites, they increasingly realise the Web is a useful research tool. For example, to write an essay (EssayBison).
It certainly makes parents’ lives easier, particularly the lives of working parents, who typically spend only three minutes a day helping their children with home learning, compared with stay-at-home parents, according to a study by the British Journal of Sociology.
The report found that the average time parents who stay at home spend working on their children’s homework is one and a quarter hours, though most of those figures are based on working mums versus stay-at-home mums.
The figure for men remains around three minutes, though if they stay at home while their partner works, the number is usually higher.
Those figures perhaps look worse than in the past, when the amount of homework a child received was arguably less than the prescribed approach of many modern schools.
Some estimates place the amount of time children between eight and 13 years old spend on home learning at around 40 minutes per day, though the number also includes activities like reading and drawing.
If both parents get involved in home learning, the time children spend on homework hits 55 minutes.
Children aged 14 to 18 were less affected by whether their parents worked or not, the study found.
Of course, these statistics don’t take any account of the number of parents who choose to educate their children at home rather than send them to school.
Competition for places in so-called ‘good’ schools means the number of parents engaged in home learning with their children is on the up. Some estimates place the number of children aged between five and 16 years being educated in this manner in the UK at 50,000, while others say the figure could be as high at 150,000.
Children taught at home are reckoned to be more independent in terms of how they think, and more outgoing.
However, there is a chance such home learning could wane, now that the UK’s schools inspectorate has hinted it might start assessing the quality of education children receive when working at home.
Ofsted already carries out such assessments at regular schools, but the prospect of having to jump through hoops in order to teach your own children in your own home, might put parents off the idea of home-teaching.
The flip side of any Ofsted involvement, though, could be that parents who prefer home learning to state-run schools will get more backup and support from the Government. Currently the law allows for any parent to decide to home-educate, but provides little backup for those who do.