Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 7 December 2019

Dubai parents want more play time and less homework for pupils

Parents are in favour of an effort by some schools to limit the amount of work children bring home

Clementina Kongslund, with her children Valentina and Benedicte, believes schools are right to focus less time on homework. Antonie Robertson/The National
Clementina Kongslund, with her children Valentina and Benedicte, believes schools are right to focus less time on homework. Antonie Robertson/The National

Dubai parents have called for less homework and more play - after welcoming a shift away from after-class studies for pupils by some schools.

Three school operators in the emirate, Arcadia Education, Taaleem and Ambassador Education, told The National they have either done away with the practice or cut back on the amount of work children are asked to do at home at a number of their schools.

Instead of completing work at home, often with the help of parents, schools have allocated time within class hours for studies to be finished under the supervision of teachers.

Parents have thrown their support behind the strategy, believing it affords children more time to pursue hobbies and spend time with loved ones.

“Homework should be eliminated and children should be allowed to do what is best for them, which is playing," said Fatima Rashid Schmit, a Bangladeshi mother of a five-year-old.

“From the time children wake up, their entire day is regimented right up to bed time. I feel more schools need to adopt newer approaches towards children's overall upbringing.

“Denying children this time by imposing more 'academic work' not only take away from this important development but imposes stress upon their impressionable minds and results in decreased happiness, all of which are detrimental to emotional intelligence in the long run."

Clementina Kongslund, 42, a mother of two children aged six and nine, said children do not need homework as long as they do enough work at school.

The mother said that a typical school day in Dubai is much longer than the ones she is used to back home in Europe.

"My children in Year Two and Year Four finish at 3pm and if they have an after-school activity in school, they finish at 4.15pm. By 7pm, we have to fit in play, relaxation, homework, dinner and a shower," said Ms Kongslund.

"I agree with no homework as long as the kids get a solid education during school hours.

"My children do not get much homework and I prefer it this way. Now, the children are at home, on their bicycles or playing on the trampoline. Let children paint, play, pursue a passion and and not just do homework."

Janecke Aarnaes, head of Dwight School Dubai, said a decision to make the facility homework free has been backed by parents. Pawan Singh / The National
Janecke Aarnaes, head of Dwight School Dubai, said a decision to make the facility homework free has been backed by parents. Pawan Singh / The National

Janecke Aarnaes, the head of Dwight School Dubai, said research has shown more homework does not necessarily lead to better grades.

"We are a homework free school for all our pupils in the primary school and parents have reacted very positively to this," said Ms Aarnaes.

"An overwhelming amount of research worldwide now shows that homework does not enhance learning. Research also shows that pupils feel an increasing level of stress in today’s society.

Homework should be eliminated and children should be allowed to do what is best for them, which is playing

Fatima Rashid Schmit

"If we are putting pupils through something that is not going to benefit their learning outcome anyway then why do it?

"They can work independently while having teachers direct their learning. When they go home they have play time or some down time.

"I would advise parents to think about what they can introduce in their children's lives that they may feel passionate about."

Yvie Sanchez, a British-Colombian mother-of-two, said she was forced to voice her concerns on the amount of homework at her children's school.

"I have seen it decrease and seen how much happier my daughter is now. She gets more time to do various things when she gets home like draw, play guitar and we get to spend quality time together," said Ms Sanchez.

“School days are already long and children come home at 6pm with extra activities at school, so to get homework on top of this was just madness.

"Now, we get to enjoy spending time with each other and the children get to unwind from a long day and play with the dogs.

“I teach meditation and children tell me that what stresses them the most is homework.

“Children should not be dealing with stress at such a young age. The repercussions of stress on the body and in their lives are numerous, it affects their focus, memory, health ability to enjoy life to name but a few."

Updated: November 14, 2019 06:33 PM

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