PSLE is almost over. I spent last weekend clearing out Aaron’s shelves. To my horrors, I found many new assessment books that were still wrapped in plastics! What is many? More than 10!
I showed the books to Aaron, my face in despair.
“I must have spent over $100 on these books.” I wailed, giving him the accusing look. One challenging Maths test papers still had the price tag on its plastic – $44.95.
“Who asked you to buy? I told you I won’t have time to do your work.” Aaron retorted.
That’s true of course. But I hadn’t believe him when he said he would have lots of homework. Back when his brothers were taking their PSLE, they had so much time at hand. In Faberhills, neighbourhood kids studying at Nan Hua were kept at home, doing tonnes of past-year papers but my two older sons were out in the park playing soccer. I had inherited lots of assessment books from my cousins and had made them complete for me before going out to play. When asked then if they had lots of homework by concern Aunties and Uncles, their replies had been, “Only my mother’s work.” Back then, I had laughed at my Aunt for being ‘kiasu’ for buying so many assessment books for my cousin.
Five years on, Nan Hua’s Principal moved to Nanyang. I don’t know if it’s because of that, or due to Aaron being in the GEP class, but his homework were much much more as compared to his brothers’ times. On some days, he had to complete three test papers in one day. Plus the fact that I had signed him up for tuition in three subjects in May (his brothers were all tutored by me), Aaron really had no time to do ‘mummy’s work’.
My friend S complained that her son, also in P6, was so free, and there were hardly any homework for him from school. She looked almost envious when I told her how much homework Aaron has. ‘Lousy school,’ she complained of her son’s school. ‘The teachers don’t even bothered to mark the past-year test papers after the kids have done it.”
There were many letters in the press recently regarding the amount of homework a child should have in school. Most who had written in had called for less homework. Yet schools interviewed had said some parents were complaining of too little and had asked for more. I don’t know how much homework their children are getting. But even as I described Aaron as having a lot of homework, he still found time to read three books a week, and even sneaked an hour of TV during dinner. What he chose to forego was play/exercise time at the park. So is ‘a lot of homework’ really that much? I sometimes wonder.
Incidentally, my sister in Germany also complained that her 9-year-old daughter don’t get any homework from school. So on her annual trip back to Singapore, she’ll head to Big Bookshop or Popular to shop for assessment books. A friend I know from Melbourne also used to do the same thing.
Perhaps schools can consider two types of homework: Compulsory and optional. Compulsory homework to be handed up, and optional for those who want to do more.