Homework for parents - Educators defend complex projects given to children under 12 years old
Whether it is creating a replica of a house or the solar system, teachers of primary and preparatory schoolchildren are sending them home to do complex projects for homework, and several parents are getting upset.
A number of parents have complained to The Sunday Gleaner that they have to be spending time and sometimes paying someone to do these 'homework projects'.
One parent said during her child's tenure at basic school, she was the one who stayed up late, completing various projects.
"It was homework sent to me. Because of the technicality of it and the skills that are required, I have to do it with help from him, and not the other way around," said the parent who asked not to be named.
She argued that, like many other parents, she did the work because she did not want her child's project to look any less than those of his classmates.
Other parents said they just paid someone to make the house or solar system which their child was given as homework.
One parent noted that in her community there is a man who almost makes his living by charging to do the projects for parents who are unable to help their children.
But Dr Margaret Bailey, principal of the Corporate Area-based Rollington Town Primary School, argued that giving the children projects is a strategy to immerse them in the learning process.
"The idea is not for parents to do it, and even if the parents are doing it, the child must be there even if just observing, so they can explain how it was made.
"This is an opportunity to get the parents involved in their children's learning and not just providing for them to come to school. They need to also play an integral role in interfacing with the curriculum itself," argued Bailey.
She said what the child is given to take home to make depends on the grade and what is being taught from the curriculum.
PAY SOMEONE ELSE
Bailey noted that some parents have opted to pay someone to do the project.
"I know that in the community where I work, for example, children are asked to make an abacus for mathematics class. Some people make a living out of it from the community. The bottom line is, however, that the children must understand how it is made.
"It is the parents' responsibility to ensure that it is not just made and given to the child to take to school. Help the child to understand the processes in doing this piece of work," said Bailey.
She said at her school, the projects are occasionally graded and oftentimes the projects are placed on exhibition on the school's open day.
She insisted that students derive major benefits from doing these projects.
"Of course they do benefit. You will hear people talking about the PEP (Primary Exit Profile), but the only difference between PEP and the projects is that the project is usually under the parent's instructions or the parents guidance.
"With PEP, the students are given a task under the teacher's instructions. You may not be making a house but you will be using their knowledge to construct something on paper," said Bailey.
In Clarendon at Alley Primary School, principal Judith Richards said she has had no complaints from parents but is aware that some go out of their way to pay persons to do the projects assigned as homework.
"I know of prep schools that have given homework where persons pay other persons to make it. That does not happen at my school. What I know is that most of the projects that the children are given are done in class as group work.
"They do the solar system, for example, but it is not something that is graded that they have to go out and pay for," said Richards.