It’s the parenting model that children dream about.
It’s a scene that most parents know all too well: The tears and tantrums. The struggle to supervise. The vain attempts to keep everyone calm while a small war breaks out over coloured pencils.
Most parents would agree with father Scott Crew when he declares homework time a “constant battle”.
Not everyone would go as far as declaring that their kids should never do homework again – but that’s exactly what Adelaide parents Scott and Clare Crew have done.
On tonight’s 60 Minutes, the Crew family speaks about the controversial decision to ban homework in their house, and why ex-teacher Clare thinks it’s the best decision she’s ever made.
Instead of nightly homework, the Crew’s three children – 7-year-old Neve, 6-year-old Dean and 3-year-old Jade – are allowed to mould their own leisure time.
“They are learning through play,” says Clare told 60 Minutes of her “free-range” after-school approach.
“They’re using their senses and they’re getting that time to recharge, ready for a new day of school tomorrow.
“We go to the playground, they move outside, they’re creating…you know, a strong brain through that movement. They’re getting messy, they’re using their senses. Helping me prepare dinner, if they feel like it. Interacting with our chickens! Doing a lot of learning through life experience.”
The Crews argue that the statistics on homework speak for themselves.
The average Australian kids spends seven hours a week doing homework – 1.7 hours more than five years ago. That means less time spent sleeping, relaxing, socialising and playing sport. Recent surveys have suggested that as many as 71% of parents felt they weren’t spending enough time with their kids when they were forced to do homework during the week.
The Crew’s approach to homework is certainly controversial – but they aren’t the only ones embracing a more relaxed approach. Richard Black, a year two teacher at Melbourne’s The Knox School, has also given homework the flick.
Instead of traditional spelling lists, readers and times tables, Mr Black’s students are encouraged to ‘learn by doing’ at home – cooking a meal with their parents, taking the dog for a walk, or starting a special interest project on their favourite animal and reporting back to the class. Some students learn instruments. Others play board games.