There have been numerous comments over recent years about how Australian children are given far too much homework than they need to do: see for example here and here. Besides adding to our young people’s anxiety levels and eroding family life, there is also the danger that extra-curricular activities such as music can suffer as a consequence.
This is no doubt a familiar story to many parents: the week quickly gets filled up with a multitude of commitments, the net result of which makes it difficult for their child to attend music lessons or participate in other musical activity outside of school.
Now a study involving 43,000 children in Years 6-9 has revealed how very real these pressures are. Conducted by South Australia’s Education Department, it is a comprehensive investigation into the wellbeing of students in Years 6-9 at 500 schools in that state. It found that the participation rate in extracurricular activity is strong for children in that age-group: 75 per cent of the students surveyed too part in “at least two activities outside of school such as sport and music”. However, it also concluded that “Too much homework was one of the major barriers to students doing after-school activities” – this according to The Advertiser, which published the results of the study.
Other aspects of the study looked at classroom engagement, support, health and happiness.
The competing demands of schoolwork and music practice are always difficult to juggle in a child’s daily life. Occasionally things get too much and music lessons are missed. Music teachers are used to moving times around as best they can to accommodate their students’ changing needs. However, the best advice for the parent is to talk to the teacher and jointly come up with the best weekly plan for practice times, and to inform the teacher of any changes to the child’s itinerary as early as possible if they occur.