For my writing correction service, I often encounter questions about education and childhood. In these, it is frequently asked whether children should be allowed to play freely or whether they should have a more structured environment, in which they are given more education.

These are interesting topics, and today I am going to teach you a little about how to answer these. I will provide two sample answers to related task 2 questions, and then comment on the language and ideas that I have used.

Should children be made to attend extracurricular lessons?

First of all, here is a recent IELTS writing question that talks about education:

Some people believe that it is important for children to attend extra classes outside school, while others believe that they should be allowed to play after school.

Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

I think it is pretty easy to understand this question. Fundamentally, you are asked to discuss two perspectives:

  • Children should be made to attend extra classes
  • Children shouldn’t be made to attend extra classes

Then, you must give your own opinion.

First of all, let’s look at some vocabulary we might want to include:

AcademicAdjective – related to learningParents are too concerned with academic performance and not their child’s well-being.
Cram schoolNoun – a place where children go for extra tuitionCram schools are really common in South Korea.
ExtracurricularAdjective – outside of regular educationChildren are often encouraged to do a range of extracurricular activities.
MemoriseVerb – to purposefully remember somethingToo much time is spent making children memorise facts and figures.
PeersNoun – people in a similar situation – ie classmates or colleaguesIt is important for children to have time with their peers so they can develop social skills.

Note how these are used in the following answer, which addresses the above question.

Sample Answer

In some parts of the world, children are forced to go to cram schools and other facilities of extracurricular learning, but many people believe that this is unfair and that they should be allowed to enjoy their free time instead. This essay will look at both perspectives and then conclude that it is indeed unfair.

In countries like South Korea, most children are made to go to an array of cram schools outside of regular school hours. Their parents do this in order to give their child a better future because it helps the child to learn more and thus gives them the academic advantages needed to apply to the best universities or jobs in future. These schools often provide children with an advantage over their peers because they improve their foreign language or math skills more quickly, and thus the children who do not attend these schools might have comparatively poor grades.

However, whilst this attitude may result in better academic performance, it is certainly not good for the mental health of these children. It is no coincidence that places like South Korea have the highest rates of suicide among their young populations. The fact is that children are not equipped to spend fourteen or sixteen hours per day in classrooms, memorising facts and figures. In a sense, it is a form of child abuse. Children should be allowed to go home and spend time with friends and family to build social skills. They should be allowed to occupy themselves in order to become more creative and learn how to understand their own mind instead of being trained to repeat what they are told.

In conclusion, it is understandable that some parents want their children to go to extra classes, but this is damaging to children and they should be given the freedom to play and socialise outside of regular school hours.

Should children be given homework every day?

Next, we have a question that is very similar in style and content. It asks whether children should or shouldn’t be given daily homework tasks:

Some people believe that children should not be given homework every day, while others believe that they must get homework every day in order to be successful at school.

Discuss both sides and give your opinion.

Again, there is nothing hugely difficult to understand here. You are asked to discuss two things:

  • Children should be given homework each day.
  • Children shouldn’t be given homework each day.

Remember that you need to build upon each of these ideas with sufficient development.

How to present opposing views

For this question, I would argue that children should not be given homework every day. But how can I provide the opposing viewpoint without seeming to contradict myself? This is a challenge that unfortunately causes many people to struggle in task 2.

You need to find the right language to show that you do not believe something but are instead presenting another person’s views. Here are some excerpts from my sample answer:

  • Those who argue in favour of daily homework are of the opinion that…
  • They think that…
  • although it may seem perfectly logical that ___, in fact this may be detrimental to…

By using this sort of language, I am able to present the opposing viewpoint without seeming to adopt it myself. This is really important for the sake of consistency. Many IELTS candidates write the opposing viewpoint in such a way that they seem to endorse it, thus contradicting their previous statements.

Now you can see my whole answer:

Sample Answer

The topic of education is divisive, and one of the issues that people argue over is whether or not children should be given homework every day. Nowadays, there is a trend towards not giving children homework, and this essay will agree that it is the correct perspective.

Those who argue in favour of daily homework are of the opinion that children need as much practice as possible when it comes to their studies. They think that the more time a child spends reading books or doing sums, the more they will learn. Homework allows teachers to make the most of their lesson time by setting aside work to be done after class and encourages a degree of responsibility and motivation from the children. However, this view neglects the fact that childhood is not just a time for people to be inundated with information.

Instead, children should be allowed to play and to enjoy their early years without having to spend countless hours doing schoolwork. They are like sponges absorbing water in that they learn from their surroundings, and what’s more, they learn best when happiest. Parents should allow their children a wide range of activities outside of school hours, and from these they will learn valuable and applicable life lessons. Formal education should take place only in the classroom, while at home children should be encouraged to play and to bond with their families.

In conclusion, although it may seem perfectly logical that children should do homework after school each day, in fact this may be detrimental to their development. Instead, they should be allowed to enjoy their childhood at home, and study only at school.