Every night, after school, my Facebook time line fills up with complaints about homework. There are posts about the sheer volume of homework, ambiguous questions, badly copied worksheets, homework containing spelling and grammatical errors and our personal speciality, homework meltdowns.
Weekends are even worse. The negative posts seem to peak on Sunday afternoon as exasperated parents gnash their teeth online and try to elicit some sympathy from their friends.
If you have a compliant, eager to please child who is naturally organised, who attends a school that doesn’t set a lot of homework, you may be wondering what the problem is. Why are all these parents making so much fuss; surely their negative attitude is rubbing off on their kids? This is possible in some cases. I know some parents are very vocal about how much they hate homework, especially in primary school, and this could encourage an otherwise tractable child to rebel. But take it from me, some children naturally resist homework more than others despite their parent’s positive attitude. There is no ‘normal’ when it comes to how children approach the homework they are given.
DD1 ( Y7) likes to do as she’s told at school and is naturally organised, so gets on with her work with very little input from us. DD2 (Y6) on the other hand, resents having to do schoolwork at home. We have prolonged tantrums over anything challenging and the standard of work she hands in is often far below what she is capable of. Most of the time I leave it for her teacher to sort out, but every now and again my ambition for my daughter overcomes me, and I make her do it over. This is always incredibly traumatic, so I do pick my battles.
And then there is DD3, who has just started Year 3. She was originally quite enthusiastic about the idea of homework, but has found the reality to be less than exciting. She is still adjusting to a new routine that means less TV and lego, and more thinking and writing. And in our school, homework proper only really begins in Year 3. During KS1, the only work our children bring home are their reading books.
This brings us to a separate point; different schools give different amounts of homework and the amount seems to vary wildly. I have FB friends with Year 2 children who are given hours of homework every day, and other friend with older children who seem to have almost nothing. As a rule private schools give more than state schools, but if you are looking for a school for your child, it’s worthwhile enquiring about the amount of homework that will be set. Personally, I don’t think schools should set homework in primary school, except for a little bit in Year 6, so I deliberately chose a school that gave very little.
It seems there is no normal when it comes to how much homework Primary schools set.
But when your child reaches secondary school, it doesn’t seem there is any escape from homework, especially during their first year. All the local Year 7s that I know get plenty of homework, no matter what school they’ve gone to. Many parents report the volume decreases slightly in Year 8, or maybe it’s just that the child becomes more efficient?
And of course, how you feel about homework will be dependant on how much else your family has going on during the week. If you work full time and the only time you get to see your child is when you are having to argue with them about schoolwork, the chances are you won’t be a fan. Likewise if someone in your family has an activity planned every night of the week; making time for homework is going to require some fierce organisation.
We find having a set time, 4-5pm every week night, to do homework and music practice works best for us but a lot of families will have different free time slots every evening.
So what’s your opinion on homework? Are you for or against it? Do you have set times or does your child fit it in ‘as and when’? Does your child get too much or not enough in your opinion?
I’d love to hear what other parents think about homework.