Homework: What’s Normal?

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.




dog eating homework




12 comments on “Homework: What’s Normal?

  1. I carefully chose a school where the head believed time at home should not be about doing school work. Unfortunately he left after my dd finished reception and the amount they get seems to have steadily increased ever since then.

  2. DS1 has just started KS3 and we have been informed that the homework will be 5 pieces a week of 45 minutes each. I asked whether the pieces are meant to last 45 mins, or they’re meant to spend 45 mins on them then stop but the teacher’s response was fairly vague. I’m hopeful my son will manage them in less time 🙂

  3. I believe homework should be able to be done by the child with little or no assistance and should be just reaffirming what they have learnt at school. There is defiantly no home work done in my house on the weekend or school holidays for that matter. If something is give on Friday and has to be in on Monday…it just won’t happen! They will get it on Tuesday. Weekends are our time and I’m not going to spend it fighting with DD (y3). IMO primary school children should not be given homework.

    • What happens if your DD doesn’t do her homework on time? Mine get a detention or a loss of Golden Time.
      If they end up with this due to their own actions, then fair enough but I wouldn’t like to be responsible for it 🙁

      • So far there have been no repercussions to handing in homework late or not at all…I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it 😉

  4. DS2 is in YR6 and has reading/spellings every night (he always reads when he goes to bed so that’s easy) and the spellings only take a few minutes. Other work might be finishing off what he didn’t do in class. He has soon learnt that 121 time with me going through his work means I’ll expect far more from him than his teacher (who is very good and does push then) and I can make the pain last hours! Funnily enough he’s getting more done in class and to the standard required by his teacher! DS1 has starred Ks3 and has 5 1/2 hours of homework per week. We are juggling that plus a couple of other commitments but I’m reluctant to let them john up to too much until the homework is in a regular rhythm. DS1 is also learning that Zi am fully aware of what homework he has, I expect to see it when it’s completed and if it does actually look like the dog has eaten it, he’ll be doing it again. He’s having to learn the hard way that not bothering to check his maths for example means we get him to do it again. That might seem harsh but it’s not that he’s not able he’s just rushing to get it done so he can get it out of the way. He knows what expected of him, he can either do it well the first time or spend twice as long. If however it’s because he’s not sure how to do it, then we can sit down and talk it through. For as long as I can I will always help support my kids with their learning, whether it’s homework or finding additional info/resources for them relating to a topic they are doing. Their education is just down to a teacher who has the needs of many, it’s also mine.

    • You’ve made some good points.
      I usually leave the kids to hand in whatever standard of homework they feel is appropriate and hope the teacher will pull them up if it’s not!

      • I guess I’ve been on the receiving end of being saddled with grads that have got through school/uni expecting to do the bear minimum or think someone else will do it for them 🙂 Therefore mine will learn young (and I’m not even sure I’ll encourage them to go to Uni, certainly not just for the sake of it, am I completely off topic now? :)) that work is set for a reason and half arsed does not cut it. Out in work, the successful ones are the ones with the right attitude, able to apply time management, a good measure of common sense and an in built ability to network. Knowledge of the role comes in time and is secondary. All of which can be developed through their homework at an early age (for avoidance of doubt, it’s not hot housing or pushing them to achieve crazy levels, that’s a whole different scenario). There, that’s deep and probably too contraversial for other parenting sites as not a cup cake mention in sight 🙂

  5. I feel pretty anti-homework as a mother, probably more so than I ever did as a child. It’s the one time of day when my generally lovely children tend to dig their heels in and be rude to me! It’s a questions of expecting just one more thing at the end of a long day. What drives me nuts is ‘colouring’ homework – we’ve done xxx in class, now colour it in at home. What is the point? D is in secondary and getting several subjects a night, J has just started year 3 and like your school, this is where homework-proper begins. I ‘get’ reading a book together, I can see spellings might need to be practiced, (though we often don’t!) but I would be happy if I never saw another worksheet again.

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