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Posts Tagged ‘homework’

According to Government guidelines, children as young as 5 years old should be doing an hour of homework a week. Years 3 and 4 should have 90 minutes and years 5 and 6 are supposed to clock up 30 minutes a day!

That sounds alarming, although when you read the small print it’s slightly less scary because this homework includes reading, practising spellings and mental maths. The guidelines go on to suggest all sorts of exciting homework that schools could ask children to do: researching to find information, making models, cooking, playing a maths game with a parent. OK, that sounds lovely if it happens, but how many overworked teachers really have the time to be that creative when it comes to homework?

Sadly the reality is that most children come home with photocopied worksheets, filled with uninspiring maths or literacy questions that are no fun to do, and even less fun for parents to try and force them to do. I recently posted an irate status on Facebook, saying that homework had reduced one my children to tears yet again (3 weeks in a row if I recall correctly) and posed the rhetorical question about what purpose homework is supposed to serve? I was amazed at the response I got and realised that I was not alone, homework is obviously a source of stress and tension in many families.

I think what bugs me the most about the homework issue, is the unspoken assumption that unless children are sitting doing worksheets at the weekend then they aren’t learning anything of value. This is clearly rubbish! If my children are left to their own devices they are learning constantly, you can’t stop them. My 9 year old son will read anything he can get his hands on, will happily spend hours researching things that interest him on the computer (mostly Pokemon at the moment if I’m honest, but at least he’s learning about statistics). My 6 year old daughter will spend hours cutting, sticking, drawing and writing while making me ‘love cards’ as she calls them. She’s not a confident writer but will do it much more happily if it’s on her terms so it’s great to see her writing independently. She does spend a fair bit of time on her DS too, but that is motivating her to read for herself – not just because we tell her she has to.

Furthermore, is the homework even benefitting our children at all? There doesn’t appear to be any conclusive evidence that written homework is effective in improving the learning of primary children, so I can’t help but wonder why we are bothering.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t read with our children (far from it), or help them learn some spellings but can we ditch the worksheets please? Think of the money schools will save on their photocopying and paper budgets. For my part, I just can’t bear the thought of yet another weekend of tantrums and slamming doors (and that’s just me). Honestly I’m seriously considering getting a dog, just so we can lose the worksheets and say the dog ate the bloody things.

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