This post came out of a Twitter conversation I inadvertently set off yesterday afternoon when I posted this comment
I hate it when my kid’s maths homework flummoxes me…I’m a teacher for goodness sake!
There then followed a pretty lively debate which questioned the relevance of homework and highlighted how stressful it can be for parent and child.
I understand the need for homework. I am happy to reinforce and consolidate work which has been done at school. I think that it is important as they get older to encourage the habit of personal time management and working to deadlines. I am not, however, happy when homework gets in the way of family life especially when that homework is pointless and purposeless or when my child clearly has no understanding of it and has his/her confidence undermined by it.
It is quality not quantity which is important in the setting of homework and it must be marked and commented on especially if a child has gone the extra mile and taken a topic and flown with it. This weekend my daughter had two pieces of homework. The first was numeracy (the new name for maths which is supposed to make it sound less scary) and she struggled with it but it had purpose, it was reinforcing the work she had done at school. The second was literacy (another new name; English to you and me!) and was, for her, pointless. She flew through it in no more than 2 minutes and, to be honest, it insulted her intelligence. She had 10 sentences with the connectives missing and she had a choice of two to fill the blank.
eg. The dog wanted to go for a walk……his owner was too busy. (but/then)
She has been reading since she was 3 and is now a voracious bookworm at 10.
Moving on to quantity. Often, too much homework is set. It gets in the way of family life and seems to assume that, once home, the children have nothing better to do after a 6-6.5 hour day than to do another couple of hours of work. This is as much or more than an adult working day! Children need time with their families, their friends and time to pursue interests outside school. We have had homework set on one day which is due in the next, which doesn’t take into account that we might have family commitments, or that the child in question may be back at school that evening performing in a school concert (!).
Assumptions also seem to be made about the level of support available at home. Not everyone is familiar with the mathematics curriculum, not everyone has internet access, not everyone has parents who are willing or able to sit down and help with homework. I AM willing and (usually) able but with three children requiring different levels of assistance and a 4-year-old needing help to build a train set/plant something in the garden/do some painting/read a story it is not always possible. Cue enormous amounts of stress and family friction!
Of course this is not all the school’s fault. Many parents would like to see more homework given and as @JfB57 said on Twitter yesterday
some parents seem to equate homework with high attainment. Has to be a purpose as u said!
(She is a retired headteacher, you can read her lovely blog here)
Some parents get very competitive about it and produce magnificent pieces of homework for with their child while the rest of us shuffle in through the school gates with a couple of scruffy pieces of paper or a bedraggled Easter bonnet.
So, where do you stand on this one? Do you want homework to be banned? Do your kids not get enough homework? Does it cause stress in your house? Did you really deserve an A+ for the last project you completed?
Photo by Flickr user Cayusa