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Homework: necessary work for children or unnecessary work for parents?

girl homework

Speak to each and every parent on the playground on any given day and you will find a myriad of responses.

Some feel homework is completely unnecessary full stop. Others feel it is ok as long as it is relevant. There are the ‘too much’ camp as well as the ‘not enough – we want more’ camp. So, which is it? Necessary work for children or unnecessary work for parents?

How do I personally feel about homework?

As both a teacher and a parent, I can understand many different viewpoints. In the past, I have reluctantly set homework because it was a school expectation. Having sat there, ten minutes before the pupils are supposed to leave, I have suddenly remembered the homework. A quick search on the Internet, worksheet found and printed 30 times. Is that homework necessary? Probably not. So, why give it out? Because it was school policy. 

Even well-thought out pieces of homework can leave a teacher on the receiving end of abuse and confusion. I distinctly remember giving a ‘fun’ piece of homework to my maths class. We were beginning to learn about algebra and how numbers could be represented by letters. The worksheet linked to numbers in various film titles, TV programmes and songs. All but one of my class loved it. In fact, I would probably say that all of the class loved it, but one parent did not. I was chastised for it not being maths, despite explaining how it linked to what we were learning. 

My daughters are both hard-working and keen to do their homework on an evening. I am lucky in that respect. For now, at least. It is never a battle getting them to complete a piece of work. My youngest begs to read to me. Long may this continue as it makes life easier. So, I am not privvy to how it feels to have to ‘force’ and negotiate with your child to get them to sit down and complete homework. I can imagine it must be really upsetting and traumatising for both at times. Moreover, the child will have a significantly reduced amount of leisure time. And what about the parent’s me-time?

In other words, I am on the fence when it comes to homework. In life, we will all be faced with having to do things we don’t want to do. It is important that our children comprehend that. On the other hand, does it matter if a child does not wish to label the parts of a Stone Age house? How will that actually benefit them? Reading, number facts and times tables are the important things for me. 

What about other people’s opinions?

I posed this question to many others and here are some of the responses:

Emma Jones, Life in the Mum’s Lane

“I have a love/hate relationship with homework. Often at primary school it ends up being parent homework. I’ve made rainforests, fire engines, volcanoes, Viking shields the list goes on and on. I do however think reading at home & times table (multiplication) is vital. I’ve been a TA for nearly 3 years & really can see the difference between those that read often/do times tables and those that don’t.”

Ami Roberts, Through Ami’s Eyes

“I think homework is an important part of school. It helps children understand the importance of independent learning and helps reinforce what they are learnt in school. On the flip side I do feel like sometimes homework is given when the children are too young. I’d say that year 3 is a good age to start a small amount as before that they are still so little.”

Emma Reed

“We really struggled in reception with the sheer volume of homework, so I wrote this post. It’s not much better in year 1 except that he is now used to it.”

Jennifer Gladwin, Mighty Mama Bear

“It can be a challenge when they’re already tired at school and come home to yet more work. Yet we find it’s good that they can do the work in their own time, without the pressures, distractions and time constraints of school. My middle son has grasped some things better at home because he’s got more time to go over it and isn’t embarrassed to say he doesn’t understand.”

Nina Spencer, Spencer’s ARC

“I hate homework. As adults we are told to leave our work at the office. So, why do my 7-year-olds get over an hour’s worth of homework a weekend? Often the homework is something I have to do with them. Our house is a busy one 2 sets of twins and my hubby works away a lot. So entertaining 2-year-old twins while trying to help with homework for the big two is near in impossible. Did I mention I hate homework?”

Mary Proctor, Over 40 and a Mum to One “I’m not particularly opposed to homework in term time if it’s relevant and actually gets marked. But I think that online homework like mymaths is totally pointless as the children don’t have to show any working out as to how they got to their answer. I do object to holiday homework. To my mind holidays are for children to unwind and relax with family and friends.”

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