To be weary of homework which involves parental input

(111 Posts)
SilverBellsandCockleShells Thu 10-Jan-13 12:55:50

My son is eight. He's in year 4. I've just received his homework schedule for the term. It includes things like 'cook a simple meal', 'make a model of x', 'design a pattern using rice, etc', 'research xyz on the internet'. Things that, although I like to consider he's a bright child, there is absolutely no way he can achieve without parental input.

Don't get me wrong. I know that we as parents play a role in his education too and we educate him in all sorts of ways outside school. But projects which involve children of this age producing models, etc. invariably end up completed by the parents. There are two options, either you give the child the materials, sit back, watch him make a mess of it, pat him on the back and resign yourself to another low mark, or you get stuck in, 'help' and produce something which may get a better mark but isn't actually his work.

AIBU to think that it is unfair to expect parental input on this level? That the arts and crafts should remain in the classroom and homework, if assigned at all, should be something which requires parental supervision to ensure it is done, but no actual parental input? Or am I being a great big meanie who resents the fact that she is actually a bit pants at crafts and can't hope to produce results like the alpha mummies who spend hours doing their children's homework while they are at school!

OscarPistoriusBitontheside Thu 10-Jan-13 22:36:46

It's bollocks that's what it is.

Ds recently had a mince pie bake off at school, so not strictly homework but everyone would take part and he didn't want to be left out.

Bless him he made the pastry and it it all out properly and filled the little pies and baked them. I only put them in and out of the oven. He is 7! Parents openly bragged on Facebook about making their dc and them doing really well, whilst the kids bragged in school about parents having done it for them. Ds didn't even make the short list. So all he learnt from this exercise was that if you cheat you do better.

Jinsei Thu 10-Jan-13 22:21:54

YANBU, I hate homework. We get fortnightly projects, and they take ages. sad

DD is very bright and she is generally able to get on with them by herself if time permits, but I do usually end up helping her just to speed things up! She does a lot of extracurricular activities, and I feel so sorry for her when she has a massive project to do - she needs time to do her own thing and just be a kid! I really resent the way that homework encroaches on our free time. I have mentioned this to the school, and the teacher agrees, but she is following a whole-school policy and apparently most of the parents want homework to continue.

I do confess to having done most of her Christmas holiday project for her. blush Not in a competitive alpha-mum type way (I did a fairly crap job), but because it didn't interest her, she wasn't going to learn anything from it, and she was supposed to be on holiday FFS!!

That's the only time when I have actually done a lot of the work for her. Usually, I find there is a happy medium between leaving them to it and doing it for them. But even if you're just providing ideas, guidance and basic practical assistance, it can be hugely time consuming and our lives would be happier without it! I have a FT job of my own that keeps me busy enough!

SomeBear Thu 10-Jan-13 21:56:04

Another YANBU from me. I work the entire weekend, every weekend. We have 3 DCs so it falls entirely on my DH who works full time during the week.
Thankfully, eldest is now in Yr 7 and has much more focused homework so he only has to help the two youngest. The only thing I will say in the junior school's favour is that they offer a selection of tasks which are either crafty or creative writing - the only proviso is that they have to do an equal amount so we try to encourage the two younger children to alternate so DH's time is divided equally. There is also weekly spellings and a maths worksheet to be done. Unfortunately we have a school that deducts "golden time" for not doing homework. I've long suspected that it reinforces the school's own belief that it is a nice catchment area with parents who have time, resources and knowledge to help with tasks.

PS I have another cake maker - I thought it was only my son who would take the instruction to "construct a building out of Lego or other materials" as an offer to make cake. I think the staffroom did well out of it anyway!

BunFagFreddie Thu 10-Jan-13 21:48:48

We (I say we, obviously the kid had to be helped) had to design and make a board game with magnets, and rules, and scores, that was playable. In Y3. It took HOURS. The game which 'won' was made by a parent. This kind of thing makes me cross.

It's nice to participate and get involved, but I would love a teacher to explain to me why children are rewarded like this for something that their parent has blatantly made? It makes no sense to me.

Also, I agree with you about the working parent bit, especially if you're single. You might get in at 7:00, then you've got bath time, chores, reading to do. At the weekend you just want to spend time relaxing with your kid, who you hardly see all week.

I've complained about this before and then I wish I hadn't. I was made to feel like some sort of evil mother who didn't give a toss about my child's future. In reality, I don't the lady in question had any inkling as to what it's like to be a single mum and have to work long hours. Would it be better if I had just claimed benefit instead? You just can't win.

And yep, I always had breakfast to hand even though DS spurned it and ate at breakfast club or gran's house!

dayshiftdoris Thu 10-Jan-13 21:39:48

jane

My son was classed as 'the naughty boy who never does reading'

Yet it was an educational psychologist who said it was pointless and an unqualified, know it all teaching assistant who continually questioned this and made it public knowledge that he 'never read'

He never had homework in on time at the same school ever and it got back to me that parents knew...

Well - I will tell you this - I wished that my son could do homework... I am a lucky one amongst a lot of parents with SEN - combination of right school and right teacher...

You don't know ANYTHING about that child or his circumstances and yet you feel he somehow privileged by not doing homework...

If you don;t want your child to do homework then go into school and tell them - its not a legal requirement...
Your individual child - your individual circumstances - your indiviaul choice...

And no one elses business

Adversecamber Thu 10-Jan-13 21:37:17

I agree high school homework is more directed.

My favourite was make a model of a Tudor house in year 5.

We had a large grocery box so used that , DS model was much bigger than anyone else's but he had done most of it himself. One child bought in what I can only describe as a fully functioning dolls house made of plywood, unless he was a young Chippendale in the making and not the stripping variety there was no way he could have made it.

janelikesjam Thu 10-Jan-13 21:26:52

So many YANBUs, and here is another one to add to the pile <its nice to be in a majority for once>.

I have had tears and tantrums from my DS over primary school homework for years. In the UK we have long school days (compared to Europe) so there is no need for homework at primary school IMO.

Personally I think parents are far too compliant with schools on this. Recently my son told me that one of the "naughty" boys in the classrooms just doesn't do homework and never has! In retrospect I wish I had put my foot down with the school.

It also annoyed me that he was given reading for homework EVERY night and had to write the date, page numbers and summarise it (age 6-9) this is, and I had to sign it every morning FFS! To my mind, this approach should be entitled "How to Turn Education and Reading into a Chore and Put a Child Off Reading For Ever".

bigbuttons Thu 10-Jan-13 21:06:57

I love the photocopied sheets, in b&w obviously, that ask the child specifically about certain coloured shapes , which were in the original book ,obviously, but have absolutely no meaning on the photocopy. Now that's sheer laziness on the teacher's part. What's the point?

Kleptronic Thu 10-Jan-13 20:42:31

Gah. It is totally ridiculous. Another working full time single person here. I even get my own homework to do, my job being the sort that requires constant new learning.

I was in Chat the other day asking for maths homework help, Magic Squares. I had no clue, child had no clue, lovely people who answered said they could't see how an 8 yr old could guess the method.

We (I say we, obviously the kid had to be helped) had to design and make a board game with magnets, and rules, and scores, that was playable. In Y3. It took HOURS. The game which 'won' was made by a parent. This kind of thing makes me cross.

3 in the morning making costumes. Don't get me started on World Book Day.

dayshiftdoris Thu 10-Jan-13 20:37:23

Third school in and child with SEN

Sacked the stupid reading scheme & spellings off early - it was not working. Did it off own back and then with support from ed psych.

Then came the 'worksheets' based homework... waste of time with a child who struggles to record and struggles with basic phonics and maths... Could not be adapted as (apparently) it was differentiated already hmm
Lots of 'shit laced with sugar' comments or as its known in the 'two stars and a wish' which just took apart a child with already low self-esteem.

Homework was a hideous time... crying and panic about getting it wrong. Either not completed or not even attempted... I gave lots of feedback specific to the homework as to why he had found it difficult.

And now smile
Projects

We can do this grin
I can adapt them to what he can manage and he has produced, without fail, excellent homework.
I dislike being referred to as an 'Alphamum' because I support him with his work - he has a full time TA at school so he needs it at home - I might be a SAHM now but I have worked and I spent more time failing at getting him to do worksheets whilst working full time than I do getting him to do projects.
So far this term we have produced projects in video form, model building / art work form, I have written him 2 quizzes based on the homework and he has produced 3 powerpoints...

The expectation was a couple of sides of writing - which would take my son weeks but in this format he can really show what he knows... I split it into 15-20min blocks and because we get 2 weeks to do it I can spread it out so homework rarely takes more than a hour.

I write in his book exactly my input - 1 powerpoint was entirely his own work.

His homework was done early one week and was sent round classes to 'set the standard'... I am sure 'Alpha-mum' was probably muttered at home towards me but you know what...

I LOVE the fact my son will engage and do homework with me... its been a hideous journey to this point and I will never, ever take it for granted...

By all means - have your discussion with the school if you have your gripes with homework but I see it as essential to their future... its not the content of the homework but the fact that in secondary, higher ed & uni there is SO much self-directed work that is expected...

Even when I was in worksheet hell I supported the request for us to do homework with the children...

Though the week that MY example of sentences they wanted that I had written in the corner (and put in a box with 'mum' in the corner) was marked by a student teacher and CORRECTED...
Well I had words... and I started with 'So where do I claim my credits for the homework?'

whathasthecatdonenow Thu 10-Jan-13 20:32:52

Well I have to follow school policy, which of course allows for no autonomy for the supposed professional in front of the class. All of our homework is pre-printed into the children's planners at the start of the year.

You will never please all parents - homework is perhaps the biggest issue that splits parental opinion. Parental consultation evenings reveal the differences. Lots of parents want homework that they can get involved with their children in, others would rather not.

I am very thankful for the massive amounts of homework I got when I was at school. It prepared me for being a teacher!

LineRunner Thu 10-Jan-13 20:27:38

I think parents who say 'Don't get enough homework' probably mean 'Don't get enough homework that we know about, understand, and has some value e.g. some interesting maths that leads to a set of answers on a piece of paper that is of tangible benefit'.

'Too much homework' usually means 'Crap and impractical projects, and Death-By-Badly-Xeroxed-Worksheets'.

Taffeta Thu 10-Jan-13 20:25:48

Child's work not child's ok.

Taffeta Thu 10-Jan-13 20:25:13

I don't have a problem with homework that the DC can do themselves, at all. In fact, I like it.

I also don't mind homework where they can ask questions and we can have a discussion.

Where I get pissed off is when it is something big, either art craft based or Internet research led, that parents have to have significant involvement in, so it ends up not really being the child's ok at all. Pointless.

whathasthecatdonenow Thu 10-Jan-13 20:14:07

You can't win as a school. We just did a parental survey that was split almost equally between 'don't get enough homework' and 'get too much homework'. I'd rather it all buggered off, tbh, I've got too much marking as it is.

LineRunner Thu 10-Jan-13 20:13:22

YorkshireDeb Sadly I have only ever had negativity back from class teachers over queries about homework.

I refused to do the model of the motte and bailey. Twice. We wrote an illustrated essay instead each time. Other ridiculously pointless, impractical or expensive homework refusnik-ness has resulted in DCs being given detention. Says more about the school that about my family, I reckon.

ledkr Thu 10-Jan-13 19:37:35

fluffy not as bad as dd bursting into my bedroom in a purple party dress and heels saying "it's mufti day today"

ledkr Thu 10-Jan-13 19:36:04

Oh yes over the years.
Roman dress and packed lunch.
Gas mask box evacuee costume and wartime packed lunch.
World book day.
Numerous cake sales.
At the moment the diary of an evacuee.
This on top of daily homework and well.....life.

AnnaRack Thu 10-Jan-13 19:29:12

Mojitomo my dd made an air raid shelter, it took about 3 hours! She was happy to join in the making but we had to "direct" the project, wbich makes you wonder what the point of it is?

ledkr Thu 10-Jan-13 19:28:47

Re lodging a complaint. I was asked in by the head for. Ticking off about homework he thought his suggestion of twenty minutes a night was reasonable but failed to listen to for example Tuesday nights dd is at dancing already when I come home at six. I then bath baby put her in pjs go out to get dd and drop her at guides then put baby to bed eat and get neighbour in to sit with baby whilst I go back out to get dd at 8.30.
Any suggestions where I find 20 mind then?
Apparently dd is not meeting targets. Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't that his problem to sort?

fluffyraggies Thu 10-Jan-13 19:28:31

We did the Hanging Gardens of Babylon through the medium of cake. love it grin

Youngest DC is still at school, older ones are now at college or work. By far the thing i miss least about their younger days is the model building homework AND - bloody costume days!

World book day -

<pulls at hair>

Eldest was easy, she was/is the spit of Hermione Granger - crimped hair, my black silky robe, and a twig for a wand - done smile

Worst moment, however, was DD2 aged apx 7 coming down the stairs all sleepy eyed at 9.30pm one evening to remind me everyone had to go into schhool in their bird costumes the next day for the class parade shock First i'd heard of it confused and - she was signed up for coming as an owl. A white owl. Like Hedwig shockshockshock

I was up till 1am - i did it - but was so stressed i've never forgotten it.

SE13Mummy Thu 10-Jan-13 19:22:50

As a KS2 teacher I'm not a fan of adult-led homework and, as the parent of a KS2 DC (and nursery-aged one) I'm not a fan of it either.

I rarely set compulsory homework for my class although I do expect them to do some reading every day. Over the years I've sent home maths sheets (the ones used in class, not new ones) so parents can see what their DC have been working on rather than to complete and have set a half-termly 'learning log' task e.g. 'find out about your favourite author'. This homework has always been optional and I've made it very clear that the children work hard at school so time at home is for playing, relaxing, spending time as a family etc. etc.

What this approach means is that parents who are eager for their children to spend family time completing maths sheets can do that (but using methods and examples that fit with the school-based learning) and parents/children who want to further explore the term's topic have a focus for that exploration and an opportunity for public recognition of their creations . I've had library books brought in, print outs from Wikipedia, 3D habitats complete with tadpoles, powerpoint presentations, posters, board games, lego models, drawings, mind maps, bits of tree sap, leaflets and all sorts brought in by children as their 'learning logs'. Others have brought in nothing. Fine by me!

The only time I set compulsory homework is if a child actively chooses not to get their work done during school time - they get to take it home for their parents to supervise. I do that in consultation with the parents, obviously, and only after the child has already had the opportunity to get the work done during lunchtime.

AnnaRack Thu 10-Jan-13 19:20:21

Yanbu. Teachers can tell if the homework was done by the parents. So what's the point - there has to be some educational value in it for the child.

mojitomo Thu 10-Jan-13 18:59:36

YANBU op - i''ve got 3 children at primary school - so far we've made a medieval castle and a scottish crofthouse. Last straw for me was being asked to make another castle (for ds this time) in 7 days in the few weeks before xmas! These projects should be done in class (if at all) - by the teacher & kids together.The models end up being made by the parents - and we've got better things to do at the weekends than this nonsense!
Am dreading the victorian hallway and the WWII air raid shelter!

expatinscotland Thu 10-Jan-13 18:53:39

These projects sounds ridiculous!

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