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!

CocktailQueen Thu 10-Jan-13 12:59:52

YANBU. Is his homework actually marked? Can you talk to the teacher about it, and ask what level of parental input they expect??

ClartyCarol Thu 10-Jan-13 13:00:36

YANBU. i know it's supposed to be enjoyable for the child, but as you say I bet most of the better efforts have been completed entirely to a greater degree by the parents, which sort of defeats the object.

My two eldest got homework in Reception! Thankfully now dc3 is in Reception they seem to have stopped that madness.

bigbadbarry Thu 10-Jan-13 13:04:12

YANBU and it drives me nuts too. I am definitely in the school of ,letting them do it themselves - it is their homework not mine.

BunFagFreddie Thu 10-Jan-13 13:07:17


Although it does involve parantal input and supervision, I'm sure the aim isn't to get children to produce a masterpiece. I'm sure the teacher wants the child to do the homework and not the parent, otherwise that would surely defeat the object of setting the homework in the first place?

If alpha mum's child comes to school with something perfect, the child obviously hasn't done much have they? The mum has done it. How is that helpful, other than keeping up appearances?

What do teachers think?

rollmopses Thu 10-Jan-13 13:08:05

My dear old Nanny was knitting, embroidering etc, until her poor hands bled, to 'help' me with my HE homework. Many a mitten etc are still around to remind me my prize-winning achievements. hmm

DSM Thu 10-Jan-13 13:08:16


My DS (also 8) has homework recently - 'design and make a roman artefact'. I had to get my dad to come and help as we don't have time for this kind of work.

DS does his homework every week, by himself and then we do a 'game' relating to his words that's week. Takes 10-15 minutes, and we enjoy it. I can make time for that. But hours on end to research how to make something, go and buy the stuff, then actually make it?

Ridiculous. I fully agree with you.

DSM Thu 10-Jan-13 13:09:16

Apologies for the grammatical typos. iPhone.

realcoalfire Thu 10-Jan-13 13:10:29

yanbu. I sometimes feel like sending in a pile of ironing for the teacher to do !!

wallflowerchild Thu 10-Jan-13 13:10:49

I agree. It's really unfair on the children whos parents can't or won't help to set homework that needs so much parental input.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Thu 10-Jan-13 13:13:03

YANBU, it is daft.

My eldest is only in Reception, so at the moment it is just reading and a discussion topic each week. But that is more than enough to fit in with a younger child to look after, swimming lesson once a week.
I am dreading more time intensive stuff starting in Y1!

HecatePropolos Thu 10-Jan-13 13:13:27

I have always refused to do any homework for them.

I will sit with them, I will help with a bit of guidance, reassurance, help them to pull out what they already know, but if it reaches a point where I am doing it for them, I stop it there and I write a note saying that they were unable to do this homework without such a high level of input from me that it was no longer their work.

I left school 20 years ago.

I don't do homework.

HecatePropolos Thu 10-Jan-13 13:14:20

Actually, that's not true. I haven't always refused.

i quickly thought bugger this for a game of soldiers grin

BunFagFreddie Thu 10-Jan-13 13:15:14

When I was a working parent I used to get home with DS at 7:00pm and these projects were a stressful business. You don't just stop when you get in from work, you need to run your house too. I often used to wonder if the teachers knew what it was like to work full time as a single parent. hmm I should imagine it's similar for SAHM's with 2 or 3 children.

Luckily I had my parents to help out. Other people won't though.

Scholes34 Thu 10-Jan-13 13:19:05

My favourite was when DS2 had to make a model of one of the seven wonders of the world. We did the Hanging Gardens of Babylon through the medium of cake. The class ate it the day he took it in and this meant we didn't have yet another model at home collecting dust and me feeling guilty about throwing it away.

ReindeerBollocks Thu 10-Jan-13 13:19:20

YANBU. I used to let DS do his own homework -and noticed he was getting ok marks. It was only when i spoke to another mum I was told that all the mums 'helped' with homework and their DC's marks were much higher hmm.

Personally I don't mind helping but if it's clear a parent has done the majority of the work then you wonder why they bother marking it at all..

ReindeerBollocks Thu 10-Jan-13 13:20:28

YY to Hecate. I feel exactly the same war.

crescentmoon Thu 10-Jan-13 13:20:30

YANBU - i hate the arts and crafts type homework too

ReindeerBollocks Thu 10-Jan-13 13:21:14

**way! Not sure what happened there. I'm not trying you start a war with Hecate. Honest.

Allonsy Thu 10-Jan-13 13:23:14

I never know how much i should be helping ds with homework, he gets reading every night and needs me to tell him the word then he remember it i have no idea if im meant to do that. Or sums if he gets the answers wrong but its an obvious mistake eg minus rather than plus do i correct him or let him take it in wrong....

IWishIWasSheRa Thu 10-Jan-13 13:23:27

I saw a label on a model at school few months ago it said
"Designed by Sarah, Manufactured by Daddy"

I help my kids but never to the point where it's not theirs. But I can't help but wonder what the teacher thought of the above child's model (and label!)

chocoluvva Thu 10-Jan-13 13:24:21

Definitely NBU.

This used to be a bugbear of mine - your DC is 8? He goes to school - then he should be free to do non-school things the rest of the time.
I think it's a cheek of the school tom set compulsory tasks like that to do at home - by all means if he/you WANT to cook a simple meal or make patterns with rice.........

FanFuckingTastic Thu 10-Jan-13 13:25:34

At the moment mine are still little, so I get very involved in their homework, and in expanding their learning beyond school. I guess I would get annoyed with pointless homework, but if there is a good reason for it to be done, and it requires my assistance to complete, I wouldn't find it a bother I don't think. I am used to having to supplement eldest's need for more knowledge as he isn't being pushed at school, so we do stuff like this anyway.

HecatePropolos Thu 10-Jan-13 13:25:41

grin reindeer

Viviennemary Thu 10-Jan-13 13:28:11

YANBU. Reading is fine. And maybe finishing off a few sums. But projects. I'd say he wasn't allowed to search the internet at the age of eight. And you feel he is too young to start cooking the family meals. And it is all about the Alpha idiots proving they can do better than anyone else.

SunflowersSmile Thu 10-Jan-13 13:28:55

At least parent was honest IWishIWas SheRa!!

ledkr Thu 10-Jan-13 13:30:56

Yanbu I feel the same.
Dd is yr 6 and our loves are blighted by homework.
There are three classes in her yr group and we seem to have the teacher who send home stuff the other classes are doing at school.
Any topic work is sent home. I work part time do not home till 6 on 3 days. Dh works lots if lates meaning I'm doing bedtime meals bath etc on my own and have a baby. Dd also does activities 2 days.
I wish I could be more like hec but dd struggles academically so needs the support and a bomb up her backside to get on with it.
High school next year so can only get worse.

WillSucceed Thu 10-Jan-13 13:32:15

I think the reason for these parent and child homework is to force the parents to do something with their child and talk to them.

My child, also in Y4, has had some reading to do this Christmas. 120 pages to be read by a parent whilst the child listen....
Some parents ended up reading for half an hour everyday with their dc a book that no one enjoyed (parents and children) even though said children had received some interesting books from Santa but couldn't read them/have them read to them because all the time was used up by 'homework reading'...

Oooh my favourite subject. Crappy school projects involving faff and trips to Hobbycraft and glue all over the dining table. Then the thing comes home again to gather dust. angry

TotallyBS Thu 10-Jan-13 13:37:32

grin at all the YANBU votes.

I like doing homework with my kids so I don't see what the big deal it.

HecatePropolos Thu 10-Jan-13 13:38:06

force the parent to do something with the child? sad

If that really is the case, that is so sad.

led - my kids both have autism. They struggle LOADS. I still won't do it for them. I'm not helping them if I do. The teachers need to see how much they can't do by themselves. Like I say, I sit with them. support - yes. encourage - yes. Do it? - hell no. grin

and sometimes they simply refuse to do it. I say to them look, I am not going to make you do your homework if you don't want to. But I will tell the school that you refused to do it and you will take the consequences.

if they can't do it - I will defend them. I won't do it but I will flag up to the school that they couldn't.

If they won't do it - I expect them to be treated just like any other child (in their school that means detention)

but there's no way I will sit and guide them to the correct answers. That isn't helping them at all.

I just don't want you to think I don't do anything at all in support of them grin

YorkshireDeb Thu 10-Jan-13 13:39:08

Wow - this thread is very interesting reading. I'm a teacher & I'll let you into a secret - we hate homework too! I think this type of project based homework was born from years of parents complaining that their children don't know how to do the homework (I know some little angels claim they've never seen the work before in their life & the teacher didn't explain). They say they don't understand our new methods & are unable to help children when they get stuck & many have battles with children who find it hard to understand why they have to do school work at home. Can I do a quick survey, for future reference about the type of homework you like your child doing? I've set discussion topics, sent home games to play & asked children to teach (mainly calculation methods) to their parents. Or failing any ideas for good suggestions, can we ask the world's best education minister (!) Michael Gove if we can just give kids a break on evenings & weekends? X

SilverBellsandCockleShells Thu 10-Jan-13 13:39:23

Phew, I thought I might get roasted for not giving him appropriate support. Good to know I am not the only one ... now, what to do about it!

Would be interesting to hear from teachers what they expect in the way of input!

atthewelles Thu 10-Jan-13 13:41:16

YANBU. Asking kids to cook a simple meal??? Why don't they tell them to spend some time dusting or hoovering or washing dishes. Now that would be useful.

YorkshireDeb Thu 10-Jan-13 13:42:04

See above silverbellsandcockleshells. X

JollyToddles Thu 10-Jan-13 13:42:37

I had a falling out with my teacher When I was 8. She had to pick the best spider's web. The teacher said mine was the best but she couldn't pick it as it had obviously been made by my mum. I had made it myself.

The teacher picked A's. A confessed to me that her mother had made it.

I am still bitter. Teachers should give age appropriate homework so parents don't need to complete it for their children.

YorkshireDeb Thu 10-Jan-13 13:44:47

Ps in terms of input hecatepropolus has it spot on. I'd much rather work was sent back not done with a note that it was too hard for the child than completed by the parent. Absolutely no point in that. X

chocoluvva Thu 10-Jan-13 13:45:26

What sort of control freak is your DC's teacher, OP?!!!!!!

"design a pattern using rice" --aaaagggggh!

Design? A pattern?

How irritating - the only excuse for making this sort of activity compulsory is that the primary curriculum is overloaded.

Does design mean - draw a picture or shape then see if you can replicate it by gluing rice onto card? The instructions aren't even clear!

My house if full to bursting with books - DH and I value education for its own sake. We do the "teachers have a difficult job"-line to the children - be respectful, co-operative etc, but faffy homework - a step too far.

chocoluvva Thu 10-Jan-13 13:50:53

The big deal, TotallyBS is being told what to do in your spare time. It's unfair to use your position of authority to intrude into free time/family time.

I used to love reading and doing crafts with my DCs too - when we chose to.

CailinDana Thu 10-Jan-13 13:53:28

YANBU, and I say that as a former teacher. Homework is a major pain in the arse.

The setup in Ireland makes far more sense I think - after each lesson in the day the teacher assigns a small exercise, like writing three sentences, that reinforces what was done in that lesson, and the whole class goes through it the next day. This bollocks about setting weekly homework that is often tenuously related to the daily activities, which is then marked by the teacher with no input from the pupils is totally and utterly pointless IMO. I just can't see why it's done. And expecting huge projects from primary school children really isn't fair, they work hard enough during the day, just an hour of small exercises (for Y2 and above) is more than enough IMO.

Oh and parents complaining they can't help makes no sense - if I got that complaint in Ireland I said "Don't help, if the child can't do it, write that down, that's very valuable information for me. I don't want to see your work, I want to see what the child can do." Of course if the parent can actually teach a child the methods, and bring them up to speed on an area they're struggling with, fantastic, but a parent actually stepping in and doing the homework is just ridiculous - what on earth is the point?

RudolphiaRedNose Thu 10-Jan-13 13:53:33

This REALLY annoys me. I think reading a reading scheme book every evening at home is fine, but beyond that it's bloody time-consuming and there are plenty of studies that show homework at primary is not helpful at all, sometimes the opposite. In fact there are various campaigns against it.

Children of primary age need rest and recreation, playing, chatting to family and yes even blobbing in front of the telly when they get in, knackered and with their brains full of new stuff. How are you meant to find time for homework on a weekday evening, especially if you work and get in late, have more than one DC, want to fit in a family meal (which we are supposed to cook from scratch and eat around the table of course), bath and bedtime? We can't fit all DS's homework in and we only have one DC of school age and no clubs or after school activities ATM.

Luckily our school and teachers have a sensible attitude and we just write on it "wasn't time for this bit" and send it back.

Older kids run their own schedules and go to bed later - it makes sense to learn to manage your own time at that point - not at age 5!

juniper904 Thu 10-Jan-13 13:56:57

A lot of the parents in my school complained that the homework didn't involve enough parental input. From my experience, there's no system that pleases everyone.

If it were up to me, I'd ban the whole lot. There's no evidence to show that homework improves learning. And it's a bugger to mark.

Mumsyblouse Thu 10-Jan-13 13:57:02

Yorkshire Deb depends on the class, but IMO, reading homework (e.g. 20 min a night) is just fine for little ones, older ones can complete a self-explanatory piece of work (writing/maths) if they absolutely have to and of course, the trusty times tables. If you really spent 30 min with them reading to you, even older ones who benefit enormously from reading aloud even if fluent, plus doing a bit of maths/rote learning not appropriate for the classroom this would be more than satisfactory.

All discussions, games, please no. The parents who interact with their children continue to do so when school stops and those who are poorly parenting don't suddenly get better when confronted with making a game at home (as a classroom activity, this is brilliant though).

I do resent helping make making a Greek temple when my 9 year old doesn't know her times tables.

RudolphiaRedNose Thu 10-Jan-13 13:57:06

The reason why it happens, as far as I can gather, is because deluded pushy parents demand it. If their child isn't sent home with lots of homework, they feel they aren't being pushed enough and complain.

atthewelles Thu 10-Jan-13 13:57:13

You might like doing homework with the children TotallyBS but some parents are struggling with full time jobs, younger children/new babies, older children needing to be brought to various activities and it is up to them to decide if they want to sit down for ages with their child and become very involved with the homework not up to the teacher.

ledkr Thu 10-Jan-13 13:57:35

If we did it all we would have.
Read for twenty mins per day then write it in a journal.
Once a week do a piece on the book.
Maths homework twice a week.
Spellings to learn for test on Fridays.
Spelling homework once a week. Useful stuff like making up rhymes for difficult spellings.
Dh desperately needs to know her tables so I am also helping her with that too.
We had a fair bit given over Xmas. I sent it back with a note explaining that we like to relax at Xmas and see family who live away and also dh and I were working over Xmas and needed to prioritise family time over homework.
hec good for you. Dd is at fairly academic school purely due to catchment area and struggles quite a bit. Main problems are confidence and motivation but I am going to try and set up then back off from now on.
You are right they should be helping her not passing it back to me.

SilverBellsandCockleShells Thu 10-Jan-13 14:00:41

YorkshireDeb - thanks for your input! I'd say in an ideal world, homework wouuld be some kind of worksheet or exercise. Maximum half an hours work and something they can work through at their own pace and ask mum/dad for clarification if necessary, probably to reinforce what they've done in class.

hedwig2001 Thu 10-Jan-13 14:01:17

To those dreading High School homework, the news is good.
I used to spend hours supporting DS with nebulous homework topics such as "show what you know about (insert random subject)". He found the lack of direction really tough.
He is now in Yr7. Although he has alot more homework, it is much more structured and directed.
Soo, much better!

ll31 Thu 10-Jan-13 14:02:13

Seems completely diff in rep of ireland, where homework is given in primary mon to thurs but it's more traditional ie sums, reading, writing, learning tables or whatever. . Obv none to v little for 1st 3 yrs and more thereafter, but thankfully none of the 'parents have to do it' type, least in my experience and in ds sxhool!

bigbuttons Thu 10-Jan-13 14:05:28

I bloody hate it. I have 6 kids' homework to wrestle with as well as the reading AND re -teaching them stuff that they haven't been taught well enough in class in the first place. A load of shite. And I'm a ( returning) teacher.

SilverBellsandCockleShells Thu 10-Jan-13 14:05:45

chocoluvva - I was being deliberately vague with the rice pattern thing! Their topic for the term is an Asian country, and apparently these patterns are traditional there. I'm hoping that at some point it will be explained to them how these patterns are made (and how to recreate them without making a mess! :-)).

The making a simple meal also refers to this country's cuisine. The homework guide actually says 'Perhaps you could try cooking a simple meal, did you like it?' I'm considering sending my son's homework book back splattered in curry with the word 'yes' written on the page. wink

The teacher is a NQT and is very keen and generally very good. At the beginning of the term, they are given a 'grid' of homework, with each unit earning them either one, two or three stars. They have to get to ten stars each term. Generally, it works well and my son is enthusiastic about doing his homework, but it does mean we get hit with the full whammy of the whole term's homework at once!

JKSLtd Thu 10-Jan-13 14:07:27

When I taught Maths at a primary (Prep) school years ago I had to give homework according to the school policy so I did.
However, I kept it low key, more Maths games/puzzles (though of course I had parents who complained that it wasn't serious enough hmm) and I repeated ad nauseam that the absolute maximum time they should spend on it was 30 mins, no more.
(And if a parents ever wrote that they didn't have time to do it/finish it that was never a problem at all).

But I would get notes/letters back in saying 'X & I spent 2 hours on this and couldn't do it, then when Daddy came home they spent even longer and still couldn't' - 30mins MAX!! And tbh the puzzles should only have taken a few minutes. I never set anything that would take half an hour, but the school policy was 2 x 30mins maths hw a week.

OP - I totally agree with you, so far I only have 1 DC at homework level and his is pretty low key so far, thankfully. Still blood from a stone some weekends though.

SilverBellsandCockleShells Thu 10-Jan-13 14:07:40

Thanks all for your, er, input! grin

chocoluvva Thu 10-Jan-13 14:08:03

My SIL who's a teacher, claims not to mind if homework hasn't been done because the child was at brownies/swimming/flute lesson etc as that will do them "more good".

noblegiraffe Thu 10-Jan-13 14:09:47

What are the consequences if the simple meal isn't cooked or the rice remains unmolested?

SomeoneInCam Thu 10-Jan-13 14:11:11

YANBU - but do speak to the teacher to see what's expected. I don/t think they'll be getting marks for perfection. In our case it's a case of 'assist' or 'discuss' but certainly don't do it for them. If it's impossible to do etc - write a note explaining why / what you did instead.

Here Reception get daily and weekend reading books and some word exercises to repeat practice.

Y4 get daily reading book, but no specified amount. Weekly literacy task (min 1/2 page), a maths sheet and a spelling practice (10 words).

In the years before that we might have had more 'practical' things to do, finding (and listing) shapes around the house, drawing a map from home to school, I really can't remember that many specifics. In all cases though the guidance in Y1 and 2 at least was that it was okay not to do it and possibly do something more suitable instead, and notify what you did.

Over X-mas one simple project (competition entry) aimed at all KS2 classes that was entirely optional though.

Need to add both parents here work full-time but we always make some time at the weekend, it should not take more than a couple of hours.

SilverBellsandCockleShells Thu 10-Jan-13 14:14:45

In the first half of term, although he had completed his requisite ten stars, one of his 'projects' got mislaid at some point. He got a half-page reminder from the teacher that homework was there to be completed and got given another week to finish it.

Arguably all elements of the homework are optional. So we don't have to cook a simple meal (does popping one in the microwave count?) as we could choose an alternative. But very few of the alternatives are simple and entirely written and they have to choose units across the range, so they can't go just maths or just creative, etc.

ballstoit Thu 10-Jan-13 14:20:42

YorkshireDeb...personally, I like something more interesting than a worksheet, but not that involves;
a) a lot of mess
b) more than 20 minutes of my involvement (3 DC, I can spare an hour to help each, not 3 hours!)
c) needing any materials other than pens, pencils and paper (we have other stuff, but not all families do, and that includes internet access and computer)
d) gathering opinions/information from family/friends who probably have even less interest in my DCs homework than me, if they even have any knowledge of the topic

So, discussions, games, surveys of what we have in the house, diaries of what's been eaten/done/played with are fine.

Constructing a lighthouse, conducting an interview with someone who did something interesting in WW2, making a Robin Hood/Guy Fawkes/character from a book costume, taking a piece of electrical equipment apart to look at the circuits (all examples of homework that my DSS/DC have been given) are not.

schnauzerfan Thu 10-Jan-13 14:26:09

YANBU. I have three children of varying ages and I just haven't got the time. They cannot be bothered with homework when they get home, they are tired, want to veg out and relax. I also need to relax, get tea ready, bath, bedtime, clean etc. and I just haven't got the time for the irrelevant shite they are often asked to do. Reception was the worst but it seems better now but what a pain in the arse of the most major degree.

nenehooo Thu 10-Jan-13 14:27:52

I'm a teacher, and can echo what YorkshireDeb said. I teach KS1 and give homework because I have to. It's a hassle to create - especially when we're differentiating for 4 different levels for numeracy AND literacy. However, what I will say is that it can be incredibly useful if used in the correct way. I always choose work that reflects what we've been doing in class so if parents get involved they can see exactly what we've been working on and the children can consolidate their knowledge.
Other creative projects are given to encourage talking and imagination... I totally agree Rudolph that children need recreation and chatting at home, but unfortunately some don't get that. Homework isn't the answer to that, and the children that don't get any help probably won't ever, but we can only try. Communication is the key I think, homework is an opportunity for extra learning at the end of the day and if your children are getting other experiences rather than doing their homework, I would have absolutely no problem with that as their teacher if you told me that. With maybe a 'sorry' added in, as like I said, organising and creating homework takes up precious time wink

SugarplumMary Thu 10-Jan-13 14:28:00

Have any of the parents approached the school?

Few years ago my DC school was mad with project work which all seemed to require parental input. Every holiday they had a massive project requiring lots of research and often arts and craft as well.

Then it suddenly changed to just reading, spellings, occasional handwriting and sometimes maths. It can still take some time - especially when one of our DC kicks of about doing it - but it is at least relevant to them and dealing with the basics.

They also don’t have a massive project every holiday.

I think the parental dissassifcation got back to the head and they acted on it.

ivykaty44 Thu 10-Jan-13 14:30:58

I was told at this year 4 homework was 20 minutes for each subject and then stop. So do the twenty minutes and then stop, there is more to life than school work.

SilverBellsandCockleShells Thu 10-Jan-13 14:31:58

I don't really know how the other parents feel. It's a new school (as of September) and my children get taxied in so I don't really get much school-gate interaction! The only mum I know well (as we were friends before) is a SAHM and very arty-crafty and probably relishes getting stuck in!

ivykaty44 Thu 10-Jan-13 14:32:48

simple meal cooked

boil an egg and make toast as a simple meal

SugarplumMary Thu 10-Jan-13 14:37:51

Try mentioning the homework is an issue at next teacher/parent consultation.
Worst case you get ignored best it stops or you get more guidance.

WipsGlitter Thu 10-Jan-13 14:40:34

YANBU my DS is only in year one and I still can't work out the point of homework. Plus sometimes it's not clear what is homework and what's optional.

Jins Thu 10-Jan-13 14:51:48

I hated this. I was more than happy to spend time on craft type activities with my boys when they were young but there was something about being required to make a pyramid or an easter hat by a particular deadline that used to make me stressed beyond belief.

Especially when there were two such crappy homeworks to be done at the same time

TotallyBS Thu 10-Jan-13 14:58:41

silver: in answer to your question, based on my experiences in the Real World as a parent and here, on MN, most non selective state school parents are against homework.

Dahlen Thu 10-Jan-13 15:40:24

One thing that concerns me about homework is how it balances with such a long day for many children. Those with parents who work full-time office hours won't be able to start that homework until quite late in the day, as well as the reading they have to do and any other extra-curricular activities, not to mention inconsequential things like eating a meal or having a bath... No wonder so many of our children are so tired all the time.

lljkk Thu 10-Jan-13 16:00:50

I don't do homework for them. If necessary, I will show them how to get the hw done in a very simple way (appropriate to their level). I didn't think OP's examples were that demanding, tbh.

DS had to make & wear a Tudor costume on a specific day, and that was impossible for him because he shut down completely & freaked out about getting it wrong (socially unacceptable with his peers). So I suggested ideas & we both did parts of it. That's about the most I've ever done of any of their homework.

Several children came to school in uniform on tudor-costume day, I guess their parents didn't do the HW either, lol.

Setting a time limit for homework is good and it was something we stuck to, however, any in complete homework that was handed in had to be finished during playtimes. So my DCs had a choice plod on in the evenings until finished or spend time away from friends completing something we were told is not that important.
Thankfully things have improved at the school and this practice has stopped.

thebody Thu 10-Jan-13 16:10:59

You are so right op.. I just ignored such crap with my 4 and wrote in school link book that if they were unable to do the home work by themselves then the teacher needed to re teach that lesson as obviously the kid didn't understand it.

Of course minimal help with maths and hearing them read but what is the school thinking by setting vast amounts of homework in the first place for little children.

They should be out doing sport or playing.

No wonder we have such fat kids in this country.

It's bollocks but remember you don't need to her sucked in here just say no.

I am a TA.

thebody Thu 10-Jan-13 16:13:46

Binky!! Kept in at playtime at first school for not doing hw!!!!!Fucking ridiculous and I would have caused a massive stink at that one.

ihearsounds Thu 10-Jan-13 16:45:23

Are all those things supposed to involve parents? Wow someone should have told me years ago. Only things I do from that are cooking and supervise net.. I neveer interfered with creative stuff, why should I ? I let my kids design and what they want, and if I want to design soemthing I do it myself, which often happens lol. For these pieces, I dont think its about the grade, but about taking part.. but maybe we are weird, my children have all enjoyed creating stuff, and always tell me to do my own. its cheating if I help.

The rice pattern... Child draws a pattern of choice, then adds glue, slowly pours overr rice. leave to set. Gently life paper, curve a bit and rice tats loose will drop into bin... Not hard. Dont children in school make pics with glitter, sprinkles, pasta etc, this is how they are taught..But unless the child eats glue, you just supervise.

marjproops Thu 10-Jan-13 16:59:19

Havent read all threads here so might be repeating someone.

Kids are enough hours in school getting their little brains taxed all day. parents are all day working either from home or out somewhere, EVERYONE needs to rest their brains in the evenings.

And kids these days seem to have different ways of learning than we had (abacus/calculators, slate (no not really!)/computers) and so how are WE supposed to know what to do, when the teacher next day anyway says 'thats not how we work it out here'.

play and rest time are JUST as important as learning/working time.

Thank God I homeschool now, not that DC got mounds of homework before as she has SN, but now we do our thing and thats it.

quality family time.

notnagging Thu 10-Jan-13 17:06:55

Sorry if I'm wrong but op didn't say homework in general? I agree it can get to much but I don't think they shouldn't get any.

I actually really like craft, as do my dc, BUT I hate being told by a teacher which craft my dc should be doing. The weekends before Christmas I had planned to do lots of Christmasy stuff, but instead ended up running around town through Christmas shoppers trying to find plasticine for dd1's tropical reef.

For the meal I would get your ds to choose a microwave curry, teach him how to read the label, put holes in film etc and cook it. You can put the cardboard sleeve in as evidence!

My dc are fairly busy with other activities so homework is a pain. Would be fine if they had a full week, but no some is set Monday to be in on Thursday, grrr. Hope you enjoy the rice OP!

Miggsie Thu 10-Jan-13 17:09:03

I have friends who sit each night with their child taking up to 2 hours to do homework - DD spends 20 mins if she hasn't finished I just write she did 20 mins and that is as far as she got. If she has something better to do (such as sports) I write she was at sports.
Then DD gets the help she needs in class, from the teacher based on the 20 mins.

I don't think homework is there to show the extent of parental education!

Sabriel Thu 10-Jan-13 17:16:48

We get "suggestions" for a project each term. One of the suggestions for last term was "make a model of the Houses of Parliament". confused DD is 5.

I decided that we actually had too much to do and the project didn't happen. grin

YorkshireDeb Thu 10-Jan-13 17:23:41

Can I politely suggest that any parent who has an issue with homework either goes to have a non confrontational chat with the teacher or write a quick note along the lines of "x didn't have time to complete this homework. Please let me know if this is a problem." Most teachers (I know not all!) are not sadistic bitches who are on a mission to impinge on/ruin your quality family time. We set homework because we have to & we hate it too. We try our best to pick the type of homework that parents will be happy with, but know full well no matter what we choose some people will not like it. I reckon if everyone who posted on here spoke to the teacher about it (note- spoke, not shouted), 90% of you would get a result you were happy with. X

My worst one was to make a Viking longship that was capable of sailing as the point was to race it. DD was 7 at the time so not really au fait with the mechanics of boat-building in the Viking era. I said no way, DH was up to 2am ......wink

LifeIsBetterInFlipFlops Thu 10-Jan-13 17:32:18

YANBU, my 5 year old had to do a PowerPoint!!!! Clearly I had to help him.
He also has reading, tables, spellings and takes hours as he is too young to do it alone.
Whilst I like knowing what he is doing, the quantity is crazy.
I asked the Head about the PowerPoint, he said it was a way to involve parents and fine as long as the child was involved in compiling it and could present the contents.

Yorkshire if my 7 yr old doesn't finish her homework then she has to do it in her break time - not sure whether that extends to making reefs though smile

YorkshireDeb Thu 10-Jan-13 18:32:02

3birthdaybunnies - sorry to hear that. I agree it's completely unreasonable to keep children in at break for not doing homework. X

expatinscotland Thu 10-Jan-13 18:39:50

I have already lodged this issue with the head. I refuse homework for my P3 child. It causes no end of frustration, arguments, tears and trials and did with her elder sister, who is now deceased. I wish I had forgone it sooner.

Evenings are for family time, activities DD2 has chosen, learning we chose to do together. NOT an extension of school. I don't believe in homework until secondary school.

KateF Thu 10-Jan-13 18:41:40

I actually ended up in tears last term when faced with the latest requirement for dd3(8) to construct an Egyptian chariot. We had just made an Egyptian temple, dd (11 with SEN) had a massive project including cooking an Indian meal and dd1(13) had to design and build a model festival.

Together with all the Christmas stuff, being a lone parent now and working 30 hours a week plus commute I just couldn't face it. We did manage to make one and dd3 did most of it but no-one enjoyed those projects much so what was the point?

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

These projects sounds ridiculous!

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!

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.

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.

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.

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?

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 19:36:04

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

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"

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.

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.

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.

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

Child's work not child's ok.

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'.

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!

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

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?'

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.

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?

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".

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.

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


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

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!

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!

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!

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.

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