Bloody homework!

(105 Posts)
IAmLouisWalsh Sun 24-Mar-13 17:57:49

DS1 is in Y1 and I am fed up with the homework battles. 10 spellings, 2 sheets of sums, a Biff and fucking Chip book to read and a sheet of questions to answer, plus draw a plan of the house. All for tomorrow. Bog off.

pointythings Mon 25-Mar-13 18:29:43

vertex the research seems to say otherwise... There are far better ways to enrich your child's life than endless worksheets and revision.

I think the point made upthread about young children needing a sensible bedtime is also very very valid.

That extra hour in bed could mean the difference between the homework taking two hours or ten mins.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

twofalls Mon 25-Mar-13 19:01:37

Vertex, the research actually says otherwise. And many teachers think schools set it to just placate competitive parents. The best thing a child can do at this age is read and be read to.

vertex Mon 25-Mar-13 19:19:24

Pointythings and twofalls. Can you cite the research in question ? How big a sample over how long a period ? What age groups ?

Every child is different and I can only speak for mine. For the record we do homework as soon as we get in from school, watch a couple of cartoons have a bath or a shower (depending on stated preference), do a story and little one is in land of nod by 7.45pm - 8.00pm (at very latest) and awake at 6.30am.

Is wanting the best education for your child competitive ?

pointythings Mon 25-Mar-13 19:34:08

vertex have a look at this review of a comprehensive meta-analysis on the effects of homework here.

One of the commenters points out that the stated effect of homework in primary (0.29%) is no more than evidence that it does no harm.

The effect of homework in secondary is clearly evidenced as positive, but the nature of the effect is complex.

You say you see your child benefit from homework - the point I am trying to make is that your child could have equal benefit from other things which are not homework, which are just as beneficial but more enjoyable.

When my two were in primary I signed up to a home/school agreement which says my children should do their homework. Fine. But anything that was optional rather than compulsory was not done, which included the pile of SATs revision DD1 was sent home with last year in Yr6. I'd like to think I know my children fairly well, and I trusted them to achieve highly without all the extra drill, and they do.

It is parental engagement which is the key, not how many worksheets a child goes through. I want the best education for my children too, but I recognise that there are better ways to do it than endless drill. Given that countries like China and Singapore are now moving away from rote learning only because they have trouble producing enough creative critical thinkers, it's a bit ironic that there is such a culture of support for this system here.

vertex Mon 25-Mar-13 19:48:39

Pointythings, thanks for the link. An interesting summation in which a couple of thigs stand out

"for the difference between the d=0.15 at primary level at d=0.64 at secondary is that younger students can’t under take unsupported study as well, they can’t filter out irrelevant information or avoid environmental distractions – and if they struggle, the overall effect can be negative.......The more specific and precise the task is, the more likely it is to make an impact for all learners. Homework that is more open, more complex is more appropriate for able and older students.
Teacher monitoring and involvement is key – so putting students in a position where their learning is too complex, extended or unstructured to be done unsupervised is not healthy. This is more likely for young children, hence the very low effect size for primary age students."

Our 5 year old does not struggle and the homework set is not something I would class as open or complex and at none of the homework is undertaken unsupervised.

Good point about doing other things; Mon is Modern Dance, Tues is Football, Weds is Drawing club, Thurs is swimming, (all done between 3.30 and 4.30pm). Sat is biking in park.

Nowhere have I advocated learning by rote - want a creative thinker not an automaton.

I think this is a thread where people are going to have to agree to disagree

steppemum Mon 25-Mar-13 20:25:29

vertex
The thing is, I am very ambitious for my children, and want an excellent education for them, but I know that homework is not the most effective way to get this.

I can't find all the sources to quote it, but I remember a study which looked at creative story writing. They looked at various links, one was early writers/readers and another was early years lots of imaginative play.

They found that early reading made no difference to the ability to write aged 7/8, but that exposure to lots of free imaginative play did make a very positive difference to their creative writing skills aged 7/8. So if you want your child to be a goo writer, get them to play more!

Homework such as worksheets and making sentences from spelling words are not the most effective way to produce children who can achieve academically.

The homework = good education, or homework = better achievement is a false link (again I am talking about primary, especially KS1)

exposure to wide range of experiences and lots and lots of interesting stories and vocabulary is the most important thing you can give them. Given a choice between learning spellings, or reading aloud the next chapter of 'The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe' to my 5 yo I would rather read aloud.

I also remember being taught that younger children need to alternate their large motor activity with fine motor activity, so, sending all the kids outside to run around for 15 minutes, and then asking them to sit down and do some writing, produces much better writing, than lots of repetitive practice.

On the same note, a child with poor writing skills, poor letter formation, etc has poor fine motor skills. You can make them do 2 sheets of handwriting practice per night, or you can do all the other things that help improve fine motor skills, eg lego building, rolling playdough balls etc etc.

I could weep at times for the way in which play is so misunderstood in our society now. We actually understood this better in the early 70s.

steppemum Mon 25-Mar-13 20:30:22

good writer, rather than goo writer obviously (wanders off wondering how much of what I write is actually goo writing...)

vertex Mon 25-Mar-13 20:34:44

Steppemum, the OP stated being fed up with homework at the primary level. The point that I was trying to make is that it has its place and it should be embraced BUT NOT TO THE EXCLUSION OF OTHER ACTIVITIES.

Likewise, one should not go all out with other activities and ignore homework or view it as optional (as some posters above have advocated).

The key is, as with many things, balance. I like to think we have that in our set up at home and speaking for our child the homework is an enjoyable activity for all of us to partake in.

The after school clubs and lunchtime rough and tumble in the playground, the biking on saturday and the gymnastics club on Sunday afternoon serve to augment and compliment the academic side of things.

Not sure where you got the idea that I was advocating repetitive activities.

p.s. not sure what a goo writer is but sound interesting :-)

teacherwith2kids Mon 25-Mar-13 20:37:49

Steppemum, I am reminded by your post of a school that I know of that went unusually rapidly from Special measures (with a significant weakness in writing) to Good with Outstanding features (with a particular strength in writing).

During that time, you might expect that lots of 'classic' writing homework was done - handwriting, spellings, written tasks. No.

Their homework policy was changed entirely. Each younger child brought home a good book to have read to them (the nature of the school was such that many children had limited access to books at home, and the school had noted the restricted vocabulary used in writing), each older child a book from a choice of good books to read or have read to them. And every other week, a 'talking' task was set for homework. No written literacy work was ever set for homework, but the 'talking' tasks basically required the child to have a conversation with an adult or older child - to find something out, to discuss a topic, to imagine together, to recall an event.

As I say, the writing skyrocketed. Chilkdren need to have something to write about, and books and talking feed that SO much better than repetitive, sterile exercises.

teacherwith2kids Mon 25-Mar-13 20:40:20

Vertex, on a practical note, bear in mind that your children are lucky enough to come home at the end of the 'normal school day'. Many children of working parents will be in after school childcare until quite late, so it really does become relaxation OR homework OR sleep...of which I would always advocate the last, for a 5 or 6 year old at least.

Finding the balance can be very hard vertex

What takes one child ten mins could take another child an hour. Some children are home by half three and have all evening to do everything they want. Others get home much later due to childcare/ transport etc. kid a will have homework done in ten mins play with their sister have tea and watch Scooby doo til bed. Kid b gets in late wolfs down tea starts homework having barely warmed up from the journey home and is up reading well after they should have gone to bed.

Kid a is well fed well rested and in bed early ready for the next day whilst kid b plods along shattered having had no down time and everything's taken twice as long as a result.

I think under some circumstances parents r best off saying stuff it tonight. They r primary school children. They won't fail their gcses cos biff and chip stayed in the book bag for a night or two.

It's not always as simple as "finding a balance"

IAmLouisWalsh Mon 25-Mar-13 21:03:06

Ooh, bollocks, I seem to have started something here....

I was just having a moan. I don't mind creative/show and tell type stuff. Death by worksheet is doing my nut in, though.

AryaUnderfoot Mon 25-Mar-13 21:33:36

teacherwith2kids has a very good point. I don't pick DS up from after school club until almost 5pm. By that time he is tired (particularly on evenings when he has done tag rugby in the freezing cold that is spring 2013) and 10 mins of reading is enough for him.

I have tried doing writing homework in the evenings and, as it really isn't his 'thing' it ends up with a fight.

Writing homework is done after swimming lessons on a Saturday morning. I have never objected to them and neither does DS. It is really good for me to see the progression in his writing speed and skill (he really despises writing).

The theme learning is another matter. It is never something that DS could even attempt to do on his own. For example: create a timeline back to the time of the dinosaurs. Show the major periods for the dinosaurs and show when you were born.

Now, this is something that I could definitely do with great enthusiasm - for myself. However, there is no way that DS could tackle this task on his own. Whilst I could create a masterpiece for him to copy involving the pre-Cambrian explosion, the emergence of the eukaryotic cell and all sorts of other crap, I don't see how he would gain anything from it - other than a loathing for homework. He is in Year 1 FFS.

All that would happen would be that DS would develop a pathological hatred for anything to do with dinosaurs. Great.

vertex Mon 25-Mar-13 21:39:35

Teacherwith2kids, our little one does not come home at the end of a normal school day (typically collected around 5.00pm) but we are lucky enough to be only 15 minutes from the school. None of the work they set is sterile or repetitive - perhaps we are just lucky to be in such a good school.

Wheresmycaffeinedrip, never said finding the balance was easy but it is something to strive for and certainly not advocating turn reception children into zombies.

We have also found some of the iPad apps for phonics and numeracy to be excellent in reinforcing schoolwork and the beauty is that it does not look or feel like learning.

IamLouisWalsh, please remind me never to jump into one of your threads again LOL.

purples Mon 25-Mar-13 21:58:28

If you have problems with this level of homework, then just wait until they reach secondary school.....

Hulababy Mon 25-Mar-13 22:16:55

By secondary school children can do homework unaided though; in Y1 much less so.

steppemum Mon 25-Mar-13 22:28:03

sorry vertex, my looong post shouldn't have really been directed at you.

We do homework, we do it properly and I try and make kids enthusiastic about it.

But my ds has actively battled all and any homework for 5 years. When he was in reception reading was a painful agony every day, we ploughed on, until in Y3 the penny dropped, and his reading took off which was absolutely nothing to do with homework.

He is bright, could do all his homework in 5 minutes, but instead rants and protests exhaustingly over it. It is just so disheartening. I honestly don't think that homework has made any difference in outcomes for him. He now reads anything he can get his hands on for pleasure and is going to take 11 plus in autumn. In this last year (year 5) the homework battle has lessened as he has got older and more able to choose to get it done and out of the way.

dd1 and 2 on the other hand happily do theirs, and for pleasure dd2 in reception writes and writes and writes and is trying to read anything she can get her hands on.

I don't think that schools can understand how soul destroying homework can be at times. Which is why I hate it!

twofalls Tue 26-Mar-13 01:38:17

Vertex of course wanting the best education for your child is not competitive. It was your assertion that worksheets and homework for 5 year olds was part of this. I want the best education for my child. I just don't think a pile of spelling tests and worksheets is the way to achieve this. Dd1 is in year 2 and is already a level 3b in all subjects. Having a focus on reading and nurturing a love of books and weaving mathsinto our everyday tasks has helped her achieve this. We have never done a spelling test or worksheet and this is the schools (a good to outstanding one) policy.

<Off to find the research our head sent round>

vertex Tue 26-Mar-13 08:03:17

Steppemum, twofalls, As I said earlier, I think we have fallen lucky due to the fact that the homework our 5 year old is never repetitive, with perhaps the exception of having seven days to learn and practice writing down five words for the spelling test the following Monday.

At the moment our child goes seems to average two Oxford reading books a week, loves the number pattern, ordering, addition and subtraction games, really enjoys the handwritting exercises and the creative stuff has been fantastic.

If the homework was sould destroying then we would simply quash it but as it is not then more than happy for all of to partake in it.

I posted on here because I was surprised at the original statement bu tthe passion of subsequent posts has been truly enlightening.

Perhaps in a few years when homework consists of differentiation, the socio-economics of slavery, Chaucer and the nuances of mult-valued logic modelling then I may have to restate position :-).

Off to work and will revisit this addictive thread later.

rabbitstew Tue 26-Mar-13 09:20:38

I find homework gets in the way of the more relevant, better tailored, fun activities I do with my own children. Until homework is individually rather than class set, so as to genuinely fit the needs of my children, it will be an annoyance for my primary school aged children, because it means we have less time for doing what I know would be a more constructive use of their time... The most annoying thing is, I don't want my children to think homework is an optional activity, because it certainly won't be optional in secondary school, so if they get it, I feel obliged to make sure they do it, even though I know the school wouldn't be able to do anything about it if we just ignored the homework being sent home.

vertex Tue 26-Mar-13 11:31:42

Perhaps I need to do homework myself: handwritting (spelling); goes seems (grammar); sould (extra d) bu (missing t).

Listing my own faults now before others do.

Now that I have done homework corrections a nice cup of coffee beckons as reward

Elaine28 Tue 26-Mar-13 11:46:14

I absolutely agree with MTS - homework should not ruin your weekend. My DS1 is in reception, he gets 2 reading books, phonics words and some handwriting practice most nights and at the weekend. We do this on top of his Kumon Maths and English every day and he sails through it. I also have a 18 month old son and a 12 week old new born to attend to but I have to give each child an amount of my time every day as they need it. DS1 needs it when he's doing his homework. He loves sitting up at the table doing work with me, just like he loves playing a game with his Daddy. It's the best part of the day we have to bond. Sometimes I find myself doing the dishwasher at 10pm - but who cares, if I'd done it at 4pm then DS would have been in the sitting room on his own while I was in the kitchen - hardly quality time together!

Elibean Tue 26-Mar-13 12:53:00

I find, on MN, a lot of arguments happen because people don't take into account the vast range of individual preferences, strengths, abilities, habits, etc etc.

In other words, diversity amongst children.

Some children in dd's Y1 class love homework, enjoy maths as much as a game. dd2 is one of them, and makes me look like a perfect, homework encouraging mother. dd1, however, was not and is not, and made me look like either a bossy dragon or a laissez-faire shoulder shrugger, depending.

On the other hand, she can also spend two hours designing and creating a detailed sculpture of an Egyptian building, based on what she's learned in school, or design a Victorian wardrobe fit for Queen Vicky herself - it just doesn't happen to be homework.

Hence we had years of battles over maths homework with dd1 (she is top set, btw, so nothing to do with ability) before knuckling down in more independent fashion now she is 9. Homework on a daily basis would have made her very sad, when she was 6.

Our children are all different, and conforming gets easier for them as they get older - developmentally, and habitually. So perhaps those who are sure one way (their way) is best for Y1 kids need to realise that not all chlidren are hardwired the same way smile

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