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.

Periwinkle007 Sun 24-Mar-13 18:33:31

it will get worse I fear. My daughter is in reception and we have 10 spellings and 32 pages of Biff and co and then come up with something for show and tell and she likes to make or write something. I am cruel though I say she has to have done it all by lunchtime on saturday or she can't go to the park on saturday afternoon.

everlong Sun 24-Mar-13 19:35:56

It can be hard fitting it all in can't it?
Do you spread it out over the weekend?

teacherwith2kids Sun 24-Mar-13 19:38:43

Your school's homework policy should specify amount of homwork expected, and the maximum time it should take each week.

Do that amount, and stop. Write a note on the bottom to say why. Refer up to the hea if there's a problem.

[There is no link between amount of homework and children's progress in primary school, although regular reading - of anything, not necessarily scheme books - does have a positive effect.]

Periwinkle007 Sun 24-Mar-13 20:14:54

yes teacherwith2kids has a good point, if it is taking too long then you need to flag that up.

I think a reading book, spellings and something else is probably pretty standard for year 1 but I am guessing because we aren't there yet.

I think for reception our school says 10-20mins reading at least 3 times a week and then they get either spellings or some sort of phonic work to do at some point between friday and wednesday. The spellings are just the read, cover, say, write ones. as far as I know she isn't actually tested on them it is just to introduce the idea and hopefully she is picking some up, I think they thought there was no point giving the phonic work to her because of her reading ability but it is good they give her something.

do they send it all home on a Friday to be done for Monday? I would probably have a quiet word and ask if perhaps it could be spread out a bit. not meaning it has to be done during the week, give you the option of doing it over the weekend, but stagger which day it is issued/due back so you could do some after school one day if you wanted to.

Coconutty Sun 24-Mar-13 20:18:17

Never,ever,ever do homework on a Sunday. Twill end in tears.

IAmLouisWalsh Sun 24-Mar-13 21:05:02

It is my own fault for leaving it til today, but it is so bloody boring. And utterly pointless. The sums HAD to be done on a number line - so I shouldn't have encouraged him to use logic and say 'if 12+18 is 30, then what is 13+18?'

everlong Sun 24-Mar-13 21:14:43

We do some on Friday night and then the rest Saturday morning and recap his spellings for a test Monday morning.

There used to be a fair bit of dragging of feet but now ( yr2 ) he knows that the sooner it's done his weekend is free.

AryaUnderfoot Sun 24-Mar-13 21:29:56

This half term's homework has been a bit ridiculous.

We have had (yr 1):

Reading books changed every time they're finished (usually 2 a week now that we're on longer books)
A phonics worksheet once per week
Two 'theme learning' activities, chosen from a selection. All involve some degree of 'creativity' - sadly lacking in our household
A (pretty extensive) book review
The bloody class mascot for a weekend - which entails doing something 'interesting' and then writing about it

Interestingly, we never get any spellings.

I think that's more homework than I had in the entire time I was at primary school.

From what I have seen of DS' school, it is the 'uninvolved' parents that don't 'do' the home learning with their children. Thus, the gulf between the 'cares' and 'cares-not' gets bigger and bigger. I'm not sure how this is supposed to help with 'narrowing the gap' IYSWIM.

simpson Sun 24-Mar-13 23:36:00

What I bloody hate is the "show and tell" homework (DD is in reception - last week she had to decorate a hard boiled egg, the week before make a rocket and this week make an Easter bonnet) this is on top of 2 reading books a week, spellings and numeracy homework oh yes and a book report.

80sMum Sun 24-Mar-13 23:42:59

I think homework is a great evil and should be banned! I don't see the point of it for children under about 14. It can ruin a child's weekend and invades into their down time.
Imagine if we all had to take stuff home from the office and get it done in the evening or at the weekend? Ok, sometimes we may choose to do that, but that's a big difference. We do at least have a choice, children don't.

MTSgroupie Sun 24-Mar-13 23:55:32

grin I'm paying good money for the above. You ladies are getting it for free AND you are complaining about it. Proof that if there is a God, He has a cruel sense of humour

steppemum Mon 25-Mar-13 00:26:23

homework does not improve outcomes at primary school level

I find it so annoying that we continue to have so much homework, when this has been clearly shown in research.

The only thing that is worth doing at home is reading (which I would guess includes practising phonics) and times tables.

Learning a list of spellings by look cover write check does not improve spelling either. Taking 5 spellings they got wrong in a piece of writing and spending 5 minutes doing look cover write check, does help as they are based on words they are using.

I truly hate homework (except reading) it has ruined many a weekend, which is precious family time, and a lot more important than writing in a homework book.

MTSgroupie Mon 25-Mar-13 02:10:10

This weekend was fairly typical.

Saturday morning both DCs were at Orchestra. Had lunch at Harvesters. DD went onto her violin lesson while DS went to his piano lesson. We all met up later to go swimming. Afterwards we left the kids at home to watch TV while DP and I did the weekly food shop at Sainsbury. Back home I cooked dinner while DP supervised the music practice. Dinner. 30min free time then 2 hours homework. This was followed by 'chill' time. Tonight it was Mystery Cluedo. Kids read for 15min then bed.

Sunday morning DCs did 30min music practice. We then went to the park to play in the snow. Pub lunch. Afterwards DD popped over to her friend's house while DS hanged out in town with his mates. The evening was very much the same as Saturday.

To summarise, about 4 hours of homework was done plus 2 hours of music practice. DCs had TV and PC time plus hanging out time with friends. And we had family quality time swimming and playing board games.

That was our weekend. If you are saying that a few basic pieces of homework totally messes up your weekend then I would be interested in knowing what you get up to since you obviously lead a much more packed life.

twofalls Mon 25-Mar-13 02:28:28

My school has a "no homework in ks1" policy. They just ask that we do reading as that has the most positive effect and some mental matches stuff round the shop and in the car. The more I read about homework on here the more pleased I am. Utterly pointless at this stage. I would just do the bare minimum and explain to the teacher you are not prepared to do any more than say 15 ir 20 mins. They are 5 and 6 ffs.

MrRected Mon 25-Mar-13 03:49:25

erm MTSgroupie - you sound so smug.

What you haven't factored in is :

Housework (Some of us work in the week and have to do housework on the weekend).
Gardening (as above).
Laundry. Don't get me started on the laundry - at least 10 loads for me this weekend. Washed, hung up, folded by me and then ironed by DH.
Any time whatsoever for the adults to go for a meal/cinema.
Any organised sport (with three kids who do music & organised sport, it's a challenge fitting it all in).

IMO homework on the weekend is just madness.

MTSgroupie Mon 25-Mar-13 07:53:30

Smug? There is that word again.

In a recent thread I mentioned that we don't have problems with toddlers coming to our room in the middle of the night because from the start we would always take them back to their rooms, comfort them and stay wiith pthem until they fell asleep. Once they realize that we don't let them stay, they gave up coming to our room. Problem solved. Apparently, handing out that basic advice made me sound 'smug'. <rolls eyes>

As for me not 'factoring' in stuff, both DP and I also have full time jobs. We start of the washing machine before going to work, hang it up when we get home and we split the ironing which gets done when watching NCIS or some cooking program. We aren't obsessive cleaners so we do the kitchen and bathrooms once a week, usually when the kids are doing their homework. Likewise with the dusting and hoovering. We cut the grass when it gets too long and we water our vegetable patch twice a day, once before work and once when we get home.

As for the weekday taxi service, DCs do three instruments each so that's four after school lessons they need to be taken too. Then there is the athletics club on Wednesday.

I get it that some people can be overwhelmed by work, children and Life but no need to get defensive about it.

everlong Mon 25-Mar-13 07:55:38

4 hours homework? Are these primary school children MT?

Hulababy Mon 25-Mar-13 08:48:57

I work in an infant school. Yr and Y1 have no homework bar reading. Y2 have reading plus one maths and one lit sheet a week but nothing happens if not done. Given to placate parents more than anything I reckon. Scrapped spellings ages ago as they are pointless on the whole.

When dd was in infants at her school there was daily reading, 8 spellings a week in y1/2 then one other piece a week. A pretty academic school but still only about 20 min a week.
She's I'm y6 now and still doesn't get anywhere near as much as some people on here are stating, the children all still achieve very highly, scholarships,to,next schools, etc.

Excess homework, beyond regular reading, for infants is just not necessary.

MTSgroupie Mon 25-Mar-13 09:03:18

They are at secondary school. Yes I know that the OP was talking about primary. Yes I know that primary kids need more homework help than older kids. But I was addressing the general point about how some people's weekends are so busy that an hour or so homework is enough to have parents pulling out their hair in frustration.

But if you want to talk primary school, substitute 'homework' for 11+ tutoring. Add on ballet and football and you have our weekend a few years ago.

rabbitstew Mon 25-Mar-13 09:06:39

Lots of time saved eating out at the weekend, MTS. wink

Does your vegetable patch really need watering twice a day in the snow?

I think your children must be at the older end of primary school if they hang out in town with their mates and do their homework completely independently while you hoover, dust and clean the bathroom. Do they ever help you with the housework?

I wonder whether part of the problem lies with the amount of supervision a parent thinks or knows their child needs in order to ensure the homework or music practice is done with a reasonable degree of effort. Some state primary schools seem to set homework with the primary aim of trying to get parents more involved in their children's learning (ie set tasks which require parents to get involved, rather than get on with the hoovering...). Others set work that could, feasibly, be done by the child with minimal hovering and maximum hoovering.

rabbitstew Mon 25-Mar-13 09:08:03

Ah, sorry, MTS - I see your children are of secondary school age. Did you tutor your children for the 11 plus or use a tutor?

MTSgroupie Mon 25-Mar-13 09:34:02

rabbit - Eating out is no quicker/labour saving than what most mums seem to cook. I mean, bunging in fish fingers and fries into the oven is hardly a time consuming task.

As for watering in the snow, I was merely responding to Mr's post about being busy with gardening.

I see where you are going with this but they don't help with the housework - I'm a bit OCD about how things are done.

I'm not sure why it's relevant to a thread about homework but I tutored them myself.

teacherwith2kids Mon 25-Mar-13 09:47:16

MTS, the OP was talking about homework in Year 1.

At that age, by far the most educationally beneficial activities at the weekend are
a) sleeping
b) reading or being read to from genuinely good books (not scheme)
c) having time to talk to adults
d) playing, whether alone or with an adult or with a group of children - preferably a good variety of games / activities, whether lego / board games / role play / small world play / art & crafts etc
e) physical exercise - whether organised or just playing in the park / taking a dog for a walk

Of course, later in primary, and in secondary, the list of 'most educationally beneficial activities' will change (though the importance of sleep and exercise remains).

teacherwith2kids Mon 25-Mar-13 09:51:54

(And I will say from personal experience as a teacher that the children who arrive in school on Monday morning best equipped to make progress in their work that week are NOT those who have had hectic formal-activity-and-homework-packed weekends, but the ones who have played with their friends, talked to their parents, eaten and slept well and read a good book or two.)

Startail Mon 25-Mar-13 09:54:27

Secondary DCs do their HW at 8,9,10 at night. In break or lunch hour.
DD2 sometimes wakes up early and does it then.

Several after school things don't start until 7 so HW first.

Also 90% of the time it doesn't need a parent, so you can be doing housework etc.
If DDs do need help it's often only phrasing a question for google or even just spelling one for DD1.

Quite different to sitting with a grumpy KS1/KS2 child who doesn't want to read a book they loath at 5pm, after swimming, while the dinners burning.

Or trying to do it at 6.30 after they have eaten and they want to play.

Startail Mon 25-Mar-13 09:56:20

Also secondary DCs will eat a snack and still eat a decent meal later, no way would DD2 when small. Any excuse at all to waste proper food.

MrRected Mon 25-Mar-13 10:02:57

Well MTS clearly you are just marvellous and a bit smarter/better than the rest of us.


lljkk Mon 25-Mar-13 10:22:57

pmsl @ MrR.

rabbitstew Mon 25-Mar-13 10:32:52

MTS - do you feed your children fish fingers and chips when you aren't eating out, then?!
I'm surprised you are both OCDish about cleaning and aren't an obsessive cleaner. Perhaps it would be good to encourage your children to learn how to do some housework. Not meaning to be smug or anything, but I'm sure you could fit that in, too, and it might do them good to know life isn't just a round of homework, music and sport. wink

And no, I don't always practice what I preach, or believe that the way I bring up my children is a model for anyone else - that's why I wouldn't be brave enough to outline what I do with my children at the weekends. It would only result in people telling me how to improve upon it and pointing out where I was failing. grin

Elibean Mon 25-Mar-13 10:58:57

Agree with that, Teacherwith2kids.

Going back to OP, I would echo the need to find out how long they expect children to be doing homework for and stick to the time limit. In dds' school, Y1 are expected to read every night (more or less), and have a homework task at weekends which is either writing or maths related.

It is optional. There is extension homework for those who want or need it, and if the child is young or has no support at home with homework or just needs to do something else that weekend, that is also fine. Its very child centered.

A different story in KS2, but even there they recommend a time limit!

I have to admit, I would be sad if dd1 didn't have time to make her wild and wonderful cardboard box houses, her Egyptian funeral barges, her house designs etc etc (ie mooch around being creative). I would be sad if dd2 didn't have time to bounce her netball obsessively, play school with her teddy bears, make endless cards for people.

I'm not entirely immune to the extraordinary levels of anxiety about that permeate London schools today, but mostly I am just so relieved not to be in that kind of environment.

RunningAgain Mon 25-Mar-13 11:05:40

My son is in reception and I never make him do his homework, but if he wants to do it we do it together. I don't think it's necessary for a 4 year old really.

moonbeggs Mon 25-Mar-13 11:36:45

Amazing how different schools can be. DS is in reception and has two reading books and one library book (to be read to him) a week, but no other homework apart from something interesting for the holidays. No spellings or anything as yet!

We also get tons of library books from the local library, mostly for us to read to him, with stuff for him to read himself too so he keeps practising when he wants to. We're not forcing anything, really, as we don't want to turn him off from learning.

Teacher is fine with him wanting to take things in that he does on his own, but seems very laid back on formal stuff. It's very play-based and relaxed. I have heard that the school ramps up things drastically in Y1 though...

MTSgroupie Mon 25-Mar-13 12:29:42

Rabbit - Sometimes it's fish fingers. Sometimes it's a casserole that I prepared the evening before and which I put into a slow cooker that is on a timer. Sometimes it's a roast with all the trimmings. Sometimes it's pasta pesto with a roast chicken. What's your point?

rabbitstew Mon 25-Mar-13 13:00:26

My only point is to point out your inconsistencies, MTS. I have no other point to my life. smile

Our homework can seem excessive at times. There seems to be something two or three times a week.

For example : a reading target
Numeracy homework - eg number bonds to 20
Phonics homework: at moment it's listing magic e words
Reading for at least ten mins

Plus now there's a journal to fill out after finishing the book.

Doesn't look like much but when it takes time to get home and u factor in dinner washing and some down time it still feels rushed. What annoys me a little bit is that its not changed even when children r moved up reading levels. A child on level four has a much shorter quicker book to read than a child on level eight and they r still expected to finish the sane amount of other work and read the same amount if books throughout the week.

MTSgroupie Mon 25-Mar-13 13:33:15

What inconsistencies are you talking about?

MTSgroupie Mon 25-Mar-13 13:50:41

Don't bother replying Rabbit since I'm hiding this thread shortly.

It obvious that you ladies just want to bitch about homework with like minded mums. The last person you want to hear from is a 'smug' person like me handing out 'smug' advice so there isn't much point in me sticking around.

BlueberryHill Mon 25-Mar-13 13:58:20

I sometimes feel like that too OP, I now try to space it out over the week and get the homework done the weekend. It doesn't take too long and the literacy is quite interesting, we were looking up facts for a fact file the other week and tried to relate it to something that he had done with us.

I hate the spellings though, I just do it 4/5 times a week, 5 / 10 minutes at a time and bribe him with watching his favourite programme afterwards. He is 6 yo and in Y1. Reading is either at the same time as spellings or with his reading at bedtime with us.

The thing I find difficult is having two pre-schoolers as well, keeping them occupied when I am on my own with all of them and trying to help DS with spellings / homework at the same time.

AryaUnderfoot Mon 25-Mar-13 16:36:21

Wheresmycaffeinedrip, I think the reading book system at DS' school is probably more sensible. The pupil's change their reading books once they've read them, and they choose their own from the correct 'box'. They are supposed to do 10 mins per night. DS is now on a level where his books can be anywhere between 16 and 65 pages long. Sometimes we finish a book in one night, sometimes it takes three or four days.

He never has the most stickers on the 'number of books read' chart, but he is very proud of the fact that he has to go into the year 2 classroom to get his reading books.

MTSgroupie your weekends (if typical) are utterly devoid of any contact with adults outside your own nuclear family. I wonder why?

Once u get to lime level at dds school then u choose them when your done although dd isn't remembering to do that very often. Before that you were given books on set days and if u finished them before u waited til the next change day.

fuzzpig Mon 25-Mar-13 16:52:42

We are lucky with DD's school (she is also yr1). Reading should be done every day (they are supposed to change their book every day too) but it isn't enforced AFAIK

Homework every fortnight or so - most recent was making a 'design board' for a new vehicle, but others were much easier than that.

No spellings. No worksheets.

fuzzpig Mon 25-Mar-13 16:57:19

Sometimes DD likes to do workbook type things - we have lots as they are cheap in shops like 'the works' but she only does them when she wants to. I think if the school gave her worksheets she would do them without too much bother, but they don't, so <shrug>

The local junior school gives out a homework matrix each term with set homeworks on various topics, but the child chooses when they do each thing. Seems to work well.

But homework should just be that - work that needs to be finished, completed or built on at home.

Our Yr boy just got reading and when he started Y1 there was reading, 7 spellings (HFW), a page of writing practice and an exercise extending the topic that was being done in class (drawing a picture, finding examples). Again, it was stressed to us that homework was handed out on Thursday for handing in on Tuesday and the child should do as much as they could - be it a line or 3 pages.

His books get changed once a week (he has 2 at a time) and is listened to at least once a week.

On the whole, the parents are quite happy with the amount of homework, but it is quite worrying when he has more to do than his sister in Yr3.

Elibean Mon 25-Mar-13 17:14:10

I think the main point is that the school should 'stress that the child does as much as they can' - when they do, parents are more likelhy to be ok with whatever the level of homework set.

Perhaps the OP's ds's school doesn't?

steppemum Mon 25-Mar-13 17:17:57

I know you were up thread a bit, but your original comment on 'why does homework ruin your weekend' was aimed at me, and to be quite honest, your reply just shows such a lack of comprehension of different ages that I am gobsmacked.

The op was talking about primary. My kids are all primary.
There isn't 2 hours after dinner to do homework,and THEN have chill time because at primary level they GO TO BED after dinner. So homework and chill time have to be fitted into the day.

If our day was as busy as yours I would have 3 very tired wiped out kids who couldn't do homework after all those activities because they are PRIMARY aged.

They need homework supervision because it is not reasonable to expect a YEAR 1 child to do it on their own.

Also personalities of children differ. My ds needs time out, time away from others, time to regroup, to sit on the floor and play lego. dd1 would love your family, she would happily go from one activity to another and never have chill time. ds would probably explode.

My eldest is year 5. At that age he does need SOME homework, and he is now expected to take responsibility for it himself. By the time he is in secondary, he will completely independent.

And yes we have had many a weekend ruined by homework.
We are quite strict, and yes we took our toddlers back to bed when they woke up. In the end they slept through in their own beds, but guess what? Those weeks and months when you are taking them back, still ends up with nights of broken sleep. Same with homework, now, in year 5, ds is reasonably independent, but the 5 years it has taken to get here have resulted in many ruined weekend as we have battled with homework.

Typically we would have had 3 hours of moaning, prevaricating, complaining, loosing pencils, chucking book across room, annoying sister, doodling in the back of his book etc etc etc. Then finally, when he had exhausted every option, been given consequences, and been put back on task for the 1000 time, he knuckled down and did it, which took 40 minutes.
Whole of Saturday morning gone, and me frazzled fed up and completely out of enthusiasm to do anything else.

Research has shown that homework does not effect outcomes at PRIMARY level, except reading.
On the other hand secondary homework is beneficial

alienbump Mon 25-Mar-13 17:23:09

Well DD1 had a similar amount of homework to get through this weekend to your DC MTS, but she also had to fit in 2 hours for horse riding, an hour for a netball match (plus travel to and back), 2 hours shooting her classmates at Lazerquest and another 2 hours ten pin bowling, also with her class mates. So in answer to your earlier question I guess we do have much more action packed weekends than you, full of stuff that I value much more than most of the homework activities that school send home.

steppemum Mon 25-Mar-13 17:29:46

and I do expect my dcs to help with housework, I think it is important life skill to be able to do basic housework, learn to cook, make their beds, put some washing in etc. I am astonished at the idea that secondary kids don't do this.

And it is relevant to a thread about homework, because time has to be built into the schedule for everything.

And of course all mums just bung some fish fingers into the oven hmm
and because eating out is so much healthier hmm

When they are 5+6 and probably older they need to come home play see friends or go to park. Have some dinner see their brothers/sisters or help walk the dog. And yes they should sit in front of the the tv watching crap cos they have just spent SIX hours at school and they need a rest. Sunshine and fresh air is more beneficial than homework. I expect a book or two but what I didn't expect was to be wondering what they did all day if this stuff wasn't done in class.

I cannot remember the last time I was able to send my dd to bed at half six cos she's knackered.

vertex Mon 25-Mar-13 17:50:29

Our 5 year old in reception has homework every night, Monday to Friday, and reading and revision for spelling test on Monday morning over the course of a weekend.

Mon: Reading; Tues: Numeracy; Wed: Creative; Thurs: Handwriting; Fri: Reading. Weekend: Revision and spelling revision.

We both work full-time, have a fairly active social life, do household chores and it all seems to get fitted in.

For the record, I think the homework is of a a positive benefit and stimulates our child too.

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

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

difficultpickle Tue 26-Mar-13 13:01:12

I'm another one who thinks homework at primary age is utterly pointless. I am a delinquent parent as I send ds to homework club on Fridays specifically to ensure I don't get saddled with having to nag ds to do his homework at the weekend.

He is out all day Saturday and soon will be out all day Sunday too. That just leaves Friday and Saturday evenings if he had to do homework too (as well as music practice, fortunately only two instruments).

bubblesinthebath Tue 26-Mar-13 14:27:24

Yr 3. Spellings = 7 days. Reading = 5 days. Maths homework = 1 day. Total time taken 3 HRS/week! If my Ds's spellings are not neat it takes 10 minutes, but if he is told that they have to be neat and tidy it can take over 20 minutes. Why on earth copying the same spellings out over and over again would need to be neat is beyond me.

IAmLouisWalsh Tue 26-Mar-13 17:37:23

Is now the time to admit that I am a secondary teacher?

AryaUnderfoot Tue 26-Mar-13 17:49:05

Ha ha - so am I!

vertex Tue 26-Mar-13 18:19:48

IAmLouisWalsh, I am shocked to the core, a secondary teacher and you use such profanities, I mean how could you possibly use the phrase "Bog off" so lightly :-)

vertex Tue 26-Mar-13 19:47:37

Oooops, think I have killed this thread.

Will tiptoe backwards quietly in the hope no one has noticed.

pointythings Tue 26-Mar-13 20:14:27

3 hours a week is far too much for Yr3. Is this a high-flying academic private school?

vertex Tue 26-Mar-13 21:31:02

Yes, pointythings breathes life back into the thread and removes my feelings of guilt all in one swoop of her keyboard.

pointythings Tue 26-Mar-13 21:55:38

You're welcome! grin

I just want a 'threadkiller' badge.

vertex Tue 26-Mar-13 22:18:50

okay, well I will let you get one by not replying to whatever you reply to this - that is really tempting the fates and yourself.

Good Luck Threadkiller

bubblesinthebath Tue 26-Mar-13 22:28:48

Sadly no pointythings its a mainstream school trying their best to make a mother do their work. The 3 hours do not include the multiplication list I was given to work on with my Ds too. In all honesty it wasn't until I saw an article about government guidelines regarding homework that I sat down and worked it out, was actually quite taken back, so since then my Ds has been doing his bits from the Monday and when he hits 1 1/2 hours I tell him to leave the rest. Just waiting for the headteacher to start quoting the school homework policy to me. Hopefully it will be nowhere near 3 hours.

Startail Tue 26-Mar-13 22:32:09

You are perfectly allowed to be a secondary school teacher. By secondary age even my dyslexic DD1 could do her HW without involving an adult.

Also at least some secondary HW has a point. (Some is still set because people think it ought to be).

My two saw through reading and spelling very quickly, DD1 could neither read or spell and no amount of B&Chip and being scowled at by the TA for not learning her words would change that.

DD2 learnt to read without trying and was born able to spell.

You run out of ways of writing awful and brilliant in a reading record very quickly.

Sparklymommy Wed 27-Mar-13 10:09:38

My ten year old daughter has 20 minutes reading five times a week, a times table to work on for a test,spellings, a maths homework, a literacy homework and a topic homework every week from school. This is set usually on a Wednesday for handing in on Monday. She also has 11+ tutoring and her tutor gives her an English piece, maths questions and verbal reasoning homework each work and usually expects her to do a practise test too. On top of this she has dancing every night except Thursday, and all of Saturday. Some rehearsals on Sundays. And a singing lesson on a Thursday. She also performs most wools one night in a local variety show.

I have never thought she is bring expected to do anything she cannot easily fit into her free time. She is usually in bed by 8pm, (unless a performance night or weekend) and still has time to play with her friends and chill in front of the telly. Her biggest problem is that she is not very organised and after completing her homework usually loses it! Cue lots of shouting, years and nonsense til it's found!

Ds1 is in y1. He gets reading (two books a week usually set biff and chip ones) and one piece of either literacy or numeracy. Occasional topic work. His homework is set on a Friday for handing in by Wednesday. He comes home from school on Friday and usually does his homework straight away. It usually takes him five minutes! He also dances, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Ds2 is in Yr. he gets the biff and chip reading books and that's about it. He also has speech therapy and his Salt gives him sounds work to do at home which he refers to as homework. Again has dance classes on a Wednesday.

Dd2 I'd in pre-school and has the occasional request for us to do something with her at home for her to talk about in class. She also dances Wednesday and Saturdays.

All my children also look at books daily, play board games, card games, enjoy colouring books and activity books and ask for them rather than sweets as treats. Homework is not ruining their lives and they are happy and healthy. Would suggest parents of children who get so much homework it ruins the weekend need to discuss this with their child's teacher.

rabbitstew Wed 27-Mar-13 11:25:51

Hi, Sparklymommy. Do you think your children's homework is actually well tailored to their needs?

Startail Wed 27-Mar-13 15:30:52

Sparkly you DD is no doubt very bright and like DD2 reads and writes very well on het own and sails through her reading no effort.
ie. she doesn't need to be doing the sodding HW in the first place and probably doesn't need a tutor either.

Meanwhile, my dyslexic DD1 took forever over her HW and needed help, so it was a total pain. School didn't get the dyslexia bit into their thick skull until she was 11 and had taught herself to read.

By the time they get to secondary, most DCs can do theirHW unaided. The age at which primary DCs can read, write and have the confidence to do likewise varies hugely. As does the number of extracurricular things they do. Throw in complex child care and separated parents and it can become an absolute nightmare.

You are very organised, not all parents are, nor as you say are all DCs.

DD1 isn't, but she's 15 and happy to do forgotten HW at 11pm. Also being dyslexic she hates writing, she can summarise anything in half a page and, thus keep out of detention. Most 8y can't.

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 15:39:42

Homework is a complete waste of time in primary school. Schools only do it because parents like it- the teachers know it's a waste of time!

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 15:40:23

Apart from reading, that is. Reading is vital!

Thewhingingdefective Wed 27-Mar-13 15:52:59

Break it down into chunks - 10-15 minutes a day. It's not that onerous. Read the book together at bedtime or after tea. Do spellings in the car. It doesn't have to take over and you can develop a familiar little routine. Don't stress if it doesn't all get done though - a little note 'DS was too tired to complete this' will cover it.

I am not a massive fan of homework for Keystage 1 but you can include it in your evenings and weekends without turning it into a Herculean task.

rabbitstew Wed 27-Mar-13 17:01:18

Do spellings in the car?! Clearly a parent who has no experience of extreme resistance.

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 17:34:06

And spellings are the most useless of all the useless homeworks too. But some parents love them!!!!!!!

AryaUnderfoot Wed 27-Mar-13 17:52:26

DS has never had spellings to learn. I am very glad...

pointythings Wed 27-Mar-13 21:03:46

I also think there is a big difference between a 10yo and a 6yo in terms of doing homework - my DD2 is 10 and does her homework unaided, I'd say that was pretty normal.

We never learnt he spellings though. Getting whatever out of 10 in a spelling test is no indicator of whether the child can actually use the word correctly and spell it correctly in an independent piece of writing, so we don't bother and look at her long writing assignments instead. Bonus - she enjoys doing these.

steppemum Wed 27-Mar-13 22:03:34

OK, there really are two completely different issues here .

One is the argument about the practicalities: my ds hates homework v. my dd loves it. We fit it in here v. we struggle to find time. My dcs are so together they can do spellings on the move v. my dc has to be battled with to get any homework at all.

Now I am not criticising. Some families enjoy sitting down with writing tasks and their dcs enjoy doing them. My dd is like this. There is nothing wrong with homework fitting smoothly into your routine if that works for you. Great. For other families, or other children this is not the case, homework is a battle and very stressful, and families would rather not have their time together taken up with the battle over homework tasks, but spend their time together doing other things. My ds is like that.
Neither is right or wrong,


The second argument, which is getting mixed up with the first is whether or not homework is necessary from an educational perspective. For families who fall into the first category above, it doesn't matter, their dcs like doing it, and take pleasure in it and it is a positive thing anyway, regardless of whether it is necessary or not.
But for the families who fall into the second category, this question is essential. if the homework is an important part of their education, then the battle is essential, and it must become part of life. But if homework (again apart from reading) is not essential, then the battle is unnecessary, and could be avoided, to the benefit of all. And again, we are talking about primary homework, especially KS1.

And I say again, you can have both types of children in one family, which really goes to show that all the comments about how organised you are kind of miss the point. All the good organisation in the world doesn't help.

MissDuke Fri 29-Mar-13 08:22:27

I def agree that some posters have forgotten that not all children are the same! My 8 year old has mild SEN, and homework is such a struggle. I do of course make her do it, but it is a huge drama everytime, and takes much longer than it should. I strongly resent that we have to have this fight, taking up so much of our precious time together, every blooming day. She adores reading, and we change her books in the library twice weekly - meaning we go to different libraries or she would run out of books to get lol. Why oh why can that not be enough for now :-(

Startail Fri 29-Mar-13 08:54:29

Ok the value of primary HW.
I'm 45 I remembered doing NO primary HW and I mean non, we didn't take even our reading books home. I have no recollection of ever formally reading to my parents.

We were supposed to take spellings home in Y6, I managed to forget every single week. Mum never knew they existed (she Looked after my teacher's DD and he never said anything???)

I don't have disinterested parents, schools and home were just to separate worlds. Parents weren't expected to be involved.

Did this lack of HW matter, of course it didn't, I can read, write and got very good O levels.

In fact, I suspect it was an advantage, I'm dyslexic and unlike DD1 who had a very stressful time with reading and spelling at primary, I learnt to read at my own pace and it was simply accepted I couldn't spell.

difficultpickle Fri 29-Mar-13 10:44:53

Startail I'm the same as you (although a couple of years older). We had no hw in primary school and like you I remember reading at school but not taking books to read at home. In fact when I started at grammar school having a prep book and homework was a real novelty. Despite this failing in my childhood I still managed to get O and A levels, a degree and a professional qualification.

I really don't understand why children are expected to do homework starting from the age of 4.

Elibean Fri 29-Mar-13 11:32:20

bisjo, I think its mainly to keep anxious parents happy.

formicaqueen Sun 31-Mar-13 20:06:16

Don't do it! We have opted out mostly with the exception of reading, which we do as routine.

The only important thing is reading at this stage and helping them love learning. If he is unwilling, don't push it.

Sparklymommy Mon 01-Apr-13 21:10:17


I accept that not all children are the same, and DD1 does appear (when it's written down like in my previous post) to do an extortionate amount of academic homework. The reality maybe is somewhat different. She rarely spends any time on spellings but appears to breeze through spelling tests. That said I have often felt very frustrated when the same spellings from last weeks test where she achieved 10/10 are nearly all spelt wrong in an essay! Maths she enjoys and appears to find it comes naturally to her. The tutoring is, I feel, important as she has expressed an interest herself in grammar school and wants to do well.

My DS1 has struggled more with his reading and needs encouragement to read at home because his confidence is knocked when his brother (13 months his junior) comes along and guesses (ussually correctly) the words he is struggling with.

I have always felt that whilst school is there to offer a basic education, without input from home and encouragement children can just drift along. I do feel that if I have a problem, or feel that the homework is not of an appropriate level, then I can speak to the teachers and express my concern. I am aware that I am lucky to have children who find they enjoy school and want to do well but I do also have experience of children that don't find school easy and would rather have all their teeth pulled than sit down and do a worksheet on long division! In that case I totally understand that the idea of 'home learning' can be daunting to say the least.

On the question of whether homework at primary level is necessary, no, maybe not. But education is only what you make of it. I do feel it sets a good precedent for the secondary school future and it means I can see a little bit of where the children are at school.

difficultpickle Mon 01-Apr-13 21:16:24

Ds scores top marks in weekly spelling tests too. It has never translate into competent spelling outside of the spelling test so I think there is no benefit in doing them, not that ds ever actually brings a list home.

I guess it depends on the school but I trust ds's school to give him work of appropriate level. All of his homework subjects have extension options which he does sometimes and sometimes doesn't bother. Thank heavens I only tend to see his homework two nights a week as the other nights he either doesn't have homework or does it at school. I'm not strong enough to deal with it 5 nights a week!

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