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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!

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.

Binkyridesagain Thu 10-Jan-13 16:02:16

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.

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