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Following on from an earlier thread - how important is homework?

(23 Posts)
seeker Tue 30-Sep-08 00:02:24

Well, obviously if it's set then it is important and has to be done. But an earlier thread made me think - because a lot of people seemed to be saying that homework should come before anything else. I have never thought this and have on occasion been prepared to write notes to teachers asking for extensions if a child has been very tired, or if some special (and I mean special) event meant that there hadn't been time for it. I think that children work very hard in school (at least mine do) and they deserve sometimes to be cut a bit of slack. Activities, interests and yes, even social events are important in making a rounded individual.

So, what is more important than homework? Siblings birthday party? Granny's birthday party? Sporting competition? Musice festival? Or...?

notthebubblyseaweed Tue 30-Sep-08 00:16:35


From experience, 15 to 7, occasions that I am willing to write notes for radically decrease the older they get.

I have written the "excuse" note but now refuse for two oldest (15 yesterday and 12) and they accept this and get on with the homework.

However I think that kids are too young now when this obssession with homework starts and think all your "outs" are reasonable and necessary events in their development.

And perhaps the holy grail of the "rounded individual" may lie in a happy medium, as crawling as that sounds.

islandofsodor Tue 30-Sep-08 00:17:28

At primary level everything is more important than homework.

At secondary it is a bit more blurred. I think if levels of homework were more reasonable eg. in line with what we (I) used to get as children then there would be no problem, it would be done no matter what. But it's the hours and hours that bothers me. Children are children and need time to relax, pursue hobbies, do community and voluntary work and become well rounded young people, not to be burnt out.

scaryteacher Tue 30-Sep-08 09:28:08

There is an expectation that homework will be set even if it is for show. I only set homework if I needed to see that the kids had understood a concept (solve a puzzle using grid referencing) (fill in the gaps to show you understand OS map symbols), or if I needed them to do something for the next lesson, but otherwise, if I was happy that they had grasped what they needed to during the lesson, and the homework wasn't adding anything, I didn't set it at KS3. I also never set homework such as 'finish the classwork'.

At KS4 homework tended to be exam questions, or to research and prepare a certain position for a debate, or to learn key terminology that would up the marks in an exam.

I never set homework at half terms or in holidays (staff and students need the break) apart from Year 11, when I set them revision of certain topics.

I notice that one of the academies is dropping homework, and teaching for an hour extra a day - that makes more sense to me.

cory Tue 30-Sep-08 09:29:33

Depends on age, definitely. And the nature of homework seems to change too over the years.

What dd in Yr 7 is getting is mainly project type work which is spread over a period of time: it's to teach her time management as much as anything else.

She is old enough to understand that if she gambles on having oodles of time/feeling fit and well/the computer not going wrong during the weekend when a 4 week project is due in on Monday morning- then she has only herself to blame!

The day to day homework at this age is mainly things like learning vocab- you can do that in the dinner queue or in the car or wherever.

For a child in infants it is a different story. I would be quite lenient in Reception and Yr 1- dd was very tired at this age, and a lot of the time I didn't even bother to write notes. Or I wrote things like 'dd spent 10 minutes on this but found it difficult/was too tired to understand it'.

For ds who is in Yr 4, it's a sort of halfway house. If it was something expected coming up (most birthdays are IME) I would remind him of it earlier in the week and point out that he needed to get started earlier than usual. He rarely has homework that has to be completed from one day to another; they usually give it out a few days in advance and they have a set homework day for different subjects so, it's all very straigthforward. If things really got mixed up, I might write him a note. But it hasn't really been a problem: his pieces of homework are generally so short that I could get away by simply getting him out of bed half an hour earlier in the morning or letting him stay up for an extra half hour.

He has had lunchtime detention once for not completing his work (his own fault): I pointed out that this was not his teacher being mean and wanting to punish him, but simply because the work needed to be done at some stage, for the sake of his learning; if he hadn't done it before, he would have to do it at lunchtime.

I did feel homework more of a burden in infants, but that wasn't because dc's spent so much time actually doing any work: it was all the tedious time they spent fooling around. Now that they are a bit more business-like about it I am realising that the actual homework in these particular schools is not massive; it's not going to stop them from being rounded individuals.

overthemill Tue 30-Sep-08 09:32:45

for gcse i understand the need but for younger ones it all seems a bit obssessional. my 3 do what they need to:
1 (yr 11 gcse) is obsessive and works too hard (13 gcses)
1 (yr 8) does as little as possible and always lies and says he has none. he'd rather play rugby or be off biking with his mates,
1 (yr 5) is loving the grown up homework and adores having it but needs to be sat down to do it at the weekend.

special things eg big celebrations/big rugby matches take priority. hated the yr 11 one having to bring homework on holiday this year

peanutbutterkid Tue 30-Sep-08 09:50:23

DC will NOT do homework unless I make it a condition for using computer/watching TV. They simply won't do it. Even then, they may not do the hw.

Last year parents had a kind of revolt... school started a parents' forum and THE issue was homework. I don't think the hw is that hard (cough cough, for my kids), but plenty of parents said it was for their offspring, plus it didn't get marked parents said, they didn't think children should have so much or at all before Y3, complaints like that.

So far this term. no hw at all for DC (Y2, Y4). It has certainly made life more pleasant at home! I wonder if it's actually a new policy by school, but I'm afraid to ask.

roisin Tue 30-Sep-08 16:30:18

I do think homework is very important, and we do plan calendar/diary accordingly.

Mine have never had homework where they just have one day/night to complete it, and often have a week. We have always had clear ideas on how much hwk to expect and can plan accordingly. So, for example, if we are away for the whole weekend I would schedule in a hmwk slot for the boys at some point and make that expectation clear to them.

If we have a 'grand event' on a midweek evening (for example next week ds1 is singing at a big arty launch thing and won't get back home from school until about 9pm after leaving home at 8 am) then I will make sure the calendar is kept clear the day before and the day after, and make sure hmwk is as up-to-date as possible before the busy day.

sarah293 Tue 30-Sep-08 16:32:20

Message withdrawn

cornsilk Tue 30-Sep-08 16:35:21

I also hate homework. Have never read anything that proves that homework actually raises standards significantly. I have read lots to indicate that homework for many chn can have a negative effect. Some schools are moving towards setting independent studies as homework (TOPICS!)which would be much more useful I think.

sarah293 Tue 30-Sep-08 16:38:05

Message withdrawn

TsarChasm Tue 30-Sep-08 16:50:24

I am rather hmm about homework for infants.

It bugs me that they get it, when I find out they have watched dvd's and done so much other stuff totally unrelated to the spellings, writing, maths and reading that get sent home and that we have to jam into the evening and weekends. Sometimes it feels like we are teaching things from scratch. Also I feel that they are too young and too tired for more schoolwork.

For Juniors, I am slightly less hmm about it because I have to say dd hasn't been expected to do an unreasonable amount so far.

BUT and this is my biggest bugbear, there were a couple of episodes with one teacher who would set homework and then not bother to look at it. I'm talking a whole half term project which took ages to do. I think that is beyond the pale angry

It does sometimes seem as though a topic is merely being flagged up to bring home and be taught by parents rather than as an extension of what has happened in class.

magentadreamer Tue 30-Sep-08 16:59:29

DD yr7 manages to keep up to date with her homework ATM by doing it as she gets it. I did have a minor panic attack over a weekend away I'd had planned for months which involved DD coming home from school changing and us basically running out of the house to catch a train and not returning till late on the Sunday night. As it was DD had only one peice that needed to be in on Monday - some maths which she did on the train. If there had of been items that need more indepth stuff or use of the computer I'd have written a note explaining why it had not been done. But only for anything set on the Friday. I do see the need for homework but also see the need for a bit of slack.

cory Tue 30-Sep-08 17:06:26

I actually quite enjoy dd's Yr 7 homework. No, I don't get to write it grin, but she talks about it and I find it all quite interesting. Mummy's mind could do with a bit of expanding. The only thing I resent is when she needs the internet and keeps me from Mumsnet. Do you think I should write the teacher a note and explain that I can't be doing with this?

magentadreamer Tue 30-Sep-08 17:30:52

Yes! grin

seeker Tue 30-Sep-08 21:44:40

I find a lot of dd's homework interesting - and so, thankfully does dd. Her school is also very good about marking it promptly and in detail (not, I understand a universal experience!) But I would have no hesitation in writing a note asking for an extension (or encouraging her to go and talk to the teacher and ask for one) in exceptional circumstances.

People on the other thread told me in no uncertain terms that a trampolining competition (where she was part of a team) and a long planned trip to the zoo with rarely seen friends to see 8 week old tiger cubs and a baby elephant were not exceptional circumstances. I remain convinced that they are!

The tigers were so georgeous that I'm on the brink of soppy tears as I write about them. And the elephant was absolutely wonderful.

Reallytired Tue 30-Sep-08 22:19:17

I think that the problem with a lot of homework is that its not differentiated to the child. Ie. its either way too hard or pointlessly easy.

I would prefer it if my son only had reading, or possibly spellings in primary school. There is no way that a teacher can give 30 kids the reading practice they need.

However some of my son's homework can and should be done at school. For example he had to write instructions on how to make a sandwich. Well why could he not have done it at school? Or his maths homework was nothing more than a work sheet.

We have had some good homeworks though. For example he had to go and ask an elderly person what their life was like a child. Our 90 year old neighbour and my son had a great chat.

seeker, I'm glad that your daughter went to her trampoling competition and the zoo. Outside experiences like that are important.

SqueakyPop Tue 30-Sep-08 23:00:02

All most all my pupils' written work is done as homework. We hardly do any writing in class. All of their research work, which I do set fairly often, is done at home.

The great value for me is that their homework is their own work, unlike work done in class which tends to be group work and interaction with me. I feel that I can assess them accurately via their homework, and leave class work for far more valuable and exciting tasks.

I think there are loads of advantages for the pupils, notably that they get more say in how they do what I ask and let it appeal to their individual learning type.

For parents, it lets them see more closely what their children are up to in school (but please, don't do your children's homework for them).

Reallytired Wed 01-Oct-08 15:48:25

"All most all my pupils' written work is done as homework. We hardly do any writing in class. All of their research work, which I do set fairly often, is done at home."

I feel this is seriously wrong and back to front. I would prefer if my son played at home and worked at school. He is only six years old fgs.

"The great value for me is that their homework is their own work, unlike work done in class which tends to be group work and interaction with me. "

Are you really naive enough not to think that children are getting help from their parents.

Why can't you make the children work individually in silence if you want to see what children are capable of individually. It would be fairer on those whose home lives are so chaotic that they have nowhere to work. Prehaps more importantly the children would be physically at their best and not tired in the evening.

"I feel that I can assess them accurately via their homework, and leave class work for far more valuable and exciting tasks."

Prehaps children want to do more valuable and exciting things with their parents. Ie. like playing with friends, hobbies or going to the zoo. To me your reply seems a total cop out. ie. teacher does all the fun things and parents have to make the children do the boring grind.

When most people enter the workplace they do the boring stuff at work. In the evening they relax and do whatever they like. Surely we should be teaching our children a healthy work life balance.

singersgirl Wed 01-Oct-08 16:29:51

All the things Seeker says are more important than homework at primary level. We don't get much homework - DS2 has his first this year, Y2, and it's one piece a week, set on a Monday for a Friday. DS1, Y6, gets 2 pieces with the same timetable, so it's usually pretty quickly done on a Monday or Tuesday. They both read anyway and spellings we usually go through once to check if there are any they don't know. Mind you, DS1 has 'septuagenarian' this week, so I'm not sure when he's going to use that.

singersgirl Wed 01-Oct-08 16:30:16

Oops, sorry, DS2 is Y3.

overthemill Wed 01-Oct-08 16:52:12

i think homework is important but should be to back up/revise what they 've done at school.

i get fed up with her coming home with stuff that she appears not to have done in school and her struggling to do it for the first time eg 'improper fractions' this weekend

if we could have a parents' crib sheet that would help as i stopped school about 32 years ago and i am sure that techniques taught are different these days!

But most of all, i want her to have fun, we don't do any after school activities aprt from brownies as i want her to enjoy her leisure time, not have it crammed with 'work'

SqueakyPop Wed 01-Oct-08 19:39:14

I don't teach 6 year olds, RT.

I teach Science, and we tend to do practical work in lessons - real practicals where they get to do their own investigations.

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