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I can't stand homework - do you think it's a good thing?

(188 Posts)
mydoorisalwaysopen Mon 16-Dec-13 09:34:39

DS1 (year 5) gets the same homework every week.... "This week we have been learning about X. Tell me what you know." Every week I have a battle to get him to do it and it just doesn't seem worth the effort. Marking is usually a tick and a smiley face. DS2 (year 2) gets a more detailed description of a task but very often it's a poster for this, that or the other. Marking is perfunctory but does occasionally contain a comment.

What are your thoughts on homework? I wish they didn't have any at primary school mainly as I think what they are set is of limited value and the main lesson being learnt is that mum will sit you down and drag it out of you. I won't be doing that every night for a couple of hours when they go to secondary school.

vkyyu Tue 31-Dec-13 19:44:38

I agree with postsellbydate. I am not a fan of unnecessary homework. However when knowing a child is behind or not quite secured in some area/s of a subject then I believe a little extra homework to help his/her parent to help that child will be a good thing unless the parent feels unable to. Otherwise how will the child ever close the ability gap or keep up with their learning to meet targets. If one is not keeping up with the rest of the class then one has to accept to put extra time into the subject. I have two summer children so I feel setting a little additional homework for them is way to help them close the ability gaps. Hopefully their lives will get easier as they get older.

ohdofeckorf Sat 28-Dec-13 22:46:15

Tea1sugar who is the teacher?? CT's are quick enough to tell me who is in charge when asked to provide additional support to my Ds aka fook you I do what suits me...if you don't agree then tell them why.

wordfactory numeracy is pretty poor in the UK because some schools push literacy.

Earlspearl Sun 22-Dec-13 18:54:02

Apart from regularly listening to reading and a small spate of completing homework in year 3, DS has done none at all. I don't believe his education has suffered at all. He's due to get 5a's at the end of primary school but has still managed to have a good degree of balance in his life. Looking back at the homework that's been set over the years, only a minimal amount seems to have been really useful anyway.

ThreeTomatoes Sun 22-Dec-13 12:47:08

No h/w this term other than the project before half term, i mean, and one other piece of writing.

ThreeTomatoes Sun 22-Dec-13 12:36:45

Tea1Sugar flipping heck dd never ever got that much H/W! Before the projects started, they got a piece of literacy (spellings plus write sentences for each word) and a sheet of maths to do (plus perhaps timestables to learn), given on Friday, due in the following Weds iirc. I think they were tested on them the following week. Plus reading. That was do-able, though still had to fight to get her to do it, esp maths (not her most confident subject). Often she'd be scribbling away the morning it was due while she ate breakfast. So pointless grin! In a way it was preferable to the projects, but at least dd enjoys the projects...

BTW, are you sure they're 'complaining' rather than just wondering where it is, checking they haven't missed it?? I've asked dd a few times this term if she has been given any H/W, apparently not - it doesn't mean I want her to have any!

I think this Xmas is the first time they've not brought back h/w. (not that i've ever let her do any over xmas). Thank god. Maybe it's because she's in yr6 and it's all gonna hot up in the new year for SATs so they've gone easy on them this term.

Tea1Sugar Sun 22-Dec-13 12:15:46

I'm a year 5 teacher. I hate setting it. But who complains more than anyone if you don't set it? PARENTS! My class get 20min Maths homework on a Tuesday, due in on Friday and 20min Literacy homework on a Friday due for Monday along with 45minutes of reading each week. Once a term they get a research project. Seriously though, if ever one piece slips through the net, I get several parents at my door asking where their homework is.

msmiggins Sun 22-Dec-13 11:38:02

I agree threetomatoes- My dd does 10 hours of dance a week- I particularly objected to large pieces of homework that were given out one day and due in the next.
Kids do have a life outside school.

ThreeTomatoes Sun 22-Dec-13 11:31:09

There is a ton of other stuff the kids do outside school.
If you don't work, assuming home by 4pm, that's what? 4 hours left before bed? Take off an hour and possibly another half an hour for dinner, bath - leaving them 2.5 hours 'free' time. Take off another 20 mins if they learn an instrument, and another hour if they go to a school club after school...
Of course, if you work and you're not home till 6pm or later there is no time at all left other than while dinner is being cooked (assuming they don't help with cooking). (I guess H/W can be done wherever they spend their after school time, but parents can't then be involved the way schools would like them to be).

Then of course there's weekends BUT....

Here's everything i can think of just off the top of my head that dd/we do out of school hours:

Piano practice (daily, at least 3 days a week) / evening concert once a term.
Woodcraft Folk weekly (Brownies equivalent for those who haven't heard of it)
Swimming twice a week - one is her lesson, the other together for fun
After School Club once a week (as in child care - the day I'm in the office)
After school club(s) (as in, the fun ones, not child care like above) - this term just one a week
School stuff like the termly school shows etc / choir / events

Then the random fun stuff...
Visit or go out with friends/family
Trips out - museums, parks, theatre etc
Play games
Watch tv/films
Writing stories/artsy crafty stuff
Reading (she's a big reader)
Houseworky stuff - tidying up, laundry, cooking/baking
And simply relaxing FFS!!

How on earth we would fit in regular big chunks of H/W I have no clue, esp if they were set during the week to be handed in 2 days later. Thankfully dd's H/W (in spite of being in yr6) has been minimal, a project and perhaps 1 or 2 other small pieces & that's it. Project she managed to do at the weekends. I have no clue how it'll be done at secondary when it'll be much more intense with shorter deadlines - Woodcraft & swimming lessons for a start are likely to continue...

Just to add, before anyone comments that we're too busy, it's only since Sept she's been able to do the extra-curricular stuff, since i started working mainly from home, & it's been great as she never had the opportunity to have swimming lessons (which she LOVES) or Woodcraft Folk before. IMO those are far more important than more H/W. All she used to do before was stay at after school club 4 days a week.

GoodnessKnows Sat 21-Dec-13 06:08:33


GoodnessKnows Sat 21-Dec-13 06:08:21

LAxy teacher who doesn't have sons - or daughters who struggle to retain stuff. That's my gut feeling.
I'm a teacher. In terms of brilliance (no thought of preparation, negligible need for marking, the semblance of weekly revision / consolidation), this teacher must've thought they'd struck bloody gold when she came up with this nugget. She's a nugget. Lol

Feebeela Fri 20-Dec-13 23:50:26

Forgive crap editing in post above. It's late.....

Feebeela Fri 20-Dec-13 23:49:14

Teachers are busy! Homework work for work's sake. It is not a great assessment tool as we have no idea when it is completed beautifully how long it took and how independently so hard to see so can't take any kind of assessment info from it. Maths homework is a particular minefield as often parents do not use/understand the written methods that we teach in school these days and can confuse children.

Homework is done by children who have space, support and peace to do it but many children do not have these luxuries and I don't believe that it's fair to penalise children younger than Y5 who have not completed the homework; you may be penalising them because they live in an overcrowded home or Mum and Dad don't speak English. Is this fair?

If you are concerned about your child's progress, speak to their teacher and ask if extra work is suitable. Teachers are accountable for your child's progress, so if your child can't add or their handwriting is awful then there will be questions from the Senior Leadership team about what is being done about it in class. Homework won't fix this, work in school will. Homework is given to appease parents, not for any educational reason. Trust us, we are professionals!

Reading every night for 10 -30 mins depending on age is non-negotiable however.

IrnBruTheNoo Fri 20-Dec-13 19:37:42

D'oh! He's not, he is actually in P2 blush

IrnBruTheNoo Fri 20-Dec-13 19:36:20

I don't actually mind it because DS1 does 10 minutes worth four days each week (Mon to Thurs). I supervise him, get to see him consolidating his learning, and it's lovely to see the progress he's making. I can see he's coming on leaps and bounds. He's in P1.

biryani Fri 20-Dec-13 18:49:22

picnic and pot: you've nailed this argument nicely.

varigated I understand that you are seeing things from a teacher's point of view. You are in favour of homework and trying valiantly to justify it. I commend you for sticking to your guns.

I grew up in the days where any sort of contact between school and home would have been unthinkable. We had the 11 plus, which everyone sat. There was no homework, and no coaching. Schools were trusted to get on with the business of teaching. Parents were expected to send their kids to school fed, alert and ready to learn. The system worked mainly because of this implicit sense of trust.

I believe that this sense of trust has disappeared as schools have become under pressure to meet increasing expectations: from parents, who now have "choice" and so are asking more questions of schools, and from the Government and its targets and league tables. As schools need to justify their performance children's education becomes an exercise in box ticking. Homework ticks a box, so schools can't really be blamed for setting it if it makes them look better.

varigatedivy Fri 20-Dec-13 17:51:27

Maybe we are talking about 2 different things?

Most parents' gripes here are about the lack of suitable homework, not HW per se.

It is an interesting topic- I've actually discussed this with professors of education in unis and they can't even agree!

The common ground was that homework ought to be meaningful and at the right level.

It's a mistake to say all HW is wrong, imo.

Some children do benefit from the reinforcement they can get at home by doing more examples of numeracy than there is time for at school. The same applies to reading.

I've taught across all ages and at secondary level you don't get through the curriculum unless a certain amount is done at home. It's not a bad idea to get children into the habit of HW before year 7.

If you find you are having to help your child all the time with their HW then you ought to speak to the teacher because your child should be doing it themselves, with a tiny bit of help.

If they are struggling then it proves they need more of it- not less- unless their teacher has really got the level completely wrong.

Wearing my other hat, then I know that as a teacher I sometimes groped around for HW to set, simply because it was on the timetable- set by the Director of studies etc.

HW is only useful if it extends, prepares, or reinforces something taught, or which is going to be taught. If it doesn't do any of these and the child is simply jumping through hoops then it's a waste of time.

Really though if you feel your child's HW is a waste of time, too easy or too hard, then this is something you really ought to talk to the school abaout.

wordfactory Fri 20-Dec-13 17:16:02

passedgo it was part of the school's ethos that the home/school partnership was strong and that parents should fully commit to support.

Since it was a private school, no one had to be there. You paid your money knowing exactly what was expected.

That was pasrt of the reason I chose it - to be fully involved. And the overwhelming majority of parents felt the same.

The education provided by school and us was second to none. My DC loved school. And I'll be honest, I never had any problem getting my DC to do the HW. It was short, focussed and valuable. Exactly as it should be.

NeverKnowinglyUnderstood Fri 20-Dec-13 17:13:27

we get 30 minutes of homework each night for DS1.
it has been a battle.
So we now do what the teachers have advised.
we sit, talk through the task, ensure he understands what is expected.
we check if there is anything he feels he will need help with.

Then we set the 30 minute timer on the oven
after 30 minutes it all goes away. (unless he only has less than five minutes left to do)
He is not supposed to have more than 30 minutes, the task should be designed not to take longer,
If he has faffed around I am not going to take any more family time doing it with him.

It works well for us. They are getting into the habit.
DS2 gets reading each day and spellings and tables to learn each week we do that in the car to and from school each day.

I really have no problem with homework as long as it is well planned by the teacher.

picnicinthewoods Fri 20-Dec-13 17:07:46

Oh and kids do not need structured activities to learn either! They need very few things, very few toys, some books and so forth, maybe some outdoor space. They need time and space to be creative and use their imaginations. They need conversations and interactions with their family and the wider community. These things are what they need after school, not homework & not structured activities. So guess what? Even children from poor families can achieve this.

pot39 Fri 20-Dec-13 17:02:19

No no no no no no no no.
THink that covers it.
except for reading and times tables.
Let them learn through play, fighting.
yeah how will they learn once they get into secondary school.
Not a clue.
I couldn't be a more engaged (but not pushy) parent, always been a governor of their schools ( state). I adore my children, only want them to be happy etc and huge musical, sporting and academic stars ( their dad and I aren't, so god knows how that will happen).
I have wasted more emotion over homework in the last 12 years than anything else.
The theoretically more gifted one still resists homework and the dyslexic one gets on and does it.
They both hated it always.
So let them play, fight, eat worms, learn to communicate don't do useless SAT related worksheets.

GOt that off my chest.

picnicinthewoods Fri 20-Dec-13 17:00:12

varigatedivy I agree learning does not stop at the school gates but I couldn't disagree with you more on everything else you have said.

Most of the homework sent out in primary schools is ill thought out & often worksheets or tasks which do not meet the individual child's needs.

Teachers then usually put a tick at the bottom or quite often it gets lost amoungst the vast amounts of paperwork on their desks. That is not learning!

I can see the point of sending reading books home to some children, but usually these are reading scheme books which some parents make their tired child read in the evening instead of reading them a book themselves at bedtime. Wow, how to put a child off reading in one easy stroke! How about sending home some wonderful examples of children's fiction to be shared at bedtime?

If homework in primary school is to encourage independent learners, then how come most children require a LOT of parent input? Homework is often 'one size fits all', with little or no differentiation.

I'm not blaming teachers here, they have enough to do without marking piles of useless homework. Seriously, it is a waste of everyone's time.

If kids must have homework in primary school, then at the very least it should be ideas for things to make or do. Things which do not require marking but which could be displayed on a home learning table or something to be admired by all & maybe inspire others in the class. Also it should be optional.

The worst reason for homework at primary age is 'that it prepares them for secondary school'. What a load of bollocks! It does not. Can't they just learn that lesson WHEN they get to secondary school? They don't take exams until the end!

What bugs me more than anything though is parents who complain about homework but still do it! Please all of you, put your money where your mouth is! Homework is not compulsory. You don't agree with it? Don't do it!!!! Simple.

The most important thing for kids to learn when they get home, is how to spend quality time with their families. They must have adequate time for play and to process their day. Learning does indeed happen ALL THE TIME, but no-one needs a worksheet or a project to make them learn!

varigatedivy Fri 20-Dec-13 16:21:53

I think it's nonsense to say that homework has no place.
If you say that learning stops at the school gate- unless of course you are a resourceful and educated parent who can afford the time and money to help your child with 'structured activities ' etc- then children grow up thinking that what is done in school stays in school.

For example- an fairly extreme example by some people's standards- there are families that have NO books for pleasure in their home.

The only book their child reads is at school. They could therefore grow up believing that reading was only something you did 'in school' if they have never seen an adult sit and read for pleasure.

As a former teacher working in literacy this is not that far off the mark- you'd be amazed at how many families do not have novels in their homes and how few men read for pleasure in front of their children.

So introducing a child to the pleasure of reading outside of the classroom is one goal in itself.

I have no truck with this idea that you learn in school, come home, and then do other things. Education in the broadest sense is about learning throughout your whole life- not simply when you are in a classroom and being made to learn things.

I had masses of homework at junior school because it was ages back and everyone did the 11+. The work I did at home simply reinforced what I'd done during the school day- I'm sure I had maths and English almost every day- and my father used to spend hours with me helping me with the maths.

varigatedivy Fri 20-Dec-13 16:11:04

schools do not need to "take learning beyond the classroom". I think this is a patronising view. Learning takes place beyond the classroom anyway, in the form of structured activities, hobbies and interests. Schools do not have the monopoly on learning.

Learning takes place beyond the classroom in the ways you describe if you are an educated, reasonably well off and educated parents.

What about the other kids whose parents are none of those?

passedgo Fri 20-Dec-13 13:20:42

Wordfactory 'The odd child whose parents couldn't really be arsed didn't generally fair too well.'

Precisely why schools shouldn't rely on parents to teach their children. If they can't do it within 6.5 hours, 5 days a week, 36 weeks of the year, there must be something wrong.

biryani Fri 20-Dec-13 08:38:28

I take the view that school should begin at 9 and end at the end of the school day. I think that if a school wants to set additional work then it should make time available at the end of or during the school day.

I believe that, outside of school, the child should be free to pursue its own interests, to relax and to be free of the influence of formal schooling.

varigated schools do not need to "take learning beyond the classroom". I think this is a patronising view. Learning takes place beyond the classroom anyway, in the form of structured activities, hobbies and interests. Schools do not have the monopoly on learning.

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