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Primary Homework

(29 Posts)
kicker Thu 11-May-17 11:12:11

My children's junior school (state academy, 32 in a class) is asking for parental input to decide their homework strategy.

At the moment year 3 and 4 have one formal piece a week. (Not doing it results in missing mid morning break time and doing it then)

Maths is done via my maths and then there are various other 'literacy' based things depending on what they have been doing in class.This week they had a comprehension, and two weeks ago they had to research and produce a fact file or poster on an explorer which required a lot of help and supervision from me as we had to use the internet.

In addition they're also expected to read three times a week minimum, prepare 15 spellings for a weekly test; times tables for a fortnightly test.

Year 5 and 6 have maths and another literacy homework as well as reading and spellings.

I know there is research to say that homework in primary is pointless in regards to results and impinges too much on family life. The school will not get rid of it completely because there would be uproar as
its demographic is middle class, relatively wealthy and aspirational so I think my opinion would not be popular. Personally I think reading and times table drilling at home is enough.

I am looking for ideas that I can present to the headteacher and other parents at a working party. I definitely don't want to add to the teachers' workload.
What has your school done to make homework bearable? Or what do you wish they would do? Thanks

BigWeald Thu 11-May-17 12:16:31

Short of 'no homework except reading' in my ideal world I'd like to see a list of suggestions for activities to do at home to support the children's learning, on a totally voluntary basis. I'd like this list to be quite well thought through, closely linked to what they are currently covering at school, and quite detailed. So some work involved for the teacher. However I would not expect any part of this homework to need to be marked. So on that side, no work for the teacher, just benefits if the children come back to school having acquired new skills/knowledge.

We're still KS1. Here's an example of what I'm imagining:

This half term in 'topic' we are exploring 'The First Moon Landing'.
Here are some age-appropriate books you could read with your child: ...
Here are some interesting webpages/videos/other media to explore: ...
X local museum has a relevant exhibit.
The Science Museum and Space Museum are fun places to visit.

In science we are looking at x.
This website has some easy experiments you can conduct at home.
This youtube channel shows some interesting aspects of the topic.
Here are some easy to read books.

In maths, we are doing x and y.
This website provides good explanations and shows the methods meant to be used.
This app is great for practising x.
This website has free worksheets that are great for practising y.

In English, we will be looking at x book.
The book is available at the library.
There is also a film based on the book: ...
It has been made into a musical: ...
If your child enjoys this book, other books of a similar difficulty by the same author include ... and similar books by other authors are ...

So, setting this type of (I repeat, voluntary!) homework would take a bit of effort, but only once per half-term. And no marking!

SasBel Thu 11-May-17 12:22:08

Agree with Big.

My yr3 DD has no homework except reading, lovely contrast to the homework journal (not compulsory) with assorted activities in yr2.
As a pushy parent I simply chat to my kids, answer their questions, play with them, and on occasion take them to cool places. School teaches them a lot, the combination seems to be working so far!

bojorojo Thu 11-May-17 12:24:15

I think I would advise that detailed research topics are cut down for Yr 3 and 4. Perhaps two a term for Y5? However, lots of children can use a computer in Y3/4 if pointed in the right direction. It usually just needs a couple of good web sites or even ---- a book! Yes, there is evidence that too much homework is counter productive but parents will look at private schools and want their affluent state school to be like them regarding homework.

I would say that reading for pleasure, or a scheme if necessary, and keeping a reading log, practicing maths concepts including tables, writing short pieces which do not require extensive research, and spelling is about right. No more than 20 minutes a night. I also think some children need more practice at some areas of the curriculum than others, so homework could be more nuanced.

bojorojo Thu 11-May-17 12:26:14

Also, great if you do take your children out to interesting places and talk to them. Lots of parents do not do this!

SasBel Thu 11-May-17 12:47:21

Sad to hear bojo, luckily I live near the beach, and can locally access a few museums for free. We are lucky enough to have friends up and down the country that we can visit. I am also a chatter box so find it hard not to talk to the kids!

BlueChampagne Thu 11-May-17 13:08:33

BigWeald that could have come from our school! Topic-based ideas for voluntary homework, and scope for children (and parents) to have their own ideas. We have sent in homework in various media (film and cake for example) as well as the more usual model or writing.

Look at other school websites for their homework policies, and advised time per week to be spent on homework.

Zodlebud Thu 11-May-17 13:44:29

I actually quite like the way our Y3 homework is structured. One piece of English and one piece of maths set on a Monday and due to be back in the following Monday. Combined both pieces take 40 mins to an hour to complete.

I like this approach as it means we fit it in at the points in the week that work for us. It is also teaching my daughter how to plan her time, so if we have something on at the weekend then she knows she has to get it done in the week. All homework consolidates what has been learnt in class the previous week - the idea being that limited, if any, parental involvement should be required. It also promotes independent study as a result.

They are also expected to read for 10 minutes every day by themselves with parents "listening in" once a week and have 15 spellings tested weekly.

There's additional online stuff (Mathletics and some French thing) for those who want extra. Some do it, some don't. Mine don't.

They usually don't get anything in the holidays other than reading which is nice.

I am very happy with how it works as she is taking responsibility for her own work and time which is a great skill to have. Homework which requires huge amounts of parents time, becomes a fight, causes stress etc. No thank you!!!!!

Pengweng Thu 11-May-17 17:26:59

Our school do a homework grid. So for each term (generally 6 weeks) there are 6 options, some of which will be to do with what they are learning. For example they have been reading secret seven and one homework was to design a clubhouse (some kids drew pictures, some made models, some wrote a story), another one was to practise measuring by baking/cooking something. There is usually 2 'wish' options which means they can choose to do something from the wish list they created at the start of term.

All years have these grids and one piece of homework is expected to be completed each week or all 6 completed by the end of term but there really aren't any punishments for not doing it.

I think it's a fab idea and the kids generally really like to share their homework with the class on share day.

Allthebestnamesareused Fri 12-May-17 11:25:41

Spellings and timetables! That would be my preference.

I like the idea BigWeald put forward about other stuff you can do if you want. However optional stuff is usually only picked up by either middle class parents or clever children leaving some of those that may benefit most lagging behind.

sazzleevans Fri 12-May-17 12:27:19

I think it depends on the school. I will give you my experience which sort of hit a wall two weeks ago. My approach as been that I feel at home i help my kids develope into little people. Help them discover who they are. They are lucky kids we travel a lot and I am always heading out with them on an adventure to a museum or zoo. I talk to them a lot and am a stay at home mum so I am on hand all the time. I felt this was enough! One of my kids has aspergers so get stressed about school work so i thought not pushing at home was the way forward...until the SATS papers!!!

I am totally against STATS but in Wales kids do them each year from year 2 to year 6. I did a test paper two weeks ago with my kids and was really surprised how little they knew. I didnt expect them to get loads right I was thinking they would be average and muddle through the paper. As i was explaining how you would work it out I could tell even long adding up wasn't coming easy! It has never been raised as an issue by the school. So i had a chat with the kids about it. They were amazing explaining the teacher says it once and then the topic moves on. I am sure it isn't that simple but i get the idea if you cant grasp it the train just keeps rolling on anyway. I am sure this is the same in a lot of schools! It is a very good school and there is competition to get your kids in.

So my approach has now changed. I need to do more at home to help them keep on board this ever moving train and they are only in year 3!

sazzleevans Fri 12-May-17 12:33:03

Kicker i would have been with you this and our schools sound similar but my opinion has now changed. I messaged a few mums and asked how they felt and some had maths tutors. All great but i had no idea. So their friends were understand and keeping up as they were having private maths lessons. I talked to my kids about this too and explained why some of their friends were far better at maths and we talked about how we could catch up in effect. There is no point not catching up as the result will be you will never understand as you are always 3 steps behind.

sazzleevans Fri 12-May-17 12:35:36

Can you sense my sudden sense of doom lol

BigWeald Fri 12-May-17 13:42:01

Allthebestnames, my thought is that many middle class, aspirational parents will do some of those things anyway. We do, for example, despite no such suggestions being brought forward by the teacher. But I find myself chatting to other parents, mentioning 'oh we went to visit xx the other day, to give a hands-on experience of the topic' just to find that some other parents didn't even know of the existence of xx. Now having heard of it, they are keen to take their own children there. Some may simply not have the time to do the research needed. Hence why suggestions provided by the teacher can be helpful to level things out a bit.
Also, I think some parents are very much unaware how much extra practice/tutoring etc some other children get.
And some would practise more with their kids if they felt they could do so efficiently, targeted at the topics currently being covered at school; but would never make their child do random workbooks in addition to long school hours.

kicker Fri 12-May-17 16:40:29

Thanks everyone for your input and sharing what you like about your own schools approach.

Flynnshine Mon 29-May-17 22:26:00

I'm a bit late to this one but wanted to add something.

I have thought for a while that my DD's school gives far too much 'homework' to the point that this half term I am wondering if they are expecting the children (and parents for that matter) to have any kind of break.

She is in year 1 - so has recently just turned 6.

Each week they have spellings relating to the sound they have learned that week (Phonics) They have to come up with 5 words with that week's sound, spell them and then write two sentences using a couple of the words they have chosen to spell.
They also have Mathletics and this week there are 4 tasks - each with around 10 questions.
They have a 'project book' which is given every half of a term with 5 tasks to be completed (usually works out to around 1 a week) they range from a simple maths problem, retelling a 'creation' story, researching what a bunch of dinosaurs ate and creating posters.
My DD has also brought home a task set for her to practice using scissors safely (she is blind but in a mainstream state school) a huge sheet of white paper then pieces of coloured paper for her to cut and make a tree picture.
Library Reading books (which I read to her) and one or two braille books a week for her to read to me.

They are also practicing for tests in phonics at the moment so once a week stay at school for an hour to practice their sounds.

My DD is often so exhausted when she gets home from school so getting her to sit with me for even 15 minutes when she gets home is an effort - she wants to eat and chill and then go to bed. That means weekends are a frantic rush to make sure everything is done ready for the new week.

Does anyone think this is just far too much for a 6 year old? sad

irvineoneohone Tue 30-May-17 07:57:22

Flynn, if she is too tired after school, it maybe better to do some homeworks(like reading and phonics) in the morning before school?
I don't think it's particularly too much for yr1 child, since it's not daily but weekly requirement and you can spread out during a week instead of doing in one go at the weekends. DS has mathletics HW, so I know 1 task takes only few minutes to complete.(Unless the school wants her to get 10/10 right, which may take longer.)
Also giving a task book to do during each half term sounds good, since you can pre-plan when to do.

But having said that, I don't think they can punish children for not doing HW in primary, at least not in my ds's school in KS1(All the HW was optional in KS1). If she is struggling, speak to the teacher and come up with a plan.

GU24Mum Tue 30-May-17 08:36:35

Be careful what you wish for with topic homeworks - they take up far more time and really can't be done without parental involvement. Personally I'd much rather mine had consolidation exercises (grammar, maths, comprehension etc) than me having to make a trip to Hobbycraft then spend ages making something out of papier mache. If it's something a bit more creative (making a fact file/poster etc), I'd prefer them to do the base work in school (ie sort out the facts) then bring it home to make a poster/put it onto Powerpoint.

mrz Tue 30-May-17 09:29:33

*"*^*Does anyone think this is just far too much for a 6 year old?*^ ***"* too much and some if it just pointless

NotCitrus Tue 30-May-17 09:36:34

Mostly our school has got it right I think - R and Y1 are reading plus optional things like collecting leaves, test a toy boat if it floats etc, and practicing number bonds to 10/20. Y2 has more formal weekly homework but only half are compulsory with no sanction if not done - then Y3 has spellings plus similar, but now have to stay in if not done.

My only criticism is the homeworks are so flexible and open-ended that trying to make ds do anything more than a half-arsed sentence and a picture in Minecraft or a Lego structure is a nightmare as he points out it didn't say on the sheet to do more. Some guidance from Parents Evening to say 'ds, we expect you to spend at least 20 minutes on this and any stories or writing need to be at least 50 words', would be helpful, along with learning times tables which he swears blind he doesn't need.

irvineoneohone Tue 30-May-17 11:04:22

Mrz, which HW from Flynn's school is pointless? I thought it sounds like a well planned arrangements, especially for topic works. My ds' school gives out on Friday, and hand in by Wednesday, so need to do it on weekends, and often need to go to the shop to get a material etc., and ruins whole weekends.

Only think I can think of as pointless is practicing for tests in phonics.

irvineoneohone Tue 30-May-17 11:05:03


Ginmummy1 Tue 30-May-17 12:18:40

Flynnshine, that does sound like a lot! My DD is in Y1 and they just get reading books (once per week), and a maths game. In October half term and May half term they have had a project (to do something relating to the current topic - it can be a poster, book, model etc). That's it!

I'm inclined to agree with GU24Mum in preferring the idea of children being sent home with specific tasks that consolidate the current learning in school, rather than the open-ended creative tasks that encourage competitive parenting.

Ginmummy1 Tue 30-May-17 12:25:44

Irvineonohone, agreed the extra phonics practice for the Y1 phonics check is absolutely unnecessary!

As for the other things on Flynn's list, I'm sure I read on here that spellings/sentences to do at home are considered to be of questionable benefit, as children tend to learn them for the test and then forget them. At least they are linked to the current phonics sounds being taught though.

Making a tree picture is also a bit pointless IMO (I mean, obviously it's nice for children to do creative things with their parents, but there's no need for the school to 'set' specific work like this - see my post above about competitive parenting).

Using scissors practice sounds sensible though.

mrz Tue 30-May-17 12:38:02

*"*^*Each week they have spellings relating to the sound they have learned that week (Phonics*^)" OK but how are they learnt? Word lists to memorise or actively taught in school in which case no need to send home "^*They have to come up with 5 words with that week's sound, spell them and then write two sentences using a couple of the words they have chosen to spell.*^" Pointless as spelling homework could develop vocabulary
"^*They also have Mathletics and this week there are 4 tasks - each with around 10 questions.*^*"* OK ish if linked to child's needs

"^*They have a 'project book' which is given every half of a term with 5 tasks to be completed (usually works out to around 1 a week) they range from a simple maths problem, retelling a 'creation' story, researching what a bunch of dinosaurs ate and creating posters.*^" Mostly pointless

"^*My DD has also brought home a task set for her to practice using scissors safely (she is blind but in a mainstream state school) a huge sheet of white paper then pieces of coloured paper for her to cut and make a tree picture.*^*"* Using scissors safely very good idea tree picture unnecessary
"^*Library Reading books (which I read to her)*^ " wouldn't class as homework
*"*^*and one or two braille books a week for her to read to me.*^*"* Good useful homework

"^*They are also practicing for tests in phonics at the moment so once a week stay at school for an hour to practice their sounds*^." Absolute pointless waste of time

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