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Primary Homework

(15 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.

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