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Opinions on homework?

(24 Posts)
freerangeeggs Tue 11-Jan-11 21:35:34

Hi everyone, and thanks for reading

My partner and I are teachers and he's currently looking to implement a new homework regime in his department. He's really interested in finding out parents' opinions on homework so that he can take them into account and suggested that I ask the lovely mumsnetters for advice (he's planning on carrying out a parental survey at school too).

If you could answer a few questions it'd be greatly appreciated!

What is your general opinion of homework?
What types of homework do you think are most effective?
Do you have difficulty getting your child to do homework in the evenings?
How much homework do you think is appropriate for secondary school children?

Many thanks!

maryz Tue 11-Jan-11 21:44:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

wishingforcrystalball Tue 11-Jan-11 21:48:50

As long as homework is relevant to the topic in class, and aids the learning of the topic I am in support of it.

I am not in support of the type of homework that requires research by the pupil into something and is not covered in class. Nor the making a leaflet type thing, of just reiterating the bullet points, as I do not believe this aids learning of the topic, I remember just choosing the bits to put on my poster that interested me.

I think structure lead questions are the best, not one word sentences, but where its what is x? how does x benefit us? what are the disadvantages of x? Getting the child to expand but guiding them so there is a path to follow.

30-45 minutes per topic is a good timeframe.

No - always keen to do homework, live in fear of teachers - not me grin

CrosswordAddict Wed 12-Jan-11 12:41:48

I am in favour of homework ON THE WHOLE but only if it has been clearly explained to the pupil in class. No child should leave that classroom feeling unsure how to do their homework.
I feel concerned when teachers send my dcs home without explaining what is meant by certain terms in the questions and then I am called in to explain it to the dcs - in other words do the teachers' job for them. It's not laziness on my part, I really enjoy feeling needed and useful but I am always anxious in case I am telling the dcs how to do the homework incorrectly. Parents cannot be expert in all the subjects on the timetable.
So I'm saying I'm in favour of homework as long as it's properly explained.

cory Wed 12-Jan-11 12:55:08

I am in favour of homework in secondary, and on project writing from Yr 7, but wish all teachers would make it clear what they expect (and not set tasks that are impossible- such as asking them to discuss a historical development with picture material that actually refers to a totally different period [grr]).

Also, as a university teacher, can I put in a plea for being really really strict on plagiarism and explaining to pupils why simply dragging your cursor over a website is not a good idea? And especially as teachers never ever to refer to mindless copying as research. Pretty please! It causes so much trouble later on!

maryz Wed 12-Jan-11 16:12:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

campion Wed 12-Jan-11 17:25:48

Homework can put a big strain on family life - all the way through school. Lucky anyone if they've got co-operative children but many of us have been through too many battles over this and I don't think it improves personal relationships.
Some of it makes sense but some of it is mainly there to impress parents ( ironically) and does little to further the learning process.

Consolidation of what's supposed to be being learnt and finding things out in advance of a lesson are valid types of homework. 'Cut and Paste' and plagiarism are a big problem as so many children fail to understand that it teaches them nothing ( except cheating).It's fairly easy to spot ,maryz,but harder to eradicate unless you mark ruthlessly wink. Then there's the question of parents doing the homework...

I think children need to understand what they're doing and why they're doing it; it should be appropriate to their ability; not overlong (an instruction to stop after say 30 mins regardless is a good idea); the hwk timetable - secondary- should be balanced and should give some slack / not demand work in the next day and, perhaps, 'catch up' nights could be included.

The appropriate amount at secondary depends on age and ability but shouldn't be taking the whole evening ( and it can).
Homework has a value but children need a rest from school too. More work can sometimes be counter-productive.

roisin Wed 12-Jan-11 17:35:13

What is your general opinion of homework?
I think homework is vital for stretching and challenging students. It's especially important for longer tasks, such as extended writing.
What types of homework do you think are most effective?
Extended writing tasks (work planned in lessons), eg English and history essays and geography and IT projects; practise of skills - eg Maths and MFL exercises (sometimes on the internet);
At my boys' school the 'smaller' subjects tend to set one extended homework each half term in KS3. This is much more meaningful, than lots of silly little worksheet exercises. And means the teachers can reasonably mark it and give proper feedback. (I'm talking about 1-lesson-per-week subjects like history, geography, IT, music, dance, etc.)
Do you have difficulty getting your child to do homework in the evenings?
Very little: we've always stated that homework is not optional and set up appropriate routines. So they just get on and do it. (Actually sometimes they want to spend more time on it than we think is reasonable!)
How much homework do you think is appropriate for secondary school children?
KS3 - 7 hrs per week
KS4 - 10 hrs per week

tethersend Wed 12-Jan-11 17:38:04

I am a secondary teacher and think there is no value in setting homework- it does nothing to engender independent learning in children.

Projects should be set and children do additional research if they want to.

pointydog Wed 12-Jan-11 17:51:42

What is your general opinion of homework?

Some of it is obviously just set for the sake of it and so has little value. Actually, a lot of it is set for the sake of it. As a result, the teachers have difficulty marking it all. No point in that.

What types of homework do you think are most effective?

I leave it to the teachers to decide which are the most effective. I've got my own job to do. Anything that seems to have a point to it and that the teachers mark and take note of would be most effective, I'd say.

Do you have difficulty getting your child to do homework in the evenings?

No. They are both brainy swots. A bit of huffing at times but they know I'll ignore it.
How much homework do you think is appropriate for secondary school children?

Again, that is for the teacher to decide and I trust his/her judgement. I'm not so bothered about "appropirate" as "worthwhile"

roisin Wed 12-Jan-11 18:57:55

I think the worst homework experiences are when a school has a strict policy of exactly when/how much homework is set. And teachers feel forced into setting some meaningless task that will require as little marking as possible, simply because they have to, rather than because there is a learning objective related to it.

Ineedalife Wed 12-Jan-11 19:55:05

We hate homework here, with a passion!!
For similar reasons to another poster, Dd1 and 3 have an ASD and as far as they are concerned home is home and school is school.

Dd2's school has virtually stopped sending homework [and no she isn't just not doing it].

I find that if something has really caught their attention they will continue to learn about it at home anyway.

Sorry to be negative but thanx for asking!!smile

Alexandra93 Wed 12-Jan-11 20:02:21

I'm 17 and not a parent, but I naturally have an opinion on this. blush]

What is your general opinion of homework?
If it's homework that's genuinely useful and educating, then it's something very beneficial. However, I think it's absolutely horrible when it's overly time-consuming, or seems to be given just for the sake of setting homework, or if there's not enough time given to complete it.

What types of homework do you think are most effective?
Homework that involves doing preparation for the next lesson, or independent research type things. I'm less inclined to do homework that involves finishing what we did in class. I like homework that involves looking things up, or doing tasks with a less rigid structure. For example, I'd much prefer having to write a paragraph about something subject-related that interested me personally, than answering a sheet of questions where I'll just Google the answers and absorb nothing.

Do you have difficulty getting your child to do homework in the evenings?
I have difficulty getting myself to do homework in the evenings.grin

How much homework do you think is appropriate for secondary school children?
Not much for Yr 7 and 8. An 45 minutes a night for Yr 9 and 10. More for year 11. A lot more for Yr 12 and 13.

In some subjects it's more necessary than others. Getting lots of small exercises for Maths or a MFL is fine, but if I got tons of History(for example) homework every day I'd eventually stop bothering to do it.

There also shouldn't be too much set in the lower years. I was always quite academic in the lower years and generally liked school. The thing I hated most about school was the homework. In Year 8 I used to pretend to be ill on occasion to get it all done. When it comes to a situation like that, then I think too much HW is given.

freerangeeggs Wed 12-Jan-11 21:03:39

Thank you so much everyone for your detailed answers! They've been incredibly helpful and DP is delighted.

It seems like you have pretty much the same views on homework as he does, so hopefully the policy he's trying to implement will be a hit with parents.

More comments also welcome!

mumtolawyer Wed 12-Jan-11 22:10:37

Sorry, late to the party and DD is only primary, but can I make a plea that homework, if set, is for the children NOT a family bonding exercise? I have done my homework, I don't want to be made to "help" with my child's.

CrosswordAddict Fri 14-Jan-11 10:16:01

Mumtolawyer
You said just what I wanted to say. The homework should be for the child not the parents. Sometimes it feels as if the parents are being tested somehow. Also if parents help too much the child never gains independent learning/thinking skills.

Swedes1 Fri 14-Jan-11 10:29:27

I think homework widens the ever-widening gap between the haves and have nots. A spacious home with a quiet room in which to study, an over interested parent or two skipping in from time to time with relevant books, articles and nutritious snacks compared with a squished house, with the telly blaring and all sorts of other background difficulties.

I think the school day should encompass all the work that's necessary for a child to succeed.

Decorhate Fri 14-Jan-11 11:43:36

I find the whole homework thing difficult because I grew up in a country where a lot of homework is set - I still can't get my head around how little is set in the UK. I am not keen on homework at primary level however, but I do think it has value at secondary level.

For example, I struggle to see how a pupil can become proficient at essay writing without practice and it can't be practical to research & write a whole essay in class time.

I don't have any trouble getting my daughter to do homework though I can forsee it being different for my sons...

I don't think I can comment on the amount of homework I would expect to see - I was used to doing 3-4 hours per night! but I would like at least one essay-type piece per week in subjects like English & History and smaller pieces for other subjects (eg translations, maths problems).

One thing I have started to notice in my area is that the pupils doing well in exams tend to have private tutoring as well. I suspect some of the schools getting good results can't really claim the credit for it...

gramercy Fri 14-Jan-11 11:57:03

Ds is in year 8.

Embedding lesson work = good. Learning French vocab and verbs, doing maths exercises on current topic etc.

Posters = not good. CRAP in fact. So crap I am mentioning it at parents' evening. NO MORE POSTERS!!!

Projects not good either. A bit of independent research is good, but as others have said most kids have no idea how to go about it and just copy Wikipedia. Ds's projects involve me heading off to the library and then cracking a whip over him as his pen moves at a quarter of a mile an hour on the Sunday evening before it has to be submitted. Some kids clearly haven't done their own work and ds says the teachers never say anything about this.

freerangeeggs Fri 14-Jan-11 12:14:20

Gramercy - I completely agree re: posters. I think it's the result of teachers being pushed to set a certain level of homework, even when homework isn't necessarily relevant for the tasks they're doing in class. Waste of time for teachers setting it & kids doing it.

Decorhate - where did you have your education? I agree that practice is the key thing with homework - it's a good opportunity to consolidate learning. However, as an English teacher the thought of marking 150 essay-style pieces a week makes me reel in horror :P

Swedes - excellent point. I agree completely.

Mumtolawyer/crosswordaddict - if my child was given homework for both of us (I saw someone on mumsnet mention a homework that involved baking a cake?!) I would find it intensely patronising.

Thanks to everyone who has commented so far. It's been massively helpful. Please keep them coming!

Alexandra93 Fri 14-Jan-11 15:33:33

gramercy - Totally agree! I despised having to do posters as homework. I'm a bit of a perfectionist with them so it was time-consuming, and I never learnt anything. I would actually have preferred a small essay. I'm sure some teachers think that students like doing posters, but I don't think anybody really does.

I quite like projects though. Maybe it's because we got relatively few of them in Secondary and I'm just remembering the Primary ones, but I thought they were fun. We got one in Year 5 about the rainforest, and then one in Year 6 about the desert. I remember these specifically because I really enjoyed doing them. I can still remember loads of facts about camels and different deserts and stuff.grin

It's different in secondary school though I suppose. I can only remember one big project we did in Year 7 about a car company of our choice. I managed to get away without doing it for the entire year and never bothered to finish it.blush

LornMowa Fri 14-Jan-11 15:43:16

I am always surprised how little homework my children get for maths and MFL. Little and often would seem to be sensible.

For essay type questions in subjects such as English,History and RE, I sometimes wish the teacher would set a number of different essay titles and allow the child to choose the one that they like the best. I often find that my stubborn son can't seem to get his brain around a question and doesn't do the work. Not because he doesn't understand the work but because he is worried that he is not answering the essay in the right way.

maryz Fri 14-Jan-11 18:22:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mumtolawyer Fri 14-Jan-11 23:00:34

I should clarify that I don't mean that I am set homework, more that (for example) Y1 children cannot do a family tree on their own (however interested they are) so effectively setting that means the parents are forced to help extensively. And since I work full time in a high-pressure job, doing homework is not appreciated!
Of course I do not mind: listening to reading, learning music/play lines/poetry/spelling/tables and nor do I mind supporting and explaining if it is proving too much.
I wouldn't expect to have any input at all into secondary homework unless it was (a) a subject I know a LOT about (sadly few) and (b) it was clear that DD was really, really out of her depth.
In short - secondary homework should not involve parents in any way. Possibly parental controls on the computer, but that's a different topic.

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