Hate hate HATE IT.

Back to school of course means back to homework. I hate it. Hate hate HATE IT!

It’s all too much too young and I hate having family time eaten away by homework. I’m not talking about my teens but my little ones. My poor little six year old who has just started in Year 2 is drowning in homework after only a couple of weeks back at school and I’m really not happy about it.

She brings home reading books every day. This I do not have a problem with. It is an absolute pleasure to have her read to me (although I do loathe those Oxford Learning Tree books, they’re enough to put you off reading for life!) But there are some nights where she is genuinely too tired to read and I never EVER force her. On top of this, she has a ‘learning log’ which I actually love. They will be given a subject or task related to what they are learning in class and have two pages of their notebook to fill in but it doesn’t have to be writing, it can be drawings, collages, print outs, in fact whatever they want. They can do as little or as much as they like and I love that they can express themselves however they wish. It’s a really nice way of getting involved in what she is learning at school plus, they are only set this homework every two weeks so there is plenty of time to fit it in with family life. The reading and the ‘learning log’ I can live with. Just.

But she has now been set extra work that has to be done at home on various computer programs. There is one for reading and some for maths. Well, I say has to but homework for six year olds is not compulsory of course, although it is actively encouraged. By actively encouraged, I mean the children are told how much fun it is and incentivised by the promise of certificates for gaining points – so much so that they want to dash home and get straight on to the computer. Great, right? Well, no actually. I am terribly strict about how much screen time all of my children have. I also have a problem with homework eating into every single evening. Home time to me means just that. Time to be at home and just be. And this is where I struggle.

I understand that the school needs support from parents when it comes to homework I really do. But I struggle to give them my full support when there is just so much of the bloody stuff. Homework every single night is excessive by any stretch of the imagination. Of course, it is not officially set for every night of the week but to be able to keep on top of it all, some work has to  be done every day. There is no way around that. It is so hard to find a balance and let’s face it, there are only so many hours in an evening and I don’t think spending it boggle eyed in front of a screen is good for any one. I include myself in that statement too. But she is only six years old for goodness sake! I feel like the school are dictating how I spend my evenings with my child under the disguise of it just being a bit of fun. And it’s not on. Don’t get me wrong, I want to help her to do well in school – well of course I do and I hope that goes without saying! But at the cost of family time? I’m not so sure. But what can I do?

The class newsletter popped up in my inbox this morning and there was the usual this week we have been doing blah blah blah… all very good but then it congratulated a pupil on gaining a stupendous amount of points last week on his homework. How the child managed to clock up over fifteen times the amount that my daughter did, quite frankly horrifies me. To have gained that many points in one short week? I can’t even begin to imagine how many hours he spent click click clicking away. Either that or he had parental ‘assistance’ of course. Either way I think it stinks.

I seemingly have no choice but to get carried away in this stupid cycle of pushy parenting or else my child will fall behind. What else can I do? It just makes me feel that I’m fighting a losing battle here.

21 thoughts on “Hate hate HATE IT.

  1. woollyandred says:

    That’s not on. My eldest has just gone into Year 2 as well, but his homework is limited to weekly spellings, reading books & short numeracy/literacy tasks. His little sister is a very young Year 1, who would frankly be better off in nursery still, and I don’t push it at all.

    I agree entirely with your reservations about the computer tasks. I don’t like anything where children are incentivised for things out of the classroom anyway, because so much of it depends on variables beyond their control, even without the less-than-desirable idea of small children spending hours glued to the screen.

    I don’t know what I would do in your place, but I do think you’d be justified raising your concerns with the school.

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  2. mamacrow says:

    Well, i’m hesitating to comment because I’m probably entirely biased – we home educate! This sounds all wrong to me, both the need for screen time – as you say, many of us need to restrict this for many reasons – also the assumption that you’d HAVE computer & internet access (not EVERYONE does) the slightly insidious manner of it ‘but of COURSE it’s not compulsory…

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  3. kateab65 says:

    You do NOT have to force your child. They will not fall behind. If you don’t want them to do it, don’t do what you don’t want to do. It’s quite simple.

    My two are both ahead of where they are expected to be for their year group, apart from one area where Monkey is on target. The school has set challenging targets for their progress this year but what do they get in homework? Reading as often as we can and one, maybe 2 sheets given out on a Friday. It may be early days but Monkey is in Y3 now and he has literally had 2 sheets one week and one sheet the next. Missy has yet to bring a sheet home although I’m sure she will from this week.

    Homework should be set to support the learning in the classroom, not replace it. If you want your kids to be kids, I say go for it. Maybe a word with the teacher is in order. I feel for schools, I really do as they are pressured by Ofsted to ensure their kids achieve all their levels AND some parents think there should be homework (allegedly, though I’ve yet to find a parent who thinks homework at primary school is actually beneficial) but there is a lot to be said for giving kids time to be kids and having a rest.

    The alternative is that you tell school you’ll do as much as the guidelines suggest – which I think for KS1 is 1 hour per week – and no more. Listening to your kids read is probably THE most important thing of all. The rest can go swing really.

    Sorry, I’m ranting, aren’t I?

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  4. MargotBarbara says:

    Although my oldest has just entered Year One, I’ve already noticed an increase in the amount of work that has started to come home. I completely agree with what you’re saying. Sometimes, she comes home so exhausted that she just doesn’t have the energy to do lots more work. Sometimes she comes home really keen to do some, and of course I encourage where she wants to but don’t push when she’s clearly shattered. I also completely agree with woollyandred that stuff done outside of school is outside of the child’s control so much, with some parents being super-pushy and some being the absolute opposite, that it really shouldn’t be incentivised that way as some kids will always lose out.

    It feels like the way in which schools are measured and tested has a negative impact on the way in which the kids are also measured and tested, rather than it being for their own benefit. Makes me a bit sad really.

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  5. MrsB says:

    I know how you feel! My oldest is in year 3 and has to read for 20 minutes every day. I get home from work at 6 and there is no way he’s got any energy for reading at that time! Luckily my kids are early risers so he does his reading at 7am 🙂
    Then he’s got 10 spelling words he has to write every day and memorise for the test on Friday. Maths and English homework thankfully is distributed on fridays but is due on wednesdays, so a little bit every evening and it gets done.

    The teachers say that in year 3 the kids have to start taking charge and make sure that they get all their homework done but it’s a big change for them so I still have to check the status every night.

    Thankfully no piece of homework involves computers, I would protest loud and clear if it did. There is a strict no screen rule in our house from monday to friday pm.

    Ughhh… I hate coming home from work and not being abe to just play with them….

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  6. MrsB says:

    I just read the other comments and am thinking – does the amount of homework vary a lot btw different schools in the UK? Is it independent vs state schools? Is it catholic vs coe schools? 🙂

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  7. johnculkin says:

    Yeah I second the first comment (erm) – it’s not on. It is good that they are trying to encourage a love of learning, but at age 6, that doesn’t need to happen every night – it should be happening at school. Also the idea of optional homework seems counterproductive – I think it’d be better to have must-do homework but a lot less of it.

    And making it the subject of a competition as in the newsletter you mention is totally out of order and sends a scary message. You can’t be the only Mum worried about this…

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  8. Lakes Mum says:

    My daughter in year 4 gets one piece of homework a week with 7 days to do it in. She and little brother (y1) otherwise just have reading books. We are encouraged to help older ones with their keyword spelling and to use everyday activities for Maths and literacy help. Otherwise not an overload like at other schools! Sometimes we struggle to have time to read with me working and after school stuff any way 😉

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  9. TheMadHouse says:

    We don’t do homework. The school knows this and I had discussions with the head about house points etc being awarded for homework. The boys read to us and sometimes they might pick up their homework book, but I do not encourage them at all, in fact I actively discourage them.

    I believe that home is for home things at this age. They learn more though play and things with me. If the boys are falling behind in any area then I have asked the teacher to let me know and we will work on it, but for example Mini’s homework last week was number sequences, it took him 62 seconds (we times him). There is no way that this was targeting towards his development or learning. Nope it was given to the whole class.

    After speaking to a number of teachers, homework is often given to satisfy the needs of parents. I went to Year 2’s introductory meeting last week and 6 parents as when would they start getting homework. Hot housing children does not make then clever, at this age it just turns them off. It is hard enough for a teacher without giving out 28 sets of homework and marking them.

    SAY NO TO HOMEWORK!

    Oh and yes I had to sign something saying that the children did not do homework and the boys refused to sign their home/school agreements!

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  10. fionastarstone says:

    I totally agree with you here! I agree that reading at home is very important – but like you, those books (essential as they are) are rather dull and boring.

    I’m surprised by a points system- surely this leads to competitive parenting rather than actually encouraging a love of homework?

    Im all for learning at home, but I do think littlies endure a long school day and need that home time to be exactly that- home time.

    Yes it’s important to encourage ‘study time’ to help with revision and homework later in their school life but give them too much now and they’ll come to loathe it as much as their parents do.

    Oooh look- you’re making me go all ranty too!

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  11. Molly - Mother's Always Right says:

    My daughter’s only two so I have no experience of this yet. But I must say, it’s scary. I can see how it may benefit kids who aren’t encourage to read or do any type of academic work at home at all, but to turn it into a competition like that and put that much pressure on children who are so young… sheesh. I’m not looking forward to F starting school now!

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  12. mummyinmanolos says:

    My oldest has just started yr 2 and I’m with you – we have something called Education City and another programmed called VLE (Yawn), which is NOT fun and I can’t make her do it – it’s just too much. They really shouldn’t be giving them rewards for the point system on the computer, that’s just ridiculous – I’d go to their office and ask to see the head about that points system and tell them yours and the other parents concerns! It seems so silly when they have to do this on top of their clubs, your work, your husband’s work, etc…xx

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  13. mrsshortie says:

    My eldest daughter who is 9 and just gone into year 5 has only just started doing her homework, in all the other years she has done very little, except reading a book. I was never good at doing homework and often forgot that she had some to do, but she has not suffered as a result. She is in the top half of her class for all subjects, so lack of homework does not equal to bad results / lack of knowledge. My son (5) is now in year 1 and has done one lot of homework this year, but I think he is inspired by his sister doing some! He also reads his book, but as he enjoys is and is quite ahead of the rest of his class I don’t have a battle on my hands.

    I think it is wrong when a school actively encourages children to work / play on a computer, when they are home they should have time to just play. I know parents need to be involved with their child’s development and guiding them with reading and spelling can help, but it really should not be pressured in key stage one, they are still so young and there are plenty of years ahead when they can spend time studying.

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  14. Sara-Jayne says:

    I’m a year three teacher, and I am obligated to give 30 minutes (so 1 task) of homework to children each week. I also have to encourage reading (which I do in any case) every night. I don’t enjoy giving it out, I don’t enjoy marking it and I don’t see the point in it. I don’t get to decide whether I give it out though, sadly.

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    • Godders45 says:

      That seems sensible. I don’t think 30 minutes a week plus reading is too much. So why is it that Yummy’s children have so much to do? Sounds rather like the school are failing the children somewhat and putting the onus on the parents. Not good. When my girls reach Year 2, they get homework but they stay in school to complete it on 2 days of the week (1 hour each) so it’s done on the premises and if they need any help, the teachers are on hand. I think that’s a much nicer way of doing it 🙂

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      • Sara-Jayne says:

        I have to say that I like the parents’ involvement in homework because whatever homework we give, it is directly relevant to what we are doing in class; then parents can feel in touch with their child’s learning and not wonder what they are doing in school all year ~ and they also get an idea for where their own child’s strengths and challenges are and can work on them at home together.

        Personally as a Momma and a teacher, I feel that my child’s primary education I feel is MY responsibility as much as the school’s. When my boys reach high school I won’t be able to help as much as I can now and so I relish the opportunity to be able to have an impact on my boys’ learning and attitudes to school work as they start out. I think the emphasis at home has to be on play and learning ~ because the government is so keen on ruling out play as young as possible it seems.

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  15. multilayermummy says:

    My child is the same age as Molly’s and I have a grown up one & not looking forward to any of this again! What about after school activities, I know we will be doing certain things so homework on those nights will not be an option anyway. I will be making my feelings very clear as & when things crop up, if you don’t say anything, nothing will change. I’ll need updating on what’s what these days e.g. homework not being compulsory for certain age groups so I’m reading your blog with interest (its a great read anyway!).

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  16. Tasha Goddard (@TashaGoddard) says:

    I wrote a post about homework a couple of years ago – in favour of it. (http://www.wahm-bam.org/2010/11/whats-wrong-with-homework/) And I’m still in favour of it.

    One of the biggest things for me, though, is that it is incredibly important for some children to have something to tie school and home together. It’s incredibly important for some children to have a way to involve their parents in their education. Most of the people responding here and who feel homework is not good at primary school are those who engage fully with their children’s education and have always done so. Not all children are lucky enough to have parents with this level of involvement and homework can bring otherwise disengaged parents into their children’s school life, which is incredibly important and valuable.

    I do think it is sometimes necessary to look at a child on an individual level and, if homework is a constant fight, then they might need a different kind of homework set. RoRo is now in Year 2 and she gets reading books (the school expect children to read four times a week at home; RoRo changes her book every day and reads it herself very willingly now), weekly spellings and one weekly homework task. The school vary homework tasks, so that about half are worksheet type practice of numeracy and literacy topics and the other half are projects. Most can be done in a fairly short period of time, but can be done better with more time and effort. There are ocassional computer tasks, but any children without computers have the opportunity to use computers in school to complete the tasks. They ensure that all children are given tasks within their abilities and that should not in any way cause them a struggle. The aim is to reinforce their learning, not to do extra learning. I think this is all perfectly fine and have no problem whatsoever with it.

    We have a parents’ forum coming up where the topic is homework. It will be interesting to see how people feel about it.

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