It has to be said that I’m not a fan of homework. I question if it is necessary at all at primary school age in fact. Reading at home? Yes. Definitely. But anything more than that? Sorry, I’m just not convinced. All of a sudden, the amount of homework we have every week seems to have crept up and up and I’m not going to lie, it all just feels a bit much. They are all small tasks don’t get me wrong, but when you add them up over the week I’m not sure how we are meant to fit them all in.
The school started a reading challenge a few years ago and if the children read every day, they get an award at the end of the year. It was a simple but really effective idea. Literacy levels went through the roof as a result so there is no question that it works. As a parent, I am more than happy to encourage them to read every single day. It is something that has always been a part of our daily routine anyway so we would be doing it, challenge or not. But the success of this challenge has led the school to believe that it can be used to help the children to improve their maths skills too. So they have tweaked the challenge so that they either read or do maths for fifteen minutes every weekday and once over the weekend. They have to do maths at least three times a week but I am very reluctant to have mine do maths instead of reading. I realise this is my choice but breaking the habit of reading every day just seems like madness to me?
On top of this reading/maths challenge though we also have spellings to learn each week. The children are taught to use the copy, cover, write method but this means that they need to do it over the course of the week really. Effectively another ten minutes a day if you don’t count the time it takes to cajole them into sitting down to do it. Then we have a maths sheet plus ongoing project work that comes home on a Friday. Oh and my nine year old has times tables to learn every week too. I’m sure my seven year old will be doing this too soon enough.
Personally, I really don’t see reading as homework but I do understand that even that might be a struggle for some parents every day. Not all children are keen readers and many come home exhausted as it is from a day at school. Especially the tiddlers. They are so young! But reading aside, the only way that we can keep on top of everything else is to do a bit every day. The problem being of course that when they first come in from school, they want to play with their toys or shock horror – flop in front of the Disney Channel for an hour. You know, because they are children! They don’t want to come straight in and do their homework and who can blame them? But then of course if you leave it until after dinner, the clock is ticking down to bedtime and they are even more exhausted. It’s so hard fitting homework in every. single. night. We can’t be the only ones to struggle?
My teacher friend is forever telling me about parents who ask for more homework. Year after year she is under pressure to give her Year 3 class even more homework to do because the parents demand it. Who are those people? I think it’s safe to say that I am at the other end of the spectrum and would gladly scrap all homework at this age. They are at school all the long day. They need time to just be children for goodness sake. Of course homework at this age is not mandatory. Primary school aged children do not have to do it. But actually, my daughters are so conscientious that they would be horrified at the thought of me telling the school to (politely) stuff it where the sun don’t shine.
I’m not sure what the answer is really. You’d think I’d have more of a clue by now, wouldn’t you? But no, four children in and I’m still none the wiser. We have a parents’ evening soon-ish, well before the end of this term, and no doubt I will mention it then. But without meaning to sound negative, I don’t think anything will change. After all, we are not being forced to do this homework. Like I said, while it might not be mandatory at this age, it is most definitely expected. The pressure is real. And I’m sorry but I think it’s far too much pressure, far too young. Sigh.