Should homework at primary school be banned?
I don’t mean the basics, I mean more in-depth assignments, like projects and tasks that take more than an hour to complete.
I ask after our school scrapped homework other than reading, spellings and times tables meaning we no longer have weekly English and maths homework or lengthy projects to contend with. And I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
As soon as the oldest started school she was set weekly homework, and while I didn’t object to it – and indeed supported it – the fact was it was often homework for the parents.
Work set included power point presentations on whatever topic they were studying, and while she loved doing them what four-year-old is capable of putting together their own power point presentation? It became another job on my never-ending to-do list, encroaching into evenings and weekends, and I began to question what it was she was actually learning.
It’s a divisive subject though, and one that’s constantly up for debate (I recently featured in Woman’s Own magazine in a debate on the very subject). I argued that yes, primary schools should scrap homework above and beyond the basics, and now ours has updated its homework policy ‘in line with national research and findings’ (google it and there’s lots of findings) I couldn’t be more delighted. Spellings, times tables and reading is all I think a seven-year-old needs to do at home.
I’m interested to know what others think, so I asked some fellow parenting bloggers what they think, and as predicted opinion is divided!
Should homework at primary school be banned?
“With a four, five and six-year-old I just find it too much!” says Laura who blogs at Five Little Doves. “Each night they have one, sometimes two, books to read, maths computer work to complete and a written piece twice a week. Not to mention spellings and times table practice. By the time I’ve got through it all it’s time for bed and I feel as though the poor kids have no down time whatsoever!”
“My son gets homework and has done since year one. It’s age appropriate and it’s not masses so I completely approve and support it,” says Sophie who blogs at Soph-obsessed. “If it became too much and was encroaching on our family time I wouldn’t be happy – I think kids work hard enough and they need down time too.”
“My son is seven, in year three. Homework is ‘optional’ except it’s not really,” says Erica who blogs at The Incidental Parent. “Tomorrow is Ancient Egypt day. They have to go in dressed in ancient Egyptian ‘clothes’, choose a name and research something. It’s taken the best part of the weekend to sort out. On top of that we had timetables and his maths workbook. We haven’t done the spellings. We’re usually quite laid back about homework but it’s becoming more time consuming, and it’s not easy to ‘encourage’ him to do it. It does impact on our family life unfortunately.”
“I don’t have an issue with spellings, times tables and reading. I have a big issue with My Maths online maths homework,” says Mary who blogs at Over 40 and a Mum to One. “I do not understand the benefit of homework that gets marked online and shows no working out whatsoever. I also object to homework for homework’s sake, which I think we also suffer with sometimes at our school.”
“I think it’s a lot for them,” says Claire who blogs at Life, Love and Dirty Dishes. “But I also think the curriculums are so jam packed that supporting them at home becomes essential in their learning.”
“I firmly disagree with homework,” says Kayleigh who blogs at Candyfloss & Dreams. “My daughter is in year three and most of the time neither of us understand the poorly written instructions. My daughter has been told her homework is ‘unacceptable’ if it’s done in pen when I don’t always have time to find a pencil and then a sharpener. It is a constant source of stress for us when my daughter goes to her dad’s for the weekend as I know she will leave it there and he lives over 100 miles away so can’t just quickly pop it back to school. Primary school aged children don’t need all this pressure on them to continue working after the school day. We also tend to read the books my daughter has at home rather than the ones she is given at school because she finds the school books very boring and I am all for an easy life!”
“We have the rule of no homework on the weekend,” says Lisa who blogs at The Family Ticket. “Just his reading and maths during the week for 20 minutes. I feel like there is too much pressure on the younger ones and for fear of him being left behind we soldier on. He’s only in year one at the moment and I dread to think how much he’ll be getting as the years go on.”
“I’m an ex-teacher and can see why teachers feel they should set homework. Many parents expect their child to be doing extra work at home as they feel it boosts learning and also helps to prepare them for homework demands at secondary school,” says Heather who blogs at Mrs Mactivity. “I think homework works best when it’s fun and children really enjoy it. Games like Times Table Rockstars are a great way to encourage home learning in a way that doesn’t cause conflict. Reading, again, should be done for pleasure not because it’s forced upon children – though it has to be encouraged and enjoyable of course.”
“I’m a teaching assistant and it’s a tough one,” says Emma who blogs at Life in the Mum’s Lane. “The ability to know times tables, read fluently and have a broad vocab really does help children in primary school. I think the odd bit of research at home for a new topic is also good but anything else is unnecessary. This weekend my son needed to make a rainforest. Why? We’ve cobbled together a green box with some cardboard trees and a pipe cleaner snake. My daughter started year 7 in September and had loads in the first few months and was rather overwhelmed. A parent and pupil survey was sent out in November and it has settled down a bit as I think they realised it was too much.”
“I don’t have a problem with spellings or times tables. I do, however, have an issue with homework being set every week and reward given if it is completed,” says Jo who blogs at Cup of Toast. “This puts pressure on children to complete it over the weekend. If we are away, for example, my boys get upset that they won’t have done their homework and worry they’ll get into trouble or miss valuable house points for their class. They’re eight and six! They should be running around the countryside jumping in puddles and making leaf rubbings, not stuck in doing work that they didn’t choose to do.”
“I think they have enough time to teach them at school, they shouldn’t have to come home and do more work,” says Sarah who blogs at Digital Motherhood. “As adults, we go to work and (most of us) get to switch off in the evenings and at weekends – why shouldn’t kids get to do that too?”
What do you think? Do you have one or more child at primary school and do they get set homework? I’d love to hear your point of view!