Homework in primary school: how much is too much?

A broken pencil on an exercise book. How much homework is too much?

I found myself in an unusual situation the other day. I laughed at something on Peppa Pig. The episode, School Project, sees the children set a homework assignment to make castles. Of course, the parents end up doing the majority of the work and looking frazzled by the end. I say I laughed; it was more of a stifled sob into my tea.

As I’m sure will be the case with many a parent, it struck a chord. Or hit a nerve maybe. I, for one, am getting fed up with the amount of homework that Dylan has to do.

Now don’t get me wrong; I think that some home learning is a good thing that will serve him well once he gets to secondary school. But I’m concerned that the sheer volume of it is doing more harm than good.

He’s only seven years old but has been doing homework since reception. It was manageable at first. Reading every day – I have no quarrel with that – and one or two assignments each term.

Now, however, he is set new tasks every 12 days. He has weekly maths exercises that he needs to complete on the computer as well as an apparently never-ending supply of open-ended tasks.

On top of all this, he has recently been selected to read a ‘mystery book’ which he has to report back on. This is a nice idea in theory, but it’s almost 500 pages long. He is expected to do this on top of his daily reading and book quizzes.

He’s supposed to do at least two of these quizzes a week. This has turned reading from a passion to an assessment-based production line. He’s losing his enthusiasm for it and is permanently exhausted, which is really sad to witness.

It’s the projects in particular that I have a problem with. Quite understandably, he’s reluctant to do them on his own so we end up helping him.

Since he started at school we’ve made several models including Stonehenge and a Tudor house as well as a video about the Great Fire of London. On top of giving him a hand with research for written work.

I think most other parents are in the same situation. In fact, I know they are. There’s no way that some of the fantastic creations I’ve seen proudly carried into school have been completed solely by children.

This creates a problem though. Nobody wants to let their kids down so they do more than their fair share to help. So, as well as putting pressure on kids, it creates added stresses for parents who are busy enough as it is.

Personally, I think that a happy medium needs to be struck. I absolutely see the benefits of supporting classroom learning at home, but am concerned that setting too much could have a detrimental effect.

What do you think of homework in primary school? How much do your kids have to do?

Comments

  1. David @DadvWorld

    I honestly believe there shouldn’t be any homework set by primary schools. I think as part of the role as parents we should and most do, take it upon ourselves to teach and pass down experience to our children out of school hours.

    Like you’ve said, you and your boy could happily read a chosen book as much or little as you’d like at home increasing his natural interest for books. As soon as targets are added it takes away the fun.

    I think most parents take it upon themselves to use the time they have with their children out of school hours to enhance their natural interests, knowledge and life… We don’t need the extra hassle of pointless tasks that neither our children or we parents want to do.

  2. Lewis Brown

    My son is 3. He’s started rising 3 nursery at the beginning of this week and got his first homework assignment on Friday. I’m totally for homework as long as it is manageable but he’s 3 and is only getting taught a minimum amount of acedemics so for it’s ridiculous.

    Once he’s in school properly then yes give him homework. On a other note I have a nephew who brings in a lot of homework. And what I have found that is it quite hard with the way teaching methods are changing and he struggles to understand it. So if he doesn’t how are we meant to? So most of the time it doesn’t end up getting complete.

    Personally I think homework should be fun. By making it fun the more children will do it and enjoy it. It the. Doesn’t become a chore.

  3. Margaret

    As a primary teacher for nearly 30 years I fought against homework other than reading because children need time to be able to play and to organise their time out of school. Towards the end of my time as a teacher I had to conform to pressure to prepare my year 6 pupils for secondary school. These tasks were always designed to be completed by the pupils, not the parents. Twice a week I set tasks and then had the extra work of marking and offering feedback. Parents often had comments of their own to add and some liked to be involved. Not all parents have the time or capability to help and often they became stressed . This led to all sorts of problems and misunderstanding of tasks, aims and learning intentions so was often more trouble than it was worth. If children must have homework occasionally it should be for them to do to on their own, to consolidate learning that took place at school. I’ve been appalled at the tasks that my grandchildren are receiving which cannot be completed alone. How can it be fair on the children whose parents refuse to play the game or can’t help? What does it teach the kids who get away without doing the homework or who have it served up for them on a plate by anxious parents who don’t want to rock boat. When can children play?

  4. Jim Flowers

    Completely agree Tom… add into the above weekly spellings as well as extra Cursive handwriting due to the school our 6yo is in not taking it up in Year one until this year.

    At the moment I only have one child in Primary but I’ll soon add into the equation an additional one so that will only double the work. Yes I’m savvy enough to, where possible ask the eldest to help the youngest but I still feel the need and pressure to also play my part too.

    I guess the only thing I’d say in defence of the school is they typically have just reading practice in any holiday periods and its recently been awarded outstanding with Ofsted. I also find the more you read with your child, the less the teachers do so. We are all busy but where do you draw the line whilst ensuring your children get the support / encouragement they need or desire?

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