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?