Why I’m Giving Homework The Finger

 

We’re not long into a new school year and already I’m feeling the strain.

Me and the Hubs have constant  negotiations about who is dropping off and picking up from school  and the childminders. Throw in work for both us, after school activity clubs, tea time, bath time, oh and don’t forget the reading Boo must do 5 times a week, the spelling practise, family time at weekends, and it’s fair to say WE are knackered and we are the grown ups. Imagine how a 6 year old feels!

Lets face it for a 6 year old that is a lot. It’s an early start and a late finish. You need a lot of stamina and concentration to get through the day. This is what we are asking of our young primary school children.  But it doesn’t stop there, that’s not all we are demanding. There is also HOMEWORK! My girl Boo (who has just gone into year 2) is expected to read five times a week And practise spellings And do a piece of set homework a week.  And I’m the first to say it’s too much!

It’s too much for her and it’s too much for me. Boo is an enthusiastic learner and when I can see on her face the tiredness and the lack of will I know it’s time to worry. I’m talking about a girl who self directs her learning, she reads independently far more than the school instructs because she ENJOYS it. She loves nothing more than sitting at the table and writing her own stories.  There’s been times I’ve gone upstairs to say goodnight and she’s happily tucked up in bed practising French. WTF! These things are great, I encourage it , I don’t push it. She does these things because she’s enjoying them. It’s feeding her thirst for knowledge and she’s challenging herself. But it seems these things don’t count because they haven’t been prescribed by the school, because they haven’t been evidenced, and they can’t be measured.

In 2012 Michael Grove scraped the government homework guidelines which stated 5-7 years olds should do 1 hour of homework a week and instead gave schools greater freedom to set their own homework policies. So I’m baffled that 5 years on many schools still set homework that equates to an hour a week if not more. It makes me wonder, what is homework? Is it not the request to read 5 times a week which must be logged in the reading record book? Is it not the time spent practising spelling that is sent home from school to further support learning? Because in my experience these tasks alone take more than an hour a week.

School homework policies appear to be ignoring the reality of the child, the parents and the teachers. They don’t reflect the reality of modern parenting and acknowledge the difficulty in finding the time, especially when such young children require a great deal of support (In addition to the other learning tasks we support them with daily). They don’t reflect the needs of the child – Should a 6 year old child attend breakfast club, spend all day trying hard at school, attend an activity club, come home for tea, practice some spellings, have a play, have a bath, do some reading….when is there time for additional homework? Will they enjoy it? Judging by the look on my childs face I seriously doubt it! Neither do school homework policies reflect the needs of the teachers. In a climate where we face a shortage of teachers due to the additional pressures they face, do we really need to overload them further with marking homework for 5 and 6 year olds. It’s quite telling when 91% of teachers feel that less time should be spent on marking and feedback (The Workload Challenge)

These policies appear to ignore the learning opportunities within the family home that cannot be evidenced or measured. They do not see the times Boo has witnessed her father working from home updating a spreadsheet and she has expressed a genuine curiosity. They don’t know that Dad has sat there and explained Excel and she has excitedly created a class register where she has practised spelling the names of her classmates and marked who is having packed lunch or school dinner. It’s during activities like this she is learning and she’s having fun…when she has the energy and the will to do so.

Schools have such a wonderful opportunity to engage young minds. It’s a sad time when learning becomes a chore for all those involved, the child, the parent and the teacher.

So right now, whilst Boo is still very young Homework can F*ck off. I’m not going to allow it to infringe on precious family time. Nor will I let it create additional stress within the family home due to the last minute panic that we must get it done. I will not let it turn a genuine love of learning into a resentment because my 6 year old is overwhelmed and too tired.

What are your thoughts on homework for 5 and 6 year olds?

 

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20 Comments on "Why I’m Giving Homework The Finger"

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Toni | This Mama...
Guest

My eldest has just left school and started college, which he’s enjoying so much more because of the style of learning. He doesn’t have homework anymore but he seems to have found his enjoyment of learning again. He’s actively asking questions and reading his textbooks. When he was at school I had to battle with him to get it done!

Alana - Burnished Chaos
Guest
I 100% agree. My son is incredibly bright and was far ahead of his peers when he started school. He would spend hours reading and learning and writing his own stories. Since he started school his love of learning has been stifled completely. He has so much work to do that he no longer finds joy in it. He stopped reading, he stopped writing and homework reduces him to tears. I spoke to his last teacher and they agreed he didn’t have to read the books he was bringing home from school as long as I documented other things he… Read more »
Donna
Guest

Totally agree with this! It will eventually inhibit the joy of learning!

The Muddled Mum
Guest

I would speak to the teacher so that they know this is a parental decision. Kids work so hard in schools now!

Becky Cook
Guest

I’m a teacher and believe me (as you have said) it’s not the teachers deciding how much to give. I think reading is the only thing that should be done at home at that age.

Heather
Guest

My little boy just started school. He’s doing brilliantly but so so tired. No time for homework. Free play and cuddles. Great post 😉

ruth cartwright
Guest

I don’t mind homework and always make time to do it with the kids. It’s the first task when we get home from school. That said I am a teacher 😉

Random Musings
Guest
I’ve always said that at five, homework isn’t for the kids, it’s for the parents. Personally I don’t think homework should be a thing until kids are old enough to take responsibility for completing it themselves. Obviously I’m not including basics like practising reading and writing etc, just set homework. I know education is important, but a child can learn a lot in a non academic setting when they don’t even realise they are learning. Why can’t we just let kids be kids and enjoy things? I think this overload so young is a large part of what turns children… Read more »
Emma
Guest
I totally agree! Our school (international British not a UK one) has just said this year that homework is optional but they are still setting it. When we stared getting homework last year (in RECEPTION!!!!) I was all ready to kick up a fuss. The only thing that stopped me was that DS was excited to do it because he was proud to show me what he had learned that day (it was meant to reinforce that day’s learning). As soon as it became a battle I spoke to school and was really impressed with their response. I love how… Read more »
Jennifer
Guest
Fortunately although my children have homework it’s not too much and (at the moment at least!) they quite enjoy doing it. We’ve spent the morning making a papier mache cave for a Stone Age project and I must admit I was having as much fun as my son! But I must admit that we don’t always manage the daily reading with my 6 year old, sometimes she’s just too tired and she’s really not in the mood. Especially if they have a club after school, there just isn’t time, it’s tea as soon as we get in and then bed.… Read more »
Renee Jeffery
Guest

I detest homework and specifically make sure my kid’s school teachers realise my kids won’t be participating in it. This year they have tried the ‘making me feel guilty approach’ to which i reminded them that homework is not a legal requirement and there is NO evidence that it helps with learning. They didn’t agree and tried to argue. However, it’s really hard to argue with an ex-home edder who knows the stats and rights lol

Sarah Rooftops
Guest

Totally agree. As adults, we’re always being told not to take our work home with us and to give ourselves time to unwind at the end of the day – giving kids homework sets them up for unhealthy habits from the start.

Amy Downes
Guest

I’m usually the first one to say I wish that parents would trust schools, but that does seem a lot and you argue the case so well. I’d speak to the teacher personally. Great blog x

Louise (@TattooedMumsy)
Guest

Wow that seems like so much for the little ones. I dread when we have to deal with homework!

Michelle
Guest

Totally agree with this (even as a teacher!)

Nell (Pigeon Pair & Me)
Guest

Our school’s pretty good with homework. They only ask that we read with them, until year three, when there’s one piece of homework a week. I can’t see how they could do more, tbh. They’re always so shattered after school!

Kate
Guest

My daughter is in Year 1, the expectations are less but she is so tired after school already, I can only imagine what is to come!

Lynne
Guest

Totally agree. It’s draining and nobody enjoys. My youngest (7) just read 50 pages of The BFG (off her own back) and loved it. If rather that than sit and do uninspiring bits of homework when her heart isn’t in it

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