Confession: I Hate Homework
I hate homework. I hate it more as a parent than I did as a student (and trust me, I wasn’t a fan of it then either). I’d even say I hate it more than my children do now. HATE it. Yet, I still attempt to enforce it at home.
Though, when I say “attempt to enforce”, I mean – I remind my kid to do it. I tell him when it’s due. But I don’t sit next to him and make him do it. Sometimes it’s just too hard to muster the conviction to make it sound like I really believe he should do it.
Because I don’t.
Homework In The First Years Of School
I don’t believe that piles of homework, especially in early years of primary school, are actually beneficial. In prep my son was sent home with work that was so hard he couldn’t even read the question, let alone attempt to answer it. Homework just made him feel stressed and inadequate. Which meant I felt stressed and inadequate, because I didn’t know how to help him. There were many tears – from both of us – over homework.
My daughter started primary school on Tuesday and in her first five days of school has had homework THREE TIMES. The first two pieces were described as “optional”, but yesterday she brought home an official looking “homework book” and informed me she would need to bring it home every day – which seems pretty intense for Prep!
Admittedly I thought it was cute when my son was given homework on his first day of school too, but the novelty has thoroughly worn off in our household.
It just seems like too much, too soon. Especially when there is debate over whether or not homework is actually beneficial in the early years of primary school.
The Issue Isn’t Teachers
I understand that it’s not just coming from the teachers. I spoke to my son’s Grade 2 teacher last year about what I thought was an unreasonable workload. She said if she didn’t assign large amounts of work some parents would complain that it’s not enough.
There are also teachers who give homework, even if they don’t personally agree with it, because it’s the standard set by the school.
So, we end up with teachers are assigning more homework than they personally feel is appropriate, and parents like me enforcing it even though I don’t agree with it, and children doing the homework – even though they certainly aren’t happy about it.
It seems like a broken system.
What Is The Solution?
I really do think we need to take some of the pressure off young children. Everyone would agree that stress and anxiety do not make for a positive learning environment.
I also think the style of homework set for younger children should be more play based or experiential learning – rather than endless worksheets. And keep the volumes of work small. Children already spend so much time in class, they understandably get burnt out and need some down time when they get home.
A friend said:
As a teacher and parent, for most students I wouldn’t ever set more than 10 minutes of reading, under year 4 level. However if they need extra assistance with spelling or maths, then I’d encourage parents to spend a few minutes helping them with that.
Which sounds perfectly reasonable to me.
And then maybe parents who do want to extend their child’s learning, and have their child doing extra work at home absolutely can choose to do that themselves. There are endless downloadable work sheets and activities online. Or they talk to their child’s teacher about maybe assigning them extra work, but not the whole classroom. Maybe homework is beneficial for enthusiastic individuals, but I feel like all this pressure is not good for my children.