Let’s Get Rid of Homework

As both a parent and a teacher I have always debated the value of homework.  There have been a few things this week that have happened that have swung my viewpoint.

On Tuesday evening I casually asked my son, you know the one being treated for leukaemia if he had any homework.  His reply was, “Yes, but it doesn’t have to be in until next week, I’ll do it on Sunday afternoon”.  On one hand, I’m proud that he is able to manage his time well enough and can put aside time when he will feel more refreshed to tackle it. On the other hand, I feel sidelined that precious family time at the weekend is being eaten in to by school work.  I, of course, did not say this to him as I want him to respect education and his teachers, however, I cannot help but feel less and less supportive of the endless homework tasks which intrude our personal lives.

As a parent, it is our responsibility to nurture our child’s physical, emotional, social and cognitive abilities by helping them develop and hone the knowledge and skills they need to reach developmental milestones and progress further.  This can be achieved through directed modelling, teaching and guidance and as a product of our inherent values, behaviour and lifestyle.  I believe that as parents, we should support and encourage a love of learning and curiosity in the world around us through exploration and enquiry.

I have seen and experienced that the relentless setting of homework can obliterate this desire to learn, instead of replacing it with immense stress and pressure for the child and the family.

I met with a young man today who was concerned about an argument he had with his Mum the previous evening; the trigger was that he was unable to access the homework he had been set.  I saw a post from an exasperated parent on Facebook asking for help about a Year 7 Science homework.  Another parent in the supermarket asking how he can help his son who consistently has meltdowns about his homework tasks not being good enough – but why?  Because he sees his 5-year-old peers take in pieces of art clearly designed and made by the parents.  For him, his attempt on his own just doesn’t quite look as good no matter what his parents say.

I have worked with families where there are 2 adults and 4 children living in a two-bedroom flat – where can they complete homework?  Families with no access to paper let alone resources to make a Tudor House.  Families where both parents work who want to spend time enjoying their children rather than completing sterile and useless MyMaths tasks, or those plain and dull worksheets which are given purely to tick a box.

Homework is killing our children’s love of learning.  Are we not meant to be preparing our children for the world of work?  What other occupation, apart from teaching, are you expected to complete work beyond your hours of work?  Yet, we expect our young children to do this.  This concept of homework is even more difficult for children who are on the autistic spectrum to comprehend – school work should be completed at school right?

As a parent and a teacher, I tow the line about homework but I am becoming increasingly opposed to it.  I am more than happy to go through spellings or times tables in the car or whilst we are out for a walk.  If my children show interest in a particular topic or issue we will discuss it or research it in more depth.  We will talk about political and social issues, we will write letters and stories that have meaning, we will draw a beautiful image representing the day we have had.  This is far more meaningful than trying to recreate a Tudor House.

I do believe that work beyond the classroom becomes relevant and important as children embark on their GCSE and A Levels.  Children do need to develop skills of research and inquiry for further study and success in the workplace.  I also believe that there is an argument for determined practice but this needs to be driven from within and a desire to learn and succeed; not a product of relentless persuasion from a parent.    Children do need to develop skills of time management and meeting deadlines and this can be mastered in time, as they approach adulthood and independence.  Imagine the enthusiasm if the concept of home learning and individual inquiry started at 14 years old rather than 4 years old.  Unfortunately, by the time children reach GCSE, homework has become an arduous task with little meaning or benefit.  It is purely a task which has to be endured; there is no investment or passion.

Let our kids be kids when they are not at school.  Let our kids explore the world around them.  Let them simply enjoy time with their friends and their families.

We need to remove the unnecessary pressure and stress of homework.  We need to allow children to enjoy and relish the precious time they have beyond the classroom.  We need to liberate our children to enjoy the fun and freedom in life.

Homework

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9 thoughts on “Let’s Get Rid of Homework

  1. Agree totally Kerry. At our recent parent’s evening I explained to both of their teachers that, for me, their life outside of school is just as important than their life in school. If ever, they don’t complete their homework it will be because they have lots of activities outside of school, they have full-on busy lives during the week and at weekends they need down-time. They read most nights and do the various sheets you mention a couple of times a week but for me that is enough. Mine are 6 and are heading to bed at 7pm- its already tough fitting it all in. They’re tired and the work/play balance is tipped too far towards academic achievement. As far as I’m concerned they will learn far more about the world and life through socialising, discovering, learning new skills. I am far from a perfect parent but I don’t see the benefit in a lot of the homework.

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  2. Schools are constantly adopting changes in their teaching methods, particularly it seems at primary level. They seem to have a choice in how they teach such basics as sounding out letters & learning to form them ‘with tails & flicks’ ready for joined up writing, as well as variations in maths teaching methods. With such freedom to make choices, that the teachers & heads feel will benefit the children’s progress, surely they could trial going homework free for a year or two to see what effect this has. Fair enough let them take books home to read & practice times tables but at primary level at least let them forget school work when they get home. My daughter is a primary school teacher,with a son who has just started school, so she can see both sides. So many more mums work these days as well as the dads, which puts more pressure on the little free time they have with their children, let them enjoy them while they are still young, they grow up far too quickly.

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    1. It would be warming to see if school’s would take the risk. School’s seem to promote the idea that if you don’t set homework you are not a ‘good’ school. I would be far more impressed with a school who listened to the views of parents, children and staff and then acted on it with the aim of providing a more enjoyable and meaningful educational experience.

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  3. The school system, the over crowed environment and constant discipline, testing and in house monotony is more than enough for our children to bare on a daily basis! I take the attitude that this is our life experience too… my son Lucas has struggled with all that surrounds school as it is and so I will not extend this into the environment of love, safety and freedom we have created called home. Homework is no longer on our agenda and hasn’t been for the past two school years! I flat refuse to put my bright beautiful children through any more of this pointless pressure. I am 44 and I did all the school years… I believe that credits me with enough knowledge and experience to know what I’m talking about. I am considering flexi schooling right now… these are my children and they need to learn all that is with a sense of purpose, self geared direction and passion.

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  4. This needs to be said but your amazing Kerry! Your statement fuels me with passion and activism. Thankyou for being a wonderful cleansing voice admist the bull…

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