Does Homework Work?

April 24, 2017
homework #badparent

What is this really teaching our children???

My guess: That we go to work 9 – 5 and we work really really hard sitting at a desk; and then we get home and we do a little more work??

Over the last few days I have been bemoaning the ‘Holiday Diary’ task we were set for Houdini to compile over the Easter break. It was a blank school text book to write a few sentences in every other day about what he’d been getting up to over the break. The odd drawing was encouraged, as was some scrap booking (We, and when I say we I mean I, went heavy on the scrapbooking!). To say we didn’t manage any sentences is an understatement; and it took a whole bag of sweets practically to get any amount of studious behaviour out of him.

But most of all it felt wrong when through the moaning, the wisdom of this four-year-old was unchallengeable for me:

Said with a sigh “But Mummy, I do loooooaaaaadssss of work at schooooool”

“it’s my holiday I want to play”

“I hate loys of writing”

“My arm aches”

“My eyes are so tired” (shall I put you to bed then was my response, to which he responded watching that Teenage Ninja Hero Turtles would make him feel awake probably)

And the Biggy: “school is for work, why are you making me do it all of the time at my house”

This got me thinking. Our failing work culture that is seeing so many parents struggle to cope with the work life balance, begins so early on in life. As with most problems in society it starts young, it cuts deep, and the effects last a lifetime. Teach a child to cook healthily and make healthy food choices and society can begin to tackle teenage obesity for the next generation. Teach a child they might work hard at school, but they need to work a little harder again when they get home, and you create a generation that accepts taking work home as the norm. Working late into the night isn’t to be moaned at, it’s what you do.

I get it, it’s not the school’s doing per say, the curriculum is now so ram packed they have little choice but to put some of the workload onto the parents and ask them to do their part. I’m all for reading with your kids before bed and listening to them read – but, and it’s a big BUT, within reason and limitations. My husband and I both work (me part time). On the days we are both at work our children don’t get home until 7pm. A four-year-olds tired brain at 7pm isn’t great for homework participation, and trying to get a child who is tired to do it is a sure-fire trip to wanting to gouge your own eyes out with a 2B pencil. Watching them read as they guess aimlessly at words head rolling isn’t fun for anyone. So now we don’t always do it. We only do it when he asks if he can, or at the weekends when we have more time at the right time of day.

So I am that parent that hates the homework. Not just because I don’t need any more reason to drink each evening, but because I hate that I find working at home such a normal activity. I don’t want that for my children’s future. If schools are setting holiday homework, and parents are still working themselves through the holidays (because working in the public sector means you are very unlikely to have enough holiday each year to be off with your children for all of the holidays) then when does it get done? And is anyone having a holiday? For me as a working parent the Holiday was more work than term time.

I’m not sure what the answer is, but it is food for thought? I’d be interested to know if anyone else has a view on the best way to tackle it?


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1 Comment

  • Reply Catherine Dietrich April 26, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    I so agree with you. I’m all for teaching older kids about time management and responsibility, but it’s difficult to see the point of homework for such little ones when they’re so clearly not yet ready for it. I’m not an expert in anything child-development-related, but surely they learn more if they’re out there searching for the lessons themselves? Let them play, let them get dirty, get imaginative, work out their own interests – before sitting them down to force something they’re not yet ready for.

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