I asked the Be A Fun Mum community on Facebook about their opinions on homework for primary school students. There was a huge response (737 comments) and below are the results:
The main feedback to come out of the discussion are as follows:
- children spend enough time studying at school & research suggests homework is not effective
- parents find it hard to allocate time for homework
- cuts into time for play, extracurricular activities, family time etc.
- reinforces what they learnt at school
- it gives parents an indication on how their child is doing at school and what they are learning
- teaches good habits for high school years
I’m not a fan of homework for primary school kids, except for reading. However, I can see some value in reinforcing what they learn at school, and I find it interesting to see what they are learning too. When we lived in New Zealand last year, there was no homework for my primary school kids and I have to say, I LOVED it! Kids just came home and played, and didn’t have that impending heaviness of homework to complete. Now we are back in Australia, there’s an expectation of homework again, but it is pretty reasonable and we have found a pretty good system for getting it completed. There are a few things I would mention:
Find the personal learning value
Sometimes, homework sheets can seem pretty useless, especially to kids. It’s always good to try and find personal growth connections with learning, but this sort of learning takes a little more time, ups and downs; it’s not so immediate as just smashing through a sheet everyday. There was a time when my son was cramming all his weekly spelling words in on a Thursday (which I let go). On those weeks, he didn’t do very well on his tests. However on the weeks that he put a little effort in every day, he did much, much better and he realised that which gave him fresh motivation. Helping kids discover the value of certain types of effort for themselves can be really helpful, but again, it takes a bit of room for trial and error. I am quite an organised, efficient person, and I can micro manage my kids, including homework, but I don’t see that as really sustainable learning in the long term, and I end up just being a nag-mum and I don’t want that. I guess I’ve learned (still learning) to find a bit of a balance between keeping them organised, and allowing them to facilitate personal growth learning trough trial and error. I do find this is a very long term drawn out process but I can see some of the value coming through with my eldest child who is almost 15. We had to nut through quite a few disorganised years with her to help her find what works for her, but now she’s absolutely fantastic at pacing work, creating plans and staying organised in a way that works for her, and she’s doing really well because of it.
Sometimes it’s too much
Especially if you have kids with learning challenges or children who do a lot of extra curricular activities, some days (or weeks) we just can’t get it done. I have found the majority of teachers to be reasonable when it comes to juggling family life and homework, and there have been times over the years when I’ve written a note. I think family/personal harmony has to come into play too. I have even asked for permanently reduced homework for one of my kids with learning challenges before and again, teachers seem very open to this which is great.
Have a flexible routine/dedicated space
Everyday is a little different for us, so we don’t have a strict routine when homework gets done. However, I do find that it’s best that the kids are fed and have a bit of a break before getting into it. The younger children (in primary school) sit at the kitchen table to do homework. My older two children do homework in their rooms. As the kids get older, I find it helpful to facilitate how they like to work. My daughter in grade 7 likes to work on a table, so we put a desk in her room. However, my daughter in grade 10 always likes working on the floor (that it where she works best), even if she has a desk in her room. So we put a bookcase in her room (she loves reading) rather than a desk.
Create a homework station
This is probably one of the biggest things that has been helpful. I have a dedicated station that assists homework and school paperwork. I bought a RÅSKOG Trolley from IKEA at the start of the year and it’s been an awesome investment. It sits near the kitchen bench/table where my two younger children do homework. My older two children (in high school) are now independent with homework. This is how I use it.
1. Top layer is for school notes/info
This is for school notes, homework folders etc.
2. Second layer has the stationery
Having all the items needed to do different projects and every day homework is SO helpful! I keep three tins for the scissors, pencils/pens and sharpies and then a big box full of colouring pens.
- 12 pencils
- 14 pens
- 3 glues
- 2 erasers
- 2 sharpeners
- 4 scissors
- 2 craft knives
- 3 rulers
- 1 calculator
- multi-coloured sharpies
- box of colouring pens/pencils
This works well for activities too, so when my children colour in, they often take the entire box out, put it on the table and colour away.
3. Third layer has miscellaneous craft items (in a box)
I just throw different craft things in there when I find/have them. For example, there’s paddle pop sticks, foam stickers, material scraps, loom bands.
Two years on and our homework station is still going strong.