Sunday, September 13, 2009

Doing Their Homework.

What do you think about primary school homework?

Over the last 4 years that we have had a school aged child Bren and I have come to the agreement that we wont enforce homework. Of course this will change as the girls move up in their school years but for now unless they instigate it we wont be making them do it.

When Indi was younger we would argue over her reading. I wanted her to read every night so she would gain the skills to escape into a book and enjoy the freedoms that come with reading. She resisted and would beg me to read to her instead. After a while I gave up and in her own time she discovered the joys of reading and now at 8 loves going to bed with a good book.

The girls are at school for 6 and a half hours a day. During that time they learn literacy, numeracy, art, music, history...when they come home we think it is time for them to play and to learn things from us.

Living on a farm they learn about the seasons, about planting and harvesting, about keeping and caring for animals, they come to market and often take charge of the money transactions, we cook with them, dance with them, talk to them and make stuff with them.

When we got back from up North last week both of our school girls were presented with their first ever project. All last week parents I spoke to were buzzing about the work they and their children were doing. I wasn't sure how to go about it all. Should I take them to the library, make suggestions, research the internet or let them take charge?

I suppose I worry a bit about them getting into trouble for not making the effort or falling behind but both teachers are aware of our feelings about homework.

This morning they dragged out the poster paper and paints without much encouragement at all.

Jazzy's is a project about animals. She plans to put some photos of animals we met at a wildlife park last week all around her tree.

Indi's is to have an Aboriginal theme. She is going to write the dreamtime story of The Rainbow Serpent around her painting and decorate it with lots of dots.

So its ok this time but what about next time and time tables and spelling words?


  1. Hi :-)
    I like your blog :-)
    I have kids similar ages to yours and i agree with you...they are at school long enough and what they learn from our garden and farm and family is more valuable than half the stuff they learn at school.
    And it seems your kids have done beautiful homework :-)

  2. I don't agree with planned weekly homework for primary aged kids unless the school is prepared to enforce it at their end instead of the burden of responsibility being put on the parents. Homework time for my 11 yo is often ended in tears and it's awful. If they were working on a project and had a month to finish it, fine, but the weekly sheet that comes home every Monday is awful.

    That being said I know full well that parents at my daughter's school demand to see their kids come home with homework to do. They start questioning the teacher for it in grade two. At the time I remember telling my daughter's teacher when asked whether I was concerned about the lack of homework that she'll find I sit in the opposite camp - don't want any homework at all. ever.

  3. I didn't like homework for primary school ages, because there never seemed to be any penalty for not doing it, or reward for doing it. If the aim was to get them used to doing homework, my feeling was it set them up for thinking that homework was something that could be ignored.

    So far, the transition to secondary school doesn't seem to have been greatly affected: once they know they have to do homework they get on with it. My 15yo actually asks me to remind him to stop doing other (fun) stuff and get on with the homework.

  4. I have to say that I agree with you that children are at school for a long enough time each day and that when they come home they should be allowed to relax and play and run around just being children without the pressure of 'having' to do lots of homework. I have lost count of the number of arguements and tears that have been shed over the homework subject and think that homework should perhaps start in upper primary to prepare children for the homework that is inevitable in secondary school :O)

  5. My eldest child is in prep (PREP!!! for goodness sakes) this year and has a ridiculous amount of homework .... that he simply doesn't do because I don't enforce it.
    He comes home tired and needing to relax and be with his family.
    It's all I can do to get him fed, bathed and pyjama'd before he conks out for the night.
    Homework simply doesn't make the cut.
    And I don't mind. He's doing well at school and has plenty of time to learn about the 'joys' of homework!!
    In the meantime, the teachers simply have to deal with me!!

  6. My Mum is primary teacher and has never believed in setting homework. When parents would come to her asking about homework, she would send them away with a list of things they could do with their child instead, very similar to the things you do with yours.

    My daughter (12), on the other hand, is extremely unorganised, and no matter how hard we try, it's really difficult to get her organised. I have found she needs homework, and a very structured and planned out day to get her to focus. I guess it really depends on the child.

  7. I don't remember ever getting homework in primary school apart from some art projects. We always had a times tables poster on the back of the toilet door though, so you could practice them while sitting there!

  8. I used to work full-time when my son went to primary school and it used to be a mad dash to get home, pick him up, make dinner and then do homework. Some nights we would let it go and then when we had a good night of homework we would play catch up with some other reading and spelling. Isabelle is 8 and she has a reader every night and spelling test each week, so some nights we read 2 stories and other nights we have a little break. Spelling is not done every night but I do make sure that before Friday she does complete the spelling test. She is very good at her work which makes it easier too. I guess doing homework now does put them in a routine for doing so much when they get to high school, although my son hates doing his and he is in Yr 10. I think your daughter's paintings are beautiful and they obviously loved doing it too so I wouldnt worry too much about it.

  9. Homework can be a real source of stress and it shouldn't be like that for kids or parents. Our school recently introduced the homework grid which is seems to work well for the grade 3-6's. It gives children choices and includes things they may do already. Cooking, family activities, art,timestables, reading, excercise & games are some of the things they can do. Lucy likes the grid and has a week to complete it. I like the way it acknowledges the things we do anyway and encourages kids to be active and creative. This is the kid of homework that works for us as a family.

  10. ours aren't at school yet so i can't say as don't know, but i agree that there is an abundance of things that they learn from everyday life that is more useful than set homework. just talking to your child does wonders for their development. it looks like you & bren are doing an amazing job :)

  11. We have totally the same philosphy as you, home should be a nurturing, creative space where there is no pressure but instead lots of love, doing things together, and opportunities to learn through everyday life! x

  12. I am a teacher and I don't think Prep-4 children should have set homework. You are so right that they spend enough time at school. It is like their job, the place they have to be every week day. Would we like to take work home?

    Let kids be kids. There is PLENTY of time for them to worry about managing their time, meeting deadlines and being under pressure.

  13. My children are not school aged yet - so I can't speak from that perspective yet. However from my experiences as a high school teacher I will say this - parents cracking the whip will not teach children organisation skills or motivation - it will just create another battle that puts pressure on the family. Parents becoming over involved in homework (i.e. taking over the project from the child) are denying their children learning opportunities. This is the child's life and the child's journey... they will learn what they want when they want. The parent's role - to support this by providing opportunities to go to the library or have time of an evening.
    Sounds to me like you're doing a fantastic job.

  14. I think playing, and living, and learning sound exactly like what kids should be doing outside school. Plenty of time for the structure and rigour of adult life.

  15. Children are learning all the time. They learn what they need at their own pace. I agree that homework for primary aged children is not necessary at all. Heck, we don't enforce any kind of learning structure on our school aged girl and she is learning loads - on par with her schooled peers. Its amazing what they do when we just let them explore the world around them and respond to their needs... Good on you for taking a stand!!

  16. I understand getting kids to do readers and timetables at home, but projects and homework for primary school kids?

    What are our kids doing at school that they're too busy to do their work during class times?

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