How much homework is too much?

keep-calm-and-do-that-homeworkToday, Tadpole had a “homework date” with one of his friends from school. Yes, a homework date, rather than a play date. His friend’s Mum, who is a very good friend of mine, is of a similar opinion to me – that they get too much homework.

Let’s take a look at it, step by step:

Tadpole is five years old and his friend is four. They are both in Reception class, and both, as we have been told at parent evenings, “exceed expectations” academically – in other words, they are exceptionally bright children.

Every parent wants to think their child is incredibly clever, but not every child is. Some kids are average (which is perfectly alright – it means they’re where they should be for their age group), and some kids are below expectation, (which doesn’t mean they’re stupid or slow, it just means they need a little extra help to get caught up – these kids usually take a big leap a little later in the game and either catch up, or exceed their peers).

The children receive their homework on a Friday at the end of school, and have to hand it in by the following Friday, meaning they have a week to complete it. We, however, like to get it out of the way as soon as possible to a) make sure it’s all done and handed in, and not forgotten then done in a rush, and b) our kids have time to play and, well, be kids.

Our kids (who, remember, are well ahead of where they should be, academically speaking) took 1 hour 15 minutes to complete their homework for the week.

I looked at an article on ehomework which shows how much homework kids should get at various ages. The website states that in year 1 and 2, children should get an hour of homework every week. That’s ONE hour of homework. And that’s for the year ABOVE our kids.

We gave constant supervision to make sure the kids concentrated and got on with their homework with no lollygagging or fooling around. So if the bright kids are taking over an hour to do their homework, how long is it taking those who need a little extra help? What about the kids whose parents aren’t so bothered about helping their kids with homework?

I’m pretty certain it could take anything up to twice as long for those kids who need more help and get distracted easily, so surely that means there’s too much homework?

I also have to say, I’m not particularly enamoured of the homework they get. There’s an awful lot of colouring, cutting and sticking involved. Surely it would be better to concentrate on proper writing and, perhaps, a little reading and some maths?

Last year I assisted in a Primary 1 class in Aberdeen (which is equivalent to Reception in England), and the work they were doing there was a lot more of what I would consider proper schoolwork than our kids seem to get. They received homework twice a week – once on a Monday to be returned on the Wednesday, and once on a Wednesday to be returned on Friday. Nothing over the weekend – that was their time. Our kids seem to get an awful lot more play time instead, which, to my mind, is more suited to nursery.

I’m a little puzzled and disappointed on both counts. Does anyone else feel this way about their children’s school and homework?


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