The great homework debate

Yesterday, I read on Mumsnet that Gary Lineker has called for homework to be banned. He said:

‘Homework should be banned.ย All it does is drive a massive wedge between parents and children, because you end up having to do it for them, and itโ€™s stressful. They get stressed and they donโ€™t want to do it’.

While Autumn is a long way off of homework as she’s only 4 months old, it’s an issue that is concerning me already. I remember being given homework to learn spellings when I was in Year One of Primary School (for my non-UK readers, when I was between the ages of 5 and 6). From what I’ve heard, it seems as though children that age are now being given more homework than I was at that age. Naturally, I’m concerned about how much homework Autumn is going to be given when she starts school in a few years. I think the school day is long for children that young anyway, without giving them additional work to do when they get home. As Gary Lineker said, it’s stressful for parents too. After a long day at work, when tasks include looking after the home, cooking and looking after the children, surely the last thing you need is the stress of helping with their homework.

I do think homework is beneficial to some extent, but there needs to be some balance between home and school. When I went to secondary school at the age of 11, I went to a fairly strict girls-only grammar school. I remember being shocked by the amount of we were given; sometimes as many as 4 or 5 pieces of each night. The pressure of it often caused me anxiety and I had to wonder if it was part of the reason that so many of my classmates suffered with depression and/or self-harmed. When there’s the possiblity that it is causing children to have poor mental health, it really needs to be considered whether the stress is really worth it. Will it really boost their grades enough to justify it?

However, as Gary Lineker said, regardless of how much of it they’re getting, children just don’t want to do homework! I remember how annoying it was when I got in from school and my Dad’s first question would be “Have you got any homework?” Sometimes my parents would say that I had to finish all my homework before I went to see my friends along the road and as a pre-teen I’d of course think that was really unfair, I’d just been to school and wanted a break before doing yet more work! Due to the amount I was given, I knew it’d take hours and then it’d be too late to go and see my friends along the road. They attended a different secondary school and I remember looking at their homework diaries and being envious of how littleย  they had in comparison. The friendship eventually fizzled out; perhaps due to age, but perhaps due to the amount of homework I had.

Of course, as a pre-teen and teenager when my parents asked questions about it I’d think it was part of their mission to ruin my life! Even with primary school children, homework does nothing to improve the relationship between parents and children. My brother is very practically talented, but with academic subjects, forget it, he’s not bothered. The complete opposite to me, he hates writing. I remember watching the struggle for my parents to try and convince him to do his homework – it didn’t interest him and he just didn’t want to do it, it was bad enough for him having to go to school without bringing it home. It was stressful for him and stressful for them.

Gary Lineker aside, there has been a fair amount of media attention brought to ‘the great homework debate’ recently and I think it’s for good reason. It is obviously a good idea to try to help children excel and homework does help to support their learning, but there is obviously a need to review how much is needed to have a good balance to reduce the stress for children and their parents and guardians.

So, what do you think? Should we scrap homework completely and does your child get more than you did when you were at school? Let me know!


15 thoughts on “The great homework debate”

  1. We are a way off this too but I have older nieces and nephews and I think they get way too much homework at such a young age. I think maybe occasionally doing some spellings and time tables (once they are old enough) and the expectation that they do some reading with their parents should be enough while they are in primary school. It puts a lot of pressure on parents, and for some children it can cause real anxiety. I think we should have the Scandinavian school system where they really focus on play until the age of around 7!

  2. Hi, thanks for visiting me! ๐Ÿ™‚ I agree, I love the sound of the Scandinavian school system and would absolutely school my daughter that way if I could. I also think occasional times tables, spellings and reading is the way to go for primary school children – in retrospect childhood is too short as it is, I wish they’d be allowed to enjoy it more.

  3. Hi,
    This is really interesting because my Mr 8 is currently learning about debates at school & they had one on homework, & he actually said he was for!! His reasons because there are less distractions at home and he can do it at his own pace.
    -this however, doesn’t mean to say getting him to do homework is easy, but it’s never been a major battle, as if completed neatly with no arguments he earns 10mins screen time-always a winner!

  4. Hi, thanks for your comment – that is really interesting!
    I suppose school isn’t always the best environment for working in when there are distractions such as other children messing around. The children that want to learn end up missing out, which is really unfair.
    I also understand his ‘own pace’ argument – Maths was always my weakest subject and I always felt under so much more pressure in the classroom under time constraints to complete questions than I did at home.
    A reward for doing homework without arguments is a great idea – I’ll have to remember that one!

  5. We have huge meltdowns every week about the homework with all three of my children – it’s so tedious and distructive to our weekends. My kids are all primary school age and I am a primary school teacher but I just can’t see the benefits of it – the stress is just not worth it for anyone. Teachers are so snowed down with marking that taking this extra marking away from their huge workload would do them such a favour. I agree that homework in secondary school is more beneficial but not for children under 11, who have so many targets they are meant to hit as it is.

  6. It was exactly the same with my brother growing up, it just completely ruined the weekend.
    I feel sorry for teachers – there’s virtually no free time at all with so much planning and marking to do. It probably would be beneficial for everyone to abolish homework for at least under 11s!

  7. N gets a workable amount in Y1 but it is hard fitting it in when he doesn’t get to start it until 5.50ish when he’s back from after school club. Thankfully apart from reading and spellings we don’t have any over holidays and weekends. That I don’t agree with. We do struggle to get him to do it – reward charts help, but the school are fairly relaxed about it at this age, but I am concerned how much he’ll get when he’s older

    I think it helps him though. It’s noticeable when he doesn’t do reading over the holidays, he does go backwards for a while, and it’s easier when it’s a routine thing. I think it has encouraged his confidence to show that he can do writing and reading outside school. #brillblogposts

  8. Hi Emma, thanks for commenting ๐Ÿ™‚
    I’m glad he doesn’t get anything other than reading and spellings over holidays and weekends. It sounds like a long day though if he has to do homework and doesn’t get to start it until that time.
    It’s good to hear some positive things about homework from you, it helps to give some perspective from both sides of the debate ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. We are a way off from having homework. People are all different and what works for one wont necessarily work for another. Even if they do it will it be absorbed for exams? #BeInspired

  10. There are lots of reasons that families struggle with homework. I remember having it at primary school. It was about learning spellings, reading books, practicing numbers. This was something that you’d do with your parents.

    Problem is that the way kids are taught to do these things has changed so much that parents need to get their heads around a new system to help support their kids learning. Also. Not every parent has the time or skills to do this – it’s just seen as another thing to fit in before bed time.

    Literacy and numeracy are critical skills – we still have kids entering secondary schools without the right level of literacy to deal with classes and the homework.

Leave a comment