Yesterday, I read on Mumsnet that Gary Lineker has called for homework to be banned. He said:
‘Homework should be banned. All it does is drive a massive wedge between parents and children, because you end up having to do it for them, and it’s stressful. They get stressed and they don’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 little 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!