Today I find myself in the unusual position of railing against homework at my daughter’s primary school while simultaneously in an argument with my teenager about the value of revision. Unsurprisingly I have a million questions: ‘Do my teenagers hate homework because they were made to do it an early age?’ ‘Do teachers ‘like’ homework?’ ‘Do parents like homework?’ are some. All the primary school teachers I’ve asked say they only give homework because parents expect it, yet all the parents I talk to say it causes arguments at home and they don’t want it.
Some parents tell me it’s too hard for their children. Others it’s too easy and doesn’t relate to what they’re doing in class. Some parents want to spend quality time remembering with their children what they did on the weekend and helping them express it clearly in a written or artistic form. Others are upset their child spent last weekend with their former partners new partner, while both biological parents worked.
I got to this point today when a parent posted in my kinder daughters school ‘underground facebook group’ asking if anyone has this weeks yr2 spelling words. I had to ask more about this because of the angst I experienced 10 or so years ago strongly encouraging my sons to practise their spelling words. I wanted to know if they still use the “look, say, cover, write, check” method of learning to spell. My boys and I had so much fun making up stories with those spelling words, seeing what we could do with 10 or 20 simple words. Or should I say, I had fun, the boys were more interested in quickly writing the words out in a column so they could go play in the treehouse.
They always did well in the spelling test at the end of the week, of course they did. They wrote the words out every day, they were stuck in their heads on Friday. The problem is they can’t spell them now, well one of them can – he’s a natural speller. In two weeks one will start his year 11 exams, in preparation for his final year of school. I’m not exactly sure what contribution those yr2 arguments about homework will have on his final results, but I do know that I’m being much more relaxed with his little sister and I’m very grateful she doesn’t really have homework yet.
I’m trying to emphasise revision now for all my children, in an interesting way. No busy work please, let’s talk about what you did in school today; what did you learn, what can you teach me? My little one and I talk about her upcoming news items and plan ahead for the letter of the week in a playful way. I wonder at what point planning for news becomes less playful and why?
I’m still learning and I’d really like to hear what you think. What do you love and what do you hate about homework? Can you help me and my children with your ideas about learning at home please?