This is a hot topic in this week’s news and I’m sure it is a hot topic in most households that have school-aged children. Do children get too much homework? And the most important question is does homework actually help a child’s attainment?
As a teacher I’m required (by the school where I work) to give homework three times a week. I try to give homework because work genuinely needs finishing off or I want children to recap at home on work we have covered in class. But there is always a nagging feeling that if we got rid of homework completely we’d probably all be just fine. We’d still learn what we needed to learn, we’d still cover what needed to be covered and children could still go home and be… well children.
So what are the pros of homework?
Homework is a useful tool for children to revise, refresh and re-evaluate the work covered in class. If parents take an active role in their child’s education it is a useful way for them to see the work being covered and to give their child support in areas where they are unsure. Homework can also promote independent learning and organisational skills. Remember the homework set, doing it to a deadline and working at home can be a useful life skill as children get older.
What is the problem with homework?
The main problems come when homework is set for the sake of being set. It doesn’t actually help the child with work covered in class or worse, confuses the child further if they have not fully grasped a concept. Homework can also infringe on family life and the mental health of children who need time to rest, recoup and be away from schoolwork in the evenings. Nansi Ellis, assistant general secretary of teaching union NEU, has stated that she doesn’t believe that giving homework to primary schoolchildren is needed. Instead, children should be reading, playing, doing hobbies and spending time building relationships.
In 2012 the government got rid of the guidelines around homework and has now said it is up to the individual school to set homework. With about nine out of 10 schools setting homework, it seems it is here to stay.