September 30, 2014


At the age of 8, I would come home from school, eat a jam butty, and go off to play out with my friends. I am pretty sure I never had homework. Of course, we are talking about the previous century, and things are different now; but I’m starting to feel very pressured by the amount of homework I’m expected to encourage Bernard to do.

We have an ongoing literacy project where he has to complete a piece of creative work every week, an A4 page of maths questions handed out on a Monday to be handed in on Thursday, and “spellings” which isn’t a list of words to learn (that would be easy) but, for example, “write 12 sentences explaining the meaning of homophones.”

We are not the sort of family that has activities every day after school, but goodness knows how one gets all this done if you have to fit in extra curricular ballet and tennis as well. We have swimming on Tuesdays, and a five minute violin practice to fit in most days, and a child who wants to play with his friends and has no inclination to sit down for half an hour after school and do more work.

As a parent my options seem to be to ban the fun until the work is done (a good life lesson, perhaps?); put him to bed later so he can do it after tea; or teach him to rebel (a better life lesson, perhaps?)

Oh parents of Team Uborka! What do you do?


6 thoughts on “Homework

  1. Blimey. Tom is in year 4 and, whilst the pressure has definitely stepped up since year 3 (more so since he was promoted to the top stream for both English and Maths), he doesn’t get that level of homework. Typically, he gets a list of words to learn to spell on Monday, to be tested on Friday – they do these at home and in class, so we are only reinforcing what goes on at school. In addition, he gets a maths activity, which is usually done online (through the VLE) and is expected to spend some time on that (the teacher can monitor VLE log-ins and see saved work, so she knows what each child is doing). The maths activity varies from week to week and is also assigned on Monday. In addition, he might get a task related to the term topic (this term: The Romans), and that task might be to research some facts, or it might be a design/technology task – making and doing.

    He does attend the school’s homework club, which is one hour long. It’s great, as he knows he must spend that hour on homework tasks and it is guided by a member of staff (not necessarily his own teacher – it’s run on a rota by the teaching staff and headmistress). But we like to get involved, at least a little, so that we have an understanding of his learning progress.

    In addition, we also go over number facts (times table, division facts, etc) on our own account, which we sometimes do when we’re in the car or just sitting around, for maybe five minutes at a time to avoid boredom/rebellion/tantrum. Tom has at least one, sometimes two, guitar practice sessions each week. And then there is the random stuff that we like to talk about (yesterday: prime numbers) which he sometimes is interested in and sometimes less so, but we find he has a knack for quoting it back to us, sometimes weeks or months later, so it must be sticking.

    My advice – if you’re struggling to keep up, discuss it with the teacher. If anything like Tom, will be receptive and will work with you and Bernard to come up with a strategy that will work.

  2. Also, Tom reads. But he wants to do that, to the extent that I can’t get him out of the bathroom because he sits on the loo reading Captain Underpants.

    Other activities: cricket (in season), weekly grandmother night, after-school sports club and, newly added to the roster, Cubs.

  3. The whole thing gets a little more challenging when you add in the wrap around child care issue. Getting them to sit down and concentrate on something at 6.30 after a 11 hour day, frankly, seems a little cruel. I appreciate that it’s not the schools fault that not all families have the option of stay at home parenting a little more attention paid to the challenges of juggling various commitments would be nice. I assume just having low standards on the quality of work is not an ideal approach…

    Ms Gammidgy on October 1, 2014
  4. Well not exactly low standards but I don’t feel I can pressure him to finish it. At the Information Evening they said children should be spending 30-40 minutes a week on each subject, which doesn’t sound like much until you factor in how much nagging you have to do to get to the start of the 30 minutes. I don’t want to spend his childhood nagging him.

    Graybo, this is Year 4 and it’s not that much more intense than Year 3 was. Bernard reads voraciously and I have no concerns about his abilities, but about his self-discipline to do the work. Except he’s 8, so he has no self-discipline, hence the nagging.

  5. OK – I wasn’t sure if Bernard was in year 4 or 3. Still sounds like you have mre to do each week than we do with Tom. We are keen for him to have structured homework though, as we hear that the pressure really ramps up from year 5. And don’t even mention year 7.

    If I had a wish, it would be less VLE-based online work and more written stuff on paper.

    The one thing I do like is that we generally have a weekend between homework being set and expected to be completed. Only the spellings have to be learned between Monday and Friday and they are usually easily tackled in a few minutes.

    As for getting Bernard motivated, have you tried the birch?

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