Dear Homework … You suck

Dear Homework

I want to like you. I really want to like you.

The first time my daughter brought you home, I was crazy excited. I remember hastily scanning through you to see what fun projects we’d work on together.

I foolishly pictured my six-year-old and me sitting at the dinner table happily working through spelling words, maybe a little addition and subtraction, and a science project or two – you know the drill.

How naïve I was.

Your fortnightly homework grid is the bane of my existence.

I don’t know who detests you more – my six-year-old or me. Getting you done is like pulling teeth. Painful and slow. There’s whining, sighing, huffing and puffing, tears and frustration.

We had virtually no homework in Prep. Ahh, sweet Prep. How I miss thee. Our afternoons were free to do whatever we liked. You let kids be kids.

It’s been a massive jump from Prep to Grade 1 and everyone involved (except the four-year-old who happily teases her sister with, ‘I don’t have no homework’) is reeling. Talk about cranking up the stress-o-metre.

We may have two weeks to do you in, but two weeks goes pretty darn fast. When my six-year-old is hot, tired and cranky after a long day at school, when do you suggest we do you?

We can’t do you straight after school. That’s a bit mean, isn’t it? The child has been at school all day, she needs a break. If you give her a break though the momentum for learning is quickly lost. She wants to play Lego. She doesn’t want to practice her Even Steven and Odd Todd numbers, you know what I’m saying?

The thing is that my time is valuable and my kid’s time is valuable. We get home from school at 3.15pm, have dinner at 6pm, and she is in bed by 7.30 pm. That doesn’t leave us lot of time, especially if I have things like dinner to make, bills to pay, washing to be done etc. It’s not just the six-year-old that needs to do the homework. I have to be there to help her. She can’t even read the homework tasks yet!

Once we finally make a start on you, the frustration and sighing continues. Miss Six is a perfectionist and every tiny mistake she makes hurts her. She’s hard on herself and I hate seeing that.

You’re causing us a lot of angst in our usually happy household, homework, and it just ain’t cool.

My six-year-old needs balance. She needs time to play. I want her to be able to wind down after a massive day. How about we teach her fun things she doesn’t learn in the classroom like riding a bike, exploring the backyard, or putting on a dancing performance with her sister? She’s learning with that too. Those activities are expanding her horizons. She needs down time to be quiet, play, read and imagine.

I know some parents (and teachers) will disagree with me. They might think I’m lazy or I don’t care. I welcome their advice on getting through our fortnightly homework grid with sunshine and lollipops. I also welcome them to sit with my child and see how they cope with the tears and resistance.

I’m your average rule-abiding citizen. I always do what I’m told and never cause any trouble. I’ll continue to battle through, but I won’t enjoy it.

Like I said, I want to like you. I really do. I know your value. I want my kid to learn and succeed, but could you just ease up a little for another year or so? Why, so intense?

Yours respectfully

Renee

I only have one kid with homework, for Christ’s sake. Can you imagine how much I’d carry on if I had two, three, or four?! How’s the homework vibe in your household?

Linking up today with Kylie Purtell for IBOT.

38 comments on Dear Homework … You suck

  1. Lydia C. Lee
    March 14, 2017 at 6:26 am (9 months ago)

    I’m a fan of homework, because when kid 1 went to high school (having got homework) there was a simple transition. When kid 2 went (having got no homework), I’ve had to get on his case, help more and try to teach time management – all the things that regular homework taught kid number 1. I think the parents job is maybe not to do the homework, then they wouldn’t hate it so much (My kids always did their own projects and the difference in standards compared to some of the other projects that got handed in was amazing – fortunately the teachers could see they did it and marked accordingly…) But all that is down the track for you, if she’s only 6…

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      March 14, 2017 at 9:15 pm (9 months ago)

      Yes, hopefully we’ll get there. Thanks for sharing your experience with homework.

      Reply
  2. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid
    March 14, 2017 at 6:56 am (9 months ago)

    I can’t believe the amount of homework going home with kids at such a young age. When I was teaching, I’d be happy if the kids in my class did some reading each night. I think homework should be more of an exception than a rule with one task per week, to lighten the load on parents and children. Interestingly, this was a massive bug bear with a friend of mine, and the class teacher told her, that completing the homework is not mandatory, although it’s mandatory for the teacher to give it. Lisa from The Art of Joy wrote extensively on the subject last year, you might find some tips, tricks or just moral support. In the meantime, pour yourself a wine, it sounds like you need it! xx

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      March 14, 2017 at 9:16 pm (9 months ago)

      Haha! great idea. Thanks for the tip on The Art of Joy. I’ll check it out 🙂 x

      Reply
  3. Amy @ HandbagMafia
    March 14, 2017 at 7:15 am (9 months ago)

    Research suggests it isn’t beneficial. My cousin opted her kids out of any non-assessment homework and it was great for them! Too often it is nothing but overwhelming and stressful. Kids don’t learn from that.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      March 14, 2017 at 9:17 pm (9 months ago)

      Yes, what works for one kid doesn’t necessarily work for another. My little one finds it stressful. We could do with a bit less.

      Reply
  4. Ingrid @ Fabulous and Fun Life
    March 14, 2017 at 8:05 am (9 months ago)

    I’m lucky as when my twins started school they were actually excited to do their homework. So much so that their younger brother asked me to create him some homework to do at the same time as his siblings were doing theirs. Once he actually did start school himself he was totally in the homework routine – lol!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      March 14, 2017 at 9:18 pm (9 months ago)

      Lol. OMG that’s hilarious. Seriously winning!

      Reply
  5. Cat @ Life through the haze
    March 14, 2017 at 8:36 am (9 months ago)

    I don’t do homework, never have! I did a research project on homework and outcomes when I was doing my teaching degree and there is overwhelming research that shows that all that homework does in the early years of school (up to yr10!) is create additional stress for families and makes no difference to the achievement of outcomes.

    Teachers and schools know this I really wish they would stop persisting with homework. Schools say they put together homework because parents want it and parents all say they hate it so someone is telling porky pies. Though I will say that homework and marking of said homework simply adds to a teacher’s workload so I find it hard to believe that it is really teachers. They get a far better indication of where a child is at by working with them in class because 9 times out of 10 the homework is predominantly completed by parents so really it gives a teacher an incredibly poor indication of where the child is at.

    All of that said I firmly believe that we need to foster a love of learning so perhaps around the Yr 4 or 5 (so 10 or 11) children can engage in a term long project that they nominate the topic and they need to investigate the Who, What, Where, How, When, Why questions and present that for the teacher. I would say for 3 terms of the year. In addition to that reading, reading, reading, reading. I can’t stress enough that the biggest key indicator of fostering a life long love of learning is a love of reading (and that is more about reading to them than them doing the readers lol because we all know they are quite punishing!)

    In High School the only real homework that students should be doing is uncompleted work from class (but a quality teacher won’t set more than can be done in class unless they are mucking around!), or assignments for ongoing assessment. But honestly I would argue that for the first stage of high school the homework should be along the similar lines of the late primary years, pick a topic and you need to research that topic (checking in with your teacher’s throughout the term) the presentation of that topic needs to include all the who, what, where etc and how this topic relates to maths, science, sport etc.

    Then in Yr 9 move away from those more to the subject based work leading into the Senior Years (which need a complete overhaul as well everyone knows that one set of final exams is not a good indicator of performance and should not be what universities rely on for entrance marks!)

    If your girls are doing a wide variety of after school activities, helping with preparing of meals, reading, doing something active and something creative then honestly all of that is far more important than any stress around sitting down and doing a homework grid! Honestly if you don’t want to do it don’t. Don’t make it a stressful time for all of you because all of that feeds into dinner and bedtime. Simply write a well worded and thoughtful letter to the teacher explaining why you won’t be doing homework I am sure they will understand. If they don’t take it to the principal and hopefully someone will see reason!

    xoxo

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      March 14, 2017 at 9:20 pm (9 months ago)

      Thanks for your detailed response, Cathy. You can tell you know what you’re talking about. My daughter definitely has a love of learning, so I think we need to slow things down and work at her pace a little more and draw on things that really interest her.

      Reply
  6. Tracy
    March 14, 2017 at 8:52 am (9 months ago)

    My Year 3/4’s practice their spelling words, their times tables and do some reading. That’s it. No fancy stuff or need for parents to do things for their kids. Just basic practice. It should take no more than 20 minutes, including the reading.

    For me, as a teacher, this is just about my students being prepared for what is ahead of them, and practicing basic skills. I remember my oldest daughter coming home with some grid with points attached to each task and have a points goal for the term. That grid was filled with stuff I HAD to help her complete. She couldn’t do most of it herself. It drove me insane. I won’t do that to the parents in my class!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      March 14, 2017 at 9:22 pm (9 months ago)

      Oh you’re fantastic!! 20 minutes is definitely achievable and all stuff I am happy to help her with. We’ll get there eventually. Slow and steady.

      Reply
  7. Kylie Purtell
    March 14, 2017 at 9:59 am (9 months ago)

    I’m a bit iffy on homework myself. Obviously as kids get older their should be some homework to help them get used to time management, problem solving by themselves and to prepare them for when home study does become an expectation, but honestly, I think 6 is waaaaay too young for formal homework. The only homework Punky has is her home reader to read each night, and she gets a new one each Monday. We are only in our second week of this and so far she loves it (I honestly think the two books she’s had have almost been too easy) but I’m not sure how we’ll go when she starts getting “proper” homework (which hopefully won’t be until next year. One bonus of the home reader is that Zee loves it too, she insists on having a turn of reading to us as well, which I think will set her up nicely for when she starts school herself in 2019.

    I honestly think Punky gets so value out of the incidental learning she does through play in the afternoons, whether that be drawing, practising writing that she wants to do, playing educational games on the iPad (she loves the maths games we have), helping in the gardening or with cooking and simply our hour of reading together before bed. Her teacher told me that the only thing that’s really important to their success at school in the first few years is reading together as much as we can, which thankfully is not a problem in this house!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      March 14, 2017 at 9:23 pm (9 months ago)

      We love the readers in our house too and the spelling. It would be nice if it just remained simple like that. Ease them into the learning, you know. I’ve heard of schools with much more than we get though, so we’re not too badly off I suppose.

      Reply
  8. Denyse Whelan Blogs
    March 14, 2017 at 12:07 pm (9 months ago)

    No to Homework that makes a family move away from their centre of caring to one of having to do this. I wrote a post (and there have been others over the years) about the aspects of some homework that are ok and why in general, homework has not benefit in the K/P -6 years. I liken it to you having to come home and do part of your day again after a day of work. My ideas for at home activities are ones you already mention! Getting outside and playing, reading together for enjoyment NOT teaching, and chatting about all kinds of things. The one rider I have though, is that if your daughter is a perfectionist and the school sets homework…I am not sure how that helps her because she is going to want to complete it so as not to be different to other kids. Check on Professor John Hattie and Homework by googling. Schools can also be ‘torn’ because ‘some’ parents insist on homework. Sigh. This is why I am glad I am now retired from my roles as teacher and principal.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      March 14, 2017 at 9:25 pm (9 months ago)

      Thanks for your great advice today, Denyse. I will definitely check out Professor John Hattie 🙂

      Reply
  9. Vanessa
    March 14, 2017 at 12:09 pm (9 months ago)

    I don’t think there’s a need for NO homework but geez, in early primary school maybe like one thing once a week for habit building. Let kids be kids.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      March 14, 2017 at 9:25 pm (9 months ago)

      Yeah, if we could just wind it down a notch that would be greeaaat!

      Reply
  10. Deb @inner compass designs
    March 14, 2017 at 12:44 pm (9 months ago)

    All I can say is it gets easier with MOST kids (I won’t say all as I do know a few who still resist or complain). The transition to grade 1 was huge – they are so much more drained since they spend the day learning instead of playing. I remember with my oldest u was shocked that the classroom was so different to prep- now all business. I feel first half of grade 1 should be homework free to allow for the adjustment to the new school routine of real work.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      March 14, 2017 at 9:26 pm (9 months ago)

      Oh, I completely agree. It’s a big change from play-based prep. Now they have to sit down and work and oh the calamity of it all 🙂 We’ll get there eventually 🙂

      Reply
  11. Life At 101
    March 14, 2017 at 1:35 pm (9 months ago)

    Thankfully miss 19 finished school last year, now I only have four kids with homework but it still does my head in!!!!!! Let’s just say that it doesn’t always get done to a high standard!!!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      March 14, 2017 at 9:27 pm (9 months ago)

      Lol!! As long as some effort has been made, right?!

      Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      March 14, 2017 at 9:27 pm (9 months ago)

      Ooh thanks, Janet. I’ll check it out!

      Reply
  12. Beck @craftypjmum
    March 14, 2017 at 3:54 pm (9 months ago)

    I remember being excited when my boys came home with their first lot of homework. Now I hate it with a passion. I loathe the tasks, I loathe how much there is as they get older and I especially hate the fights it causes. Thank goodness this is my final year of the struggle

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      March 14, 2017 at 9:29 pm (9 months ago)

      Hang in there!! You can almost see the finish line 🙂

      Reply
  13. Josefa
    March 14, 2017 at 5:16 pm (9 months ago)

    Six is young, too young. If they can’t even read the homework tasks with confidence – the problem stares at you right there. Real homework starts at grade 3 at our school & at our place homework is a family activity – it is the only way it works…so far it is ok – nobody loves it, but together we get through it better….hang in there….

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      March 14, 2017 at 9:30 pm (9 months ago)

      I think Grade 3 is a good age to start. I’m happy for readers and spelling words, maybe a few sums in the earlier years, but save the bigger stuff for later on.

      Reply
  14. Jody at Six Little Hearts
    March 14, 2017 at 6:56 pm (9 months ago)

    I have six kids… feel very sorry for me!! As the years have passed, I have come to loathe homework too. Actually, I fully resent school altogether these days. I miss my kids and wish they were with me more. Am I weird? I would love to home school my babies. I think I will regret not doing it one day.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      March 14, 2017 at 9:31 pm (9 months ago)

      Oh Jody you must be OVER IT!!!!! Not weird at all, lovely. I think that’s beautiful xx

      Reply
  15. Jodi Gibson
    March 14, 2017 at 7:45 pm (9 months ago)

    I think grade 1 is too early for homework. Our kids don’t start homework till grade 4, before then they are just expected to read for 5-10 minutes each night. Miss 11, who’s in Grade 6, is finding the up in homework this year a bit of a battle, but the truth is, she needs to prepare for high school where 1 hour minimum each night is expected!! Miss 8, in Grade 3 actually wants homework!! She asked her teacher the other day for some but she said no! lol

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      March 14, 2017 at 9:32 pm (9 months ago)

      Oh that is so cute lol!!! Eager little beaver. I think grade three or four is a good age to start.

      Reply
  16. Robyna May
    March 14, 2017 at 8:03 pm (9 months ago)

    Grade one homework was the hardest so far (grade three now). All I can say is good luck. I actually have found before school the best time to get it done.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      March 14, 2017 at 9:33 pm (9 months ago)

      Yes, they’re usually nice and fresh in the mornings. It’s a good time to practice those spelling words.

      Reply
  17. Bec Senyard
    March 14, 2017 at 8:08 pm (9 months ago)

    I hear ya lovely. We only have sight words and readers to do, but even getting Esther to do them at night can be hard. How the heck to people homeschool their kids?! I hope it gets better. One tactic we tried was doing the homework first thing in the morning when they wake up. I found Esther enjoyed doing it then, but you have to be organized in the morning or you can be late for school.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      March 14, 2017 at 9:33 pm (9 months ago)

      Yes, it’s tricky tricky tricky. I think we need to remember we’re new at this and we’ll find our rhythm soon.

      Reply
  18. Tash @ Gift Grapevine
    March 15, 2017 at 12:15 am (9 months ago)

    Sounds like a lot for a 6 year old! Miss T is in grade 2 this year and all she has every night is reading. I’m expecting things to ramp up in the next few years but for now, it’s enough. Having said that, Mr TT brought home today the kindy bear for the next week. Oh the pressure! 🙂

    Reply

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