Thursday, March 01, 2007

Homework not working?

“Homework should be abolished for small children as it serves no purpose,” screamed a line in USA a few weeks ago. It was reprinted with relish by a New Zealand newspaper.

The proponents of abolishing homework state that:
· There is no evidence that doing more homework leads to finer academic achievement.
· Children are wasting their precious time that could be spent on hobbies and family.
· Working parents are unable to supervise and support children in their homework.
· Too much homework erodes the love of learning.
· Too much homework may have long-lasting psychological effects.

We will hold off judgement for a week before we present our side of the argument. Meanwhile, we invite you to comment on this blog and let us know what you think about the issue of homework.

Some points to comment on:
· What do you remember about doing homework when you were at school? Was it useful or a waste of time?
· If you have children, how much time to they seem to spend on their homework? Is it more or loess than you expected? More or less than when you were their age? Do your children seem to benefit from it?
· If you’re a teacher, why do you assign homework?

If you have a pressing homework issue, please visit our website on or email us on


Peter de Vocht said...

Too much homework is bad imho. Let children be children for a little while. It is the time people learn fastest, and according to new scientist, we're the only species that puts development on hold (to reach sexual maturity) to just learn.

But what of the value of learning? Who is to say that it should be mathematics or literature or reading and writing that is important?

Given the different learning styles and personalities learning should be individualised a lot more than it currently is. Problem is resourcing of course.

I think that pusing kids too hard when they're not ready or willing is bad as some of the suggestions point out. If the teaching is done in a natural way and seen as natural by the child and of the right quantity - surely you can't go wrong?

Sherry said...

I find it makes me feel guilty...

our nearly seven year old gets homework each night. nothing too terrible - basically reading a book or doing some spelling each night.

But the thing is he is quite busy each day. Monday afternoons day he has basketball, Wednesdays he has a swimming lesson, Thursdays he has his piano lesson which homework needed to be done during the week. Friday he has soccer skills.

Damn... there is homework to do. I fear we are already giving out signals of reluctantly having to do it with him each night and the homework is not a fun experience as a result. I even admit to doing it with him in the morning before school. Early cramming exposure - must be a valuable university sill surely?

Yet I have the fear not doing the homework is going to adversely affect my child's learning.

Already on edge since seven year old was nearly kept back a year last year. If we don't keep up this year, he will definitely be repeating year 3. awwww failure - such a scary prospect.

and I thought once they started school life would be easy... sigh

Mynhard said...

As far as I can tell, NZ primary schools don't load children with a lot of homework. In fact it looks like considerably less than I had to do in SA, which was already a lot less than Yvonne had to do in Poland.

I don't think this is a bad thing, because I also think you're only a child once, and there should be time for play as well as other extra curricular interests.

That said, homework should definitely be given from the very start, because by the time the child gets to high school (let alone university), they need to be used to it! In fact, it teaches a valuable form of self discipline for life...

Sophia said...

Our child is only five so has to read a small reading book each night and swot up the letter of the week.

I think it a) teaches a good homework habit e.g. do homework straight after school and b) connects school with home e.g. we know how his reading is going/how he's doing.

I'd be pretty appalled if the homework load got any heavier for this age group. Up to around the age of ten I think they should have maximum of 15 mins a night.
I've heard this is unrealistic so I guess we'll just monitor the situation.

clare said...

Well I think primary age children shouldn't get a lot of homework - the sort of things that are mentioned, reading a book, learning some spelling, sounds about right.

I don't honestly remember doing homework from primary school - but if it was reading I wouldn't have thought of it as a chore. My mum tells me I had to practice a lot to learn my spelling as I had extremely mild dyslexia. I don't remember it though.

At high school I know the only detention I ever got was for not doing my science homework. Now I am a science teacher and I gave a few detentions just today for failure to do homework.

I am a highschool teacher, and I set homework for a number of reasons:

1. It is useful for getting students to practice a new skill without eating up all the classroom time on it.

2. Parents want it - they constantly call the school to complain that we don't set enough homework. So it is school policy to set homework at least three out of four lessons.

3. ERO checks to make sure that we set homework and monitor it. They are visiting this term so homework setting is an even higher priority than usual.

Yvonne Eve Walus said...

Thank you for all the excellent ideas and feedback. I was particularly surprised (in a pleasant way) that parents in New Zealand high schools demand homework.