The dreaded homework!

Half-term is over and it’s back to the regular regime of packed lunches, school runs and acceptable bedtimes.

The new term has started off well and the children are happy; that is, until the weekend comes round again and whilst rummaging in the book bags, you find the dreaded sheets of homework, crumpled up at the bottom.

The debate surrounding homework given to primary school age children has been raging for many years.

Previous guidelines introduced by the Labour government under Tony Blair suggest an hour of work a week for infants aged up to the age of seven, rising to half an hour a night for those in the final four years of primary education; but many homework tasks can take far longer than this, and be extremely stressful and cause some children – and their parents – a lot of anxiety.

In 2014 Dawn Moore, head of King Alfred School in north London, said “I really question how beneficial homework is, particularity for the younger primary age children.”

She went on to warn of the damage it might cause by overloading children, highlighting that, “I think children have a very busy day at school and when they get home they’re often quite tired and need some downtime.”

This last part really resonates with me. Family life is often very hectic, and for younger primary school children doing homework isn’t something they can do independently; they will usually need the aid of a parent to complete the work and in some circumstances, you end up doing the whole thing.

Unfortunately, now that homework is part and parcel of primary school life, what strategies can parents put in place to ease the pain?

If you’re at the end of your tether, here’s a few things we’ve found really helpful:

Go to the library – doing homework in a space outside of the home environment can make it less distracting.

Join a homework club – many schools run homework clubs to allow children to complete their work in a school environment.

Sticker chart – for those children reluctant to participate in homework tasks, offer an incentive by completing a sticker chart and rewarding them when it’s finished.

Don’t stress – if you get stressed, your children will too!

Read a book instead! I’m sure many teachers and parents would agree with me on this one!

For me and my family, moving forward, we continue to discuss the merits of completing the homework tasks each week, ever hoping that one weekend when we’re rummaging in the book bags, we won’t find any crumpled bits of paper with that week’s homework on, and that we can back to playing games, reading books and allowing our children to be children for a bit longer.

About Giles Paley-Phillips
Each month award-winning children’s author Giles Paley-Phillips picks three of the best reads for kids.