Homework In Early Years – Pressure vs Progress.

Homework, we all remember it as the bane of our teenage years.

I could often be found getting it done in my lunch hour.  I often faked letter’s from my parent’s as to why it wasn’t done. It caused stress and sleepless night’s, so you can imagine how I felt when my 5-year-old came home from her first week in Year 1 with a homework folder filled with 8 tasks to complete over the first half term.

Of course, these tasks were age appropriate – patterns, craft and basic poem writing practice. But I couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy about this new, quite grown up, addition to our weeknight.

She’s already tasked with 20 minutes reading each night. We are yet to do more than two nights in a row. I think 30 hours a week at school plus 120 hours a week reading is plenty.

I completely understand the reason’s behind the desire to set homework, learning in the home environment is proven to be beneficial and it allow’s us as parents to feel involved in our child’s education.

But how much is too much?

We all want our children to progress well at school. We hope that they learn new and exciting things every day. But my heart sinks a little when she looks at the calendar each weekend and counts down the day’s until homework day. She is far too young to be worrying about ‘deadlines’.

So do we go against our opinion and embrace bringing school home, or do we let kids just be kids?

Here are some opinions of fellow bloggers…

‘I think there’s a fine line between encouraging children and parental involvement and risking overwhelming children and putting them off things they might otherwise enjoy. ‘ – Petit Moi – Big World. 

‘My son is in Year 1 and I’ve noticed a big shift in what is being asked of him. Homework should just be fun and nothing that involves too much time or sitting down concentrating. They do enough of that at school as it is. But then I do see the value in getting them in the practice of doing homework in prep for the later years when homework increases, so I think a little homework once a week in Year 1 is a good thing.’ – Sorry About The Mess.

‘Whilst it’s important for parents to engage with their child’s learning, I don’t think weekly (or more often) homework is the way to go for such young children. My son and I both end up in tears most weekends while we try to get his homework completed. It’s not benefiting anyone!’ – School Runs And Shopping Trolleys.

This quote from Justine Roberts, the founder and chief executive of Mumsnet taken from TES, speaks for many of us mum’s who feel the pressure is too much for younger children – ‘Perhaps we could start by agreeing that homework for infants should, as a rule, be explicitly voluntary. There’s a clear case to be made that children in secondary school. Who are approaching important exams and life choices, need to learn about prioritising their time and the value of extra effort; it’s less clear that this is the case for 6-year-olds.’.

Homework has its positives. There was no denying the joy on my daughter’s face when she carefully constructed a ‘bug pond’ recently. I enjoy contributing to her projects as it allows us important one-on-one time together. However, given the choice, I would keep school work at school and encourage her learning in other ways at home.

What is your view on homework at such a young age?