Homework often creates a family battleground. You want them to do it – before they do everything else; they want to do it when it’s nearly bedtime (or not at all); but does it really make a difference?
If you’re a diligent parent you’ll know how hard kids can struggle when they haven’t ‘got’ a concept and now they have to go it alone with their homework. What can you do except wade in and help?
Never mind that your favourite TV programme has just started (thank goodness for catch up TV). Forget how tired you are after a long hard day at work. Wave goodbye to catching up with your far-away family on Facebook (yes, parents have discovered how that works). It’s time to buckle down and help with their science project report, their Calculus equations or their essay on what Shakespeare was really saying in Much Ado About Nothing.
You could be forgiven for wishing your child was at the school in Essex that has recently announced they are ditching homework. It’s not just the children that are cheering, beleaguered parents are quietly relieved. But does that let you off the hook?
If homework was no longer necessary how would your kids do in their exam results? What would their long term career prospects be like? There has been research that says that children that do homework perform better in the exam room.
If homework wasn’t compulsory how would you feel about your kids not studying after school? Are you in the ‘it’s the job of the school to educate’ camp or in the ‘it’s part of our duty as parents to help our children to do well’ brigade?
While it may be challenging for you to dredge up your sketchy knowledge of chemistry or try to work out what the teacher is looking for in this essay – don’t you feel a sense of achievement when your child gets good marks?
Even schools where homework has become more of a ‘choose your own study programme’ arrangement, encourage students to do something outside school. Family related activities like eating dinner together, reading together, outside activities and early bedtimes are recommended to help children to be at their most receptive in the classroom.
The Department of Education has also carried out a study that says that secondary school children who do homework for 2-3 hours on school nights are TEN TIMES more likely to get good GCSEs than children who don’t spend time on homework.
Homework does teach children to manage their own progress and – hopefully – to ask questions when they get stuck. So maybe parents shouldn’t be happy at the idea of it being ditched.