• Should we scrap school “homework”?

    Should we scrap school homework? Or are we as parents making a big deal out of nothing?


    scrap school homework

    I remember being in primary school in the 1980s and finishing off high school in the early 1990s, receiving homework; perhaps not every day but we received homework.  Homework back then was about doing the odd assignment, completing a worksheet or two, writing an essay or doing a few math sums. Most importantly we had time for play.  Some form of punishment was given for incomplete homework.  But homework back then was minimal with almost no parental involvement.  Teachers taught in class. With that background, I was all set on kids getting homework.

    As a parent of school going kids in this era, I now find myself having contradictory stance about homework.  On the one hand I want it scrapped and on the other hand I find myself checking their homework diaries, signing their completed homework and reminding them to do it.  I do the latter because I feel it is my responsibility as a parent to see that the homework is done. I also don’t want my children to be labeled as the lazy kids who don’t do their homework.

    Truth is; the amount of homework that kids get is mind boggling.  My eldest daughter’s homework has increased tremendously now that she is in Grade 5.   As an educator himself at a different school, my husband gives his pupils homework on the odd occasion.  But he does not give them any over weekends.  His view on the homework issue is straightforward – too much homework prevents the child from being a child. He also knows that not all children are fortunate enough to have the support structures at home to assist with homework.

    My daughter will receive homework every day of the week as well as weekends.  Besides homework, additional time must be set aside to prepare for an oral and completing assignments. Not to mention time to study for a test or exam and the stress that goes with it.  Of which all requires parental involvement. The grandparents are also assisting with the homework.

    As working parents, we are tired when we get home. We need to prepare dinner, pack things for the next day and still assist with homework.  That is asking too much.

    Homework has become a word that I’m not very fond of these days.  Just the thought of it tires me; it has become unpleasant and stressful for us as parents and for my daughter.  Although she is very willing to do her homework; we can see that it exhausts her especially when she must study for a test on top of it. Thus causing the stress levels to increase.

    The amount of homework given has diminished quality family time after school and weekends.  Kids spend approximately 6 ½ hours at school and parents 8 hours at work. Add  in another hour or for some two hours stuck in traffic that makes it almost 10 hours away from home.  This takes away a lot of time during the day. Therefore family time in the evenings are important to us.  But with the amount of homework given – quality family time has gone out by the window.  Even conversations in the evening will now revolve around homework. We encourage her to do all her homework on a Friday afternoon.  For her to have the Saturday and Sunday free; that’s to say if she does not have a test to study for over the weekend.

    The point is my child is still just a child and time is valuable to her too; to do things that she loves.  But spending the bulk of her valuable time on homework; takes away that time she could’ve spent on playing outside or doing a craft that she enjoys.

    So the tip of the iceberg came one Wednesday in April.  My daughter came home with 58 math sums to complete as well as homework for her other subjects.  Completion and submission of these sums were for the following day.  When asked why she had such a lot of homework; she indicated that due to a fun day that they had at school her teacher couldn’t complete all the work in class and therefore they had to do it at home.

    This resulted in her starting with her homework the minute she arrived at home that day, leaving no time for play.  My husband and I assisted with homework causing a delay in family dinner time.  As these math sums were quite challenging; it took longer to complete as she had to concentrate on her calculations.  That night; my poor child was up till after 20h00 with homework – totally exhausted and giving big yawns every few seconds.

    I was ranting and raving like a bull seeing red and ready to attack. I aimed my anger and frustrations at the wrong people  –  my family.  With still 8 or so sums to complete, I told her to close her books and get into bed.  I could not allow my child to be tortured by another calculation. She looked haggard with her concentration levels being at its lowest or should I say nonexistent.  The tears started rolling as she stressed about getting a demerit for incomplete homework.  So both my husband and I assured her that I will be the one who will explain to her teacher why she couldn’t complete all her homework.

    Still fuming and rightfully so – I had every reason to be. My husband told me not to email the teacher in the state of mind that I was in.  When you are angry, your choice of words and sentence structure are based on emotions.  I wanted the teacher to focus on the content of the email and not the tone – so I decided to send it the next morning after sleeping on it.

    Of course, I sent the first draft to my husband to get his view on it – he could relate as a parent but as he is a teacher too; getting his insight on the structure and wording of the email was valuable.

    I addressed the email in an amicable way to the teacher but I copied the HOD and the principal in.  I made it clear that we have serious concerns with regards to the homework policy. In no way was this a personal attack on the teacher.  We requested that serious attention be given to this matter. Lastly we asked for the policy to be reviewed and discussed in their grade meetings.

    Turns out that we weren’t the only parents complaining.  Parents who had the same concerns wrote emails as well.  They reviewed and made adjustments to the homework policy.  Homework has decreased significantly. It is now given in moderation.

    As parents we are certainly not undermining the amount of work teachers put in every day.  On the contrary, teachers are under enormous stress to complete what is set out in the curriculum.  However, teachers and school management need to understand our position as parents too; we only want what is best for the positive development outcomes of our kids and at the moment overloading them with homework has a negative effect.

    In 2015, Sun Valley Primary in Fish Hoek implemented a no-homework policy and redesigned the way they teach at the school as it turned out giving homework to pupils showed no real benefit.  So if certain schools can implement a no-homework policy, why not all. Research has also shown that loading kids with homework does not actually help with their academic performance, it leads to counter-productivity and actually creates a negative attitude towards school work as it takes away quality free time.

    Should homework be scrapped completely? Does it serve a purpose and how effective is it? Are kids taught responsibility by loading them with homework? Is the load burning them out?  Please send me your views on this; I would like to hear from you.

    Related posts Whose stress is it anyway?


    1. August 23, 2017 / 1:25 pm

      I read that in Finland, there is no homework – this is to allow kids more time to…well, just be kids. Seems reasonable to me! #fortheloveofBLOG

      • Noleen Miller
        August 23, 2017 / 6:55 pm

        Wish the school my kids attend can just scrap it completely. A few school here in South Africa also started scrapping it – so keeping fingers crossed that it will happen in the near future.#fortheloveofBLOG

    2. Emma@dayswiththedoyles
      August 23, 2017 / 8:07 pm

      My daughters school is just not consistent, towards the middle of the year she just stopped caring as the teachers weren’t checking if they had done it either. So I’d be nit picking at home and saying things like alex you have to do your homework and wait until you get to high school you won’t know what’s hit you then. But checking on her app where she posts her work. New technology. There was work submitted by 3 or 4 out of the class. I never said a word to her again. She’s a great learner and very keen but I think the inconsistency has led to her slacking off too. I don’t think they need it. X

      • Noleen Miller
        August 23, 2017 / 8:17 pm

        Same at my daughters’ school – the teacher doesn’t check for the correctness of the homework. So what’s the point of doing it. Just an unnecessary load on parents and learners alike. They should rather encourage more reading – that would be appreciated.

    3. August 24, 2017 / 2:02 pm

      Wow that’s an incredible amount of homework, and no child should have to be working that late in the evening to do it. I understand why schools give homework, and I’m all for it, but not to that level where it’s everyday and every weekend. Once it starts to impact on family life, fun and play, is where a line needs to be drawn. Well done for emailing the school, and thanks so much for sharing this with us at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

      • Noleen Miller
        August 24, 2017 / 2:17 pm

        It has come to a point where homework has become unpleasant to do along with the emotional toll it placed on my daughter and family life. Therefore we had to intervene. Thanks for a brilliant linky! #fortheloveofBLOG

    4. August 25, 2017 / 12:31 am

      I am a teacher and this is a real bugbear of mine – I really think there should be very little homework before 11 years old and then only a little after that. We should be encouraging them to have other interests etc. #fortheloveofBLOG

      • Noleen Miller
        August 25, 2017 / 8:21 am

        Always great to get a teacher’s perspective on this matter. My husband is a teacher as well and he believes that shouldn’t be used as a tool to replace classroom teaching. If it is given, it should be for a recap of what was taught in class – to make sure they understand the concepts, it should be very little and definitely not every day.

    5. February 19, 2018 / 3:19 pm

      Our poor kids. It just seems never ending. I’m all for scrapping homework unless it’s absolutley necessary. They should be kids for as long as possible, they have the rest of their lives to be adults. #LekkerLinky

      • Noleen Miller
        February 20, 2018 / 11:31 am

        This year the maths homework must be submitted online via IXL web. It just gets more complicated and the load on the parents is also just increasing.#Lekkerlinky

    6. February 19, 2018 / 5:59 pm

      You give such valuable points. I’m happy your husband has empathy for his class kids.

      • Noleen Miller
        February 20, 2018 / 11:33 am

        Thanks. He doesn’t believe in overloading with homework – they need to crasp what they’ve learned in class and perhaps revise at home.

    7. February 19, 2018 / 9:37 pm

      I have had a kid go thru with homework and without homework – the no homework kid struggled adjusting to the workload of highschool and understanding the organisation skills of multiple assignments due at the same time. As a result, I’m pro homework. It doesn’t need to be much and definitely the ADULT shouldn’t get involved – let them fail if they have to. Don’t do it for them. #GlobalBlogging

      • Noleen Miller
        February 20, 2018 / 11:38 am

        Homework can be given but then it needs to be in moderation. Bombarding them with homework every single day of the week as well as weekends is a bit too much. At the end of the day – they just doing it because it must be done. My kids often do their homework on their own but there are times when they struggle and need our assistance. A child spends almost 7 hours at school, then comes home and need to sit with more school work – where is the time for play.#Globalblogging

    8. February 21, 2018 / 5:24 pm

      I love this! Very well written and you are so right in what you’re saying! I’m glad to hear that your daughter’s school listened to you as parents, that sounds very promising for further discussions.#GlobalBlogging

      • Noleen Miller
        February 27, 2018 / 10:45 am

        I have to say this year there has been an even bigger decline in homework – her Grade teacher this year does not believe in overloading with homework. So it also depend on the teacher – I suppose.#Globalblogging

    9. February 21, 2018 / 8:39 pm

      I’m only a Grade One parent, but having read up about how places in Europe have implemented more play, less homework policies in schools with hugely successful results; coupled with the stress and dislike my daughter has for homework, I can’t help but believe that homework is seriously too much!!!

      • Noleen Miller
        February 27, 2018 / 10:43 am

        An overload of homework brings about an unpleasant atmosphere at home. Especially if it takes up too much valuable time and if it is difficult to do and becomes stressful. I’m in agreement with practice work once a week but not for more than 30 minutes and I would encourage more reading.

    10. February 24, 2018 / 6:27 pm

      I work in a school that has a no homework policy for the Foundation Phase, except for reading. I tend to agree that most tasks and projects can be done at school. I also think that teachers in the higher grades should have conversations about who is giving what homework in order to not overload the children. My kids are not in the school that I teach in, and they also get homework on a weekend. If there work is not completed in class, it gets sent home. Which, as a teacher I think is ridiculous. I try to make the time for students to catch up in class if need be. #globalblogging

      • Noleen Miller
        February 27, 2018 / 10:37 am

        I’m all for encouraging reading and my girls also have set books which they need to read within a week. Thank goodness my eldest daughter’s (who is now grade 6) teacher does not see the point in overloading them with homework so there is a drastic decline in homework this year. Now my youngest is in grade 3 and all maths homework must now be completed online. As both my husband and I work – this needs to be completed when we are at home as we don’t allow our girls to browse the internet without our supervision. So it all depends on the teacher – I suppose.#globalblogging

    11. February 25, 2018 / 11:55 am

      My daughter got math homework on her first day of grade 1… More than 30 minutes of homework on her first day of school. :0 I think a bit of disciplined school work practice in the afternoon is good for her within boundaries, not weekends and not when it interferes with family time. #lekkerlinky

      • Noleen Miller
        February 27, 2018 / 10:29 am

        Agree – nothing wrong with practice work for less than 30 minutes. But if it becomes unpleasant and starts taking over family time and our kids’ valuable time for play then it’s a real problem.#lekkerlinky

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