As both a parent and teacher I have had plenty of experience of giving out and helping my own children complete their homework. From the age of 4 onwards parents often face the Sunday afternoon battle to complete homework. Children often seem to keep their school and home lives completely separate, with entirely different behaviours and a definite belief that school work should be done at school and not at home. Also with football clubs, dance lessons, taekwondo class and other after school activities a child’s spare time is often precious.

One of my pet hates is pointless homework which is issued each week, photocopied from a book of ‘100 homework for Year?’, dutifully completed by conscientious parents and pupils each week only to be given a token tick by the teacher and returned home with the child in a plastic wallet at the end of the year. I strongly believe that homework should have a real purpose and not be given out or completed just for the sake of it.

There is a real benefit in using homework to reinforce what has been completed at school and keeping parents informed and engaged in their child’s learning. Learning times tables, preparing for a big write and researching for an aspect of a topic are all examples of homework which have an obvious purpose and real benefit to the child’s learning.

Wherever possible homework should be engaging. In school there has been a move away from endless worksheets and children sitting to complete them so why should homework consist of a return to this. Playing a game or discussing ideas can be much more rewarding for both parent and child and lead to more effective learning.

Holidays often signal the ‘project’ style homework where children are asked to complete a Viking longboat or Medieval castle but this is only beneficial if the child takes the lead in the planning, preparation and creation of these masterpieces. Parents up and down the country have spent hours researching, acquiring elusive components and working into the small hours to try to ensure that their child’s model is to a desired standard.

From my own experience these are my key features of successful homework:
* Challenging without needing more than minimal prompts or support from an adult
* Relevant and wherever possible contribute actively towards the learning and topics in school.
* Differentiated to the ability and needs of the children in class
* Evaluated and valued by the teacher in a way which is apparent to the child.

There is nothing more disheartening for parent and child than spending hours putting heart and soul into completing a fantastic story for homework and then the child receiving no feedback from their teacher whatsoever!

Teacher need to not be afraid to explore alternative ways of providing effective homework and parents should feel empowered to question a teacher if they feel that the homework being given is not valued or productive. Above all homework should be a way of teachers and parents working together to help a child develop and improve in their learning. What do you think?


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