We had a ‘meet the teacher’ session at my son’s school last week, where we were told all about what they would be getting up to in year one.
And one of the things that was mentioned was homework.
For the most part the homework will be based around reading and spelling, but the teacher did remark that there will be one or two bigger projects now and then. Like making posters to go on the classroom wall, and building model houses after a trip to St Fagans.
The thing is, I swear she said to us parents “you’ll be making models”, not “your children will be making models”. And my immediate thought was that I certainly won’t be making anything!
I’ll help, of course, but I refuse to do my son’s homework for him.
Here’s why I won’t do my son’s homework for him:
- It tells him that his efforts aren’t good enough. By taking over and doing it for him, it implies that I think he can’t do it well enough by himself. And I always want him to know that his best effort will always be good enough for me. Last year he had lots of letters to practise writing as part of his homework, and sometimes those letters were the wrong way round, and wobbly, and imperfect. But HE did it. He sat and he tried his best, and honestly, at 4 years old surely that’s all that matters?!
- He won’t learn anything! What’s the point in him having homework and then me doing it for him? He won’t learn anything from it in terms of academics, but he’ll also never learn life lessons about trying your best, about failing and that being ok!
- It’s not my job. I mean, I’ve been through school, and back then it was my job to do my homework. But I’m not in school any more! It’s my job to help him, to explain things to him, to support him, yes. But it’s not my job to do it for him.
It seems like I’m not the only parent who feels this way. I asked some fellow parent bloggers for their thoughts and this is what they had to say:
“I don’t think (apart from spellings and reading) homework should given in Primary school until years 5 & 6 to prepare them for secondary school. They have enough time in school each day to learn – they shouldn’t have to come home and do more. Hometime should be a re-coup time and time for doing things they want to do.”
– Lisa from It’s a blogs life
“I don’t do it for them, actually I wrote a post on it.. there’s no point me doing it for him, as he may as well not do it. I will help I.e. talk him through it if he’s stuck or suggest where he may look for answers. Eldest is year 4 and has had homework since year 2. I think it enhances his ability to be able to learn independently.”
– Vi from dancing in my wellies
“My son has just started Year Two and is a very reluctant writer. I won’t do his homework for him but I will help him and guide him or otherwise he’d never do any of it. If it’s written work he has to do, then we talk about what he wants to say one night and I write it all down, then another night we work on a shortened version of his thoughts. I’ve written it down in his words and then he’s copied it. He’s just had to do a family tree project, again writing is a nightmare, so I suggested he made a tree with ivy leaves, we printed photos and he just wrote labels for relationships. He did the work but with a lot of guidance.
I’d rather he had nothing except reading, spellings and maths for a few more years but it is what it is.”
– Mary from over 40 and a mum to one
“I totally leave my six year old to it, but that is because she is very self motivated. If anything I tell her to stop and leave it for a bit as she gets carried away trying to do too much. It depends on the child as some need more guidance than others. It needs to be a partnership bewteen school, child and home. As parents we do have a responsibility to get involved I believe.”
– Emma from emma and 3
“My daughter is 4 so has just started receiving homework, it’s usually something like “Draw a picture of something small & something big”, so I’ll discuss the topic with her, in this example, what things are small & what things are big, and then leave her get on with the work. But she’ll often have to write what her drawing are, so either I’ll tell her the letters to write herself or if she can’t remember her alphabet, I’ll write them on a scrap piece of paper for her to copy, with me telling her the names of each letter as she goes along.”
– Becky from hectic diabectic
“Things like spellings and times tables my son does himself but some of the harder homework we have done together. I certainly don’t tell him what to do but I sometimes help guide him in the right direction and then we talk about how he came to that outcome/ answer. I think sometimes a little help can be much more beneficial than them getting frustrated and giving up!”
– Jess from tantrums to smiles
“My son has just started reception, we are asked to do 10 mins a day of “reading or writing practice” which is a lovely way for us to see what he’s learning at school and so far feels like a treat for him to have 1:1 time with me or his Dad. I like that it’s flexible and there is no pressure on him yet to produce something to hand in! I wish homework could stay this chilled forever!”
– Amy from 2 boys 1 mum
“You can tell when a parent has done the homework and it’s not fair on the students. Not just their child but others, it puts pressure on everyone else.
I help my son but he completes it and if he struggles I write a note to the teacher.”
– Jaymee from the mum diaries
“My 4 year old has just started infant school so homework hasn’t started yet aside from a reading book each night. It does irk me when parents do their kid’s homework, especially if they are open about it too. Guidance and encouragement is key. I do find that some schools can be a bit suspicious of a good result of homework particularly if a parent works within that particular field, i.e, science or geography for example.”
– Sophie from sophie and lily
“I understand that when a child is little they might need some help with certain school projects, but it never ceases to amaze me the lengths that some people go to. There is absolutely no point in parents doing the homework for the children. My eldest took in a cereal box that I wrapped in paper for him and then he coloured in to make it look like a house for the Great Fire Of London. That was enough work for me! Some children had wooden houses with thatched roofs! It means so much more for them to do it themselves.”
– Louise from a strong coffee
“My daughter has just gone into year 6 and I have always just helped her not done it for her. If she is stuck and I can’t help her do it herself it gets left. The teachers prefer this as they then know where she is struggling and can help her more on that particular area.”
– Tracey from one frazzled mum
“I help if they don’t understand something but I usually leave them to it. I always make sure my teens do theirs but to be honest it’s only now my son is in year 6 that I make him do his. Any younger and I think they do enough in school without having to do even more at home.”
– Katie from mami to 5
“I’ll help my daughter (year 3) but only to expand on her thoughts. I’d never do it for her, it undermines the whole point of getting the homework. I’ll help her by testing her spellings in preparation for a test or I’ll read through something to make sure it makes sense but I’m lucky in that she doesn’t mind homework so needs little support. If she’s really stuck then I’ll explain what the teacher is looking for so she understands it better but not do it directly for her”
– Alice from living with a jude
“It’s homework day today. My daughter tends to rush through it, get it wrong because she hasn’t read it, gets cross with me and storms off upstairs stamping her feet for added effect. So when she eventually comes back down we talk about the homework, she gets it and re-does it correctly while telling me she wants to be on her own. Fun…!! She’s just turned 7 and is in Y3. Reading and spelling are much easier to deal with as she enjoys those.”
– Jo from mum-friendly
“I will sit with my children while they do their homework (quite often doing my work at the same time). If they need something talked through I will go through it with them but ultimately it is their work. I don’t even correct their spelling mistakes, I might just point out that they need to double check the spellings of a couple of words. If they’ve done it badly it still gets handed in. I think it’s important from an early age to get used to working on your own and under your own motivation too. They will soon learn they get rewarded at school for good homework which motivates them.”
– Alina from we made this life
“Absolutely a parent should not do the homework. We are paying a lot of money in taxes for our children’s education, what’s the point if parents are doing the work for them?”
– Hayley from life as a butterfly
And a teacher’s point of view:
“I don’t know the homework expectations at Primary level, but at Secondary level, I expect students to complete their homework themselves, except if parental input is part of the homework’s requirement. This is not to say that parents can’t guide or give any support, but I don’t want parents completing their children’s homework. It defeats the purpose of extending students’ learning beyond the classroom and challenging students to develop their independent learning skills. Also, homework contributes to overall assessment of students’ progress, and parental completion of student homework does not contribute to this. I expect completed homework to reflect the student’s ability, and not their parents'”
– Mo from a novice mum
So there you have it fellow parents!
General consensus is that, yes, we should help our children as necessary.
Especially when they’re little and need a parent to sit and read with them. But we should NOT be doing the homework for them.
So anyone feeling like a bad mom after watching Amy in the movie with a huge papier-mâché Richard Nixon head that she made for her son, please stop!
We’re doing much better by our children by letting them do these projects for themselves.
This post is linked up with Pick ‘n Mix Fridays.