Homework: For and Against
A couple of weeks ago during an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live with his wife Ruth Lansford, the broadcaster Eamonn Holmes said that he absolutely “hated” homework. Ruth didn’t offer her opinion, but you sensed she didn’t think homework was such a bad thing. The radio presenter laughed along with Eamonn’s rant and pointed out to him that supplementary work at home was thought to be a good thing for children, but his words fell on deaf ears. Eamonn argued that homework put even more pressure on parents. They arrived home from a busy day only to have to sit down and help their kids with homework that more often than not, they were unable to do themselves. Here, his wife Ruth agreed, she was useless at maths and Eamonn couldn’t get his head around geography! Homework, said Eamonn, “should be banned”.
So where do you stand on the homework debate? It is said that supplementing school work reinforces what has been learnt during the school day. And how well children perform at homework does, to a large extent, depend on parental support. In households where parents are disinterested in homework or school in general, children are less likely to complete the tasks expected of them or to score very highly. Parental backing is crucial then if the lessons taught at school are to be drilled home at home.
Parents have pressure enough
These days, with more and more parents working, it does become difficult to set aside time for homework. It can feel like an additional chore, to echo Mr Holmes’ remarks. Anne-Marie, mother to Zara, 9 and Rory, 7, says that “It takes me all I can do to get a meal on the table when I get in from work, never mind finding the time to get homework done”. Often children have to be cajoled into doing the work having already spent the day at school. She adds: “We find it another stress: arguing with the kids that it has to be done and arguing with each other [her partner] about whose turn it is to do it”. Her sentiments will resonate with parents in a similar situation. Although you encourage your child to do well at school, homework becomes more work for you at home.
Others argue that children spend enough time at school; after school is for playing sports or participating in other activities or simply just hanging out with their friends. One parent we spoke to felt that children at least ought to be given a break from homework at weekends. Of course, older children with exams on the horizon will need to do homework to supplement school projects and for revision purposes. But perhaps children of primary school age should be allowed free time once school is out.
For and Against
From a purely academic point of view, it is said that giving primary school children homework can help develop good study habits and foster positive attitudes to schoolwork. It may also improve their academic achievement. The difference in test scores and grades between students who do more homework and those who do less increases as students move up in years. However, as one of the parents we surveyed said “They [children] will know all about the world of work in adulthood. Homework just prolongs the school day”. In conclusion then, if school days are to be the happiest of their lives maybe it’s not wise to pile on the homework!