Tribe talk: Homework horrors

Posted on: 22/06/2011

Carlos Porto / FreeDigitalPhotos.netWeekly homework is due in tomorrow. Not for the first time did we stay up late doing it all in one go. It’s like pulling teeth.

Recently I’ve been trying to bribe the kids with brownie points (i.e. extra pocket money) if they get it done the day they receive it. Not surprisingly, I haven’t had to pay out yet.

Of course, it’s been an interesting week. They received it on Friday: I was in Manchester, and even if I hadn’t been, we’re usually at swimming lessons till 6pm. Saturday, Manchester again, and the kids had their school fete (excellent country dancing, mind you, saw it on the camcorder), and when that was over there was a viewing on the house. Sunday, Father’s Day. Monday, PE Club and hairwash night brought us to bedtime before we had a chance to get to grips with the homework.

Looking back, I have no idea how I ever did my own homework before I went to a school that had built in ‘prep’ time.  Actually, at my kids’ age, we had no homework. I would come home, watch Philip Schofield on CBBC without any guilt that I should be getting on with something else. I even remember guessing with my childminder which window Playschool would choose (the arched window was always my favourite), safe in the knowledge that the most taxing thing I would need to do before school the next day would be, um, nothing.

After that, the discipline of a silent room with a teacher in charge tended to get the job done.  On occasions when it wasn’t enough, though, the last-minute panic was pretty common.  My parents, both in full-time work, didn’t have the time or energy to make sure I did it all on the first night. Now it’s my turn around, and I am not in full, or even part-time work, but I still struggle to find time to cook, feed, bathe and bed the children, let alone fit in homework or reading.

There have been times when it has worked slightly better. I’ve stopped by the library on the way home and we’ve done it there instead. We don’t go home till it’s done. That gets it out of the way without excessive distraction.

But what I really need is an hour in a distraction-free room along with a teacher whose authority the kids won’t challenge.  Since we can’t afford a private education, though, I suspect that such a solution might be a long way off.

Hmm. The library will have to do for now, I suspect.


6 Responses to "Tribe talk: Homework horrors"

Me too; homework was an alien and shocking concept when encountered at secondary school! (Although not as alien and shocking as Philip Schofield.)

Do you think that having to do homework from primary school now is good for kids compared with the educational slackness of previous generations, or is it just something you have to grimace and go along with?

Ooh, I really couldn’t say. It’s depressing that there seems to be no time between homework, tea and bedtime to actually enjoy being a child. Once bedtime moves back a little it seems more reasonable, but no doubt when that happens there will be many after-school activities filling whatever gap there was! It might be a case of grass-is-greener. All I really know is that I struggle with the status quo ☺ Do you have an opinion yourself?

I don’t have one really, as I don’t have children myself to experience it… although I don’t think it can honestly have done us oldies that much harm to have missed out on early homework.

I wonder if it’s maybe partly about the economics of subtly outsourcing part of the child’s education onto the parents (who must ‘manage’ the homework effort), rather than any actual demonstrable benefit.

And it does seem a pity to be so constrained at that age. I certainly remember how much I valued my free time.

Funny how you mention the ‘outsourcing’ onto the parents. If I look back, when I was publicly educated we didn’t get homework – so there’s a difference between then and now. When I was privately educated there was a provision for doing homework, supervised by teachers, at school. And that was covered by the school fees. So I do tend to agree with you there. I have to admit, when the teacher has been too busy to set homework, I am delighted!

Bea started homework long before I did. The school seems to expect kids to have a lot of free time in the evenings. That said, I tend to side more with Bea than the school on these matters and if I feel like she hasn’t had enough rest I’ll let her skip her homework.

When it gets really bad, I tend to do the same. I figure if homework is going to make ME lose the plot, it’s probably time to leave it alone…

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