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Homework Horror | Is It Really Necessary?

There is a word that if uttered in my house, chaos will ensue and so I bite back on it until I feel the time is optimum (it never is).

This word, 8 letters, is homework.

And it's a verbal grenade.

I've tried to tackle it as soon as they have come in from school, but that feels unfair on the back of a long day’s learning. However, if I leave it for an hour or two, they have become engaged in a computer game or with Lego and I have to wrestle them into the kitchen to do it.

My 5-year-old gets a very small amount of homework and he is happy to do it as he’s bright and a people pleaser, so he loves praise and will often ask if he can read or write more, which is great and I will normally work with him first to soften the blow of what happens next.

Bear in mind that my oldest son, 8, has Aspergers and ADHD, the latter causing the greatest obstacle to an already difficult task, sitting at a table and concentrating for a period of time on a non-technological task.

I’ll breezily walk into the sitting room where he is cocooned in a blanket with my laptop and he will shout “NO” without looking up.

I’ll sit beside him and cajol “come on, let’s get this homework out of the way” in a jolly sure ‘tis nothing kind of way. “NOOOOOOO” “It’ll take ten minutes, pause what you’re doing and you can come straight back!” “NOOOOOOOOOOO” and he’s crying now.

I’ll try cuddling and be rebuffed and listen to a 10 minute speech on how crap his life is.

I’m not proud of this but I may counter with “you think your life is crap? I’d love to be in school and have homework instead of doing 3 loads of washing, making dinner and now listening to you whining”.

There’ll be a bit more tit for tat and then I’ll grab the laptop, threaten notes to the teacher and eventually he’ll drag himself to the kitchen table.

He’ll start on his maths and then need a pee/ poo/ drink/ check outside the window break etc and my mantra/ pleading begins “if you just concentrated it could be done in 10 minutes!”

One hour later and he starts his reading, he reads in a tone that the boring voiced priest from Father Ted would be proud of. I’m pouring wine at this stage and taking deep, deep breaths. If I take the Irish book out of the bag he’ll scream and so it remains dusty at the bottom (I’m a little relieved as I can only ask to go to the loo).

This is a daily struggle and if for some reason his teacher is out and they don’t get homework, I’m the one fist pumping the air at the school.

I really don’t think that homework is necessary and should be done away with, or at least rethought in primary school. A school in Cape Town has done just that and has seen an increase in academic results and motivation. I have also heard that it's been abolished in Finland.

My kids love to read and surely that can be their homework... that and play or crafts, something fun!

I put the above cartoon strip on my facebook page and the response from stressed out parents was huge. One girl Marianne said “We just don't do it. Has made home a much happier place. I figure if he isn't mature enough to do it without a big fight, he isn't ready for homework. I doubt he will end up a hobo, although I could be mistaken.” I applaud her, although I don’t think I have the balls for such a bold move and a small part of me feels that it is a rite of passage. We all remember trying to do homework to the strains of Glenroe on a Sunday night (or maybe I'm very old).

It's good to open up a debate and I'm just wondering if something that can cause a household so much stress can be a good thing? Are we reinforcing what our children have learnt that day, or simply making a child that already hates school dislike it more? There still seems to be a lot of rote learning, like times tables. If these were made fun via an app or a quiz I could see my son reacting a little more positively. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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About the Author

Mother of 3 young boys, blogging about poo, post-baby vags and other beautiful aspects of parenting and domestic slavery.

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