Infant school homework, no need or a necessary evil?

October 13, 2016 12:38 pm Published by


Personally I hate homework, always have. That’s not to say it has its place in the world though.

I hated it when I was at school and had to bring it home then at boarding school we had prep, an hour and a half each night (apart from Wednesdays – that was detention night) and a Saturday morning then I hated it as nanny because I had to try and persuade tired children to carry on working whilst I prepped tea and played with the younger ones when to be honest I wanted to say “please put that book down and give your eyes/brain a rest”
I prefer prep and at school we had a few of the day-girls that would stay and do theirs then too rather than take it home, but if you didn’t manage it you had to take it back to the Dorm and try and finish it before supper.
Some of the children I’ve looked after have also done prep at school and it means that they can come home and relax, this was the system at the school the Minibeast goes to but some of the mums from upper years decided that they wanted to be “more involved” and so now (granted only) two nights a week they have to bring it home to do. I am not looking forward to it.
I do agree though that in secondary school there is a need for additional study, certainly with preperation for major exams but at 5/6/7 year old, really?

These are NOT my words… although I am inclined to agree.
“There is no evidence that any amount of homework improves the academic performance of elementary students.”
Harris Cooper

Surely the benefit of doing homework must depend on the age of the child and their attention span? For now I would like the Minibeast to associate the school with formal learning and home with learning through play still.
Over the summer we have travelled, looked at books about where we are and learnt about the area and any history it holds secret, we have followed smuggler routes through rocky passages and talked about the pirates and shipwreckers, gone rock pooling and learnt about the animals left behind when the tide goes out then read books about it, we have written postcards, we have counted our shells, we have read maps (she is better than me!), collected plants and grown vegetables.
This is all educational and she hasnt even realised it.

In the early years infant school homework needs to be kept very basic, reading should be always be fun and something that is done together, not a child just shouting out words from a book. If they don’t want to read after a long full day at school then read the book with them instead and get them to follow the words with their finger. Listening can work, I learnt to read by doing this with my mother. Maybe try again in the morning when they have more energy and the book is familiar as they will remember the story and enjoy it more..
Don’t force it or bribe them or threaten punishments, this will only make them hate reading more and can cause stress between the family and relationships turning every night into a battle ground.
I also think that projects that come home should be something that can be done in a fun way, a joint venture between parents/nanny and children, if this doesn’t get the creative juices flowing and stimulate a keen interest in the project or a willingness to learn more about the topic then it has failed in its purpose.

I know there are people on the other side of the debate who are very pro homework, some will say that it smooths and facilitates the relationship between parent and teacher and backs up the learning carried out in the classroom and that it teaches the child responsibility and time management. I would agree with this for the older years but a younger child can also learn responsibility in many ways – helping out at home, getting their bits ready for the next school day, helping prepare dinner (also very educational and the Minibeast loves cooking) looking after a pet, helping with the garden or allotment if you have one.
The Minibeast gets up and the first thing she does every day is make her bed, I have never asked her to, she has watched us and so does it too. (Love her). They can learn from example and there has to be a balance of hometime being for relaxing, this has been proven to promote learning ability, memory and ability to focus.
Hometime is very precious so I repeat that homework has to be relevant to the age. Anything beyond a small book and spellings – no more than 10 -is too much for an infant school child in my mind.

Please dont stress and definitely dont compare your own beastie to the others in the class, in the early years there is a vast difference in ability and sometimes nearly a whole year between the youngest and the oldest. One of the children in Minibeast’s class has only just turned 5 at the end of the summer holidays and yet 4 others have turned 6 already, If their birthday had been a few days later then the youngest child in her class would actually only now be starting in reception, not year 1.

Basically we are stuck with homework as the system will not change during the Minibeast’s time at school so it is up to me to try and make it as stress free as possible, for both of us.



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This post was written by Sarah Cozens