Like every Mum, I have kept examples of my children's school work as lovely mementos of their school days. One of the pieces that always brings a smile to my face when I see it is one of my son's assignments on 'Early New Zealand Settlers', completed when he was about nine years of age. It is a very high quality piece of work, beautiful borders, great illustrations, tidy handwriting, impressively presented. At the end of the assignment is a lovely note to my son saying what a great job he did.
I am sure his teacher wrote this tongue in cheek and what she didn't say was 'well done Mum'. Because of course, it was basically my assignment! I remember being totally frustrated at the lack of dedication my son showed to his homework, so decided that instead of running around climbing trees (I think I have mentioned that he is now a qualified arbourist specialising in high climbing?) he and I could spend some quality time together and I would show him the joy of producing a great assignment! Of course, I did all the thinking, planning, cutting and measuring, I think he might have done a bit of pasting and wrote down what I dictated to him. No surprises, he had no ownership of the assignment and really was not that interested in it at all. He still isn't and yes, I still have it!
Homework is a really interesting subject. A couple of years ago, we did a survey to gauge our parental attitude towards this. Some parents wanted more, some wanted less and quite a few wanted none. We had then, to walk a delicate line and try to get it right for everyone, so introduced the homework grids. These were to be completed over a two week period, had some degree of choice and extension and linked into the current work of the class. They worked well at the time, and brought a degree of consistency across the school, but I do think that as a community, we are probably ready for another look at what our beliefs and values are around homework.
It seems to be that research indicates that at the primary school level, it does not have a significant impact on achievement at all. However, regular reading does, as does a good attitude to learning that is reinforced by home. I think homework has value in that it is a good home- school link and helps you, our parents support your child's learning by keeping you in touch with what we are doing. It is also a good discussion point and listening to and encouraging your child while they read is invaluable. I know that when I get home, I like to just sit down and relax- read a book or a magazine and just chill out. I suspect our children are the same. I have blogged before about after school activities and in many ways, I think this and reading is homework enough, maybe with a few small 'as they are needed' things added in.
I would be interested to hear your thoughts on homework and what you see as important and valuable in it.