How to Handle Homework

Love it or hate it (probably the latter!) homework is a necessity for most primary teachers.  You need a system that works for you and the children and the start of a new school year is the best time to implement it.  When designing a system, these points need to be addressed:

Impact.  There is no point doing homework for the sake of it.  If it does not enhance the child’s learning than do not do it.

Manageable for you.  Homework can be an added pressure to organise and mark but we all know that workload is an issue.  You need a system which is easy to produce and assess.

Manageable for children. No one wants children to be spending an too much time on homework, we want them to be able to enjoy after school activities and relax.  If there are projects or a back log of work occurs then it can become a big chore so we need to avoid this.

Parents need to be on board.  They want to see that the homework is relevant.  We also want to avoid homework being the source of arguments at home, this is a regular complaint from parents so they need to know the system and reinforce this at home.

So what is the solution?  Easy, give more homework!

I know this sounds crazy but stick with me, it works!  The system I have been using, which has now been put into the policy for the whole of KS2, is to give a short piece of homework every day.  This can solve all of the potential issues above.  Here is how it works:

  • 10 minute homework sheet given out Monday – Thursday (Weekend for spellings & tables)
  • Sheet is collected as the children go to lunch, if they don’t have it they spend up to 10 minutes completing it.  This is promoted as time to do the homework if they were out the night before or if they needed a little bit of guidance rather than a punishment.
  • During afternoon registration homework is self-marked with key points discussed as a class.
  • Children self-assess (star system but smiley faces would work).
  • Teacher flicks through the sheets, any causing concern can be addressed in next lesson.
  • Sheet sent home so parents can see it has been marked.

This works for a variety of reasons:

  • The sheet is very easy to put together, I have a template where I can paste regular things I want to keep on the boil (time or conjunctions for example) or a few questions from the work they were doing in class to reinforce that day’s learning.
  • Parents can see it is really short but relevant.  They also know the system so if a child is refusing they just send it to school and do it at lunchtime rather than argue.
  • Children know the system and know it will not take up much time at home but it is better to do it than miss a few minutes of lunch.

I use a template which has a maths section and an English section each day but this could be adjusted to maths one day and English the next.  I saw a massive increase in the amount of homework coming in and I got some very positive comments from the parents.  Once the system was up and running nearly every parent liked it but you cannot please all of the people all of the time.

The main benefit was in the children’s progress.  When we returned to time in our maths curriculum I found that every child was further ahead than I anticipated because they had been revisiting the skills every week or so since we last studied the topic in class.  It really did have an impact.

Obviously, a system like this is easy to create for yourself but if you want to see some examples of the sheets I created for my Year 4 class then follow this link to the TES resources website.  Try it out in your class, I am sure it will be a success and I am sure the other teachers will be copying your system when they see the impact it has and how easy it is to run.

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