There has been a lot of debate recently about the benefits of children being given homework with the Irish Primary Principals' Network questioning the value and educational benefits of homework and an article in the Irish Times emphasising the importance of giving children work to do after school.
My own child, who started Junior Infants this year, has yet to be given any homework. While, on the one hand I am fine about that, on the other hand I do feel that I would like to see some of the work he is doing and be able to get a sense of what he’s enjoying, what he may be struggling with, or less interested in and what I can help him with. Maybe this is a hangover from the never-ending amount of work he brought home from Montessori school and I the control freak within me to need to know what he’s doing?!
I would agree with Sheila Wayman who wrote the Irish Times article that, certainly during the early school years, homework is more about parental involvement than educational benefit. But as our children get older, what role does homework have?
I remember those painful secondary school years when the amount of homework really kicked in; sitting at the kitchen table drawing pictures of Roman Soldiers and labelling the various parts of a plant when all I wanted to do was go out and see my friends, or watch something on the TV. I’m sure it caused arguments with my parents. But, I can also remember a distinct sense of satisfaction when it was all done and the pencils and highlighter pens were tidied away. Surely, homework, above and beyond the educational benefits, teaches children about being disciplined, teaches them to prioritise and helps the family to stay involved.
That said, I would suspect that by the time my children are doing any significant amount of homework, it will all be done via holograms and interactive gadgets which I won’t have a cat in hells chance of understanding!