Sunday 18 November 2012

What on Earth Are They teaching in School These Days?

I  am despairing of my children's education right now.

Mini is now in Year 1, and to be fair I kind of expected the "playing all day and generally not doing a lot" to be over. Except I now wonder what it is she actually does all day.

She brings home, most weeks, about 5 bits of homework. This includes a list of 6 words for a spelling test (and we're not talking two and three letter words, but 4, 5 and 6 letter words), a hand writing practice sheet, a maths sheet and a topic sheet- so whatever they are currently learning about in history or geography, they'll have a sheet or two on this. They also have a drawing activity, and another list of words the teacher wants them to memorise from them not quite sounding them out enough during guided reading. 

They have two books per week for Guided Reading (and woe betide you as a parent if you don't read one or the other every night), and a list of websites that you might like to look at too (again, woe betide you if you don't bother).

The holidays made me laugh. Each week, the homework book has the list of websites you can look at, plus a little message from the teacher to you. You also have to tick a box of whether you helped them a bit, a lot or not at all 
(although surely there should be a "I did it myself whilst my child watched Tree Fu Tom" box?). In the Half Term message, we were told how well the children had all done in term one, and how they all deserved a rest. 

It then went on to list the 7 pieces of homework to do in the holiday. What happened to having a rest?

What concerns me is not that they get this homework (although what is her teacher doing all day?) its the level of it. Half the time it's not even marked. 

I worry that Mini and her mates might be left behind. Don't get me wrong, she doesn't need a lot of help with her homework, its more to do with her feeling that she has been at school all day, its boring and now she wants to watch Brainiac instead, not do more work. Which is pretty much how I felt when I got homework (at secondary school, I hasten to add, not in the Infants), except I wanted to watch Grange Hill.

She had a whole year last year of "playing through learning". Or "playing on trikes and in sand boxes all day before coming home covered in paint" as I like to call it. They didn't do the whole sit down at a table and pick up a pen and write thing, so now, she can just about recognise certain words, she can have a go at writing them, and she is just starting to get the hang of reading, but spelling tests and joined up writing seems a step too far.

I was also quite surprised that the school decided to ignore both Children In Need (despite most kids in the country going to school in  their pajamas) and Remembrance Day, but they did learn about Diwali. 

Before you all do the "grr" face at me, its great that they learn about diverse cultures. I'd just that I'd also like her to learn about her own culture too. Bar learning about Guy Fawkes, they have covered Australia, China, India, and New Zealand up until now. 

It makes you question whether schools are almost afraid to cover Remembrance Sunday? Mini sat and listened as I told her in 5 year old friendly terms, why we all wear a poppy, and I read her a famous war poem too. She didn't get upset, she didn't have nightmares. She went off and wrote her own poem for Class News Time. Which her teacher then didn't let her read. 

Now, today, we have her looking through my cook books, and she asked if she could have some "real" fish, not "made fish by shops".

I tried hard not to but I did laugh. She thinks that only some fish comes from the sea or any form of water. She then thinks the shops "make" their version of fish for everyone else. I went to the trouble of planting a veggie patch in the summer after she told me she thought spuds and veg come from Tesco.

Is school all about playing and less about traditional learning? Does your 5 year old get homework and do you do it with them or for them?


  1. I am so ante this complete homework overload in primary school - makes my blood boil! All for suggestions from the school on how parents can reinforce the term's "learning objectives" through enjoying reading together and integrating other stuff into family activities / everyday life but otherwise it's nonsense.

  2. Wow that is far too much, are they trying to put her right off school? Mine used to get a lot now very little. I keep up with the reading about 4 times a week and they all know their tables (practiced on the school run) but that's about it. Mind you I have 6 and 4 are still in primary so I really couldn't cope with much more!

  3. Wow! That's a lot of homework for year 1! My eldest is in year 3 and barely gets that much. In year one they had spellings weekly, reading that you were supposed to do twice a week minimum and the occasional project at half term. His school also cover Rememberance day, even sell poppies in school, and are very fair about covering things from all cultures. The homework is only now increasing and he moans its too much. I help him with it and supervise/encourage but I won't do it for him.

  4. That's a lot of work for year 1! Is the teacher doing anything or just letting you teach her everything!? Shame on them not doing Rememberance Day sorry but that's terrible sure it's not the only school but it's the first I've heard. It's all very well learning about others cultures which is massively important but ignoring your own is not on in my opinion.x

  5. I wont do Mini's either, but do have to force her to do it, in stages. I know a fair few Mums who refuse to allow their child to do all of it, and pick what bits they find best to do. But then they do get the guilt trip over it, which I hate.

  6. See I dont mind the work in theory, I prefer the kind of thing she does with her Head. The Head set up fun French classes during Lunchtimes, for free, and they are packed with Year 1 and 2 kids (FS2s not being seen as old enough for clubs). She has learned loads through the fun singing they do. I just find the sheeted homework structured and she hates it- she sees home time to mean exactly that!

  7. Exactly! When we look at some of the websites I've found, they don't see them as "educational". There is one which is a maths site where you have to add and subtract, and when you get it right, a Mummy comes out and dances for you. Little things like that make the difference, the incentive to get something for doing something. I have tried to do the same with the homework, by giving her a biscuit or an extra bit of storytime at bedtime, but nope, she hates it!

  8. I really do think homework needs to be stopped at such a young age. It's totally ridiculous to give a child in Year 1 all that. The problem that teaching staff don't seem to understand (with respect) is that when children finish school at 3.15 or whenever, they are tired. Really tired. They just need to get home and relax their brains so they are then fresh for the next day of play, err, learning.

    If they think that much homework is necessary, then I suggest they spend more time teaching during school hours.

    CJ x


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