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Who’s in Favour of Homework? Exploring the Pros and Cons of Primary Schools Giving Out Assignments

Primary school child doing homework
Homework has pros and cons for primary school children, teachers and parents. It can reinforce learning and develop good study habits but also cause stress and limit creativity. We look at the advantages and disadvantages of schools giving out homework.

Homework has long been a part of the educational system and is often seen as essential to reinforce learning outside of the classroom. However, giving homework to primary school children has become a topic of much debate in recent years. While some argue that homework can be a valuable tool for reinforcing learning and developing good study habits, others argue that it can be stressful and counterproductive, particularly for young children. In this article, we will examine the advantages and disadvantages of giving homework to pupils in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Key Stage 1 (KS1) and Key Stage 2 (KS2), and explore whether or not it is an effective way to enhance learning.

Advantages of Homework

Reinforcement of Learning
Homework can help reinforce the learning that takes place in the classroom. When children practice the skills and concepts they are learning at school, they become better equipped to retain the information and apply it in new contexts. Homework can also provide opportunities for learners in EYFS, KS1 and KS2 to practice skills they may have struggled with in class and reinforce the information in a way that makes sense to them back in the home environment.

Development of Good Study Habits
Homework can help children develop good study habits, such as time management, organisation and self-discipline. These skills are essential for success in school and beyond, and homework can provide a valuable opportunity to practice them. When children learn to manage their time effectively and stay organised, they are more likely to be successful in all areas of their lives.

Involvement of Parents
Homework can involve parents in their children’s learning, benefiting both parties. When parents help their children with homework, they better understand what they are learning in school and can provide additional support and encouragement. This can also help parents stay connected to their children’s educational progress and provide opportunities for them to bond over learning.

Preparation of Future Learning
Homework can help prepare children for the academic demands of secondary school and beyond. By developing good home learning habits and managing their time effectively, EYFS, KS1 and KS2 children can be better equipped to succeed in more advanced coursework and revision for exams later in their academic life. Although a long way to go, homework at this age can also plant the seed to help learners develop the skills they need to succeed in further education, such as college, university and their future careers.

Opportunities of Differentiation
Homework can provide opportunities for differentiation, which means that teachers can provide different types of assignments and tasks to meet the needs of diverse learners in EYFS, KS1 and KS2. For example, some pupils may benefit from more challenging assignments, while others may need extra practice with particular skills. Homework can also provide opportunities for children to work on projects and tasks that align with their interests and learning styles.

Disadvantages of Homework

Stress and Anxiety
One of the main arguments against homework is that it can cause stress and anxiety in young learners. Homework can be a source of tension between parents and children, leading to frustration and inadequacy for pupils who struggle with specific assignments. When learners feel overwhelmed by homework, it can lead to burnout and a negative attitude towards learning.

Reduced time for Other Activities
Homework can take away from children’s time for other activities, such as sports, hobbies, and spending time with friends and family. When children are undertaking and focused on homework, they may miss out on opportunities for play and exploration, which are essential for healthy development, both mentally and physically. This can be incredibly challenging for children with busy schedules, leading to overwhelming feelings.

Inequality of Access
Homework can exacerbate disparities in access to education, as some children may not have the same resources or support at home as others. For example, children from low-income households may not have access to technology or quiet spaces to work on their homework. This can lead to disparities in academic achievement and perpetuate social and economic inequalities.

Lack of Creativity
Homework can limit children’s opportunities for creativity and exploration. Homework can stifle children’s natural curiosity and love of learning by focusing on rote learning and memorisation. When learners are not given the opportunity to explore their interests and passions, they may become disengaged from learning and lose their motivation to succeed.

Lack of Supervision
Homework sometimes requires children to work independently, which can be challenging for some children who need additional guidance and support from an adult. Learners who struggle with specific assignments may become frustrated and discouraged without the help of an adult, such as parents. Additionally, some children may rush through their homework and take shortcuts to finish it quickly, leading to incomplete or incorrect work. This lack of supervision can also lead to missed learning opportunities and a lack of understanding of important concepts.

In conclusion, the debate over the effectiveness of homework for primary school children continues. While homework has advantages and disadvantages, it is important to remember that no two children are the same as every child is unique and may respond differently to homework. While it can reinforce learning and develop good study habits, it can also cause stress, limit creativity and exacerbate inequalities in access to education. As schools, teachers, educators and parents, it is crucial to strike a balance between reinforcing learning and promoting healthy habits while also being mindful of the potential negative effects of homework. 

One approach to addressing the potential adverse effects of homework is to focus on the quality rather than the quantity of the homework assigned. Homework should be designed to reinforce concepts already taught in class and challenge EYFS, KS1 and KS2 pupils to apply these concepts in new and creative ways. It should also be tailored to each child’s individual needs and abilities. Additionally, primary schools, teachers and parents should work together to ensure that homework is not overly burdensome and that children have adequate time for other vital activities such as play, rest, and spending time with friends and family.

It is also important to be mindful of the potential inequalities that homework can bring. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds may have limited access to resources such as computers and the internet, making it difficult to complete homework assignments that require online research or typing. Additionally, some learners may lack the parental support and supervision needed to complete homework independently, leading to frustration and discouragement. To address these inequalities, primary schools and their stakeholders may consider implementing strategies such as providing access to technology and after-school homework clubs.

As we move forward, it is vital to reflect on our practices and make informed decisions supporting the overall well-being and learning of primary-aged children. By focusing on the quality and purpose of homework assignments, tailoring them to individual needs, and being mindful of potential inequalities, we can create a positive and meaningful homework experience for our primary learners.

If you liked this article, you might want to read about famous teaching quotes and their insights for educators.

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