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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Homework: what parents need to know

Schools are encouraged to plan homework carefully alongside work that children do at school, and to ensure that all activities are appropriate for individual children. Here are some guidelines to give you an idea of how much time your child should be spending on homework, and how you can help them.

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Homework guidelines for primary and secondary schools

The emphasis is on how homework helps your child to learn, rather than on whether it takes a certain amount of time.

For example, some children will work quicker than others and get more done in less time. The rough guidelines for primary school children are:

  • Years 1 and 2: one hour per week
  • Years 3 and 4: 1.5 hours per week
  • Years 5 and 6: 30 minutes per day

The guidelines for secondary school children are:

  • Years 7 and 8: 45 to 90 minutes per day
  • Year 9: one to two hours per day
  • Years 10 and 11: 1.5 to 2.5 hours per day

Your child shouldn’t be expected to spend much longer on homework than the guide times. It doesn’t matter if activities don't take as long as the guide times as long as they are useful. Schools should organise homework carefully so that children aren't asked to do too much on any one day.

Homework activities

All homework activities should be related to work that children are doing at school. However, homework should not always be written work. For younger children it will largely be:

  • reading with parents or carers
  • informal games to practice mathematical skills

For older children homework activities may include:

  • reading
  • preparing a presentation to the class
  • finding out information
  • making something
  • trying out a simple scientific experiment
  • cooking

It doesn’t matter if activities don't take as long as the guide times as long as they are useful.

Helping your child with homework

Schools are happy for you to support and help your child with their homework. However, they will also want to see what your child can do on their own. As they get older, it is particularly important for your child to become more independent in their learning.

Your child is likely to get more out of an activity if you get involved, as long as you don't take over too much. If you're unsure about what your role should be, you should discuss it with your child's school.

Doing homework outside of the home

Your child will have the opportunity to do homework either at school or in supervised out of school hours clubs. This could be through study support or extended schools services.

Feedback on your child's homework

Schools are expected to make sure children are given feedback on their homework. It should be given in a way that lets your child know:

  • how well they have done
  • how they could do better

This may not always happen through written comments from the teacher. Sometimes work will be discussed in lessons or teachers may give written comments on just one or two aspects of a piece of work. If you're concerned about the feedback given to your child you should discuss this with the school.

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