Homework sucks. Kids know it. Parents know it, because they spend so much time doing it.
Come on. Let’s not pretend that all kids go home, sit quietly at a table, finish their homework, then run outside and play. Around Australia – and around the world – there is a massive amount of parental involvement in homework. Maybe it’s not meant to happen, but it does.
I remember, years ago, looking over at a colleague’s computer at work, and seeing something about house construction on her screen.
“I’m just researching my daughter’s homework,” she told me. “She gets given so much.”
Her daughter was in kindergarten at the time.
So many parents do it. Maybe they test their kids on their spelling words for that week. Maybe they make that incredibly intricate model of an alien from a toilet roll. Maybe they rewrite that essay on the French Revolution.
They’re only doing it because they care about their kids, and want the best for them. But is it the right thing to do?
How much should parents be helping kids with their homework? Photo via iStock.
Matt Miller, a US education expert on a visit to Australia, has told the Herald Sun he's "horrified" by the amount of homework he sees dished out.
He says it's often ineffective because students just copy each other, or get their parents to do it for them.
Let's just repeat that point, because it's important. Parents doing their kids' homework for them is a waste of everyone's time: the parents, the kids and the teachers who have to mark it.
Other experts back up what Miller says. John Hattie from the University of Melbourne says homework should never include parental involvement. Never.
But what about parents who don't actually "do" their kids' homework for them, but just help them through it? You know, like a real teacher would? That's a good thing, right? Well, maybe not.
British writer Michael Rosen has penned a passionate piece in The Guardian explaining why it's so bad to load up kids with homework and expect them to do a big chunk of their learning at home. Rosen, whose youngest child is 12, says the quality of teaching being given by parents is going to vary widely. Some kids are going to get a huge amount of help at home, and some will get none. That's just going to widen the gap between kids who are already doing well at school and kids who are struggling.