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Homework - are they getting too much?

We have two daughters in junior school - one in year 3 (age 7) and the other in year 5 (age 9) - young Fin is still at pre-school.

Our girls are both very clever - Kiki could write her name at the age of 2 and real off landmarks from around the world! Shan is excellent at maths and very good at construction, she'd make a great builder!

We've always managed with homework pretty well, but this term the load seems to have gone up considerably.

On an average day (when I'm not at work) the kids get home at 4pm, I tend to like them to have a bit of time to do what they want to do when they get in, seeing that they've just walked a whole mile home. Often they'll choose to draw, make loom bracelets or go online and play a game.

On a Monday I work, and the girls go to Brownies after school, by the time they're home it's 7.15pm not leaving any time for homework. Tuesday's the girls have art club until 4.30pm and I don't return home until 6.15pm from work - by the time I've cooked dinner, and they've eaten and had a bath etc, again there is little time for homework.

Wednesday and Thursday are our best chance to complete things, there is literacy usually involving writing a paragraph about a book character or making up questions for a quiz for year 3 and something complex like underlining the subordinate clause in a sentence for year 5 (what does this even mean?!!)

Then there is maths. I got a C in Maths in my GCSEs, but maths seems to have changed a lot since 1997! Shan amazes me with the sums she can do at ther age, they work things out differently to how I was taught, but she seems to understand. The year 5 maths, again is more complex, Lee usually ends up helping out with this.

There are spelling tests every Friday in the juniors, for year 5 they also have to write 15 sentances with the words in, words this week included autobiographical and automatically. The girls are very good at spelling. But all this work often brings tears and frayed tempers. Shan got 5 wrong last night when I tested her and she burst into tears!

Then there is Mathletics, an online programme which they do enjoy a lot, but it can be tricky. They go up against students from other countries, and challenege them to games and also complete activites to earn certificates. They are supposed to go on Mathletics for a set amount of time a week (15 minutes a day). This also seems to cause tears and arguments about who is going to go first, especially if they lose or get a question wrong!

On top of everything there is reading. I love and encouarge reading. Kiki loves to read, she is no longer on the colour charts, she just reads chapter books and she can sit and read to herself, although she'd rather read out loud. Shan is not such a big fan of reading, she can read well, but gets easily distracted and it takes her a while to finish a book. In junior school they are asked to read for at least 15 minutes per evening.

Year 5 often get something extra to complete over a longer time, like at the moment they are record the cycle of the moon for science.

Whilst the two of them complete their homework, poor Fin is usually watching TV or zooming his cars around the floor. I am lucky Lee no longer works shifts so he is usually home in time to help. We take it in turns to sit with the girls in the evening - but quite often the homework will be left until Sunday because we've run out of time.

They are undoubtedly tired at the moment, it's dark early and there is only a small window of time to actually relax at home and I really feel for them.

Homework is an important thing - and they will only get more as they get older, sometimes I wish they would get a break.

Next year all three will be at school - how will we cope?!

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