Homework Hassles- take two

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Do you suffer from homework hassles? Do you struggle to find just the right amount of interesting and challenging tasks to suit all the learners, all the parents and the homework policy at your school? I do. It was almost exactly a year ago that I wrote my first post about homework hassles. So it seems slightly ironic to me that since that time nothing much has changed. I just re-read my first post and it is as true today as it was then.

Finding the perfect balance of homework for every student and every parent in year 5 is a difficult one.

There are of course many who believe that any homework in a primary school is a waste of time. Others would no doubt argue that it is a vital part of education. I am unable to agree or disagree, as the homework policy at my school outlines that I must give homework to the students in year 5. So my challenge is to find meaningful activities that will satisfy those that need support, challenge those that need extending and cater for the students in-between.

There will no doubt always be some students who sail through primary school, loving homework and thriving on the kudos that comes from doing it and doing it well. These are the kids who finish all the tasks, even the optional ones to an extremely high standard. Then there are the others. Those that never finish anything. Those that have to be reminded, nagged, hassled both at home and at school. Those for whom no amount of reward or punishments will be persuaded to care about homework. It is those students I find myself worrying about.

In year 5 we still give out our homework fortnightly. It still contains a mix of expected and optional tasks. And I am still mindful of the need for my students to learn how to spell and to reinforce the maths they have done in class. I still refuse to give projects that will need to be completed by an adult at home. On a positive note, the inclusion of our edmodo forum has been a definite improvement with students helping each other, asking questions, seeking answers and connecting outside the classroom in new ways.

Yet I find myself still trying to find that elusive mix of necessary and challenging tasks to suit my mix of learners.

Do you have homework hassles? Or have you solved the elusive problem of how to engage all your students in a mixed ability class? How to ensure homework does not get lost in your students micro-manged overstuffed lives? And how to create homework that is meaningful and helps your students to learn?