Study and careers
A head teacher at a top school in London has cut the amount of homework kids have to do, saying too much could put them off learning. How much homework is OK, and how do you do your homework?
Students answer a homework quiz and devise a timetable to make sure their work is handed in on time.
• Tips on how to tackle homework
• Devise a homework timetable
Read through this story with the class.
Try our online quiz.
Quiz answers: 1d, 2a, 3d, 4a, 5a, 6b, 7b, 8c, 9a, 10c, 11b, 12b, 13a, 14c, 15a, 16b.
Devise a weekly homework timetable.
Students draw a table which is eight columns wide and as long as the number of subjects they have, plus one.
In the top row, they write the days of the week and in the first column they write their subjects.
They fill in the table using this key:
• S = When homework isSet
• H = When homework needs to be Handed in
For homework students can decorate their homework timetables, colouring or shading the table to make it easier to read.
Laminating the timetable or putting it inside a plastic file pocket means it is possible to use a white board marker to add the code D when they have Done their homework and wipe it clean at the start of a new week.
Homework agony aunts and uncles
In pairs, students role play being a homework agony aunt or uncle.
A comes up with three homework problems e.g. I get easily distracted when I am doing my homework.
B comes up with a solution to each of the problems.
A and B swap roles.
Students share homework tips that have worked for them. See Teachers' background below.
What is homework?
Homework is any task set by a school that pupils undertake without direct instruction from their teachers. It may not even be done at home. Many schools nowadays have study support programmes running before or after school where children can complete homework under careful supervision.
What is the value of homework?
Focused homework tasks encourage students to revisit, practise and reinforce new learning, making it more secure. It allows subjects to be covered in greater breadth and depth.
According to the Department of Education, "The aim of the homework policy is to promote learning at home as an essential part of good education. Homework not only reinforces classroom learning, it also helps children and young people to develop skills and attitudes they need for successful lifelong learning. It supports the development of independent learning skills, including the habits of enquiry and investigation."
• Create a homework area with a flat surface, good light source and with pens, pencils, rulers, scissors, glue, dictionary and notebook to hand.
• Try and do your homework at the same time each day. Getting into a routine will make it feel less of a chore.
• Explain your homework task to a family member and tell them how it follows on from what you have done at school. Talking about it will give you some ideas for your homework.
• Turn off the television while you are doing your homework but listen to music if you find it helps.
• When you are doing research, don't just copy. You won't learn anything that way and your teacher will be able to tell straight away. Try making notes of the key facts.
• Eat a healthy snack before settling down to do your homework.
• If you have no homework, do a bit of revision instead - even if it's just 20 minutes. It will pay off when it comes to exams and tests.
• Use a variety of resources including the internet. There are games that can make both homework and revision much more fun than just reading from a textbook.
• Take a 15-20 min break every 90 minutes to refresh your mind. Go for a walk, have a drink or listen to some music.
• Reward yourself. If you've finished all your homework for that night, reward yourself by playing a computer game or watching your favourite TV programme. If it falls at a time when you are doing your homework, video it and watch it later.
• Learn outside the textbook. E.g. if you are studying Shakespeare, watching a play will make it more interesting and reinforce what you have learned at school.
• Make sure you understand what you are being asked to do. Ask your teacher or phone a classmate if you are not sure.
• After you have finished your homework, check it before your teacher does it for you.
• Studying with a friend is a good way to share ideas and motivate one another.
• A good night's sleep always helps.
• Make a plan of how you are going to tackle the homework before you start, especially if it's a large assignment.
• If you can't complete all of your homework, attempt the bits you can and speak to your teacher about the bits you don't understand.
• Make your homework look nice and easy to read.
• It's often a good idea to start the hard work first and finish with a task that requires less effort. That way if you are a bit tired it won't show!
• Don't get your parents to do your homework. By all means talk to them about your homework and ask for their advice on how to go about it, but the work should be your own.
• Don't be upset if you make mistakes with your homework - everyone makes mistakes and trial and error is often the best way to learn.
Under Pressure? Six Golden Rules:
• Stick to fulfilling your potential, not other people's expectations.
• Ask for help if you need it.
• Take time out and relax, it will pay off.
• Focus on yourself, not on what anyone else thinks or does.
• Remember, this is not your only chance to prove yourself.
• Believe in yourself, you've got no reason not to.
How much homework?
The government has guidelines for how much work children of different ages should do:
Years 1 and 2: one hour per week
Years 3 and 4: 90 minutes per week
Years 5 and 6: 30 minutes a day
Years 7 and 8: 45-90 minutes a day
Year 9: 60-120 minutes a day
Year 10 and 11: 90-150 minutes a day
Year 12 and 13: depends on individual programmes