Homework in Reception! You cannot be serious?

Any regular readers of my blog or followers on social media would know that Ellie started school this September just gone. It has been quite the journey from the first day to nearing the end of her first term. Finding a new family rhythm with the school hours was hard but we have got there. Ellie loves school, she loves learning and I am lucky to be able to write that she wakes up every morning excited to go. I honestly couldn’t wish for a better transition from nursery to school. Truthfully though I thought reception was meant to be a small step from nursery. I thought the learning was based around play and exploration. So when I was confronted with homework in reception I was really taken aback.

When my daughter came home with homework in her reception year I was really shocked. At what age should children be given homework? Is there a right age? Is kindergarden too young? #schooling #schoolhomework

Homework in Reception! You cannot be serious?

This is not something that happened straight away. This has crept up on us. Initially the school book bag was empty for a few weeks.Then suddenly a reading and writing folder appeared. “How lovely” I thought. This way I can see what she is learning and how she is doing. There was a note in there for half term asking us to practice writing and reading together over the week. Again, no issue with that. I am quite happy to encourage learning at home and whilst Ellie needed and deserved a week off, I had no problem with a couple of 10 minutes learning sessions here and there.

However, when school went back it became very clear from messages left in her reading record book that we were expected to continue this at home as much as possible. Seriously? She isn’t even 5 yet and she is being set weekly homework tasks.

I do get it…

Before I go off on a complete rant I should probably say that I do get it. I appreciate the importance of home learning. In fact I appreciate the importance of encouraging learning full stop. I want Ellie to try her best and I am happy to help her do that. Her reading and especially her writing are coming on leaps and bounds. I completely understand that teachers put in so much hard work to help support our children but that there is only so much they can do. Us parents need to help too. I get it, I do.

It is stressful for all involved

My biggest issue is the stress it has been causing. I have tried to be mindful of the fact that Ellie needs to keep practicing her writing at home, I have suggested we do some work on evenings she isn’t completely wiped out from school. However, some days it really is too much to expect. Scrap that, some weeks it is to much to expect. I know my daughter very well but even I get it wrong sometimes and misjudge her mood. The other trouble is that we can clash at times, mostly because we are so alike. When I do get it wrong it can quickly descend into a tantruming chaos. Ellie wants to do well, she wants to learn and improve but sometimes she gets frustrated along the way. This can be really tough to watch, especially when it stems from pressure she is putting on herself.

When my daughter came home with homework in her reception year I was really shocked. At what age should children be given homework? Is there a right age? Is kindergarden too young? #schooling #schoolhomework

I don’t know what I am doing

One of the major reasons I would never consider home schooling is that I don’t know what I am doing. The school have provided some helpful resources but I don’t ever remember doing phonics at school and I don’t know anyone that writes in cursive writing. These things just don’t come naturally. I am lucky that I can do cursive writing, it is something I practiced quite hard at and use in baking sometimes. But my husband can’t help. It is entirely unnatural for him. Also he can’t read phonetically with her because unless you know it none of it makes sense. I am learning as much as Ellie is so when we are doing this stuff at home it can feel like the blind leading the blind. And this is only Reception! Imagine what this will be like in year 1 and 2!

The goal posts keep changing

The other huge issue I am having with homework in reception is that the goals the teacher sets keep changing. Initially we were told that Ellie doesn’t need to actually write in cursive writing yet. That is something they only progress to in year 1. Well, yesterday she came home with two letters joined together to practice. That seems like the start of cursive writing to me. Fortunately Ellie has obviously been practicing at school and she was able to write these two letters beautifully. “OA” and “AI” if you are wondering. If she hadn’t been able to do them the whole mood of the house would have fallen into the depths of witching hour darkness.

Other Mums agree

A few weeks ago I had had enough of everything. I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders so when Ellie burst into tears as we were leaving the house and told me we were supposed to be documenting every time we read to or with her in her reading book (not something I had been doing because I didn’t realise I was meant to) the mum guilt took over and I walked her to school with tears in my eyes. I felt like I was failing her at the first hurdle. How could I possibly support her in the years to come if I can’t even get the reception year right? Somehow, I plucked up the courage to ask one of the other Mums in the playground if they were doing all these things we were “supposed to” be doing.

I nearly started a riot!

Not one of them had done any of it and all of us had felt inadequate because of it. A couple of us had had the same note in the books instructing us to ensure we do in fact do this extra work with our child and others hadn’t. But all of us felt the same way. We thought it was only Reception and most kids aren’t even 5 years old yet. Surely this is too young? Either way I am glad I mentioned it to one mum and then another few mums over heard. I felt so much better after that and now I don’t beat myself up for allowing Ellie the rest she sometimes desperately needs after school.

When my daughter came home with homework in her reception year I was really shocked. At what age should children be given homework? Is there a right age? Is kindergarden too young? #schooling #schoolhomework

Should it be this way?

So should it be this way? Should there be homework in reception? I’m not sure of the answer. All I hope is that giving the children homework in reception is to help them get the best start possible for their future school career and not (as I strongly suspect) to ensure the school performs really well in the future SATs. I know I am naturally cynical but I can’t help but worry that it is all for the benefit of the school league tables.

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50 Comments

  1. December 5, 2017 / 10:43 pm

    It would be very interesting to know if this is an academy school? I am going to wager it is! They tend to have a much more aggressive approach to homework because they are obsessed with league tables, SATs etc.

    Reception homework shouldn’t be more than a little reading and writing. Any more than that is too much. In my experience, it gets more formal in year one.

    Wait until secondary school ‘though. Two hours a night is what teenagers are expected to do!

    • Winnettes
      December 6, 2017 / 10:30 am

      It actually isn’t an academy. It is one of the few schools around me that isn’t and that was partly why we preferred it. I completely expected homework after reception and I have heard a lot of vicious rumours about how much homework kids end up getting as they progress through the school system. I guess my newbie school mum naivety has put me on a back foot and now I need to change my expectations.
      It does seem a bit excessive but I am not trained in education specifically or child development so what do I really know?

  2. December 6, 2017 / 10:58 am

    I have to say – in the end – I relearnt my maths, biology and geography. So after going through school 3 x it’s finally sunk in… just looking at the positives… xx #fortheloveofBLOG

  3. December 6, 2017 / 11:19 am

    As far as I am aware homework isn’t compulsory at that age so you can choose not to do it. I don’t agree with it at such a young age, reading stories together yes but proper homework doesn’t sit right with me. Luckily I home educate!

    • Winnettes
      December 7, 2017 / 12:29 pm

      I didn’t think she would be given it for at least another year

  4. December 6, 2017 / 1:53 pm

    As a teacher in mainstream and now a home tutor I can understand the teacher’s perspective. It really is a case of extending learning beyond the classroom and teachers are always informed to do so. I think it may also come from another enforced ruling that teachers are expected to meet, which simply means students are going to be expected to do more. One of the many reasons I left mainstream teaching.

    However I do also understand your frustration. Personally I feel that students should be given homework to do every week, although the amount they should do should be tailored. A home project once a term is great and reading each week too is fine to me. Then I think maybe maths homework every other week would be good for your daughter’s age group.

    As I said I see where you’re coming from with this and totally agree that it is too much for such a young age

    • Winnettes
      December 7, 2017 / 12:36 pm

      I think she is far to young for homework at the moment. She really enjoys learning at school but the stress of having to do it at home is killing her passion to learn.
      That said I do understand the pressure teachers are under to hit targets and I am well aware of the ridiculous hours they have to work. I simply wish that I felt the homework was being issued because it would clearly benefit my daughter as an individual and not as a way to hit the unreasonable expectations of the Education Boards.

  5. December 6, 2017 / 2:56 pm

    As an ex teacher, I’m sure this is more to with the schools need to show progress than your child’s needs. Just don’t do it. They are so little and should be playing especially after an exhausting day at school. If you’re looking for a way to kill a love of learning, it’s homework for 4 yr olds. #bloggerclubuk

    • Winnettes
      December 7, 2017 / 12:38 pm

      I completely agree. I can see it killing her passion to learn and that has also been such a strong desire of hers. She absorbs all new things. I strongly suspect it is more to do with school progress or at least to do with maintaining their “Outstanding” label.

  6. December 6, 2017 / 5:27 pm

    Please don’t cause a riot!
    The joining that you describe are two letters that make one sound e.g “oa” is “oh”. These are joined so children can see that they make one phonetic sound. Reception home learning is all about consolidating what she is learning at school. There are not the hours in a school day to repractise everything so that is why the school are asking you to try a little at home. 5 mins before sharing a bedtime story is enough plus a little more focussed writing at weekends. If you feel strongly ask to see their homework policy. It shouldn’t be a chore but it is starting good habits ready for when she’s older. Good luck! #bloggerclubuk

    • Winnettes
      December 11, 2017 / 4:46 pm

      Hehe, I won’t really start a riot. It is a tough one for me because I am happy to help her and she is actually really keen to write independently at home. I encourage this always. The issue comes when I open up her school work book. I completely agree about instilling good homework practices for the years to come and I know there will be parents that do more than me and less than me. However for Ellie, currently, this is making things quite hard. Any interest she shows (which is actually a lot when we get books out) I help her as much as she wants and try not to make it seem like homework. I guess there just aren’t enough hours in the day for any of us. I understand the stress and time constraints teachers are under too. Thank you for reading. Are you are teacher? I enjoyed reading your response X

  7. December 6, 2017 / 9:03 pm

    My eldest also started reception this year. They don’t get homework as such. Just 2 reading books changed twice a week. One picture book for me to read to her and one reading book to “read”. We were given log in details for a maths website (purely optional) and I have to admit we’ve only logged in once! I don’t want to be seen as unsupportive of her learning but like you I feel reception is too young and it’s finding the balance between “homework” and play time. I too am learning phonics and cursive writing as much as her!

    • Winnettes
      December 7, 2017 / 12:40 pm

      Yes, exactly this. I am happy to help but I just didn’t realise how pressured it would be already.

  8. December 7, 2017 / 4:50 pm

    There is such a pro and con list. Getting them into homework habits is good but keeping them from playing and using their imagination and killing their motivation for school is horrible. I hope you get to find a balance!

    • Winnettes
      December 11, 2017 / 4:27 pm

      This is my concern. I certainly agree about instilling good homework habits. It is such a tough one x

  9. December 8, 2017 / 2:04 am

    ACTUALLY, multiple studies have have shown that homework early on doesn’t reinforce learning and only creates resentment for school, thereby, inhibiting further learning. Many school districts in the US are doing away with homework until high school. in my town, no homework until 4tn grade (9yrs old). They do encourage us to read wth the kids.

    • Winnettes
      December 11, 2017 / 4:28 pm

      I like the idea of nothing until 9 years old. I can completely see how it causes school resentment. I am very happy to read to my children as much as I can (and in fact do), hopefully we can find a better balance soon.

  10. December 8, 2017 / 12:25 pm

    I think it is a good thing. My daughter is 3 years old and before she used to get home work once a week, now every other and this December nothing! I’ve taken to doing some fun activities with her now, even if it is 10 mins a day when we are home, as she can become easily distracted.

    • Winnettes
      December 11, 2017 / 4:30 pm

      I think there is certainly scope to find a better balance and I am not completely against activities and reading at home. But structured learning at home at this young age is too much for my daughter and it is causing stress that isn’t essential to her learning.

  11. December 8, 2017 / 8:56 pm

    I feel your pain hun. Last year was a big shock to us too, and having since gone up to year one, it’s got even worse. We now have spelling tests every week, homework, Computer based phonic ‘games’ and reading every night (2 reading books plus 1 library book). Given that we also have swimming nights and gymnastics (we opted in to but before she’d started school), it’s all a bit stressy. I find that Tigs loves to write and draw from dawn till dusk, but when it’s set out as something she has to do, it’s like getting blood from a stone.
    My only saviour is that when I spoke to the teacher she reassured me that if ever Ivy has had enough, or really doesn’t want to do it, then it’s fine to stop. I think a lot of the time we put a huge amount of pressure on ourselves to be the best parents we can be, wheras the school aren’t actually creating too much pressure at all. Bearing that in mind has always helped me.
    Thanks so much for sharing with #coolmumclub

    • Winnettes
      December 11, 2017 / 4:31 pm

      Oh my goodness! That is so much! I actually think after school clubs can be a vital way to learn important skills such as swimming anyway. And they can help let off some steam from school. I am already dreading year 1 x

  12. December 8, 2017 / 9:13 pm

    I think it’s too young to be getting homework. My daughter is in year 2 now and every week, she has a reading book, 13 spellings, maths homework and english homework. We get home from school at 4pm, she is in bed by 7pm. Somewhere along the way, we are supposed to fit in an evening meal. When is she supposed to have time to actually be a child?? And also, what about other extra curricular activities – she has just started learning the trombone so that takes time to practise too, and what about if she wants to do swimming or brownies?? She does a full day of school, and then school work encroaches on all these other things too. My daughter doesn’t know that I feel this way but I think, at this age, school should stay in school so that they have time to be children and also time to pursue interests. (sorry for the rant! Haha) #coolmumclub

    • Winnettes
      December 11, 2017 / 4:34 pm

      Rant away! I completely agree! That is just so much so young. And I just can’t see that it actually holds too much benefit to them. After school and clubs (which I think are actually a vital part of learning in their own right) the kids are exhausted and that is not exactly the best scenario for extra learning.

  13. December 9, 2017 / 1:26 am

    Oh dear my daughter is only 18 months so we haven’t hit school yet but I know I’m going to feel exactly the same way as you. I hate the fact she gets assessed every 6 weeks at nursery even that’s too much for me. My daughter is a June baby too so will be 4 for the majority of the reception year, time when she should be using the time.aftet school to bond with her parents and play not do homwwork. I hope you are able to
    Find your balance x #thursdayteam

    • Winnettes
      December 11, 2017 / 4:35 pm

      I’m remaining hopeful for a balance. Hopefully the school your daughter goes too isn’t so focused on setting good homework practices so young. It is just too much and instead of helping the kids progress everyone seems a little stressed.

  14. December 9, 2017 / 3:12 pm

    Gosh I can’t believe she is getting homework already, I really didn’t think it would start yet! I really worry about this with Amelie and her being so young, I already think they start school too early! #thursdayteam

    • Winnettes
      December 11, 2017 / 4:35 pm

      I didn’t realise either! It is a bit too much x

  15. December 9, 2017 / 6:59 pm

    It is hard, we want our kids to do well, but we don’t want to push them toomuch either. My daughter is 12 and has to do an hour and a half of homework everynight and she has homework in the holidays. I really feel for her some nights doing it.
    #fortheloveofBLOG

    • Winnettes
      December 11, 2017 / 4:37 pm

      Wow that is so much. I do believe in encouraging good homework practices but there is a fine line between doing that and killing a passion to learn and I do feel that the line is being crossed in children this young x

  16. December 11, 2017 / 2:44 pm

    This is one of the things I worry about when thinking to have kids.
    I know it will be a big challenge.

  17. December 11, 2017 / 5:50 pm

    The thing that bugs me is that it’s basically homework for the parents – especially when a project is involved! #coolmumclub

    • Winnettes
      December 12, 2017 / 11:15 am

      Yes exactly!

  18. December 12, 2017 / 11:40 am

    Ah hun that sounds too tough and I had no idea about home work in reception, it seems far too young! I hope you feel better for having spoken to the other Mums. There’s so much pressure on kids today, and probably teachers too! When my daughter starts school she will literally only just have turned 4, as she’s a Summer baby, I hope she can cope with it. Thank you for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

    • Winnettes
      December 13, 2017 / 8:48 am

      Yes thank you, I feel much better knowing I’m not the only mum that feels this way. I know we are in it with the teachers. I think the whole system is flawed really x

  19. December 12, 2017 / 1:11 pm

    I can imagine it must be such a hard balance to strike, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be feeling the same next September… encouraging learning is something we all want, but play is equally as important… good luck! #ThursdayTeam

    • Winnettes
      December 13, 2017 / 8:49 am

      Thanks hun. It is a tough balance to find x

  20. December 17, 2017 / 7:54 pm

    It sounds a bit ridiculous to me. Our school is one that seems to give quite a lot of homework compared to other mums I talk to. However in reception, all they had was reading from Christmas (and vaguely a phonics sheet would get brought home to go over), and then an envelope of 50 words that they were expected to be able to read by the end of the year – N couldn’t do them all).. But year 1 and 2, they also get spellings and maths/english.

    As for cursive. I’m amazed they’ve started teaching it so early. Ours start doing exercises – eg rows of e’s or o’s etc in year 1, and in year 2 they have a handwriting lesson during the week, but they don’t write in cursive until KS2. Much more sensible, and from mums I know whose kids are expected to do cursive from the start, they despair because it seems to put a lot more pressure on them. But starting with different letters – it feels wrong that they’re not starting just practising the flow and movement.

    Thankfully our school are fairly relaxed about homework in KS1. N generally does his, but there’s never been a comment when we haven’t done it. There’s a mum in our class who doesn’t agree with it at all, and her kids have never done their homework. But they’ve obviously been talked to about it for the older child in KS2, because we were discussing homework the other day.

    Hope they get a bit more consisency around it in future.

    • Winnettes
      December 18, 2017 / 10:41 am

      I am a bit torn with the whole homework thing in general because I see the benefits of it but also see the need for kids to relax at home. But I would never refuse completely.
      But it does seem a bit soon for the amount we are getting and it wasn’t what we were told to expect, not just yet anyway.
      I am quite lucky as Ellie seems to be taking much of it in her stride and education suits her. But I know some children are not academically minded and they are already struggling and we are not even a term into their school lives. I hope we find a rhythm with it as I am not naive enough to hope it gets easier. X

  21. January 12, 2018 / 7:46 am

    I did a blog post about this a couple of months ago. The poor kids are being overloaded with homework and it is even more demanding on the parents. Seems as if it starts earlier than anticipated now at all schools – reception year is ridiculous. Kids are so tired when they come home from school and still need to do homework – allowing no time for play. My suggestion is, you monitor the amount of homework received and if it becomes to heavy – write a letter to the teacher to review this.#Blogcrush

    • Winnettes
      January 12, 2018 / 1:48 pm

      It is just far too much! It is given with the idea of no pressure but then her reading book gets sent home with notes in it saying this needs to be read at home or ‘Ellie says she hasn’t read this at home. Please read it with her.’ The fact that we read other books gets lost in translation X x

  22. January 13, 2018 / 4:55 am

    I completely agree! I was shocked too with how many books come home a week. It progressed way too quickly from those kipper books with just pictures, now she’s bringing home what I feel is too advanced for my daughter. She was JUST getting the hang of the basic sight words before they upped the books to full fledged paragraphs. Yesterday she came home with a slip saying she cannot recognise the words ‘climbed’ or ‘children.’ The poor girl is shattered after school and they’re expecting WAY too much! Argh #blogcrush

    • Winnettes
      January 15, 2018 / 11:37 am

      Those are huge words to recognise! How old is she? I just wish I knew what was expected of us when we were little. It seems so much. I know the teachers are under pressure too but I wish it felt like a normal pressure and not a results fuelled pressure.

  23. January 13, 2018 / 6:35 pm

    Homework in reception is ridiculous imo! School is stressful enough as it is without forcing 4 year olds to keep working at home. We don’t take our jobs home with us, why should we expect children to work in the evenings? I’d tell the school to nob off!

    Someone loved this post so much they added it to eh #BlogCrush linky! Congratulations! Feel free to collect your ‘I’ve been featured badge’ 🙂

    • Winnettes
      January 15, 2018 / 11:38 am

      Thank you! And yes I am very tempted the school to do one! We do the bare minimum to be honest. If Ellie wants to sit and read/write then I will let her and help where needed but I never enforce it at the moment.

  24. January 14, 2018 / 10:35 am

    My niece is the same age. She stays with me a lot as her mum has to work early shifts so I get to see what work she has been set and it is nothing like this. We do get a reading book and odd sheets of words to practise. She also was sent phonics cards home and lists of words they would be learning each term but in no way is it forced. Luckily my niece loves to write so practices without us having to ‘make’ her do it. She also loves to sit with me when I blog and look for words and letters on the screen. I absolutely do not agree with forced homework at this age and was lucky with my daughter as it wasn’t pushed in her primary school until year 6. Homework at this age, in my opinion, can be really damaging as it can be, not in every instance, too much too soon. #blogcrush

    • Winnettes
      January 15, 2018 / 11:40 am

      This is my huge concern. I am lucky with Ellie as she has a thirst to learn and much like your niece, she enjoys writing and looking for familiar letters. I am happy to encourage that because she does it as and when she wants to. But having to do stuff before she is allowed to progress on seems a bit much at this age.

  25. January 15, 2018 / 10:53 pm

    Homework has always been a massive issue for us. School agreed they would not be given any – school work was done at school. Eased a great deal of upset for us. Homework in reception – SERIOUSLY!
    #BlogCrush

    • Winnettes
      January 24, 2018 / 8:47 am

      I am going to have to have a word if it gets any worse. I simply don’t make her do it currently unless she wants to.

  26. January 18, 2018 / 8:04 pm

    Oh my god I know exactly what you mean!! I couldn’t actually believe t when a ‘home and school learning book’ appeared in Leo’s book bag. He gets a homework task every week, keywords to practice every night and his reading book to practice too! I have to admit we do the reading practice and a bit of writing but rarely do we do the homework task, it’s too much and he’s absolutely knackered after school and just not in the right frame of mind for working at all. I definitely think reception should be just about getting used to school life and then homework can start in year 1 xx #blogcrush

    • Winnettes
      January 24, 2018 / 8:59 am

      Exactly! I am glad we aren’t the only ones experiencing this though x

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