HOMEWORK OR NOT TO HOMEWORK – Tracy Edgar, Primary Teacher at ICS London

16 Nov 2022

ICS LondonAccording to the professor Harris Cooper from the US Duke University, ‘it’s important that students have homework.’ He recommends following a “10-minute rule”: ‘students should receive 10 minutes of homework per day in first grade, and 10 additional minutes each subsequent year, so that by the twelfth grade they are completing 120 minutes of homework daily.’ This, he says, is a recipe for success if you read the data, however, he then goes on to discuss how children who do homework may actually succeed because they are more focused on succeeding. So, how do we get every child to strive to do well and complete their homework without complaining? It may be down to us, the parents – should we be pushy?  Should we leave them alone? Should we help them? Do we need a homework course?  As a teacher, I should have the answers (I hope I can help).

To teachers and educators, this information about successful homework habits from professor Cooper is great, it’s easy to read, discuss and backs up handing out homework, which is fine, right? I fully agree, however, in the real world, there are a few daily hurdles to think of: parents have jobs, siblings to watch, siblings running around disturbing each other at home, dinners to make, school runs to do, after-school clubs and of course, down time for the kids (for parents this is a bi-monthly bonus if you are lucky).  The list of ‘things to do’ at home is pretty long, very busy and yes, stressful and I hear you.

I won’t lie, I have always been a teacher who likes to give out homework.  Not too much (I have always thought I was being kind), but homework that is relevant to a child’s needs and an amount that I believed they could handle on their own – if it is not independent is it really worth it?  Then, I had my own child bringing homework home and things changed:

●        “They expect you to do all of that in a week?!” ;

●        “Sit down and do that before you watch any TV, or there will be no TV” (said at 17:45)” ;

●        “What do you mean you can’t read that – you are 5 (yes…I said that) after all” ;

●        “Just write…it’s not hard”.

Who was I?!  This was a parent getting home and trying to do homework between dinner, bath, reading a story, getting water, chasing children back to bed and finally actual bed.  I had a very big “oh, now I get it” moment when I thought back to all those parents who told me they just didn’t have time to help or who asked me “do we really need to do this homework?”.

If you can relate, then sit back, give yourself a pat on the back for your work so far and I will try to help. Here is some information as to why homework is important and some tips on how to get through it while keeping your sanity – and making it effective and enjoyable for your child.



Don’t start too late – tiredness is the number one destroyer of homework being completed in any kind of sane and effective manner.  Get it done asap, when they are still awake and before the TV is on.  I also found that first thing in the morning is a very productive time, so, figure out when your child functions best.


Ask your child what their homework is and if they can explain what they have to do – below PYP2/Year 2 they may forget. As much as we would like children to complete their homework independently, a little explanation and discussion with your child so they know you can help if needed will go a long way.


Don’t get angry – you will make them hate their homework and resent having to do it. If you can see your child is struggling, ask them about it and tell them to leave it – without worrying them. Encourage your child to try (take a risk) and communicate if they are struggling, it will save their confidence, your sanity and a little note to the teacher to say it was tricky is much more productive overall.


Get creative! They won’t write??  Ask them to write a list of all of their favourite toys or better still, all the things they would buy with £1000 – I know it’s risky but… Shopping lists, emails, invitations, reasons why they should be allowed to play the PS5 – when given a reason they can relate to (usually about getting things) you would be surprised how much a child will write – I guess these can be used for years – right? Also, do not underestimate the power of reading or listening to stories (audible/Tonies box) to help with creativity and writing, a story for another day!


Set easy boundaries – no homework no TV is a good one but make sure this happens after school and before TV or  games have already begun. Consistency is also important.


Don’t worry if it all goes to pot.  We understand – just let us know if you need advice or support or find homework time difficult – we will do what we can.



I strongly agree that homework is essential to a child’s progression and helps build confidence in the areas they may need to work on, or to excel in the areas they love.  It supports their learning and helps establish routines and allows us to see what children are and are not capable of – oh, and praise goes a long long (long) way.


Finding time for homework can be very difficult and tired children can be impossible!  Find a quiet time when homework is possible and stop your child when they become distracted – older children can follow the ‘10 minutes per grade’ rule. Don’t get angry and tell the teacher how they are getting on – especially if it is hard for them.  If all else fails – bribes work a treat.


Also, don’t forget, children are learning all of the time – discussions you have with them, questions they ask, books you read with them, places they visit, problems they solve and many other experiences in life – I will never underestimate this fact!

To learn about ICS London’s Primary Years Programme, click here.


ICS London




●        National Education Association

●        Harvard style: Suzanne Capel Tingley, 2022, Should Students Have Homework?