The issue of homework is eons old. This papers considers pro’s and cons along with the purpose and function of homework. While set in terms of the Northern Territory environment, there would be parallels to and in other locations.


Homework is an issue that continues to do the educational rounds. Some educators believe in homework while others would like to discount it altogether. Similarly, some parents appreciate homework while others would like it to be abolished. Those in favour of homework believe it reinforces and consolidates learning through extra practice at home. Opposition to homework comes from those who think ‘enough is enough’; that beyond the school day, children should be freed from learning tasks.

Some parents and commentators suggest that homework is the teacher’s way of handing their responsibilities to parents. Homework should never be offered as a substitute for teaching. Lessons taught at school can however, be consolidated and reinforced through follow-up tasks completed at home. Homework can be a link between home and school, in helping to keep parents informed of what their children are learning and how they are progressing.

It is important that parents know assignments are set for children, rather than believing tasks are set for them to complete on behalf of children.

Primary students

For primary aged children reading, spelling list words and practicing their tables at home, reinforces basic learning needs. Rote methodology is a part of learning and homework set around basics, helps ingrain key understandings.

A comments sheet which can be signed off and commented upon by both parent and teacher, may be attached to these tasks. This simple communication helps keep parents aware of children’s academic development. Progress charts kept by some teachers remind students of their accomplishments. Homework should have relevance and meaning to children and parents. It must be more than busy work set by teachers.

Homework might ask for the completion of a research project or construction task. Requirements ought not be so complex or time consuming that parental intervention is needed to complete the exercise. Homework is for children, not an assignment for parents. Homework tasks set for students should be acknowledged, marked and outcomes recorded. If that doesn’t happen, children lose interest.

In some primary schools, outside school hours care programs offer homework support for attending children. This may include supervised after hours access to the school library. The City of Darwin Council also makes its library facilities available to children for homework support purposes.

The establishment of homework habits for younger students stands them in good stead for their later years of secondary and tertiary education. It builds within them confidence and independence, together with the knowledge that study at home is part of their educational contract. It can also be one way of parents keeping in touch with the learning and progress of their children.


I hope educators all over the world are able to take time to reflect upon the positives that have been part of the 2015 school year. Too often we consider the challenges we confront, to trhe extent of pushing accomplishments into the background of our thinking.

We should not ignore challenges but neither shoiuld be overlook successes. To focus on the first without acknowledging the second, turns our profession into one of struggling, day-by-day, along an almost impossible pathway.

Balance is important. Let us celebrate individually and collectively as educators in the year that has been. Let us also embrace students and communities into those celebrations. We all deserve to leave the year with a good taste in our mouths and a good feeling in our souls.


Educators seem to be more than willing to put their collective hand in the air, volunteering to correct more and more of the ills and challenges confronting society. Part of this is our seeming willingness to volunteer the bringing up of children and young people in the ways they should go. If anything is wrong, if things need correcting, the repair and renovating role is placed squarely on the shoulders of schools and teachers.

This begs the question of where do parents fit. It seems that more and more children get born, to be committed to child-care agencies then schools to manage and look after their total upbringing. If things go wrong, no responsibility attaches to parents. It is all down to schools and teachers.

Before school care, preschool, school, after school hours care, holiday care … Where does itv end and how much time do parents give to the primary care of their children. Don’t forget the baby sitters and child minders parents employ after hours so they can go out and socialise.

Parents have to work and I understand economic imperatives. However, there is a question of balance. It should be behoved upon parents to remember and fulfil their primary care responsibilities toward their children.


SUNS  92


The need for communication between home and school is a vital and sometimes overlooked link. Meaningful partnerships between parent and teachers are essential. Dialogue ensures they share a common understanding about the progress of children. Misunderstandings can occur, particularly if conversational links are not established and shared.

Parents and teachers are busy people. Pressures of work can push the need for communication into the background when in essence it should always be to the fore.

There are two ways in which schools and their parent communities can keep in touch. 1. Newsletters are regularly published by most schools. They are generally distributed weekly or fortnightly. Some schools publish less frequently. Newsletters may be distributed in hard copy or shared with parents by e-mail. In order to keep up to date with school happenings, parents and caregivers need to look out for newsletters. Checking schoolbags and logging onto email accounts for school messages can help.

2. Periodic perusal of their school’s website will keep the parent community informed on wide-ranging matters. Included on the web are annual school reports, NAPLAN results, futurist plans and quite often pictorial highlights of school celebrations.

Communication between classroom teachers and parents is also important. This may be done by note, phone or by person-to-person contact. If matters are misunderstood or nor fully clarified, conversations can help with necessary understanding.


Teachers are very busy and often pre-occupied prior to and at the end of each school day. Conversations with parents at these times are, of necessity, very brief. These periods are about greeting students (at the start of each day) and farewelling them each afternoon. Making appointments to talk with teachers at a more convenient time is better than trying to resolve issues during these busy periods.

Similarly, if teachers need to talk about students with parents, there is wisdom in negotiating discussion times. This allows for unhurried and private meetings.

Reporting Sessions

Most schools offer written report-backs twice yearly, at the end of terms two and four. A chance to discuss individual student’s progress with parents and caregivers through ten or fifteen minute conversations, is generally offered in the latter weeks of terms one and three. Shared awareness is important. So too is the sharing of positives about student progress along with challenges children may confront.

The importance of conversation should never be discounted. Clear lines of communication between home and school build positive relationships between parents/caregivers and teachers. Students will be the beneficiaries.