Jan 16, 2018

Winter Homework: it's a family affair!

I wonder how many Moms or Dads around Japan spent their evening as I did: correcting homework. In Japan most elementary school aged children get homework during each holiday season. Summer homework is the most notorious, the bane of many parent's life, in August anyway. Winter homework may not have as bad a reputation, but it is equally bothersome although slightly less time consuming.

Many things seem to effect the amount of homework a child is given. Some schools pound on more than others. A private school may have none at end of year, but a heap during spring break. Within a school one teacher may give more than another. And so far and so forth. Furthermore, the grade you are in will also effect the amount of homework you are given. But by and large most schools seem to give at least "drills" for the kids complete during an extended holiday period. 

Other homework that children receive in the earlier years of school life seems to be fairly standard around the country. For example, a lot of 1st and 2nd grade children seem to have to practice calligraphy by writing the same sentence many times. They then submit the writing that they are most happy with. Another example is a daily diary, usually just one sentence for each day for younger grades. They often have to complete a physical activity each day too. For both my children this winter that was skipping. They have to mark on a page whether they skipped or not and roughly how many jumps they were able to do. 

The drills that children are given are booklets of questions that the children are supposed to complete over the holidays. The booklets for winter aren't that big in fairness and most children would be able to complete them within a day.  My oldest two children are in elementary school. One is in 2nd grade, the other in 1st grade. Both of them got drills with equal parts of both mathematics and Japanese language questions. Teachers encourage them to do a page a day in order for them to keep up the momentum of studying daily. However, for a family like ours that is out and about and / or travelling a lot this is not ideal. So both of my children completed their drill books in half a day at the start of their holidays.

Unfortunately, I didn't complete MY part of the homework until tonight. You see the drill books are not corrected by the teacher, but s/he will look over them. Parents are supposed to make sure each answer is correct. You are given an answer book to check the answers off and are supposed to not only mark whether your child's answers are correct or incorrect, but also tally up their total on each page. And as if that wasn't enough, you also have to draw a smiley or indifferent face on some of the pages, too! It took me a good chunk of my evening to go through the answers, mark them, draw pictures, write comments and "hanko" (personal seal stamp) pages and copybooks. Winter homework in Japan is not just for kids, its for parents too!



Level 8 LocalGuide with Google. Blogging about life in Japan as an Irish WAHM to 4 kids on insaitama.com.


  • edthethe

    on Jan 16

    This year my daughters were with their mother and it's the first time they came back with all their homework finished and corrected. Other years though,I made my girls correct their own homework, then I'd do like the teacher and just see if they did it. It was better because they weren't being corrected, just finding their own mistakes, grading themselves and also I didn't have to do it. Holiday homework is always the worst. Pat on the back momma! You go!

  • Saitama

    on Jan 16

    @edthethe what a really great idea: getting the kids to correct their own. Wish I'd thought of it. At least I'll know for summer homework. Thanks a million for sharing that idea