Homework is a horrible thing. Yes I said it. And here’s why.
I’m taking a break from talking about publishing, indie books, and writing today to talk about one of my pet peeves–HOMEWORK!!
It doesn’t help academically.
- Most of it is busy work. Kids who need the extra practice need help understanding why they aren’t getting it. Parents can’t always provide that help.
- Parents shouldn’t be correcting homework for their child. How else will the teacher know that the student is having trouble with subject-verb agreement if the parent corrects it?
Don’t get me started about projects.
- Projects stink. They should be done at school from a pool of materials, not at home where the parent provides the materials. Elementary children can’t use hot glue guns. So who does part of it? Mom and dad.
- Projects should be based on what the kids can do, not what the parents who already have advanced degrees can do. The fifth grade geographical cities project at our school comes to mind. The children of architects had elaborate cities with intricate banners and signage. I’m sure those kids did that. (That was in a sarcasm font)
- Projects for a mandatory competition don’t get us excited. Whether it’s the invention convention, or a science fair, or whatever, no, we’re not excited. So stop sending us materials that say “We know you’re excited”. No, we’re not. Our kids wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t mandatory. Because see number 3. Projects stink.
It doesn’t lead to a well-rounded life.
- Life shouldn’t be all work and no play. In our school district, elementary kids are in school from around 8:00 until 2:30, middle school students until 3:30, and high school students until 4:00. Homework often takes hours each night, especially for middle and high school students. After you work all day, do you really want to take home things to work on? Certainly on an occasional basis I’ll do it, but every single day?
- The obesity epidemic keeps growing. Schools have cut PE and recess. Now kids get home and they are expected to spend another hour or two doing work, whether it’s in front of a computer screen, table, or more traditional paper based homework, it’s not involving movement.
- Kids lead complicated lives that at times require logistics and flow-chart scheduling, and this isn’t necessarily bad. We limit our children to one or two activities at a time, and it’s still difficult to schedule, and we just have two kids. Dance class, piano lessons, soccer teams, baseball teams, basketball teams, karate lessons, girl scouts, boy scouts, church volunteerism and religious education – all of these activities help our children become well-rounded adults and grow as a whole child. School work should just be part of a child’s life, not all of it.
- Kids need to learn life skills, such as how to cook, how to clean, how to wash their own clothes. My husband asked me the other night why I didn’t have my middle school child do his own laundry, since he had started doing that last summer. My answer was that he doesn’t have time with all of his homework. At times, it’s like an adult having a second job.
- And the number one reason why kids shouldn’t have homework is I don’t want to fool with it. After working all day, the last thing I want to deal with is homework. I’d like to spend time talking to my kids about their day, letting them learn how to cook, playing games as a family, or going on walks. Not talking about their homework assignment.
Teachers, think about how you communicate with parents: include key dates (big assignments due, dates field trip money is due, key event dates, etc.) in a corner of your weekly newsletter. This would help parents, as we tend to lose track of stuff. We’re all human, right?
I’m not beating up on teachers. I know they have administrative requirements that they deal with. But I also know that teachers vary widely in the amount of homework they assign or expect, and sometimes it’s just bad luck who you get stuck with your child gets.
I know I can’t single-handedly get rid of homework, but here is what I would like teachers to do:
- Decide at the beginning of the week what homework there will be, and make it due Friday. We have one fifth grade teacher who did that this year, and that worked well. That way the child will have all week and can fit in in with their schedule. The child can also balance it out between teachers.
- Teachers should make sure assignments are posted on the website when you say they will, and deadlines and expectations are clear. (I say this after my son had to text friends last night trying to find a science assignment that the teacher failed to post on her website as she said she would. One friend took a pic, but my son expected to find it on the web so he did not. Other moms were texting me with the same issue, so I know it wasn’t just my son missing something.)
- For older kids: For major milestone grades (big research paper, book reports, etc.), provide intermediate turn-in steps to keep students on track.
- Stop assigning homework during testing weeks to keep the kids’ morale high, or at least keep the load light.
What do you think about homework? Is it one of the solutions to our education woes or part of the problem?
For my regular fans, I know normally I talk about books and such, but sometimes I like to switch it up. If you haven’t joined me on my journey, follow my blog or sign up for my monthly newsletter here. The inaugural issue is coming out this month! I promise recipes, book recommendations, and a few other surprises.