Sunday, April 13, 2008

Saying Goodbye to Homework

After reading this at Homemaker Barbi's I found an incredible urge to add my 2 cents again. As a teacher, most people make the assumption that I am going to automatically say yes that kids should have homework every night and it must be completed and returned the next day. However, prepare to be shocked because this teacher isn't really all that impressed with homework.

I will tell you why...

First of all, we teach "kids", kids who need to sometimes just be kids. Today in school we are expecting so much from our students. It used to be that Kindergarten was where you went to adjust to the school day. You learned how to cut, color, play, and work on your letters and numbers here and there. Now our kids are expected to leave Kindergarten reading, able to write a story using connected sentences with correct ending punctuation, and adding and subtracting. All this "education" doesn't leave room for learning social skills, coloring, crafts, puppet shows and using imaginative play. Kids need to have time to just be kids! After a long day at their office they should be allowed to go home and do what they would like. They need to run around outside, ride a bike, color in a coloring book, build with Legos, and yes, I'm going to say it...even maybe watch a little tv, play video games, or on the computer.

Secondly, families today are very busy and the amount of time they have to spend together is limited. The amount of two working parent homes has greatly increased throughout the years already limiting the amount of time that is spent with the family. As a mother, I want to be able to spend the evenings hanging out with my kids playing a game, kicking a soccer ball outside, walking on the beach, or visiting the neighborhood park. I want to be able to enjoy dinner as a family, pretend to live on a desert island during bath time, and snuggle up in bed for a bedtime story. I DON'T want to spend even 20 minutes working on homework. I realize that it doesn't seem like a great deal of time, but for a first grader who has spent 6 hours as school trying to follow rules, sit still, and learn so much new information I think it is. I want to be able to decide with my family how to spend our evenings together so that we can enjoy each other and have some quality time together.

Finally, my last argument is more from a teacher's point of view than the first two which really come more from my mom's point of view. Homework should only be sent home to provide the students with review or additional practice on a concept that has already been taught in the classroom. However the amount of help that a student receives at home greatly effects the effectiveness of homework. As a teacher I receive homework that has clearly been completed by the parent, yes I do know that my students cannot write in cursive! Or on the other hand the homework is completed incorrectly, or better yet doesn't come back at all. Of course there are the students whose parents sit and work with them to reinforce the concept and ensure their homework is completed correctly. What I find is the latter students honestly do not need the homework practice. The ones who truly could use the practice are the ones that most often than not do not have the homework helper to work with them. Therefore I end up reteaching the concept and working with them one on one anyways, so sending it home was purposeless. Going along with this comes the fact that homework is only effective if it is reviewed and more often than not teachers do a quick check and then send it back home. That is if the homework is not filed in the circular file right next to the teacher's desk!

Now I can't be a complete hypocrite...I do assign homework, mostly because I am expected to from my district. However, my students receive minimal homework. I ask that they read for 20 minutes each night (this is district policy), but I request that they read something fun for themselves, such as a comic book, magazine, or just a book they really like. They also complete a vignette which is a one page story with multiple choice and short answers. Math homework will also occasionally be sent home. The homework is all handed out on Monday and due either Friday or Monday so the students (and families) can decide how they will complete the work based on their schedules. Some students complete it one night while others break it into smaller pieces. This also allows families to consider Wednesday night church, Thursday night baseball practice, and that night they walk to the park. I have had many parents thank me for my homework practice making me think that I am not the only one with these homework beliefs.

So to sum it all up, and while it may surprise you...this teacher is not all about the homework! What about you? What are your thoughts about homework? Go ahead, you can disagree because even my hubby and I don't see I to I on the subject of homework. I can't wait to hear what you have to say!!


  1. I AGREE with you!! Homework in Kindergarten in my opinion is RIDICULOUS!! It is certainly not just learning the basics anymore but it is the "new" first grade. Maybe it started when they made it all day kindergarten here?

    All Alex wants to do when he gets home is PLAY, the last thing he wants to do it sit down and sit still for more homework when he's done that ALL day. Seriously, maybe homework could be given every other night. I do like that they are giving parents an idea of what they are doing during the day and allowing us to work with them, etc.

    One thing they do here that is nice is on Fridays NO HOMEWORK!! It's our favorite night. I wish we had YOU as a teacher!! Love ya! :)

  2. Wow- I am sending Nolan off next year for kindergarten. We went to the first meeting were we were told benchmarks that were expected in the first quarter. If they were not reach they would attend a special class. Mind you Nolan is well beyond that benchmark the idea that a kid could be singled out so early in his school life was scary to me.
    Personally, mind you I am not a teacher, I think homework should address more how how the work that was learned in school relates to a childs everyday life, especially the first couple of years. i.e. reading signs and newspapers- math in everyday life.
    Mel I love your $.02 nice to know there are teachers out there that care about family values.

  3. I will be back later to post my thoughts on this... from another teachers perspective! Boy did you open a can of worms!! :)

  4. ok I'm ready to weigh in on this topic.

    At the beginning of the year we (3rd grade teachers) clearly state our expectations for homework. Read 15 minutes, a Math page and some sort of Spelling practice. We tell parents it should not take more than 30 minutes of FOCUSED work. If it does we want them to jot us a note and then just stop the work. I feel that this is not a unrealistic request.

    I do think that homework should be there to practice what was done in class. But if homework is not used or commented on then there is no purpose to it. So if I assign Math homework, I should be checking it with students to see if they understood the concepts. In my class (higher ability students), we generally don't have parents completing the homework. But other classes do have that trouble.

    My other feeling is that homework in Kindergarten and 1st grade is ridiculous! You should see the kinds of homework that the Kindergarteners at our school have to do - it is blatently OBVIOUS that the parents did the work. And for first grade - maybe reading for 10 min might not be bad but other than minimal homework, come on really!!

    I don't think that it is until about 3rd grade that the homework load should be a bit more.

    I have a 2 1/2 year old and I understand about wanting time with the kiddos in the evenings. Trust me by the time I get home it is time to make dinner and eat and then there is very little time to spend with Abraham before it is bedtime. I get the time issue.

    On the flip side,however, I have parents that place more importance on the sports and activites that their children are involved in than their homework/education. When I get a note from a parent or hear from a student that they didnt have time to do their homework because they were busy with their sports, I have to wonder what kind of message parents are sending their children. "It's ok for you not to do your homework. Don't worry about it. This is more important." I know that most parents aren't like this - and that I am just assuming a lot- but from a teachers perspective, this is how it comes across to me.

    Now, I am not the type of teacher that punishes a child in school for not having homework completed, unless they are a habitual no-homework kid. I express my dissapointment but rarely take away free play.

    I like your idea of giving homework on Monday for the week. I would have to be REALLY on top of things to do that. It would work with Spelling but not so much with Math. If there was a way for me to integrate this I'd be willing to try.

    Anyhow, ok, that is my 2 cents on it all. I'm longwinded I know, Sorry!

    Aren't you sorry you asked??

  5. As a homeschooler most people think I do not like or support teachers but, that is simply not true. Why do I say this? Because I just found yet another teacher I admire!
    You sound like one of the 18% of teachers who loves their job, gives 100% to their job and realizes how much they influence their students.
    I have found that the best teachers are not threatened by homeschooling. They support it and homeschoolers support those teachers. It is all for the kids!!
    I will definitely be back to read some more!


Go ahead...tell me like it is!

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