Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I try not to use my blog as a political platform, but today I must stand up and shout, “Homework schomework!”  Some of the stories about primary children and the amount of homework they have to do make me shiver and shake!

First of all, if a young child goes to school and sits and listens and works and learns for six hours, they deserve to do what they want when they get home.  The need to play, move, laugh, yell, imagine, and be KIDS! 

Second, most parents have worked hard all day as well.  When they get home they have to prepare food, wash clothes, clean the house, pay bills, etc.  They should not have to sit at the kitchen table with their child crying over some stupid homework for an hour. 

Third, how do giving worksheets that are drill and kill really help children learn?  What’s the point?

So, what is the point of homework?  Homework should teach children responsibility.  Homework should be a tool to help parents see what their child is doing at school.  Homework should extend learning from the classroom to the home.  Homework should be MEANINGFUL! 

If I were in charge of the world, primary grade children would NOT be allowed to spend more than 30 minutes on homework each night.  They might be asked to read 20+ minutes and then have ONE other assignment.  I would try to make the assignment engage with the parent and connect the real world with what’s going on in the classroom.  For example, the assignment might be to ask their parents what a veteran is and to find out who the veterans in their family are.  The assignment might be to ask their parents how they use math in their jobs.  The assignment might be to cut out a picture from the newspaper and write one or two sentences about it. Take a look at my monthly activities and use those as a springboard for reinforcing skills at your particular grade level. 

Kids, I’m on your side!  Parents, I’m on your side!  Teachers, I’m on your side as well, but take a hard look at your homework assignments and see if they are really educational, necessary, and reasonable!

I wrote the above blog last week before I met my daughter at the NAEYC Conference in Orlando.  Holly brought up the fact that many parents WANT homework and are impressed with lengthy assignments because they think it will make their children smarter.  You might be surprised at what Holly's research revealed!

 In the book Battle Over Homework: Common Ground for Administrators,

 Teachers, and Parents, Harris Cooper puts together a variety of
 research studies on homework. He finds that in elementary school,
 homework has almost no impact on academic achievement. In middle
 school, the results are mixed. In high school, moderate levels of
 homework can help the learning process. But it needs to be meaningful
 and relevant and not just busy work. 

 Here’s another interesting editorial:

 And here's a good article that sums up some homework facts:

 I also found an interesting interview with a Finnish education
 expert. In Finland, children spend fewer hours in school, do very
 little homework, and don't take standardized tests. I'll have to
 watch the show about it with Dan Rather--it should be on next week.
 But here's an interesting quote that suggests drill and kill is a
 really outdated mode of education--he relates it to "the old
 industrial mindset":

 "There’s no evidence globally that doing more of the same
 [instructionally] will improve results. An equally relevant argument
 would be, let’s try to do less. Increasing time comes from the old
 industrial mindset. The important thing is ensuring school is a place
 where students can discover who they are and what they can do. It’s
 not about the amount of teaching and learning."