Sunday, October 4, 2015


To give homework or not to give homework, that is the question! There are two sides to every story and certainly two sides to the homework debate. If young children go to school and sit and listen and work and learn for six hours, they deserve to do what they want when they get home. They need to play, move, laugh, yell, imagine, and be KIDS! (Not to mention the fact that most parents have worked hard all day and they don’t want to sit at the kitchen table with their child crying for an hour each evening!)

However, all things in moderation, and homework can be a positive way to help parents see what their child is learning at school. Homework can nurture the executive function by giving children responsibility and an activity where there is “task initiation” and “task completion.” Homework can also provide purposeful practice for skills if it is 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 15+ 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. Instead of paper/pencil tasks, give interactive activities, such as reading together, playing a game, taking a walk, or doing a chore around the house.

Note! You know how I’m always negative about worksheets, but recently a teacher made an observation that helped me realize the benefit of using them for homework. She said most of her families did not speak English at home. A worksheet was actually something tangible that gave parents a tool for talking with their children.

Here are some organizational strategies that can simplify homework for children and parents.

Tic Tac Toe Homework
Write 9 assignments in the grid. Children must complete at least three during the week and color them in. If children enjoy homework or parents want their child to do more at home they have that option.

Clipboard - Each child will need a clipboard that she can decorate with her name, stickers, etc. Each day clip the homework assignment to the children’s clipboards. Make sure parents know that their job is to look at the clipboard each night, help their child with the assignment, and send it back to school the next day.
Monthly Activity Calendar
Send home a calendar at the beginning of each month with simple activities children can do with their parents. Ask them to do 10-15 and return the completed sheet by the end of the month. (You can download these free on my website.)

Homework Folders - You will need a pocket folder, crayons, and markers to make a homework folder. First, let children decorate the outside of their folders. Trace around their “left” hand on the left pocket. At the end of each day children put completed work in that pocket and it is “left” at home. Trace around their “right” hand on the right pocket. Use a homework sheet similar to the one below. Fill out assignments for the
whole week and place it in the “right” hand side of the child’s folder on Monday. On Friday, put homework sheets in each child’s folder and review at conferences.

            Sample Weekly Homework Sheet

Monday ________________        Tuesday ______________
______________________           ______________________
_______________________         ______________________

Parent Signature/Comments     Parent Signature/Comments

Wednesday______________       Thursday______________          
_______________________         _____________________ 
_______________________         ______________________

Parent Signature/Comments     Parent Signature/Comments