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kids do not have to do homework - Page 2

post #21 of 59
I firmly believe that elementary children do NOT need homework.

DD is supposed to have a total of 30 minutes of homework a night (20 minutes of "work" and at least 10 minutes of free reading). She usually does all her work on Monday night, though, so it takes her 60-90 minutes to get it done. I really have seen her spelling skills improve (that is their big assignment) but some of the math has been laughable.

A few things I have felt she shouldn't have to do (because they were so obviously below her level) but... I ended up having her do them. Why? Because if she wants to stay in her school she DOES have to do the homework. (One of her worksheets I had her let her brother, 4, do the "work" and dictate to her to tell you how easy it was).
post #22 of 59
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TiredX2
A few things I have felt she shouldn't have to do (because they were so obviously below her level) but... I ended up having her do them. Why? Because if she wants to stay in her school she DOES have to do the homework. (One of her worksheets I had her let her brother, 4, do the "work" and dictate to her to tell you how easy it was).


That is one way to get more time with your child, just do the homework for him.

This has turned into a great discussion. I love stik's comment:
Quote:
I think that one reason it's often difficult for high school students to take homework seriously is because they had WAY TOO MUCH meaningless drill-and-kill in early elementary school.
That is a great point. If we really think about what we want kids to accomplish by doing homework, the best answer I can come up with is practicing skills they need help with (but then parents are left to help them so this is not a great idea) or showing to us teachers that they can take a concept and produce a body of work that demonstrates they understand the concept. The argument that elementary age kids need homework in order to compete in the global market is just a thinly disguised way of making the school day longer. But, since teachers are not at these extra school hours, it becomes the responsibility of the parents to "teach" the children at home. It is different for high school students who have the intellectual capacity to at least try to figure things out for themselves by reading the text or calling a friend for help. Elementary students have to turn to their parents for help and that is not fair to families. Parents should not have to spend their precious evening family time helping with (or doing) their kid's homework.

Another reason the argument that kids need homework in order to compete globally is bunk is that the kids who are performing at the top of test scores internationally are experiencing a wholly different type of elementary education than our children. Giving our children more math worksheets to work on at home is not going to help them get math scores comparable to children in Singapore or other high performing countries. (I am going to use Singapore as my example country because I actually know something about their school system.) The school experience we give our children is completely different. We prize individualized education in America. We prize thinking outside the box and creativity. In Singapore, they prize teaching children to get the correct answer to a problem. You cannot expect children to be able to get all the answers correct AND be able to question the problem solving method and be creative about solving the problem. Why do you think we have far more Nobel prize winners in this country? Because you have to be able to take a risk creatively to accomplish something new and unusual like solving a scientific puzzle.

The only kind of homework activity I believe to be meaningful to elementary students is to do a project at home, like a book report. I like to give them a huge list of ideas for presenting a story and let them choose how to convey to us, the whole class, via a presentation, the plot and main ideas of the story. For older elementary kids, I might assign a genre and have them point out some specific stylistic elements (irony, character development, etc) in their report. Kids have a lot of fun with this and it helps them develop reading and study skills that DO translate into skills they can use in high school and college, particularly if you add a writing assignment to the book report. They get to be creative and have some fun doing a presentation and practice speaking in front of others. The only problem with this is that inner city kids often don't have money to buy or access to materials needed to make a book report. They may not even have paper. So, then we teachers have to supply them with the materials (shoe boxes, paper, glue, etc.). Since I used to work in a school that did not have paper or crayons to use in the classroom let alone give out to students, that type of homework, sadly, was just not possible.

So, anyway, I am sorry to hear that so many of you teachers have to report your homework grades on the report cards. What would happen if a child still did not do his/her homework? Would they be threatened with retention or would it just be a small strike against them on their report card? Because, honestly, if my child came home with a bunch of busywork crap, I think I would either do it for her quickly or just send it in unfinished with a note saying:

"This is a waste of my child's time and precious forest resources. Please stop sending this kind of paperwork home. I accept the responsibility that this means my child will get a poor grade in the homework section of her report card. I will, however, work at home with my child to develop her study skills by having her read nightly and (if she is over 3rd grade) keep a reading/writing log. Also, I will work with her to further expand her knowledge in the other academic areas through enrichment activities such as bug collection and identification, testing and examing the water in our pond, encouraging her to read books from many genres, including non-fiction, biography, and historical fiction, and taking her to local museums, science centers, and arts activities. And, I will endeavor to limit her television viewing time and replace it instead with quality family discussion and play time."

post #23 of 59
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dar
In every district where I've taught, homework has been part of a student's regular grades, and elementary school students who don't complete homework at home have to stay in at recess to do it. That's SOP in two states, and a total of 4 districts (including the very large one I work for now).

Some kids with IEPs had their homework modified, but I can't imagine a teacher allowing a student to be excused on a regular basis because of the parent's desires. Schools make exceptions for things like religious holidays, but not parental choice. If you don't like the homework policy, you can find a private school that better suits your families or just suck it up...

Dar
Dar - I have 3 questions for you:

1. What does SOP mean?
2. What would happen if a parent did indeed fight to have their child excused from homework? Met with principal, etc.
3. If you are teaching in a public school, are you not in fact beholden to the parents? In my teaching experience, I've had to make exceptions for a lot of parental choices. Some parents don't want their child to go on a field trip or participate in sex ed or read a particularly controversial book. If they don't want their child to do an activity and you make the stay in from recess and do it anyway, isn't the school just opening themselves up for a lawsuit? I have, in every year I've taught, had parents ask for more and parents ask for less homework for their children. I have always accomodated these requests.
post #24 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by boongirl
3. If you are teaching in a public school, are you not in fact beholden to the parents? In my teaching experience, I've had to make exceptions for a lot of parental choices. Some parents don't want their child to go on a field trip or participate in sex ed or read a particularly controversial book. If they don't want their child to do an activity and you make the stay in from recess and do it anyway, isn't the school just opening themselves up for a lawsuit?

I don't think there have been any successful lawsuits regarding keeping a child in to do HW during recess. Recess is not mandatory. Being flexible regarding HW is not mandatory-- a teacher/school/district can CHOOSE to be flexible, but there is no legal requirement of course.
post #25 of 59
SOP=Standard Operating Procedure. Perhaps my age is showing...

In this district, the principal would back the teacher.

There's a difference between parenst objecting on moral pr religious grounds - because they don't want their children exposed to certain things - and objecting simply because they don't want the child having to do homework. I'm sure a teacher would alter a homework assignment that was in some way offensive to the parent- this happens at the high school level with assigned reading books all the time. But the student would still do an assignment or read a book; it would just be a different one.

The only kids I've seen with regular homework accomodations are kids with an IEP or 504 plan. Of course teachers sometimes make one-time accomodations for students with a good reason, like if a student is in a show they may get an extra day for homework. As a general rule, though, homework isn't optional, no matter what the parent wants.

I should add that the last time I researched the issue, there was no difference in academic outcomes for kids with homework vs. without until the middle school level, and also that the year my daughter was in school (kindie) we blew off all the homework because it was stupid... but this was a private school and they didn't penalize her for it. At a private school, the parent has a lot more power...

Dar
post #26 of 59
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dar
At a private school, the parent has a lot more power...
This must really vary from district to district. In my city, with 33% of kids attending private school, public school principals try really hard to appease parents. I've had parents ask for more or less or no homework and I've done what they've asked. In my experience here, principals generally do what parents ask so long as it is not over the top.


Quote:
As a general rule, though, homework isn't optional, no matter what the parent wants.
But, see, how do you know this? I have seen parents ask and get a lot of very interesting accomodations for their children, both in my current district and in others. And, what would even happen if a parent made a formal request to stop or lessen homework? In elementary school, I can't fathom how this could possibly be a big deal. I could be wrong. Perhaps there are educators, administrators and teachers, who would fight this one tooth and nail.

Can't wait for AK's book to come out. Then, parents will actually have a nice reference to cite when making their point that homework has gotten out of hand.
post #27 of 59
I agree that a lot of the homework assigned in many elementary school classrooms has little to no value. A good deal of it is busywork.

My daughter is in first grade and I would say that her homework is about 50-50, that is, about half of it is pointless and the other half has some value. Her spelling homework is the same kind many of us remember - Monday, write the words 3x each, Tuesday, alphabetize the words, Wednesday, use the words in sentences, Thursday, study for the quiz. I actually don't think the spelling homework has helped her spelling skills at all, but that may be because the words are too easy for her - she's an advanced reader. They are based on phonics, so for kids who are first learning to read they probably are helping. The spelling homework has improved her writing skills because I don't let her get away with three-word sentences on sentence night, and it has also taught her about alphabetical order, which has helped in other areas, such as looking things up in the library!

Some of her math homework requires parent participation, which is a good thing, but I do wonder what happens to the kids whose parents are not available or have limited English skills, or limited math skills.
post #28 of 59
Here in France, it is against the law for a teacher in an elementary school to assign any written homework at all. The reason for this law is that it has been pretty much established that the grade that the student gets on the written homework will depend on the input from the parents and the input from the parents often depends on the family's socio-economic status.

That being said, NON-written homework may be assigned and almost always is. This is often much more tedious than written homework and may involve memorizing a poem, studying for a spelling test or just reading a book.
post #29 of 59
I am curious why socioeconomic status would not also have an impact on a child learning a poem, studying, etc. I'm not following that reasoning.
post #30 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by lauren
I am curious why socioeconomic status would not also have an impact on a child learning a poem, studying, etc. I'm not following that reasoning.
I completely agree with you. For some reason, the law only precludes written homework, so teachers get around the rule by giving non-written homework. But of course the unwritten stuff also requires parental support - maybe even more so.
post #31 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by lauren
I'm generally anti-homework but I have found that one positive aspect of it is that it keeps me a little bit in touch with what my kids are doing in school, and how they're understanding it. So if my 5th grader is doing long division at home and really struggling, I can help tackle the problem in steps---first coach him to ask the teacher for more help, and/or try to help him myself.
I also like homework for this reason. My second grade dd is very shy about asking for help in school and by the time she gets home, she forgets to ask me for the help she needs. I was a teacher until my third was born and find that when I know exactly where she needs help, I am better able to help her. The homework tells me a lot about where she needs individual instruction, which I then provide. This is often in new math concepts. DH and I both did poorly in math, so the poor child has no math gene.
post #32 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by alegna
Sadly when I taught in public school it was the norm to grade homework and include it in the report card grade. Kids whose parents didn't want them doing it at home were SOL and had to find some other time to do it.

-Angela
Was this an elementary classroom? The schools here are all on "standards based" report cards where each standard must be tested and then checked at grade level, or below, or above. There is no standard for HW, so that is a separate mark on the report card. Here, elementary kids don't get grades, they get below/above/at grade level for each item.

I teach middle school. The big secret that no teacher tells a kid is that the district policy is that HW can only be 10% of the grade, since at home is an unequal playing field with different kids getting different levels of assisstance and access to technology. I don't tell them that. If they knew they could get an A- and never do HW. . . .

I agree with the OP that the only meaningful HW is reading and finishing projects. I try to only assign that. My students rarely complete other work, or do it so poorly (in front of TV or on the bus on the way to school, I imagine) that it is worthless and has to be reviewed again in class.
post #33 of 59
The School District where I live children are punished (have to go to the "discipline room" at recess time) if they don't do their homework.

I do some school law as part of my practice of law and there is absoultely nothing a parent could do to prevent this. Unless a child has some learning disability, there is no basis on which a parent could sue a school for punishing their child for not doing homework.

And here the principal back the teachers 110 percent.
post #34 of 59
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by maya44
The School District where I live children are punished (have to go to the "discipline room" at recess time) if they don't do their homework.

I do some school law as part of my practice of law and there is absoultely nothing a parent could do to prevent this. Unless a child has some learning disability, there is no basis on which a parent could sue a school for punishing their child for not doing homework.

And here the principal back the teachers 110 percent.
Holy cow! Where are you? I can't believe people aren't writing to their law makers and protesting this.
post #35 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by boongirl
Holy cow! Where are you? I can't believe people aren't writing to their law makers and protesting this.
Huh? As I said before, that's how it's been done everywhere I've taught (except that sometimes they stay in and sometimes they take the homework outside with them and do it at a picnic table, if the teacher has duty).

I guess I don't really see what you're objecting to. Schools require kids to do schoolwork all the time. In class, you have to finish your worksheet before you go on the computer, or finish your handwriting before you can draw. Why is this different? There is no recess entitlement - some schools don't have recess at all.

dar
post #36 of 59
Ah, yes. At my school we are supposed to assign a detention if students don't do HW. I do it randomly, one day a week "crack down" but it's too much paperwork to do it everyday, IMO. Kids still don't do their HW here. One class yesterday of 20 kids had 2 turn in the HW. It's an utter waste of my time to enforce it as far as I see it. Still, as I said, HW is only 10% of their grade. Since my district decided this, I feel why should I do all this paperwork, track them down, assign double detentions when they don't show up for their detention. . . for 10%? It seems like they'd prefer a detention to doing HW at home anyway. We don't have recess.

I guess in my district, kids don't have to do the HW, but their is a consequence. It doesn't effect their grade much, but we do assign detentions.

HW is such a pain. I don't want to give the kill-and-drill worksheets but the kids do such a TERRIBLE job on anything I assign to be done at home, that I still have to review it in the classroom. I can only assign things that aren't very important and then, why should they do it?

I have only had success with long term projects, and occasionally, chapters of the novel we are reading, but not always with that last one.
post #37 of 59
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dar
In class, you have to finish your worksheet before you go on the computer, or finish your handwriting before you can draw. Why is this different? There is no recess entitlement - some schools don't have recess at all.

dar
I have worked with teachers who have this attitude and others who, like me, do not. I started this thread because there are many teachers and parents, as well as the esteemed Alfie Kohn, who do not agree with Dar's philosophy at all. Children should not have to put aside the joyous parts of school, like recess, computers, and art, just to get their paper work and homework done. They should be able to do the art and computers whether they get their work done or not. Of course, there has to be some activity for the children who work faster than others. But, the children who work slower and/or need more attention from the teacher to finish should never be punished by being kept in from recess or kept away from computer and art time. I do know many teachers who believe as you do and I have always felt very sorry for the children they teach. Every child has a right to have recess. The fact that many schools are doing away with it in favor of more academic time goes hand in hand, I believe, with the epidemic of obesity we are seeing in schools. Teachers feed their students junk as a reward, students eat junk in their lunch, and then they stay in from recess to sit and do paper work. It should be against the law for teachers to take away recess. Every child deserves and needs exercise during the school day, every day. CHILDREN ARE ENTITLED TO RECESS BECAUSE THEY ARE CHILDREN. I firmly believe that any teacher who takes recess away from a child on a regular basis is doing that child a grave disservice and should take some time to re-examine their ideals. Why on earth would you become a teacher of children if you like them so little and understand them even less such that you believe it is appropriate to deny them their daily exercise and fresh air.

I have said this before and I will say it again. If a parent chooses for their child to spend their precious evening time doing something more valuable than their homework, then that parent has every right to tell the teacher to just shove the homework policy. It never amounts to much on the report card anyway so even if you are penalized for it grade-wise, big deal.


If my child went to a school that assigned more homework than is developmentally appropriate, kept her in from recess and other fun and valuable activities for not doing that homework, and/or assigned her detention for missing homework, I would either contact a lawyer from the ACLU and/or pull my child from that school. And let me remind you all that I am a teacher. I just firmly believe that we are giving children too much homework.
post #38 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by boongirl
I have worked with teachers who have this attitude and others who, like me, do not. I started this thread because there are many teachers and parents, as well as the esteemed Alfie Kohn, who do not agree with Dar's philosophy at all.
Um, Dar's daughter doesn't go to school because Dar is a radical unschooler and doesn't agree with this philosophy, either (although there are many things about school that bother me far more than kids losing recess... but that's another story and probably not appropriate for me to post here). However, it is the prevailing school philosophy IME, and if my child chooses to attend school (or if a parent makes that choice for a child), that's the way the game is played. Part of the rules of school are that kids do homework. Really, the ACLU is not going to get involved in recess issues... there is no unalienable right to recess.

dar
post #39 of 59
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dar
However, it is the prevailing school philosophy IME, and if my child chooses to attend school (or if a parent makes that choice for a child), that's the way the game is played. Part of the rules of school are that kids do homework.
Maybe it is not a civil rights issue, but children do have a right to recess. And, just because you attend school or work in a school does not mean you have to agree to play by all the rules. Parents, staff, and even students are able to work towards change. Often that starts with knowingly breaking the rules. I started this thread with that idea in mind. Children and parents can refuse to do homework. And, everyone can protest the loss of recess and work to get it returned.

Here is a link to an article about schools in Mass where parents fought to get recess returned to schools.
Quote:
There are signs that parents are beginning to buck the trend.
At the Old Mill Pond Elementary School in Palmer, school officials restored the normal recess schedule after parents protested a move to eliminate a 15-minute morning recess in order to make time for a longer lunch recess.
Peabody Superintendent Binkley is leaving at the end of the year partly because of the recess controversy.
State Rep. Paul Casey (D-Winchester) filed a bill last year requiring elementary schools to set aside 20 minutes for outdoor play and physical activity at the request of a Stoneham woman concerned about childhood obesity.

And it most definitely is a right of children:

From the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Convention on the Rights of the Child

Quote:
Article 31
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.
post #40 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by stik
Plus, I con't figure out how elementary teachers find time to grade it all.
My son is in 4th grade and most of the homework (including math) are graded by other students. They exchange papers in the classroom and the teacher just calls out the answers. He also has penmanship where he practices writing throughout the week and it's due at the end of every week. I like that homework because he needs improvement in that area. He also has spelling words given to him each Monday and he has a whole week (and a weekend thrown in) to study the words for the test the following Tuesday.

My son does attend a private school but I think homework is okay when it's not in excess. There are some days of the week that he has way too much, but he only gets homework on Mon, Tues and Thurs anyway so it's not too bad and we always help him through it. I think it's good for those kids that need a little extra study time in certain subjects. It certainly can't "hurt."

I guess I don't get this whole thing about missing a recess here and there. It's not like the teachers are taking it away forever. They probably just take it away based on any given day that a child seems behind in a certain subject. I would think after the child has to sit out of recess and work on schoolwork instead that they would learn from that point on to be more diligent in completing their assignments.
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