I have the impression that many MDCrs like their grade-school age children having homework and feel it's important that your DC do it. Am not saying you're wrong. Just that I am more used to -- other communities online and people in real life -- a more laid back approach about homework.
I must admit I have become increasingly hostile about homework. I used to like DC having it because it kept me in touch with DC's work, and I still don't see a problem when children enjoy doing it. I'm keen on reading together daily, and incorporating things DC are learning into daily life -- like measuring stuff if we cook together. I don't mind most science experiments, either or chanting times tables. But a lot of homework assignments, "read for ten minutes and write a paragraph about what you've read", or "draw a picture from your favorite fairy tale" kinds of things, drive me batty. The kids resent those assignments and don't seem to get much benefit from them.
Do you all have to sign home-school agreements where you make sure homework gets done? Do you think homework is important for under 12s? How do you really feel about it?
Sorry if this is taboo topic, I couldn't find anything about it in past threads.
~ Yank Transplant to Britain and Zookeeper of 4 DC age 15 and under. ~
Homework is a huge burden on me. My 1st grader comes home with a week long work packet, and it's nothing but tears & struggles. He would rather play, and I would rather let him!
I strongly agree with this article: http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/rethinkinghomework.htm
My quandary is how to approach the teachers. I refuse to have issues about homework in my house. Schools have changed a lot since I was a kid, but they are failing even worse now. I have to get tutoring for my son in writing, since it was never formally taught. So he is reinforcing letter formation errors, and his writing looks terrible. Yet, the first week of school, he was sent home a homework packet to write out his spelling words fifty million times, and to write them in sentences!!
I'm very frustrated with it all. There are Mom's here who agree with the article I posted. I hope they chime in, because I really need support in this area as well. I feel very strongly about it.
For years, I heard the other side of how homework is so beneficial. Well, when it makes so many kids hate school and learning, and causes burn out (as in my case!) AND research shows it does not improve outcomes in the earlier grades.....I'm just against it period.
I don't know that this is true. It might be interesting to make a poll and see.
I don't feel that homework is important for kids under 12, and I question how much of it has value for kids older than that. When my kids attended traditional school and had homework, we made getting it done a priority and expected the kids to comply with all the rules of their school.
They now attend an alternative school where the kids have some independent work that they can usually get done during the open periods, which is really very different from home work.
I do see value in following whatever system you are using (homeschooling, public schooling, private schooling) -- just jump in with both feet and do it. I think that school doesn't work for *for kids* when they get one message at school about how important certain things are, but then their parents tell them constantly that the school is just wrong and trying to waste their time. I think that kind of mixed message is difficult for small children.
but everything has pros and cons
I very much agree with Kohn on this one.
That said, DD has a *lot* of homework at this point (she is in 7th grade) and DS often has what I consider an ample amount (up to an hour daily in 3rd grade) and we do do tht homework. I feel they are getting enough out of school to be willing to put up with it. When they were younger I was much more protective of their out of school time.
I strongly disagree with homework for elementary students. I also don't like assigned reading because I think it kills kids' desire to read, by being FORCED to read.
My son is in kindergarten, and he brings home a tiny little paper book with simple words on 4 or5 pages that he has to read to me, and that's okay. It's obviously something he practiced at school, and he's basically just "showing off" his new reading skills. I have to sign the paper and return it. This I am okay with. He enjoys it, and it's only about 3 days a week, takes under five minutes, and keeps me in touch with his growing skills.
A friend of mine has a 4th grader, and she has two hours of homework every night. I find it ridiculously excessive. She has tests to study for, spelling words to memorize, math and science and english homework...she is on the principal's honor roll but she really struggles to stay there.
My kids rarely have homework & they're in grades 3, 4 & 7 in regular public school.
THey have a reading program, but it isn't set up so that it has to be a certain amount, every day or required at all. Usually if they have homework it is a test to study for or they've been home sick for more than 2 days(which hasn't ever happened with them).
There are no weekly homework folders or anything sent home with sheets of stuff that must get done, no homework packets to sign that they've done them, etc.
The odd time they bring home other work it is something that never got done & they finish it quickly when they get home. Nothing takes more than 5-10minutes once every 6-8 weeks.
My kids do the reading, but they'd do that whether there was a program or not.
We don't have to sign an agreement, but my dd still gets some homework. Her teacher is great about balancing it so it is mostly just reading 75 minutes a week, a math sheet, and a story to read to practice comprehension. We read so much that the reading isn't a burden on us, I am not even sure if my dd realizes her teacher requires reading because it isn't something I have to push her to do. From time to time her teacher does require them to do some research for a short presentation and that is something we put together at home, but she gives a lot of time and the presentations aren't a big horrible burden. When she was in first grade her teacher did give a lot of really boring homework and it was a burden. We went through a rough time with family life for a while and didn't even do half of it then and her teacher didn't notice so we really stopped doing a lot of the homework after that because it wasn't stuff her teacher ever asked her about and it was never reflected in her progress reports (which is really sad and says something about the need for the homework being assigned). I am hoping our experiences with homework will continue like they are right now for next year.
I do think homework is important as a daily habit and for skill practice, but not for anything else. In middle school the requirements are very intense and can take hours a week so I do think building the habit early on is important. In some ways I can even understand building the habit with boring work because realistically not all work kids are assigned to learn is going to hold their interest. I don't think they need to be bored to tears from Kindergarten on with homework in order to develop good study habits before it is really going to matter and it may be possible to develop the habits once they are truly necessary.
If you had trouble finding other threads, try searching just for the ones I have posted. I opt my kiddo out of HW every year. He can do any assignments he wants to, but he isn't obligated to do any at all.
And he's an A/B honor roll student, but don't get me started on how I disagree with honor roll ceremonies in general! LOL (Ok, I'll start...how much does it suck for a kid to walk across the stage, take his certificate, shake the mayor's hand, go sit back down and then realize his accomplishment really means jack bc now they are announcing the PRINCIPAL'S honor roll for the kids that didn't get any B's at all.)
My kids get about 10 minutes of homework a night. Theoretically, it's supposed to be ~10 minutes per grade. That means my 4th grader could be getting up to 40 minutes a night. I've never seen him spend 40 minutes, except the week he was sick and missed 5 days of school.
I don't monitor my children's homework. About 2x a year I get a pang of guilt when I hear other parents describing how they check their kids' homework and make them redo things they got wrong. But since I'm not convinced the homework has any value at this age, why bother? The school does impose consequences if the kids don't turn in the homework -- they have to stay in from their afternoon recess and finish it. I've let my kids know that they're free to not do it at home. They always choose to spend the 10 minutes at home because they'd rather do recess. Fine by me.
My kids have a reading log that needs to be signed, but dh and I have agreed that unless our children are being unusually obstinate, we're going to sign it, whether or not they've done the amount of reading. They're supposed to read for 20 minutes a night for dd and 40 minutes a night for ds. They each read 1/2 that as part of their bedtime routine. We then read aloud to them for another ~10 minutes. They will usually read in bed after that. Some nights ds chooses not to read in bed. When he quits reading 2-3 grade levels ahead and starts falling behind his grade level, I'll worry about those extra 10 minutes the 1-2 times it happens a week.
In high school, I think it can have some value -- children do need ot learn to work independently. But until then, nah, it's not that important.
Homework in elementary school wrecks family life, turns kids off of school, and is usually meaningless busywork. It's not worth the stress.
I recommend these books:
and these websites:
Coalition for Kid-Friendly Schools: http://kidfriendlyschools.blogspot.com/
Like pp's, I agree with Kohn's position on homework.
My children are in 1st grade. The amount of homework they receive has reduced considerably since the beginning of the year and life, and school, is much better. I think it could be reduced even more but feel like the current situation is a compromise between parents/teachers who want tons of homework and those like me who want almost none. Unfortunately, our Principal feels strongly that there is value to nightly homework in all core subjects along with weekly projects so I do not see it changing over the next seven years.
I don't mind a little homework. My kids have never had much unless it's been the last grade until a major transition, namely 5th and 8th. They've had little "busy work." It's usually something meaningful. Like I said, homework was overwhelming in 5th and 8th but all I had to do was talk to the teachers. My kids are good students and the teachers were more than willing to cut down the amount. For example, DD was allowed to do every other math problem as long as I signed her paper. Her 5th grade teacher gave me some great ideas for keeping DD's writing projects from being 4 hours of work when they were only meant to be 30 minutes. The nice part about 5th and 8th being difficult is that they move into 6th and 9th and it just feels like a breeze. They can focus on the social differences and not stress about academics because they are totally prepared for it.
Do I think homework is neccessary for under 12's? When handled appropriately, a little can be helpful. Spelling homework can be useful as long as they pretest and the work is only expected from missed words. My kids schools always did this and it seemed appropriate. A few math problems to cement in a new concept introduced that day can be helpful. My DS is in immersion school. In the early grades, the homework is always a repeat of something they did in class. The idea is to cement in new vocab or, if the child missed the concepts because they were struggling with the language, a parent was there to help them out in English.
Currently, DS (10, 5th grade) has about 30 to 40 minutes M-Th. Our district has never believed in weekend homework. He always has some long range project but given a couple months to complete and plenty of class time to do it. DD (14 and in 9th grade) has anywhere from 1 to 2 hours a night. My kids are really busy afterschool but the homework is always pretty manageable.
DD1 is in 2nd grade and rarely has homework, one worksheet here and there, not even weekly. We do it if we are around and if not, she doesn't do it. She is supposed to do a reading log but I made it clear last year (mixed grade classroom so same teacher) that we would not be doing it. It has never been an issue. She moves up to the 3rd/4th grade classroom next year and I've heard that teacher is into more homework, which we will not be doing. I don't believe in homework for young children. DD1 is very active, in the winter she may be out snowboarding until 8pm at night, I certainly am not going to have her come home and then do homework. On other nights is she wants to then she can, otherwise it just gets sent back to school.
How would I approach the teacher about opting out of homework? I feel like a loser parent when the homework packets aren't turned in. I'm more eloquent in an email than face to face. Is that all is needed to opt out?
I think you could try just telling her you want your children to be excused from homework. Cite some of the studies that Alfie Kohn references (or directly quote him) and see how it goes. Some schools will not let kids opt out so this may not be something you will win without your children paying the price at their break times, we have been lucky so far in having teachers who don't seem to notice when it is done or not. I worked at one school where the children were kept in at every recess except for when they were eating lunch and five minutes at the end of the lunch recess if they didn't do their homework. They were sent to one room called the homework club and they were required to finish it there if they didn't have "time or support" to finish it at home.
Hate it and agree pretty much 100% with Kohn.
I've gotten nowhere with getting any of it reduced or excused. Our district has a policy that allows insane amounts of homework from K on up. I've bought copies of the Homework Myth and the Case Against Homework for the teachers and the principal. I've asked the principal to cite me any research that shows benefit from regular homework for elementary kids. I think she knows I'm right, but can't do much about it. The district is constantly sending home newsletters touting using "evidence based educational practices," yet when asked for the evidence for their practices they plug their ears and hum loudly. It infuriates me that family time is so disrespected. And they've never met a vacation they couldn't ruin.
It's not realistic to try to opt out of it in our district. It's integral to the process. I've thought long and hard about it, but it would only mean endless grief for my kids.
Former teacher, former homeschooler (hoping to go back to it!), and yeah . . . most homework is pretty useless, imo. According to the school, my first grader should have half an hour of homework four nights a week. Personally, I think that's too much. As it is, she brings home work she didn't have time to finish in school 2-3 times a week and the regular assignments often take her over an hour. She is a perfectionist, I know, and that's playing into the time she spends on her work in a big way, but it's still a lot. Last week she brought home a partly blank book, 12 pages long, that she was supposed to fill in half of the text for and illustrate. Two hours later I had to drag her away from it for bed and she was stressing about not having it done. Ick ick ick.
I've decided that homework is optional. Her teacher doesn't know this yet because dd likes doing it! She's only been in school for a bit over a month, though, so that may well wear off.
I sent an email to the teacher last night. I included a link to back up my decision. To be honest, my stomach is in knots about this. I have an IEP meeting to attend in a few days, and I'm imagining the whole team having read the email & ganging up on me. The IEP is strictly for speech, no learning disabilities. I'm not as articulate in person as I am in writing, so I'm quite nervous what will happen next.
I'm just so sick of this. I wonder what type of response I'll get this time.
I hate homework it infringes on our very limited family time. And reading logins were invented to annoy already busy and overworked parents.
On a personal note I can deal with the amount of homework my kids currently get. My K kid spends less then 20 minutes a week on homework, and my 2nd graders spends 30-45 minutes a week on homework, not counting reading (the are not required to write anything about their books just read).
I also detest reading logs. My daughter is supposed to keep one and read 5 books a week to stay on the Bookit track--well, she's reading 4th/5th grade level chapter books and may get through one or two-at the outlier, if they are short, while the kid sitting next to her is reading short little picture books and can get through 6-7 in the same period of time. I've talked to her teacher, and she agrees that the logs are stupid and don't get kids at different reading levels--or it encourages kids to not challenge themselves.
As for homework, I think it may only be useful when kids are still trying to "get" a concept--maybe a bit extra practice. But, when momma and daddy don't understand it either...
If it is purely busywork, I set the timer for 10 minutes and let her do what she can in that period of time, then I write a note on the paper for the teacher. Funny--a couple times of that each school year, and busywork does not come home with her.
Enrichment work--I'm all for (especially when it doesn't "look" like homework), such as projects or going to the theater or museum and writing a piece about it.
And, I don't mind in-class work that couldn't be completed in class (but, since we started medicating DD for ADHD, we have not seen any of that and her grades have improved.)
I don't have a problem with getting my kids to do homework (5th, 7th and 9th grade- they have homework in every class most nights). I do have a problem getting the high school students I teach to do homework. Why? because they didn't have any in middle school. The middle school in our district follows this middle school model where they spend an hour a day telling the kids how great they are and they do not assign any homework.
The school where I teach is on a 4x4 block schedule. The kids only have 4 classes per semester; only 2 of them are core classes. So a typical student might have English, science, Art and PE. Even though the average student only has two core classes, I do not assign an extraordinary amount of homework. My class might need to read one chapter in their novel at night.Or answer the socratic seminar questions. Or work on 10 note cards for the research paper. Or type a previously written poem and make corrections. Homework is necessary for my classes because I only have these kids for 1/2 the year (yes, for 90 a minutes a day, but I still struggle to cover everything in 90 days). Yet, the majority of my students do not do homework. I even give out a schedule ahead of time so that the kids can learn to plan and budget their time. Doesn't matter; most still don't do it. I don't give out endless grammar sheets. My classes are engaging and rigorous. But sometimes I need the students to come in already prepared so we can do the high level (re: NOT bookwork) stuff.
That being said, if a student is not used to having some homework, high school can be very difficult (Not to mention college). I am not talking hours of homework, but IMO students need to be in the habit of sitting down and doing a little work for school. Habits are easier to implement if they are younger.
Funny, I would have said quite the opposite. My impression is that most MDCrs dislike homework, are more likely to question its worth and opt out of having their dc do it. I suppose it depends on your exposure to others, but it is interesting how different people can have a different impression.
I haven't had to sign an agreement. For the most part, my dc comply with homework requirements. Occasionally, I've addressed homework issues with teachers and there's always been a satisfactory resolution. For example, DD has done very well in math this year. She was frustrated with having to complete every homework question, e.g. Question 1, parts (a) to (m). I suggested she do every other question, or the first and the last of each question, or some other similar approach. Her teacher confirmed that she only had to work on the questions where she needed some practice or reinforcement. That made DD happy and I haven't heard any grumbling about math homework in months.
Admittedly, she is in high school this year, but this was our approach in earlier grades too. As long as the homework is meaningful, and reasonable in quantity, it doesn't bother me.
One of DD's frequent complaints this year has been about her classmates' poor work habits. The teacher announces a test date or assignment deadline. DD works hard, studies, and shows up on the day, good to go. Classmates show up unprepared, whinging that they didn't know, forgot, have some other excuse why they didn't finish the work or couldn't study. Teacher caves in and agrees to move the test or extends the deadline.
It has happened frequently and consistently all year long. DD is very frustrated at this point and is starting to believe that her good work habits are actually keeping her at a disadvantage (instead of turning things in on time, she could use the extra time to improve her work).
Perhaps the teachers are giving the students a little more consideration and being flexible to soften the adjustment for freshmen high schoolers. That's what I tell DD, at least. Even if true, I don't think they are doing any real favours for these children.
I know this little rant isn't really addressing the OP's questions, but your comments hit a nerve and I think it's somewhat relevant to the work habits issue that's been raised in this thread.
I'm one of those parents you alluded to in your post, OP, but I guarantee you that it's not the norm around here. Most people are not pro-homework.
I think that homework is a good thing when it's administered properly. I think that reinforcing what is learned during the day helps a child when they have a chance to apply it/experience it outside of the school environment. One of the problems with education in the US is that kids learn the facts, but then they can't apply them to real life or they simply don't know how to obtain the information they need without the aid of Google. Within the context of the classroom, they may do well, but in life, they fail. That's where the parents get involved. I don't put the onus of my dd's education solely on the shoulders of educators. They need to have a vibrant learning environment at home.
For us, part of homework is learning to do it and developing good study habits. You can't expect kids to suddenly know how to study in 7th or 8th grade. Part of doing homework is actually learning HOW to do it. Learning how to concentrate, complete the work, find a method that works for you, applying the knowledge... it's all part of the act of doing homework. My dh is from a culture where the kids spend a LOT of time doing homework (in high school, they spend about 4 hours a night doing homework and a lot of time on the weekends). His experience (he's also a university tenured professor, so is in the business of higher education) is that American kids, as a generalization, don't learn good study and homework habits and it hurts them when they get to where he is teaching them. It's the foreign students that are able to really handle the load of information because they have learned to work on their own, rather than getting everything spoon-fed to them. I agree with him.
So, as an outlier, and one that doesn't hold the same opinion as most, I think that homework is beneficial, but should be a gradual increase in intensity over the course of elementary school, so that when it really matters, kids have learned to buckle down and learn on their own.
We don't have to sign a homework agreement. Dd is in private language immersion school that is already academically rigorous, so if we have her in this school, we agree to the rules. We have her there by choice. She sometimes has 2 hours of homework (3rd grade) and sometimes just 1 or less. She enjoys the work, though. Sometimes she does get distracted, but more often than not, she's actually asking for additional things to do because she considers it fun. We also, as I mentioned, do a lot of fun educational stuff at home.
DD has 5-10 minutes of homework 3-4 nights a week, which is fine, IMO. Her school does not emphasize it, which I like a lot.
grateful mother to DD, 1/04, and DS, 2/08
Ds is only in first grade but is in an academically rigorous charter. He is the type that would be resistant to homework if it were suddenly demanded of him a few years down the line. The slow build-up of homework at his school is appropriate for him. It's about 10min a night plus reading.
The teacher announces a test date or assignment deadline. DD works hard, studies, and shows up on the day, good to go. Classmates show up unprepared, whinging that they didn't know, forgot, have some other excuse why they didn't finish the work or couldn't study. Teacher caves in and agrees to move the test or extends the deadline.
.....I don't think they are doing any real favours for these children.
I agree, they aren't doing the kids any favors. They are re-enforcing really bad habits that won't serve the students well at university or in life.
My kids are in middle school (one takes half high school courses and half middle school courses) and so far this year, the only deadlines that have slid have been about having certain books. The lit. classes read real novels, and every time they start a new one there is a LOT of drama about all the kids getting the book. (only one time was it our family causing the drama!)
We are considering going with Nooks or something next year to make it simplier than getting real books.
I also question if giving young children homework helps them learn to do homework, or if waiting until they are developmental ready for it makes more sense. It just seems that with so many young children, the homework is more about mommy and her organizational skills than about the kid, so what the kid really learns is to rely on mommy. I understand the argument that getting kids used to it when they are 6 prepares them for when they are 12, but looking around me, I just don't buy it.
When my kids were in public middle school last year, getting kids to turn in homework was an on-going issue, and most of those kids had had homework the whole way through.
but everything has pros and cons
I think the number one factor that affects kids' attitudes towards homework is their parents. There may be some exceptions to that, but overall I believe that- especially in the younger grades.
I think most people on MDC are against homework. I was actually surprised to read some people who supported it.
Velochic- I LOVE what you said about homework. Very well put.
When I got to high school, things felt much easier, because I only had three core courses and maybe two electives which didn't assign as much homework. I rarely spent three hours a night on homework in highschool, unless I was finishing a large project or reading assignment, or studying for an important exam.
I was definitely at a disadvantage in junior high from not being assigned homework earlier. I resented the time commitment and didn't have the skills to remember what was expected or to work competently with a dayplanner, like all the other grade 7s were doing. I got reprimanded a lot from teachers, and didn't get to socialize during lunch or recess because I was in study hall, finishing my homework, which I was always so behind in that there was never any chance of actually "finishing". It really soured my relationship with my parents, teachers, and my feelings towards learning in general.
I would be fine with an elementary school child having small assignments or a bit of studying to do (spelling, times tables), and I would want to support them to develop study skills to be ready for exams and independent projects in middle school or high school. I would resent busy work and some of these reading log type assignments too, certainly.
I think that homework is a good thing when it's administered properly. I think that reinforcing what is learned during the day helps a child when they have a chance to apply it/experience it outside of the school environment........I don't put the onus of my dd's education solely on the shoulders of educators. They need to have a vibrant learning environment at home.
I agree with this. I forgot to mention that one of the benefits of homework for our family is the opportunity for DH and I to see what our dc are doing in class, assess how well they are managing and using it as a springboard to other educational activities, discussions, etc. It allows us to be involved and up-to-date with their academic life. As I said before though, the homework must be meaningful and reasonable in quantity, not just busywork.