I’ve been meaning to write about my growing disdain for homework, but today Jodifur had a guest post up at Jill’s Scary Mommy blog and she pretty much articulated all of my feelings on the matter. Here’s an excerpt:
I may sound disgruntled, but I’m tired of spending every night fighting about homework. I’m tired of teaching concepts that did not get taught in the classroom but have homework about them. I work, my husband works, we rush home, make dinner, and then do homework. Then it is bath, bed, and we start over the next day. My son is surprised on the days we say, “you don’t have any homework.” Normally, this is weekends. Not to mention all the research out there that says homework in the early grades mean nothing. It is not indicative of learning or progress or teaches kids anything other than burnout. We fight and there are tears, some of them mine. By first grade my son is going to hate learning. What is this going to teach a child?
Jodie’s son is also in kindergarten. You can read the rest here. I am really not a fan of homework for kindergarten. I LOVE my son’s teacher. I mean, seriously, she is amazing – and the homework thing is a school-wide choice. I also love the public school that he attends. But I don’t love the fact that every week, he comes home with a packet of 6-10 worksheets that require me to hover over him to complete. Typically he can do it himself, but lately the math has been really hard. They are adding numbers into the teens now. Today he had to count by fives to fill in the blanks as such: | 5 | 10 | 15 | 20 | ___ | ___ | Counting by fives? I swear, I think when I was in preschool we painted, made macaroni necklaces, and learning the lyrics to “This Land Is Your Land”. But even the worksheets that are easy are still laborious, because he has been at school all day long, and he’s just DONE. And tired. And wants to play with his siblings and relax and BE SIX YEARS OLD. And I want that for him, too, but instead I have to keep redirecting him back to the table to finish his worksheets. I am a huge proponent of education. I’m a college professor. My parents were college professors (they are both still in academia, but now in administrative roles). I really want my kids to love learning, to develop study skills, and to succeed in school. But I don’t want them to have homework in kindergarten. Or maybe even for a few years after that. I’ve usually kept these thoughts to myself, because I feel like people generally hold the belief that there is a value to the way homework develops study habits. But I was a little shocked (and relieved?) to see that most of the commenter’s on this post were in agreement – and many of them were teachers themselves. Now, obviously, comments on a blog post are not necessarily a reflection of academic research . . . but apparently there is solid research that says that homework in the early grades does not actually determine study skills for later grades. Which begs the question, why are schools still giving it? And why does it seem to be increasing every year? I don’t believe that I had homework until about 5th grade. And I did okay in high school. And yes, I realize that sentence just pushed me into cranky-old-lady territory. I admit, there is some personal bias in my anti-homework views. Just getting Jafta to complete his is such a battle, that I really cringe at the thought of this TIMES FOUR in a few years. But I also think that at the public school my kids are attending, the day is long enough for them to complete everything they need to learn at school. I feel like when I pick them up, I want it to be family time. And I want there to be time for them to be involved in enriching activities like music lessons or sports, I hear so many friends talk about how the nightly homework takes up a big portion of their evening. Do kids really need to be doing homework EVERY NIGHT when they have spent 6-8 hours in school all day? Am I the only one who thinks this is excessive? Anyways, I am curious to hear your thoughts. A few of the commenters at Scary Mommy said that they actually refused to have their kids do it, and spoke with administrators and teachers at the beginning of the year, informing them their kids would not turn it in. This seems absolutely crazy to me – I am such a people-pleaser, and I cannot imagine being “that mom” and what the school staff would think of me (shudder). Jafta always turns in his completed homework, despite how much I despise it. But at the same time, I wonder what would really happen if we just stopped doing it? Would it affect his learning? Or would it just make our afternoons a lot more peaceful?