Should Homework Be Abolished?

37

homeworkEveryone warned me that life would change once my son hit first grade, because that's when homework -- real homework -- starts around here. I pishawed the whole thing, thinking a few worksheets here and there couldn't possibly be that big of a deal, but oh how wrong I was.

My son is bright and has never struggled with school work, but homework is a different story. It's a battle of wills, because he doesn't want to do it. He wants to play, watch TV, stare out the window, or anything other than the work he has to do. It's been more than a little bit of a painful adjustment with tears from both of us at some point or another. So when I saw a movement in New Jersey to abolish the source of our frustration, I almost thought about starting my own movement at my son's school.

Almost, but not quite, because it's a really awful idea.

The parents say students are spending too much time on homework, and that it should be at least limited if not done away with altogether. Limits are one thing, though I have a problem with those as well because they limit a teacher's judgement and because what takes one child 20 minutes could take another two hours. But the idea of getting rid of it altogether is an extreme reaction that would just further compromise our nation's schools.

Homework is good for kids, as hard as it may be. It teaches them how to focus and to accomplish tasks independently. It also supplements and expands the learning that happens in class. It's when those "aha" moments start to occur. Perhaps the quality of assignments may need to be addressed in certain cases, but homework as a whole is a good thing.

Besides, what else do our children have to do? If they're that over-scheduled in sports and other activities, then perhaps that's the problem that needs to be addressed. Learning isn't supposed to be a walk in park, and I don't think it hurts our kid to learn how to work hard. They're going to have to as they go on to higher education and the working world.

Yes, kids need time to be kids and enjoy life, but they also need to be well prepared for the future, and if heaps of homework (deemed appropriate by educators in whom I place my trust) are what it takes, then bring it on ... I'll just be counting the days until summer vacation.

Would you like to see homework abolished?


Image via apdk/Flickr

discipline, education, in the news

37 Comments

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hotic... hoticedcoffee

I have to admit, I'm a hater of homework.  Fortunately, my 7 year old doesn't share my distaste (yet), and is a self-starter, so he gets it done without a word from me or my husband.  For now - I harbor no illusions that it will continue to be a breeze, and even if it is, my 5 year old is destined to be more....contrary...than his older brother....so my battles are in the future.


My disdain from homework comes from the experience of teachers assigning new material as "homework".   Eventually, I know (from other moms with older kids in my district) my kid will come home with homework that isn't an extension of what was already taught in class, with the expectation that he shows up to the next class with an understanding of that material.  That, in my mind, isn't homework - it's a lazy or incapable teacher who just wants to answer questions instead of teach. 


 

cmari... cmarie452

Not abolished but definitely reevaluated. I can remember doing 10 math sheets of essentially the same the problem. The quality of homework needs fixed.

meatb... meatball77

I've got no problem with legatimate homework like math or book reports for example. 


It's the busywork that's an issue and there are a lot of teachers who assign kids things that are unnessicary to do at home.  In the K-5 grades there shouldn't be homework unless it's somthing that really needs to be completed independently and is needed for practice.  


 I had a friend whose kid was assigned a huge amount of coloring to do at home in Kinder and would get points off it wasn't done perfectly.  If you're getting home at 4:00 and going to bed at 7:00 (so you can get the reccomended 11 or 12 hours of sleep at that age) you shouldn't have to spend half of that time at home doing homework.  Random worksheets and other things that take forever are also an issue.  No first grader should have two hours worth of homework a night.  Should kids have to study and read and do math yes.  But random science worksheets with full coloring aren't nessicary.

Beths... Bethsunshine

I homeschool but before we homeschooled, my kids went to private school. I had a huge problem with my kids being in school for 7 plus hours a day and coming home with work to do, What the heck are they doing all day? My oldest son wasn't getting home until 3:30 or later, and having schoolwork to do, and not having time to just be a kid, playing outside, etc.   I think homework in schools should be abolished. If the teacher can't accomplish what he/she needs to in 7 plus hours, then maybe they need to look into how much time is wasted during the day.

dirti... dirtiekittie

well, i have to agree with some of the points. my oldest DD is in the 2nd grade, and she's been bringing home 'homework packets' since kindergarten! i understand the need for homework, but i don't think it needs to be given a) so young and b) so much of it! it seems to have gotten a little better (now it's daily homework vs. weekly packets) but it's still a struggle. DD goes to an after school program but even then there isn't always enough time to finish it. maybe take some days off? only do HW on TWTh? i don't know, but i sure wish my nights were a little less homework-stressful!

Memph... MemphisSuzi

As someone who is around kids all day, every day, and who lives in a big time failing school system, I can tell you that alot of class time is taken up by simple routines...lining up, settling down, getting all the kids to focus at once, etc.  Classrooms are packed with 26+ kids and getting them all on the same page at the same time is next to impossible, actual "teaching" time is diminished.  Homework gets the kids working, at their own pace, independently, without distractions and (supposedly) with one on one attention from parents.  I think the real complaint is that parents don't want to do homework, parents don't want to be held accountable for their child's education.  Obviously not the homeschooling ones, but the ones that send their kid off to public school and think that all the education should be happening there.  It's just so rarely going to happen that way. 

Sassy... SassyMom25

Well, think of it this way. Kids are being required to learn more and more at younger and younger ages. If given the option, would you rather your child bring home some extra work or spend an extra 30 minutes to an hour at school each day? Most of our kids homework are things that make the parent get involved, which I think is a good thing. It's just when they send home work that I have to teach because the teacher didn't that gets me irritated.

nonmember avatar Anon

Young kids need time to play. They learn a ton through play. I never did one minute of homework until grade 3, and I knew a heck of a lot more than kids of the same age today. Six hours of instruction per day is certainly enough. If it isn't, fix the quality of the school day, not the homework. ... My kids are 4 but I'll tell ya, our evenings are very full without homework. I will never fight with my kids to make them do homework during primary school. I will accommodate them but not force them (and certainly not sit and do it for / with them). They are ahead of the curve and they love learning at this point. I'd like to keep it that way.

nonmember avatar Anon

I don't consider myself to be a teacher's aide for my kids' school. What they do at home should be completely different though equally valuable - and child- or parent-led, not teacher-assigned. Schoolwork and by extension homework teaches kids to think and operate within a box. I want to raise kids who can think creatively for themselves. Your "what else do they have to do" comment floors me. When I was a kid I had more than enough intellectually challenging things to do without homework, as do my daughters.

Fancy... Fancy-Schmancy

Better for a young child to play, to daydream, to have a conversation with a parent instead of a confrontation over homework. Little kids are going to color anyway...they don't need the added stress of doing it 'perfectly' to please a teacher. Not to mention, getting them out and moving around is key to their future health -- not sitting at the table for another couple of hours after being cooped up all day. Many schools have done away with recess and are making it harder for kids to have free time after school. Add in just one extracurricular activity -- so the child can do an activity they enjoy -- and the whole evening is shot.


Homework adds to a child's stress level without adding a darn thing for their education. No child under the age of 8 should have homework...and after that only math worksheets and the very occasional piece of writing. In 6th grade, the writing part should start to get more intense and continue to become more so from there. Their brains are finally ready for it at that point.  No study has ever shown that early homework is beneficial...but schools are afraid that some parent or schoolboard member will freak out if there isn't any.


People need to learn to balance family, work and free time in order to be happy adults. Loading kids up with homework just teaches them that work must always come first....and that leads to divorces, heart attacks, and misery.

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