Why Homework Is Bad for Your Kids

Rant 28

homework grade schoolMy first grader brings home homework four nights a week, and I hate it. It's not the homework itself, which is based in math and science. I'm thrilled she's learning complex calculations at such an early age. But why does she have to drill when the school day is over? When, in fact, the main reason she goes to a progressive school is the lack of testing and, one would assume, homework.

I'll tell you why. We live in America, and the American parents stood up last year to demand homework for our 5- and 6-year-olds. It's just too bad that those who wanted to see a little cutie sitting at his tiny desk doing homework didn't realize that this logic is hurting our children academically instead of preparing the little tykes for lifelong success. And the homework glut is not doing much for getting everything done before bedtime, either. Homework has got to go.

All a parent needs to do is take a look at Finland (I know, those Scandinavians do everything right) to see how education policy that emphasizes equality and a love for learning over competition and school "choice" is winning this game. When the Finns do get around to homework and testing (not until age 16), the scores are consistently at the top of the entire world.

Of course, no homework until high school isn't the only element at play in the Finnish education system. All teachers have master's degrees and are paid well. All schools are the same, regardless of how much income inequity exists in the neighborhood, and there are no private schools. Cooperation between schools is emphasized, and competition is out. Children don't even start to school until age 7, and from all reports, these are happy kids who are learning without the stress of their American counterparts. And they're learning more than our kids, as well.

Yes, there are other countries that do require homework that are scoring quite well and are frequently in the top spot above Finland. South Korea, for example, where students have tutors every day after school and work far harder on their studies than the average American child. Sure those kids in South Korea are killing it in test scores, but a heck of a lot of them say they're miserable. Considering the answer to the question of what a parent wants for her child is almost always, "I want my child to be happy," that model is not nearly as attractive as the one going down in Finland.

Homework once a week would be exciting for the kids instead of a drag. Or like one element my daughter's school implements -- read to your child every night, have your child read to you, and have your child read to herself -- that's useful, entertaining, and something we should be doing regardless of school policy. But it seems to me that grade schools need to axe the homework because it's not helping anyone. Least of all the mom who has to harass her kid to get it done before dinner.

What do you think about homework for grade school kids?


Image via spiritinme/Flickr

education, elementary school, homework

28 Comments

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Elizabeth Ahmad

Hate it that my kindergarten daughter has homework.  All that for preparing for Regents in NY.  Nevermind that there are plenty of studies showing standardized tests do not show actual skill in sujbect areas or retention.

Telep... Telephus44

There's your solution - you hate the fact that your child has homework, then just move to Finland.  Ta-do! Problem solved.


 

MsRkg MsRkg

Talk to me about kids not doing homework when we are number one in education and not ranking at 31st for industrialized nations. Considering the overpopulation in schools these days, the teacher to child ratio is nowhere even close where it needs to be for a child to excel in school without homework. The reason children abroad do better without homework is because class size is smaller and teacher is able to provide more one on one attention if a child is having difficulty grasping a concept and thus work through the issues with them. However when you have 30 kids to 1 teacher, there is no time for that type of personal interaction, there is just time for the lesson and then homework is there to help reinforce what was learned that day.  Until the eduation system is given a major overhaul, homework needs to say.

momto... momtolittleg

MsRKG said it perfectly.

Tamera Bisson

I also agree with MsRKG. I enjoy homework with my 5 year old. It reenforces what she learned in school that day, but does not challenge her to the point of getting stressed out. Also it helps me to stay abreast of what she's learning day to day and her progress with handwriting, spelling, reading, etc.

waiti... waitingmom2010

I have a 4th grader and I'm ok with homework every night, as long as it is reasonable.  He went to a private school last year that gave 2 hrs. + of homework each night in 3rd grade, which was overload.  My son got so frustrated that he was learning less, because he was exhausted by the end of the day.  He is now is public school and does 30-60 minutes of homework per night on average (few math problems to reinforce what they are learning, reading, spelling, occasionally study for social studies or science test, etc.) and I think it is just about right.  It reinforces the lessons without overwhelming him each night, and most nights he does the homework with minimal complaint.  Homework is definately a good thing, as long as it is just not busywork.

Jaime Swift Sundin

Home work at the K age is not going to make any difference in how well our kids do.  In fact home work has nothing to do with good or even decent grades.  And to the moron that says that the writer should go to Finland i suggest your stupid ass expect better schooling for you kids.  Instead of not giving a shit and thinking the school is more of a daycare then a learning center.

Scarlett Rose Valdez

I completely agree with MsRKG. There have been studies upon studies to show that class sizes that facilitate necessary important social AND academic abilities is a class size of approximately 18 -24 students. Can't remember exactly where the number came from, but I did research on it once for school.

Christy Simmons Riester

As a teacher, ITA! I think reading with your dhild is very important. I would like to see more emphasis on organization and finishing incomplete work. I am in favor of long term projects so students can learn time management skills which are lifelong. But endless practice at home is a time waster. Having meaningful conversations with your child, go on a walk and exercise with them, or a trip to the library is time well spent!

Joan Wilton-Rice

Hello, I am a teacher. The reason homework is given each or most nights is simply, so we can be certain the students have a chance to prove they understand the concept well enough outside of the classroom. Often homework is checked to see if the student really understands it and if additional assistance is needed. there have been times students seemed to understand it in my class, for me to only get the homework the next day and see that everyone was very confused. This gives me a chance to go over it agian and make certian the concepts are fully understood. This being said, a teacher should not give more than 5-10 mins worth of homework per year the child is in school each night. So a first grader should have about 5 mins of math and 5 of spelling. Maybe an extra 5 mins of science or social studies if needed. A kinder should maybe have five mins total of something simple like color the shapes or pratice the letter of the week.

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