Hot Topic: Homework...too much...too little...sweet or sour...How do you see it as a parent or as a teacher? This seems to be the buzz these days...well actually...it has been a controversial subject during my entire teaching career, which spanned over 30 years. As a parent I despised doing homework as it seemed that I was never right on how I was modeling my son or daughters' concepts or it was a continuous nightly argument or meltdown during their early years of homework...I would think to myself,"Why are we doing page 68 odd numbered problems tonight...really...come on...flashcards, are you kidding me...sight words OH no!" "Okay, so how do I fit in homework tonight in between football practice, dance lessons and family dinner?" Family dinner was the first activity that was thrown to the roadside as we drove through a fast food restaurant and ate in the car on the way to whatever activity was happening that night.
Then a few years later I started teaching full time...#SWEET/NOT SWEET...I had the painstaking job of assigning my first graders the H word...yes, you guessed it HOMEWORK! Now the tables were turned. What was going to be my homework policy...what was my school's homework policy????? I recognized from my earlier years of parenting that homework can be difficult especially if you have more than one child attending to homework at the same time!!! So, what was I going to do?
Everyone always said, including myself, even if the task was hard that Homework is an important way to be involved with your child's learning. Please support your child with doing the work, but don't do it for them. You can remind your child where or how to find the answer, but try not to jump in and give the answer...Okay admit who is guilty of this scenario: "Come on Johnny it is almost time to leave...what you only have one problem completed....come on let me help you..." Come on admit it! YOU HAVE done this before...no time for the weary....no time....no balance...UGH!!!!
So, as a teacher, I tried to make it easier on parents...I tried to make homework a family time. I added choice to homework in that the students and parents could choose the books they read every night and they could choose the way in which they practiced their sight words, but Math homework was....well math homework and simply assigned, but at times I tried to make that a bit more fun like counting how many pairs of shoes you have in the house. I also assigned adaptive homework to meet individual needs. I started a homework club in my district to support those who may have had English as a second Language or just were in situations where parents or caregivers were not able to support the call for homework. In fact, this club worked and we did see social, emotional and academic growth for those who attended the after school program 3 days per week.
I KNOW there are many pros and cons about homework and technically there is a 10 minute rule that some districts abide by, which speaks to 10 minutes for each grade level...10 minutes for 1st grade, 20 for 2nd grade and so on. I also know that in these days of technology "play" outside activity is ever so important for kids to become a part of an active sports team, or simply play active games in order to support not only physical, but also social and emotional growth. I am not so sure if I am pro or con homework, but I can see both sides of the coin, so to speak. I guess if we can be assured that parents are sharing stories or reading with their children every night and giving them positive activities that support them emotionally, socially and academically, then educators might not worry so much about homework.
This is a hot topic and I could probably write pages and pages about this giving you every pro and con I can think of or that has been researched and it would probably still be a HOT topic without a real solution...only time will tell!
So, that being said, here are four important ideas to think about when assigning homework or maybe even completing it:
1. I believe that the school district should create, with teachers, a Homework Policy that everyone agrees to and by which all teachers should abide by simply due to the fact that if you have siblings and or twins, they will have a consistent amount of work per grade level.
2. I also believe that reading should be fun and a family time. With that in mind, let's consider choice in reading materials depending on grade level and encourage an amount of time for reading that is consistent with age appropriateness. Maybe even suggest everyone STOP and read at home at a certain time each night or entertain a family read aloud on some nights.
3. Be mindful of after school activities that your students or children attend and make sure the assigned homework is not going to take an entire evening or give long term types of assignments that can be done in small chunks and completed by the end of the week or two weeks so families can gauge their own timeframe. Maybe parents can complete the homework in chunks: some before an activity and some after if this helps.
4. Be creative with ways to practice sight words and or math facts or concepts. Send a sheet home with all kinds of choices to practice sight words or spelling instead of memorization and or tedious activities. Parents can then jot down what they did...like while in the car, we wrote the sight words on the windows with wipe off crayons or on our i-pads or wipe off boards while going to soccer.
The bottom line is that if a teacher does assign homework, the student does need to complete it and should be held accountable for it. Let's be creative together and work as partners between home and school to solve the "homework hassle"!
So... What are your thoughts???? I WOULD LOVE TO hear them!!!
A great video that addresses this topic!!!