Getting Rid of Homework, Not a Bad Idea
School reform is all the rage now, from competing with the Chinese to reviving innovation in this country. It's a subject very dear to my heart as well, having two young kids at the beginning of their schooling. One of the most recent ideas is to eliminate, or at least significantly reduce, the dreaded homework. As states, the Galloway Township is proposing "to limit weeknight homework to 10 minutes for each year of school — 20 minutes for second graders, and so forth — and ban assignments on weekends, holidays and school vacations." Another school in California is considering "goal homework" which can be done at the student's own pace. I love that idea.
Homework has never been a huge issue in our family, although we've had our moments, but I hear stories all the time about the tears and turmoil of getting homework done, and in elementary school. I've known two kids who nearly failed classes even though they got As on all the tests for simply not turning in homework. There's a lack of responsibility there, sure, but to me homework should be neither a source of pain or a determination of a grade, at least until high school. At the aforementioned schools there are
"...concerns that high-stakes testing and competition for college have fueled a nightly grind that is stressing out children and depriving them of play and rest, yet doing little to raise achievement, particularly in elementary grades."
I Agree completely. Homework seems to start earlier and earlier these days, in our case in preschool, although it was optional. I feel fortunate in that one of my children seems to enjoy the packets he's assigned, while the other finds it pretty easy although, except for the cool math games provided by a parent volunteer, not pleasurable in the least. As much as studies indicate homework doesn't benefit kids (see Race to Nowhere, as soon as possible, or this guy) in grade or middle school, administrators, and especially parents, often insist on it. I had a teacher who found homework, besides nightly reading, useless. To paraphrase her, the kids who understand the work in school don't need the practice, and for the ones who didn't get it, she does not want them practicing the wrong way. Another teacher attempted to customize homework for each child, making much of it optional. And a third stopped assigning it altogether. Unfortunately all three got their hands figuratively slapped, with a mandate that the exact same homework be assigned to each kid in a specific grade. Thank you "No Child Left Behind" for panicking schools into pushing more worksheets in the hope they'll get the test scores up. I've actually seen the light go right out of a kids eye when they had to stop reading a book to fill out a bubble in a worksheet.Continued on the next page