As a kid I was never a big homework fan. I did it because that’s what I was supposed to do. I’ll admit I was pretty good at it and did well in school.
As a parent, my relationship with homework is more complex. Being on the other side of the coin, you begin to question the benefits of homework. Kids spend the better part of their awake time at school. When they get home should they do more school work or should their time be spent doing something else? Hmmm….
For years there’s been a “10 minute rule” attached to homework. Many educators seem to follow it from what I’ve read. It means ten minutes of homework for each grade level. Ten minutes for grade one, twenty minutes for grade two, etc., etc.This tends to ring true in my house. Both of my girls come home with homework four out of five nights a week. My oldest daughter is in second grade and her homework takes her about 15 minutes, maybe 20 on a bad night. My youngest daughter is in Kindergarten and her homework takes about five minutes. In the big picture, I know this is not a lot of time out of their day. Still, my girls do not want to do more work when they get home from school.
I know some parents who wait until after dinner to tackle homework. I’ve always been a “get it done early” kind of parent. I’ve tried the after dinner thing and it doesn’t work well in my house. My kids are even more tired and less interested. Many after school programs also have students do their homework right after school for this same reason.
The big question is, should kids have homework at all? There’s research to support both answers to that question. Some say it helps when it comes to self-discipline and problem solving. Others argue it can lead to negative attitudes towards learning. There is also an argument to limit or eliminate homework for elementary school children. I know my kids would love that right about now!
The “love” part of my relationship with my kids’ homework stems from the fact that seeing them do their homework gives me a first hand look at how they’re understanding the material. I can tell right away if they get it or if they’re having trouble. Sometimes asking your kids how their day at school was and what they learned is like pulling teeth. Parents, I know you know what I’m talking about here. You get the appetizer and the dessert, but you never get the full-three course meal.
For this reason, I think homework is useful.
There are other days when I don’t want my kids to have to worry about doing homework. I want them to have all the time they can to play or draw or do something they choose to do. They can worry about school the next day when they’re there for six plus hours. Let there free time be just that…free. I wonder if teachers find it time-consuming to correct all of that homework the next day. Couldn’t that time be used for something else? Just a thought.
For this reason, I think we can do without homework.
But, I can’t see a universal no-homework rule on the horizon any time soon. I’m sure there are many parents who would raise an eyebrow or two if their kids didn’t come home with homework. Some may wonder if the teacher is doing his or her job or what’s being taught at school. Either way, you’re never going to please everyone.
So, perhaps the status quo will remain. Teachers will give homework. Kids will complain. Parents, like myself will continue their love-hate relationship until the next worksheet shows up tonight.