Homework is the bane of my existence. I hate it. I hate homework like I hate wedgies, bunched socks, and finding out someone left my pint of Hagen Daz in the fridge instead of the freezer.
I’m sure that there are plenty of people who will disagree with me, and I welcome your criticism. I also welcome you to come sit with my four children, making flashcards and doing side by side math problems.
If you’re lucky, your kids don’t get homework like mine do. But perhaps some of this looks familiar to you, too? Click through the slideshow to see exactly what I mean…
I HATE Homework
Just a few of the reasons why I hate homework!
Computer Log Jam
Most of my kids' teachers think they are doing us a favor by assigning homework online. Because my kids could use a little more screen time? Because what we need in our lives are an additional 6-8 logins and passwords to remember for each of our four children? Most nights, there is a computer log jam, with at least three kids needing to work online at the same time at any given moment. Helping them with passwords, making sure the printer has fresh ink, and scheduling tech help for each has us considering advertising for a full-time family IT expert. Plus a cleaning lady to wipe the jammy fingerprints off every screen and keyboard in the house.
No Time for Creativity
This is a drawing my son did. When he was supposed to be doing his homework. Oops. Worksheets come with an opportunity cost. If you spend your time doing boring busywork, you don't get to draw cool pictures.
I Am the Homework Police!
This is my weeknight cap. Did I see you trying to sneak in an episode of The Voice? Busted! Did you just text a friend? Busted! I never signed up to be chief officer of the homework division...
No Time for Dinner, or Chores
Although I am having a hard time bringing back my high school math and keeping up with my older kids (homework makes ME stupid!), I can still do simple arithmetic. There are often not enough hours in our crammed evenings for both homework and meals. This means my older daughters frequently eat dinner at their desks in their room. No time for chores either. I know they are not weeping and begging to do their own laundry, but some day they are going to need these vital life skills, like knowing how to load a dishwasher and wash clothes. They may need these skills even more than they need to know how to quickly calculate the circumference of a sphere.
No Time for Family
See this lovely dinner out where we celebrated my mom's 83rd birthday? My 13-year-old old daughter was stressed out and twitching the whole time. She couldn't enjoy the celebration. She had homework due. My 9-year-old got in trouble for not completing his assignments the next day as well. Message being: completing 4 hours of nightly homework matters more than milestone family occasions.
I beg to differ.
The Death of Play
My kids typically gain weight during the school year. Or if we sign them up for sports, they stay fit and don't finish their homework. Choices. And forget about a nice, old fashioned veg-out in front of the TV or a board game with a sibling. Hours of nightly busywork make playtime scarce.
I happen to believe that playtime is learning time and a vital part of childhood. Worksheets? Not so much.
WTH!? Whose Homework is This Anyways?
Laminated posters, elaborately constructed scale models, scrapbooked presentations, tailored costumes, and Powerpoint presentations. Welcome to the new world of kid's homework assignments. When I show this to my parents, they need a forklift to get their chins off the floor. Did they ever laminate my book reports for me? Spend $100 at the craft store for my presentation materials? Hire a tailor to sew me a costume for my speech? Nope. They handed me a paper bag, some dull scissors, and a few crayons and encouraged me to have at it. But the playing field is not level. So many of my kids' assignments are really parent assignments. We must drive to far flung locations, assemble exotic goods, and consult with a decorator in order to get our kids' homework done.
No Time for Friends
Playdates and relationships tend to fall by the wayside when all your afternoon and evening hours are occupied by homework.
As much as I hate being the homework cop, I hate being the homework bureaucrat even more. Signing on the dotted line for each class, each and every day for multiple classes, for multiple kids. It's enough to make me mad! I'm either going to buy a rubber stamp or run around the neighborhood shouting "Off with their heads!" the next time someone asks me to sign their daily homework.
Article Posted 4 years Ago
Homework: as a parent do you love or loathe it? Parenting psychologist Justin Coulson says there are no good reasons for it at all.
Homeworkis seen by many as being essential for children’s scholastic development. But there seems to be more substantive arguments against homework for kids under the age of 14 than there are for it.
Here's a scenario: As a typical parent-teacher meeting concludes, the Grade 5 teacher thanks parents for attending and asks for any questions about how the class will operate during the year.
One mother asks the teacher to ensure the children receive plenty of homework to help them prepare for the upcoming NAPLAN test later in the year.
Heads nod in agreement and the teacher confirms the state Education Department requires homework to be assigned to all students. But is homework as useful as we like to think?
No science backs up homework benefits
For young children (under 14-15 years) there is absolutely no scientific research which supports the inclusion of homework in their extra-curricular activities. Indeed, “there is no evidence that any amount of homework improves the academic performance of primary school students”, according to Professor Harris Cooper, one of the most respected homework researchers in the world. Cooper indicates that while he is personally pro-homework, there appears to be no academic advantage for children to do homework. In many studies the relationship between homework and “learning” (often defined as grades or standardised test scores) is negative.
Homework is a burden on teachers
Teachers acknowledge that they do not enjoy the ongoing administration and follow up homework requires. There is a lot of work associated with homework outside the regular classroom teaching requirements, including coordinating homework, marking homework, giving homework feedback, and so on.
Homework creates stress for children
It might be tough for teachers, but it may be even tougher for children, even when only in small amounts. After a full day of class work, children might find their learning enhanced if they could truly call it a day when they get home, rather than re-opening the books and doing more.
Research has demonstrated that it “overwhelms struggling kids and removes joy for high achievers.” A 2002 study found a direct relationship between time spent on homework and levels of anxiety, depression, anger, and other mood disorders and issues.
Homework creates an extra burden on parents
Many families find that homework occupies a significant component of their afternoons. An education involves more than just schoolwork. Extra-curricular activities provide teaching opportunities for children as well as the chance to develop other skills, talents, and intelligence. Homework impinges on the opportunity parents have to expose their children to activities such as music lessons, cycling, swimming, church activities, and more.
Additionally, kids enjoy being kids - swimming in the pool, playing with friends, having free reading time, going shopping, contributing to the home with chores and cooking, and so on.
Homework is not inspiring
Homework may be the most reliable extinguisher of the flame of curiosity. Homework, according to the best research available, neither enhances children’s depth of understanding, nor does it increase their passion for learning. If children understand the work at school, mindlessly repeating it at home may not have any useful impact. And if they have not understood the work at school, then repeating it at home may only make things worse.
And as indicated above, some research actually indicates that the provision of homework actually impacts negatively on some standardised testing.
Kids can learn the habits when they NEED them
There is no evidence to support the belief that homework helps students develop the characteristics it is often suggested will be useful, such as ability to organise time, develop good work habits, think independently, and so on. It doesn’t seem to prepare them for “later” either. Children have demonstrated that they can usually adapt pretty well when they turn 14 or 15 without having eight years of practice under their belt before it all starts.
Indeed, if we were to run with the 'better get used to it' logic, there would be little point raising children with love because sooner or later life in the real world will not be loving. Hence they’d better get used to it. Obviously this is absurd, but hopefully it illustrates my point.
Homework may have a negative impact on learning
A respected US professor of education stated: “Most of what homework is doing is driving kids away from learning.” In spite of the significant concerns about homework, there are two important exceptions to the research and statements outlined above. These are:
The exceptions to not doing homework: reading
Research powerfully demonstrates that reading should be strongly encouraged at home. Children should read every single day after school and before bed.
There should not be any timing of the reading or dictating the number of pages to be read. This removal of autonomy turns reading into a chore, rather than a pleasure. Instead, guide your children toward books that they can genuinely enjoy and learn from. They will gladly immerse themselves in books and often only resurface when it’s time to eat! Also note – research abundantly demonstrates that the best way to make students hate reading is to make them prove to us or others that they have read.
On a related note, the use of rewards for reading – such as stars, goodies, money, and so on has been clearly demonstrated to have a detrimental effect on motivation for reading. Children will read easy, short books to obtain rewards, rather than books that they are interested in and that challenge them. However, you may wish to let your children know that when they have completed a book they are reading, you will gladly buy them another one immediately. Research indicates that this is highly motivating.
The other exception to not doing homework: projects
Another form of “acceptable” homework – or homework that does not appear to reduce motivation for learning or interfere so much with family activities – relates to projects from school that interest the children.
Actively encourage research, projects, and writing speeches. This helps the children in information gathering, critical thinking, logical formatting of content, and presentation skills. Plus it gets them actively “discovering” in their learning, and sinks much deeper than much other “busy” work.
So, this afternoon, let the kids play. Wrestle with them, cook with them, READ with them, sing with them. Play Monopoly if you can't bear to see them not doing some kind of maths. Teach them checkers or chess, or how to play Mary had a Little Lamb on the keyboard or recorder. Take time to enjoy them rather than confining them to their room to do homework. They'll learn more in 20 minutes with you than in an hour revising homework sheets.