Friday, May 23, 2008

Homework

I am personally appalled at how much homework young children are given these days. Since when is it appropriate for a 6 year old to spend an additional hour on work after school is over for the day? Wouldn't that hour be better spent (developmentally speaking) in free play or family interaction? The human brain needs time to just 'be' -- our kids aren't getting that benefit any longer because homework starts at such an early grade level.

During my school years, we didn't have our first homework assignment until the 4th grade, and even that might be stretching it a bit. At least we were old enough at that point to be responsible on our own for the work that had to be done -- our parents didn't have to sit us down to do the homework with us, as most have to now. I don't think my mother checked a single homework assignment that I ever did. School was my responsibility, not hers.

Studies show that homework in the elementary years does not contribute to children's learning. It might help them regurgitate facts better in the short-term, but that is not an indicator of actual learning. What homework does do is significantly raise the stress level of today's parents and, consequently, the entire family, robbing families of time that could be better spent. That's a tragedy for the family and for child development.

Your thoughts?

5 comments:

The Tysor's said...

I totally agree, Cath. As you know, Niks in kindergarten this year and he has had more homework than the girls (5th & 8th grades!) I was so irritated with the amount sent home with him. A friend of mine whos daughter is in the same class asked me if Nik had as much homedwork as her kid and if he actually did it...i said yea, the majority of the time. she said she got so sick of it she started throwing it away! But I totally agree that kids today need a break by the time they get home from a long day at school. Their brains need a rest and time to just chill...not to mention the stress it puts on parents to try to cram it into the evening as well.

Catherine said...

And it won't change, I'm afraid, until the parents are up in arms. The schools are killing any hope that the kids will actually enjoy learning!

Did you talk to the teacher about it? If so, what did she have to say for herself?

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

Homework in kindergarten?!?! I'm way out of it, i guess, but that's a new one on me! That's horrible!

Homework used to be practice drilling for what was covered thoroughly in class, so the parent never needed to go over anything. My parents didn't with me either, unless i needed it (math was my Waterloo) and asked, which was only occasional.

But teacher friends have told me that nowadays they can barely cover everything the curriculum requires -- quick teaching of the basics (they said) but no time to really practice and get the kids through the material in class, not as thoroughly as needed.

In my day we did lots of "board work" in class and had time for questions and corrections and going over it. Apparently they don't anymore. So, kids are really being asked to do independent learning at home, and the parents are supposed to "teach" what the teacher couldn't.

I dunno, maybe that's just in Carolinas schools. Heard it from one in NC and one in SC. But it's just wrong.

chakolate said...

The studies that show that homework isn't as effective as previously thought are relatively recent. School systems move with the speed of glaciers, so it takes them a while (!) to get up to speed.

In the mean time, I get lots of extra work with students who can't get their homework done and parents who are mystified by the assignments.

Catherine said...

I'm glad for the work for your sake, but just can't help feeling that something is very wrong when tutors are so much in need in order for kids to do homework.