In my first year as a teacher, I believed that I had to give homework in middle school. I felt like all of my colleagues were giving homework and I needed to jump on the bandwagon. In my second year, I started utilizing a layered curriculum in class. This allowed me to do away with homework. Now, as a parent, I absolutely HATE the idea of homework.
My husband and I have talked about it numerous times, and I will not budge. (Side note: my husband is a high school science teacher, who has AP classes.) When our girls begin school, I will be working at the school they attend. (That’s how it works in international teaching.) And, I will be informing each of their elementary teachers that my girls will not be doing homework. School already takes up 8 hours of their day. The remaining time will be used for family time which, of course, includes play time.
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What makes teachers/administrators/schools think that they can dictate what I do at home with my own kids?
Have all adults forgotten what it is like to be a kid? I’ve heard it over and over again, “you only get to be a kid once”. So, why are we trying to move our kids into adulthood (1)before they’re ready emotionally and physically (2)when they NEED to discover things on their own (3)when they should be focusing on having fun?
What is the real purpose of homework?
Thus far, I’ve experienced homework as (1)a way to reinforce what is being taught in class (2)punishment (3)work not completed in class [see number 2]. All of these have no substantial research that correlates to heightened academic performance. Likewise, students who have learning difficulties or struggle with school immensely have even more reluctance to view school as something that will benefit them. School is merely a place that does not understand their level, needs, wants, etc…
What can we do?
Parents, teachers, administrators can begin to rethink homework policies and the reason homework is given. Alfie Kohn, author of Unconditional Parenting (left), that I’ve mentioned before, has another book about homework. His thoughts mimic my sentiments exactly! You can check out his words here. In order to really make a change in how homework is viewed and doled out, there must be an understanding that homework should not be given as busy work. Busy work has no place in today’s education – I’d venture to say it didn’t have a place previously either, but no one really questioned it. For students to really learn (authentic learning) they need to be invested and interested in the topic.
Your challenge: If you are a parent, challenge your child’s teacher to either
- only give homework they create themselves or
- try giving no homework for a specific topic and see if it changes the results drastically.
If you are a teacher:
- resist giving homework for an entire unit (or mini-unit) to see if students perform differently or
- only give homework that you’ve taken the time to create yourself.
What I do in my class:
I use a unit menu (this can be downloaded for free at Teachers Pay Teachers or on HERE – but make sure you’ve signed up to receive the password). This menu offers students choices of what they must do. I’ve changed the format multiple times to suit my students’ and my needs. Basically, for each unit, I plan out multiple assignments that will test and teach students specific topics through inquiry and students choose their path to the end. Thus, students only take work home with them if they want to because they are so fascinated by the work/content or because they have run out of class time and are not satisfied with their work. I give plenty of class time to work and present their level of understanding. However, some students are not satisfied with their level of work and choose to improve at home – again, this is their choice.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on how you implement a NO HOMEWORK classroom!
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