Tuesday, March 8, 2011

No Homework. Period.

I have been instructing my children at home for over a year and I still get the question if my girls have homework.  How do I explain to those who ask about the homework issue, or lack thereof?
In schools teachers have a class of at least 20 children.  They move fast in order cover a plethora of topics in an allotted 180 days.  They have a pretty good idea which children have grasped a concept and which ones have not.  To make sure the ones who are on the fence or need more time with a concept comprehend it, homework is given.  It is too bad for the ones who already came to class understanding the concept at hand, because they will also have to do the work.   The ones who walk out out of the building at the end of the day without a clue how to do the work will struggle at home. The responsibility then shifts to the parents who have to fight the homework fight to a) get it done and b) get it done correctly.
From our Government’s website:
Homework can help students learn and can help parents be involved in their children's education. When parents show an interest in their child's schoolwork, they teach an important lesson--that learning is fun and worth the effort.

Children who do more homework, on average, do better in school. And, as children move up through the grades, homework becomes even more important to school success.

Teachers assign homework for many reasons. It can help children

  • practice what they have learned in school;
  • get ready for the next day's class;
  • use resources, such as libraries and encyclopedias; and
  • learn things they don't have time to learn in school.
  • Homework can also help children learn good habits and attitudes. It can teach children to work by themselves and encourage discipline and responsibility.
Duke Study: Homework Helps Students Succeed in School, As Long as There Isn't Too Much
Duke University researchers have reviewed more than 60 research studies on homework between 1987 and 2003 and concluded that homework does have a positive effect on student achievement.
Cooper is the lead author; Jorgianne Civey Robinson, a Ph.D. student in psychology, and Erika Patall, a graduate student in psychology, are co-authors. The research was supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

While it’s clear that homework is a critical part of the learning process, Cooper said the analysis also showed that too much homework can be counter-productive for students at all levels.
This article from Duke went on to recommend that teachers stick to the 10 minute rule, the rule that was adhered to when I was a teacher, 10 minutes max per grade level, starting in 1st grade.  A second grader should have no more than 20 minutes of homework TOTAL in order to get caught up on the things he or she did not have time to learn in school.  
Do you know how much homework my second grader had last year before we withdrew her from school?  Easily over 60 minutes every night.  Add up the 20 minutes reading with reading lot, math, social studies and spelling lists and there you go!   How could all this possibly be done in 20 minutes?  This past vacation, I was told by my neighbors that their children received homework vacation, something that generally was not done in our town before 5th grade.   This year for the first time homework is also being given out during CMT testing.  Children in our district also receive a welcome to summer homework packet consisting of at least 15 pages of math and a minimum of 3 book reports.  For what?  Our test scores are not improving with all this homework!
What is happening is that children are turned off of learning.  My girls did not want to do these packets.  We did them the first day of vacation, after school while they were still in school mode.  Done.  Put away.  Never to be thought of again.  Over the summer we did reports on books we already read so that reading can be enjoyable and not a burden.  We found ways to get it done with minimal effort.  Sad, but true.  
So back to learning at home (notice how I am trying to get away from the term homeschooling??), why should my children get thirty and fifty minutes of busy work when we just spent that much time one on one?  My girls do not sit in a class of 20 or 25 or heaven forbid the max of 28.  When they do math, I sit next to them answering each question without them raising their hand, waiting, hoping to get an answer.  They do not move on confused, uncertain of how to solve a problem.  Their math program will not allow it, nor would I.  We work in the comfort of our home and when their reach their frustration limit (which hardly ever happens) we pause and regroup when they are ready.  Grace has been able to learn 47% of her program in three months.  How many children in public schools finish their math texts in 10 months?  I have never seen it happen.
So no.  I do not feel the need for homework now.  Perhaps when they are in high school they will naturally have to do homework.  One girl we know who learned at home until high school.  She explained to me that the transition to school was simple.  Never did she say “oh I had a tough time learning to do homework!”   If my girls are still home in high school, and hopefully they will be, they may take classes at a community college or online.  There will be homework associated with that.  However, I don’t feel the need to prepare them.  I feel confident that if they need to read a chapter in a week they will.  If they need to write an essay, they will.  As they grow, their requirements for learning grow with them.  For now their requirements do not necessitate homework.  Period.


Theresa said...

Thank you. Thank you. I needed this reminder of yet another reason why school was so stressful. I have a problem with homework being a means to "learn things they don't have time to learn in school." We had many examples of that (sometimes with a note from the teacher photocopied on top telling parents to look it up online, she didn't have time for it) -- I always hoped I was giving the girls the right info when we did that.

In a complete twist, A wants homework on Wednesdays bc her best friend from school hangs out at the library with her and they do homework. Last week I borrowed the assignment from you: write about whether you want to live in Athens or Sparta. Not sure what I will assign tomorrow!

Marcie said...

I thought since school is at home, all their work was "home" work???


Ritsumei said...

Oh yeah, I am SO with you on the no homework thing! Those poor kids are in school for just about 8 hours (more if they bus a long way), and then they're supposed to do OVERTIME?? No. And especially not little kids. It's ridiculous. And it takes over the whole family's evening: school doesn't just stay at school, it comes home and ruins the evening of so many families I know. They spend it tense and frustrated, fighting over homework. Yuck. No homework has become one of the things I love about homeschool. Our education works for us, it doesn't take over our lives like some sort of ugly hydra-beast!

Karen said...

I get asked this question too. It always amuses me. Homework? Umm no.

I do, occasionally give her assignments on Monday to be 'turned' in Friday. I think meeting deadlines is an important skill for her to have. To tell the truth, she isn't great about doing it, but we are working on it.

Andrea said...

So I see you everywhere I go, and thought I should come see what you were saying these days, and what a lovely post I stumbled across. Now I am going to read about why you are not using the term homeschooling, hmmm, can't wait to find out:)

musicalmary said...

Hi ~ thanks for the comment at my blog. I use the iPad mainly for web browsing, playing music, and reading books. The kids use it for a variety of apps, watching Netflix streaming videos for school and also for reading books. We just have an iMac, so buying the iPad was in lieu of a laptop. I love the iPad because it is portable and just so stinkin' cool. (what a reason, huh?) We have the keyboard attachment, so it functions just like a laptop. The new iPads are so cool because you can hook them to your television and they have two sided cameras!

We are just a Mac house - my husband and I each have iPhones, too. My daughter would like a Kindle or Nook for her birthday and I think she just may get it. My husband is an software developer so we always have the latest gadgets... good and bad I guess. My kids have a little more technology than I would like.

I don't know if I helped you any, did I?


Monica said...

During the past couple days, I have seen my sister help her son with his homework. I can't help but think that we do the same thing with our kids, except he has to waste five days per week from 8:00 to 2:00 in addition to the homework. My girls only have to do their homework, and that's it. We are done for the day. By the way, that is what we call our learning at home: it is our homework.

Missing you guys!

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