Homework: You Can’t Have it Both Ways

Lately, all over social media, I have seen parents griping about the amount of homework their children come home with daily.

Hours of worksheets, spelling and independent reading assignments.

All in the second grade.

I’ve also seen parents complaining about the lack of homework. In my own classroom, I have parents who are DEMANDING that I provide more to do after school.

You can’t have it both ways.

Look, I get it. You and I, we were raised in the era of homework. Even in elementary school, we generally had math, spelling, reading and one additional assignment (science/social studies) per night.

It seems normal to have homework.

But can everyone just STOP for a few minutes?

The evidence shows a weak connection between homework and success in the younger grades (K-6). There is a stronger link between homework and academic achievement in older grades (7-12).

So what this means, in real terms, is that saddling a child in elementary school with endless worksheets and work is not scientifically shown to be a good thing.

So what IS the best homework ratio?

Ideally, 10 minutes per grade number. Check out this chart:

hw-min%2fnight-by-grade

This should include EVERYTHING. That means all of the subjects, studying and reading. To be specific: math, reading, spelling, writing, science and social studies.

And that is what most schools today require. Some elementary schools have stopped assigning homework entirely.

Reread that last paragraph. Note, I said schools today require. As a teacher, I am REQUIRED to give your child a certain amount of homework. No matter what I assign, no one is every happy.

Teachers are tired of trying to make everyone happy.

When I try to challenge the children, the parents are pissed that there is “soo much homework.” When I make homework family friendly, parents are upset that homework is “too easy.”

Teachers just can’t win. Ever.

Seriously. I get parent emails night and day about homework. One mom wants her kid to be excused from homework because of soccer. Another dad thinks that his daughter has too much and it’s too hard. A third set of parents wants me to practically send home a workbook’s worth of paper a week.

Here’s an idea for parents on homework.

If you think your kid has too much or it’s a struggle, just stop. Email the teacher or write a note. Explain the struggle or what you noticed. Chances are, the teacher will agree with you.

Normally, I change up the homework kid by kid anyway. Some students get different problems or even totally different assignments. So if it’s too much, just ask for something a little less.

If you want MORE homework, that’s on you, quite honestly. 

Let me be frank for a moment. I plan for five subjects daily. That means hours of work per subject per day just to create meaningful lesson plans for your kids. Then I collect all of the in-class work and grade it. Next, I analyze it and adjust the plan for the next day. Oh yeah, that’s all BEFORE I even think about homework, which I also have to grade.

I also have a life outside of school that involves my own children, spouse and things I enjoy, like running and writing this blog.

So no, I don’t have the time to create additional work for your child on a nightly basis. I assign what I assign, because it follows best practice and supports the in-class learning. In school, your child is getting enriched and extended on a daily basis.

If you want more homework, check out these two articles:

Both sites give YOU, the parents, options to enrich and extend at home. For math, Khan Academy is my hands-down favorite. Students can work at their own pace and track their progress over time (and so can parents). For reading with younger kids, I adore PBS Kids Island. It’s a phonics/letters based site perfect for beginning readers.

Actually, just running through flashcards, going shopping or cooking involves math. And reading with your child is the BEST way to boost literacy skills.

Parents, you can’t have it both ways.

Either you deal with the amount of homework the teacher is giving or you supplement at home yourself.

Teachers are just following their professional training and the best teaching practices as indicated by current research. And if they think that what they are giving is adequate to help your child practice new skills at home, then it probably is.

Everything else, well, that’s on you.

~Meg

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6 thoughts on “Homework: You Can’t Have it Both Ways

  1. Love your comment that reading with your child is the best was to boost literacy skills! Good tips on using flash cards and linking life skills like cooking with class content.

    Liked by 1 person

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