Saturday, September 20, 2014

Homework OR No Homework?

School is back in full swing and the homework excuses have already begun!!! With a multi-grade level classroom of students in grades 1st - 5th, my students all have different homework assignments differentiated for each of their levels. So you can imagine my assistants and I spend quite a bit of time putting homework together each week. And the fact that only 2-3 out of my 10 students return it each day has got me thinking! 

I've always had mixed feelings on homework. I've spent many nights myself fighting with my ADHD child to get him through his homework resulting in many evenings of chaos and nothing more than a burdensome task for the whole household. Most of the time it was what I called "busy work," rather than beneficial practice for him. What I found helped him the most and provided the most positive learning experiences were the learning experiences I created for him each evening like reviewing flashcards, playing multiplication war with a deck of cards, challenging him in a spelling bee, or having him tell me the time on the analog clock several times throughout the evening. On the other hand, my daughter was quite the opposite and always whipped her homework right out every evening hardly ever needing any assistance or reminders. 

Homework can also be a burden when students are involved in after school sports or other activities. I think it is important for children to be involved in these activities and have seen children lose these privileges because they couldn't keep up on their homework.

Another issue in my community is that I live in a casino gaming community where the casinos employ a large majority of the parents. Many of the parents work the night shift and are not home in the evenings to assist their child with homework.   

While many feel that homework should be independent and not require parent assistance, many feel that it should be a time of bonding where parents can be involved with their child's education, see what their child is learning at school and talk about their child's school day! Many also feel that it teaches children responsibility.

Let's face it. Homework is a very controversial topic and has many different views in our society. Just as instruction should be differentiated, I feel homework should be differentiated as well and should not look the same for every learner. Most importantly, it should never become burdensome!!  

My friend Susan from "An Exceptional Education" was having the same homework struggles and decided that she was going to offer a No Homework Option this year for parents! I loved the idea and after getting such a poor homework return already in the first 3 weeks of school, I decided to try it! This is the letter I sent home on Thursday! Surprisingly, they are all coming back with YES checked, and yes even the ones that never turn in homework are checking yes!!

While my district recommends 10 minutes of homework each evening equal to the number of their grade level (e.g. 2nd grade-20 minutes, 3rd grade-30 minutes) they do not allow homework to count as a grade.

What is your point of view on homework? Does your district require it? 


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