My daughter came out of her bedroom 10 minutes after bedtime crying because she'd forgotten to do her homework. She's 8 and in second grade, and her teacher wants her to spend five or so minutes a night on a sheet of math problems, in addition to reading for 20 minutes. My daughter's detrimentally on top of things. Earlier this week she completed an art project that isn't due for two weeks. In other words, a polar opposite to her mom, who claims the stress of procrastination makes for better writing.
I've never told my kid to do her homework. I don't think it's good for her to have to solve math problems outside of school for the sake of school. This has been proven and talked about quite a bit lately. These articles argue that instead of homework instilling good habits by teaching students to study, it gives them another chore that holds no real academic weight or value. What needs to replace homework is time spent reading or listening to stories.
While it's easy to read a few articles and form an opinion, I thought I should find some teachers who work in the trenches and see what they think.
Their responses? Just as mixed as the experts!
"I honestly am not one that believes homework is useful," said one teacher, who taught third grade for three years.
Her thoughts were echoed by another educator who's 29 years into the job. "I believe that homework is mainly a waste of time for all parties involved before high school," the second grade teacher told SheKnows. "In high school, it depends. I had a son who didn't need homework to help him solidify the information taught to him during the day ("Why do I have to do homework... if my teachers taught it well then I wouldn't have to keep learning the same thing at home.") Whereas homework was a way for my 'social learner' of a daughter to repeat the info she was taught to help her comprehend the information better. Both children crafted their best learning style in school, not as a result of doing homework."
But other teachers are sticking with the after-school-hours school work.
"I think homework is an important extension of school," a teacher who is about to finish her first year of teaching first grade said. "Homework isn't really about right or wrong but building a strong study ethic young."
Well, my daughter certainly seems to have that. In a way I find worrisome. If only she felt that way about playing outside.
"My homework was always to go play outside," said a teacher who's taught kindergarten through second grade for a total of five years. "I encouraged reading at home, but didn't require it. And I realize I can't control what happens at home, but the optimist in me thinks that the kiddos did go outside and play. Now that I'm in second grade, I'm a bit more torn about homework. Kiddos are on such different playing fields at home. Some are already taking care of younger siblings or coming home to an empty house, others are met at the door with a snack and a hug."
She brings up an important point: that not every child goes home to the same kind of home, or a home at all. At the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, an estimated 1.4 million students were homeless, which was double the amount from 10 years ago. And the number of kids with working parents has increased, which makes homework harder on all involved.
One teacher who's spent 24 years in the classroom told us she does support homework — 20 minutes a night, but none on weekends — but says she doesn't assign projects because they end up being a burden on parents. What she does assign is a little math and a little reading, related to that day's classroom work.
"There is scientific evidence that the more a child reads, the better they become at it," one teacher with three years on the job added.
I'd argue the same point for playing outside. Kids don't need to have one activity stacked upon another after school with study time in the mix. Kids need to be bored, without a screen in front of them, and without feeling the pressure to get 30 minutes of study time in. They will have the rest of their lives to do work, but only a few precious years where their only responsibility is to play.
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