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Homework-Burning Parties: Yay or Nay?

Jenn is perhaps best known as the author of the popular parenting blog Breed ‘Em and Weep (2005-2012). She’s written for many magazines, newspapers and websites, including Brain, Child Magazine, Literary Mama, and The Boston Globe. Jenn’...

Do homework-burning parties deliver a bad message to our kids?

Oh, parenthood. There's never a shortage of things to overthink to death. The latest on that list? Homework-burning parties.

Haven't attended one? No problem; we've got the scoop. As one mom, Katherine Stahl, explained it, "Apparently, it's when a group of kids and parents get together, make a big fire, throw in all of their old homework from the year and watch it burn, Lord of the Flies-style (minus the cannibalism, of course)."

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Stahl is not a fan of homework burning. Her take? We're teaching kids to devalue the hard work they've completed all year. Fair enough.

But plenty of moms on social media have posted about their homework-burning parties with hashtags like #BestIdea and #SoRelieving.

I would add the hashtags #MomJoy and #HellYeah.

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While I respect Stahl's take on homework-burning — and her decision that it's not the right way to celebrate summer's launch, for her family — I personally keep coming back to the same reaction: Weeeee!!!! Light it all! Torch everything! Make it go awaaaaaaaay! Bye-bye, pre-calc and geometry and constitutional history!

My kids are older — teens, to be exact. So I have endured many, many more years of school's-out homework dumped unceremoniously on the dining room table. And have transferred the dumpage into the recycling for far too many years. Which was satisfying, but not a fun family excuse for celebration — or s'mores.

For my kids, that homework ceased to exist the minute they tossed it onto the table. In fact, for them, it ceased to exist the minute they handed it in. This homework is dead to them, people, so why should I try to make it something it's not? They made it through the year — I'm not signing up to be the buzzkill mom to give an after-the-fact lecture on the merits of reviewing (and saying reverent eulogies) to the Macbeth project everyone in the household is frankly delighted to bid adieu.

Nope, I feel no compunction to revisit it with them. I'm just not interested in precious-izing their year's work (or mine). Anyway, I'm more sick of homework than they are. (I'm the mom ready to move to Finland and ditch homework altogether. Yeah, that mom.)

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And I don't think there's a terrible message in firing up the year's homework. In fact, I rather like the idea of releasing all that knowledge back into the universe with the kids. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, Langston Hughes paper to... roaring marshmallow-toasting flames. It's poetic and tasty.

If you ask me, life is too short to overthink your way out of a bonfire and s'mores with the kids, no matter what the kindling may be.

Or in teenspeak? This mom thinks homework-burning parties are lit. Carry on, homework burners! I'll bring the matches.

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