The Great Homework Debate

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I hardly ever give homework–besides studying/looking over notes/activities we completed in class.  I am very aware that my students have 6 other classes that require a lot of homework.  We have the agreement that if they use my time wisely, I won’t take any of their time outside of class.  Sure, high schoolers need to be challenged and prepare for college, but they still need to play.  What’s the rush to make them grow up and take away all of their free time?  Let’s allow them time to explore, relax, read for fun, take a brain break.

I know that homework can be extremely valuable for learning if it’s meaningful.  I recognize that practice is necessary for success.  I merely choose to maximize practice time in the classroom so the students aren’t overburdened outside of school.  In the LOTE classroom, it is possible to avoid homework most of the time.  We pick up where we left off the next day.  I can guarantee that most of my students will complete most activities because I am there to make sure they do.  My students don’t get zeroes unless they actually try and earn one (which sadly that happens occasionally when someone is a little lost).  If a student doesn’t do an assignment during class, they get the warning, and then if they still don’t do it, they get a detention.  Guess what we do during detention… You got it, that assignment.  Late work is a non-issue.

So where is this post coming from?  Well, if you are my Facebook friend, you know the answer.  I have a first grader who has had homework every night this week.  On Monday, we were instructed to explore his new planner together.  We spent 30 minutes on this task during which Gavin complained that he’d rather be watching TV.  Tonight, we had a scavenger hunt through the planner to find things.  I actually think the scavenger hunt is a really cute idea… FOR OLDER KIDS.  Gavin could not read the majority of the activity and is not a fast enough reader to sift through the planner to find information such as how to set up a lunch account.  Let’s be honest.  This activity was NOT for the kids.  It was to get the parents to look at the planner and find “important” information.  I tried to get Gavin to write the answers, and he got frustrated.  He couldn’t spell well enough to do most of it, so I did it. I mean, this activity was not student-focused at all; it was parent-focused.

This true life example validated my decision to limit homework.  Some homework is just busy work.  If it’s not meaningful, if it’s not going to help him improve in an area, don’t waste our time.  My husband is deployed, making me a single-mom of two kids for the year.  We don’t get home until 6 (or 7:45 on Tuesdays after dance and martial arts).  If we have to tack on some homework after we manage to finally eat dinner, please ensure it’s worth our time.

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