Just say “no!” to homework

After hearing my students complain about how much homework they have already on day 1, I feel it’s time to propose a revolutionary idea: say “no” to homework!  Yes, teachers, I’m talking to you.  Don’t assign homework!  Use your class time effectively, evaluate every activity and if it’s not worth taking class time to do it, then it probably isn’t worth doing at home either.

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I am on both sides of the classroom.  I’m a teacher and I’m a parent to a student.  My son had more homework in 1st grade than I gave out in high school Spanish 2 and 3 last year.  That’s absurd!  The only homework that I felt was valuable to my first grader was the required reading time.  He was allowed to choose the book, thus making it enjoyable for him, and I watched him grow exponentially as a reader in the first month.  Beyond that, utilize the time in school.

In an ideal situation, homework may not be that bad if every child got home from school when school dismissed–though research disagrees by saying it is detrimental at the elementary level and questionable at secondary.  My child’s school ends at 2:45.  My contract hours end at 4:30, but let’s be honest, it’s next to impossible to leave then.  This year, my husband is home from Afghanistan so we are not a single-parent household.  When we were, even if I left at 4:30, I had to pick up 2 kids at 2 different places and drive home.  We would be home at the absolute earliest at 5:30.  Then we’d have to fix dinner, eat, bathe, and find time to do homework.  My then 6-year-old would fall asleep on his own around 7pm from exhaustion.  Thankfully, he did most of his written homework at the after school care, but we still had to fit in reading (our commute was 20 minutes so he often read in the car in the mornings with me updating his time in his planner in the carpool lane).

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Students are in school all day long, and then we send them home to do more work without the teacher present.  Do you like to go home and do work?  I sure don’t, and I do my best to get as much work done before leaving as possible.

So, now I challenge you to rethink what you are doing in class, but especially what you are sending home.  If it’s not worth class time, it’s probably not worth home time either. Use it as a classroom management tool as well.  When it looks like it may be a challenge to get through everything we need to, I tell the students, “Here’s what we must accomplish today, whatever doesn’t happen, has to go home with you.”  All it takes is 1 time to be the only class that didn’t finish for the students to make sure to stay on task each subsequent time.

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Trust me, students and parents will thank you.  I didn’t think it was possible, but I’m on my 6th year of no homework and my students succeed every single year.

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Comments

  1. I rebelled against homework at an early age. As an undiagnosed ADD dyslexic, all it did was made me feel stupid. So I just said no. The classes weren’t that hard and I’d do the reading. But I wasn’t about to do any math or French. No one wanted me a second time, so I surfed along from grade to grade with low but passing grades. My senior year, Col. Walker, who taught us economics and Problems of American Democracy (an anti-communism course with a text written by J. Edgar Hoover), called my bluff the day before my not-yet-begun research paper was due. I pulled my first all-nighter and turned in a poorly written paper that allowed me to graduate.

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