Kids around the country, mine included, will begin the new school year within one month. While that brings freshly sharpened pencils and new book bags, it also means the return of an unpopular “friend”… homework.
After spending 6+ hours at school, having to come home to do even more school work is typically the last thing my kids want to do when they get home. They want to play, watch TV and just relax. I honestly can’t blame them!
Some nights homework is a breeze; other nights the struggle is real. That’s especially the case when my oldest daughter doesn’t understand a math problem and asks me for help. I show her “my” way of getting the answer and she argues that I’m doing it wrong when in the end “her” way and “my” way will get the same correct answer. That’s all due to the “new” way of doing math, but that’s another topic for another day!
Many educators and parents have been asking recently if homework should still be given. The general “rule” supported by the National Education Association and the National PTA is 10 minutes of homework for every grade level. So, 1st graders should get 10 minutes, 2nd graders should get 20 minutes, and so on.
But some argue that’s even too much. They say there should be no homework at all. The argument is that kids should be able to come home, take part in their extracurricular activities, spend time with their families and get a good night’s sleep. Some school districts from Florida to Massachusetts have actually banned it altogether. Instead, they tell students to read each night. They based their decision on research showing that reading to a child actually has a more positive effect. Researchers found that kids who were given homework did not get better grades than those who did not get homework.
Still, many teachers assign homework because – isn’t that what they’re supposed to do? Kids have gotten homework for years, so why stop now? Many teachers believe it reinforces the lessons taught in school and gives parents a look at what their children are learning.
Should teachers still give homework?
As with anything else, I think there should be a common ground. From my experience of having a soon-to-be 2nd grader and 4th grader, I don’t see the benefits of having them do worksheets every night after they’ve done so many at school. If teachers want to ensure that the parents are seeing the workload, then maybe just 1 or 2 nights of homework would suffice. I don’t know. I’m not a professional; just a mom who sometimes finds 3rd grade math difficult!
While the traditional worksheet is a toss-up, I do LOVE the idea of telling kids to read every night. My children are instructed to do so and it works! They read what they like and they can read before bed as a way to calm down. Some teachers even have the kids keep reading logs so they can keep track of what they’re reading and for how long. In my opinion, this is a great alternative. I think the benefits of reading far outweigh the benefits of doing a worksheet.
Regardless, when those worksheets come home, the rule in the house is to get them done as soon as they walk in the door. My kids snack and do their homework so they have the rest of the afternoon and evening free. Some parents do it in the reverse; using the end of the day to rewind and recap on their school work. I’ve found that by that time my kids are fried and it becomes even more of a struggle!
I’m sure as this new school year kicks into high gear so will the homework debate. What’s your opinion? Continue the worksheets, just stick to nightly reading, or do you have a different approach? Let us know in the comments section below!
Written by: Kristina Cappetta
Edit, Design, & Graphics by: Jamie Schmalenberger
My name is John Haber. I’m a Pediatric Occupational Therapist and the founder of Nogginsland. I became a COTA in 2003, and then went back to school much later, receiving my Master’s Degree in OT from Mercy College in New York in 2016.
Over the years, I’ve worked with a variety of populations in different settings, from school districts, to developmental disability centers, to children’s hospitals.