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The Great Homework Debate – An Educator’s Perspective

by | Aug 8, 2018 | School

In my experience, for every parent that expresses that he/she hates homework, there is another parent requesting that the teacher sends some home. There’s also a small parent group of “in betweeners” who want homework some of the time, but not all of the time. This puts teachers in a bit of a predicament. How do you develop a homework routine filled with meaningful activities that suits every student’s, and every family’s, needs?

As a parent, I completely understand the dislike many other parents have towards homework. Our family can relate to the hustle and bustle many households face. Our family has two parents working full-time, two kids in school, and lots of extra-curricular activities that our son and daughter participate in. We do the “rush home from work, try to get in a healthy meal, race off to activities, bath and bedtime routine” on a regular basis. Throwing some homework into that mix doesn’t exactly have me singing in the streets.

I also understand the argument that after a full day in school, kids need downtime. And they need time to pursue other interests, like sports, art, and music. For these reasons, I am not a proponent of assigning large quantities of homework.

I am also not a proponent of assigning homework that can best be described as “busy work.” This is work sent home simply for the sake of sending something home. It’s not authentic or meaningful and may even be targeting a skill a child has already mastered. For example, why assign 25 math questions if a child can show you after 5 or 10 that she has it down?

Assessing homework is also a bit of a conundrum. We know that children receive varying degrees of support at home when they’re completing school work. This takes the validity out of grading it. Tracking whether kids complete their homework or not can be done objectively. Evaluating its quality becomes a challenge when we don’t know if the activity was completed independently. Therefore, teachers have to put thought into what type of homework they’re assigning and what its true purpose is.

What I am a huge proponent of is reading. Reading to children when they’re little then listening to them read as they begin acquiring the skill themselves is extremely valuable. The early texts children bring home from school only require a few minutes for them to read. And developing a routine of snuggling up and reading together before bedtime is a valuable activity that most families can fit into their schedules.

I also understand the need for extra practice at times. If my children were struggling with a skill and their teachers asked me to provide some extra support at home, I would be all over it.

As my children get older, homework requirements are going to change. As they pass through the grades, their workload will increase. This is okay to me because they need to be prepared for the demands of higher education. Having to complete work at home is a reality for many people, myself included. Developing a work ethic, adhering to deadlines, and taking pride in their work are values I definitely want my children learning.

But for now, they’re 8 and 11, so if their teachers want to go lightly on the homework this year, I’m game.

Written by: Erin Agnello

Edited & Designed by: Jamie Schmalenberger

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John Haber
John Haber

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.