The Most Dreaded/Hated Word… Homework

I remember being a kid and hating hearing my mom say the word “homework.” It’s probably the worst word in the english vocabulary. Just kidding… but I’m sure some kids would agree. I never really understood the point of homework, especially in elementary school. Why must kids spend 7 hours in school learning about each subject, doing worksheets and activities, reading, taking tests, then come home and have EVEN MORE worksheets and writing activities to complete? Is it really that beneficial?

We’ve talked about stress and anxiety in schools, and I feel that homework is a huge stress-inducer. It’s a pain for parents to force their children to complete their homework, it takes away from extra curricular activity time, playing time, and family time. I remember being the happiest kid around when I received a “homework pass” in elementary school. If only those were still around in college!

A lot of educators claim that homework teaches time-management and self-discipline. Possibly, but for elementary aged kids? The National Parent Teacher Administration says that students K-2 should spend no more than 20 minutes on homework a day, and 3-6 should spend around 30-60 minutes on homework a day. However as an older sister and babysitter I can’t say that this is always the case. The third grader I babysat last semester had homework each night, but the sixth grader had over an hour worth each night. This is a lot for a 12 year old!

Let’s talk about the actual homework assignments. Often times, kids are given busy work. Worksheets with math problems that they already completed in class, reading passages with fill in the blanks, science workbooks with blanks or True/False questions, multiple choice practice quizzes, etc. How much will these sheets actually improve learning and/or test scores?

There have been many studies on the effects of homework in elementary schools and an article by DNAinfo states that “…not one of them could provide any evidence that directly links traditional homework practices with current, or even future, success.” It’s also hard to tell which of these “findings” are actually accurate though.

One elementary school in Chicago eliminated homework for kindergarteners, 1st graders, and 2nd graders. “Hamilton Elementary School principle James Gray hopes that eliminating homework will help children develop a love for learning.

It’s such a sticky topic, though, because parents and educators have such diverse opinions. Some parents say homework causes too much stress and takes valuable home time away, but some parents feel like homework is necessary for children to thrive and learn. So what if the homework was just altered to be a combination of fun and learning, rather than busy work such as worksheets?

Technology is so intertwined in today’s culture that “homework assignments” can include making videos or taking pictures. Also, creative drawing, or crafting could be an alternative to worksheets. What about reading? Students should be able to choose the books they want to read, in order to foster a love of reading.

What do you think about homework in elementary schools? Is it beneficial? Necessary? Are there better alternatives to worksheets and fill in the blank busy assignments? How can teachers incorporate what is being taught in the classroom with something fun that benefits student, teacher, and parent?

Jordan

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2 Responses to The Most Dreaded/Hated Word… Homework

  1. gabbylap says:

    I completely agree with your comments on homework and the anxiety associated with it! It’s not practical to assign students hours of homework after they’ve been in school learning for seven hours Monday-Friday. Just like you, I have a 12 year old sister and I often get phone calls from her telling me that she has three pages of math homework, an hour of reading, etc. No wonder why students have minimal focus in the classroom at times, it’s unrealistic to expect students to complete all their homework and also come to class ready to engage and learn for additional hours. I always appreciated the teachers who assigned a weekly homework assignment, and allowed students to tackle the assignment at whatever pace was necessary for them. However at the end of the day I do believe that homework is essential to solidifying what was taught in the classroom. Homework however has the ability to perpetuate the achievement gap that we often witness in schools. Students who might not receive academic support in their homes might feel exponentially more academic anxiety. I really enjoyed your post!

    Like

  2. jhelms94 says:

    Gabby,
    I agree that homework is important for practicing and solidifying what was taught in the classroom as well. However, worksheet and busy work doesn’t necessarily do that. I like the idea of a weekly assignment that students can do at their own pace as well, but students often procrastinate and wait until the due date to complete the assignment. But yes you’re right in that those who don’t receive support in their homes may struggle more and experience anxiety and I think this is a huge issue with homework!

    Like

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