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?