Starting today, Picture Book Parenting (www.Picturebookparenting.com) is going to get real. I am going to post responses to real situations that are happening in today’s world of parenting – situations we are reading and hearing about in magazines, on TV, and across the Internet. These posts will be called “Parenting Today.”
“Parenting Today” posts will apply the many parenting ideas that our readers and followers have been reading over the years at this site. And, this is a good time to mention that what you have been reading over the years on this site have also been read in over 50 other countries – just over half of all the countries in the world. I am so happy that there are parents everywhere, just like you, who want to be the best parents they can be.
Today’s “Parenting Today” post is inspired by an article published in a Good Housekeeping Blog (August 24, 2016). Good Housekeeping picked up the story from a posting on Facebook by Samantha Gallagher of Fort Worth, Texas.
Samantha’s daughter brought home a letter from school that said her teacher would not be assigning any homework this year. The teacher explained that homework would only be for completing work that was not completed in the classroom that day.
The teacher went on to say that research does not show that homework improves student performance. And, she suggested that students would be better off to spend their evenings doing things that can improve performance – having family dinners, playing outside, reading, and getting to bed at a reasonable time.
I both agree and disagree with this homework policy.
I agree with no homework for elementary and middle school students. I disagree with no homework for high school students (if it is the type of homework I describe below).
Six reasons why a no-homework policy for younger students works.
- When kids are doing homework at home, too often their parents are doing it for them. I’ve been there. I know how hard it is to be helpful, but not too helpful.
- Research shows that child abuse (physical and verbal) goes up at report card times. It is reasonable to expect that it also goes up when homework reaches high volumes (when many teachers give homework at the same time) or when big school projects come due.
- When kids do all their work at school, it becomes truly theirs and theirs alone, which can lead to the child feeling more responsibility for it.
- Homework is usually about practicing skills. Some parents want to help teach their children their mathematics, grammar, and scientific understanding by working on their homework with them. But, there are many other ways that parents can “teach” their children, and children can practice their skills in many ways other than homework. Parents can bring out the mathematics, language, and science that is part of everyday family activities. Math exists in sports and games. Parents can teach the statistics involved in sports or games their children like. There is science in cooking and legos. Parents can teach the physics of a lego structure. Language can be practiced many ways. Children can make a proposal for a vacation they want to take. They can write a letter to a friend who has left the neighborhood.
Four reasons why a no-homework policy for older students does not work. (See below what I mean by homework.)
- High School is a time for students to focus on growing up. Homework requires a growing maturity in students to see that it is done and to balance other things in their lives with the requirements of getting it done.
- High School is a time for students to focus on how what they do now in school will affect the rest of their lives (simple cause and effect). Homework can add a level of importance and real life to schoolwork.
- High School should be considered like a student’s “work.” All work requires homework, whether it is producing something (writing a letter, fixing a tool, or preparing for the next day’s meeting) or at a minimum thinking about how to solve a problem.
- High School students should develop and demonstrate a work ethic. Homework provides practice at taking responsibility, practice at taking charge, sticking with things until the end, managing time, and producing a quality product.
What I mean by homework at the high school level: Homework assignments should be application-based and truly extensions of learning. Homework should not just be the practice of a skill that students are learning in the classroom and should not be just busy work. Homework should be application projects. Students should apply what they are learning in the classroom to things that they are personally interested in. For example, writing about a sport they participate in, making a proposal to improve something at school they disagree with, or creating a product they think will solve a problem.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Please use our comment section to let us know your thoughts.
For learning more about your children and yourself as a parent:
SELF-ESTEEM A FAMILY AFFAIR, Jean Illsley Clarke
GROWING UP AGAIN: PARENTING OURSELVES, PARENTING OUR CHILDREN, Jean Illsley Clarke and Connie Dawson