Your Homework For Tonight Is...

I have always had mixed feeling about homework. I never liked it as a child because I felt it was always busy work and I wanted to play and do other things. I didn't do much homework when I was in high school because I was too busy. I had friends to be with, fun to have, and high school was a place I went everyday to be with friends. The education was more of a by product of my social life. As a teacher I can see the benefits of having homework but we need to rethink how it should be done and why we need it. If it is not needed then it should not be handed out just to have it done. Busy work was never something I wanted to do... Unless I had to get something done during class then I gave the students something to enjoy. Killing them with work just makes them hate to work.

When students get home from school they need to have time to do other things if they want. They need to spend time with their family and friends. They need to participate in extra-curricular activities if they so choose. They need to have time to relax and do kids work(play). They need to explore, run, build their interests, research, build their talents, or do what they need to do for their family.

Homework can take away from these activities and make it harder at home for the student and the parent. Then there is the issue of the parents not understanding what needs to be done. When the student does not know how to do the homework the parents might have the same problem. There needs to be a safety net for the parents to either be able to do the math we teaching or we need to make sure the child knows how to do it.

So what do we do? We need to do a few things.
- There has to be a reason for the homework. We can't just send home a page because it is the next one to do. If the child needs to practice then send home a couple practice problems. There is no need for a big page of drill and kill. A few problems will help the student and the parent know the work and the. Have time to do other things.
- The safety net for my team is the parent signature. If the student cannot do the work and they give it an honest try, they are supposed to ask a parent to help them. If the parent does not understand what is too be done they sign he homework and write a small note saying that they tried. The teachers will see that and know that they tried. Safety in not understanding and yet they tried to get it done he best that they could.
- Homework should not take very long to complete. There should not be a hundred problems to do each night. 6-10 problems a night for math, 30 minutes of reading is more than enough for each child. If there is language or writing. The problem and time limit should be the same. Writing for 30 minutes and no more than 6-10 problems.
- 5 minutes of work for each grade level. (2nd grade=10 minutes of homework) I have not considered reading homework. We should be reading everyday and so that does not count for me unless I have a specific book a student needs to read for a specific reason. Take home library books are homework. They are sent home for the student to read and the student has no say in which book they get. That is not fun, that is homework.

Homework should have a meaning and an understanding to the student that they need it to be successful. We all need to see a need to do something. They might never see the need but it should be explained to them and they should know that it is important even if they do not like it.

    Homework is not a bad thing, it just needs to be managed wisely so we help students and parents learn what we want them to know and not learn to hate education.

    No comments: