As is the case with most educational issues, the pendulum swings back and forth on the topic of homework. A recent note from a 2nd Grade teacher in Texas went viral on Facebook. In her note she explains that her new homework policy is to not assign homework; rather, she asks families to spend time together eating, playing, and reading. She also says that research has not been able to support the importance of homework as it relates to student performance. She received widespread support for her gutsy move.
While I do believe that homework, for the sake of homework, is often busywork and therefore, does not enhance a student’s learning, I have to disagree with the masses (at least the masses on social media) by supporting homework. Let me qualify my statement by explaining that research, published in the American Psychological Association’s Monitor on Psychology, in fact, has shown that QUALITY ASSIGNMENTS MATTER. A general rule of thumb is the “10-minute rule” for younger students, per grade level, meaning 10 minutes for 1st Graders, 20 minutes for 2nd Graders, etc. Researchers also agree that too much homework does indeed take away from down time, family time, and leisure activities.
All children need time to play, to use their imaginations, and to de-stress. After all, they are at school all day! Often, large amounts of homework contribute to parents’ stress, as well. I know I have spent many an evening fighting with my children about their homework – and by the time they are finished, nobody is in the mood for “family time”.
What’s my point? A limited amount of homework has its benefits: 1) students have a chance to practice what they have learned at school, such as solving math equations or spelling words, 2) parents get an opportunity to see what their children have been learning, and 3) children begin learning responsibility, time management, and organizational skills.
If your child is struggling with homework, please speak with the teachers. Homework should not be a cause of family stress. Use homework time to talk to your child about his or her day, and to offer support. When you’re finished, please do enjoy eating, playing, and reading together!