Parents, who have a child in a public, independent or private school, are actually home-schooling. They pull a second shift at home teaching their child under the euphemism of “homework” whether they wish to or not. Some parents are satisfied, saying “I buy into the whole school concept and homework is part of the package” and other parents are opposed, saying “I don’t tell the school how to run their classrooms, so they shouldn’t tell me what to do in my home.” Homework should be optional (not marked) for all parents. It’s simply provided for enriched learning if the parent chooses. The families who value homework can take it home to battle it out with their child and the parents that don’t value it will not have their child berated, failed and singled out in class for not turning it in.
For parents who wish to say “No”, here are ten good reasons to back up your stance:
1. Research has shown that homework is no value academically to most children before high school and there is a very slight correlation between homework and high school marks. It’s still not clear if academics who get great marks love homework or if homework helps the marks of academics.
2. Research also shows that children learn self-discipline, work ethic, and responsibility at home. Children eight and up can set their alarms, make breakfast and lunch, gather their books and make it to the bus all the while learning self-discipline and responsibility. Older children who have jobs, volunteer commitments and chores also learn a work ethic, especially useful for university years. They don’t need the added pressure of mind-numbing homework to teach them those skills.
3. Evenings are precious. At a time of cutbacks in education for arts, sports and clubs, parents seek those opportunities in the community after school hours. Stress reigns when extra-curricular activities compete with homework.
4. Parents and children should not pay for the school systems inefficiency. If high school homeschoolers can wade through the entire curriculum in 2.5 hours per day (with no homework), then the school needs to overhaul the entire delivery model where a child has to endure six hours per day in school and another three at night. We don’t want to raise workaholics, yet we support it. No adult likes to work eight hours in the office and bring home three more.
5. Children need downtime and a balanced life, just like adults. In addition to family social time, rituals and celebrations, volunteering, community activities, friends outside school, jobs, lessons, sports, church and clubs, children need time to do absolutely nothing. No agenda. Their brains don’t need more skill-drills, but rather opportunities to be creative, critical and curious problem-solvers. Unstructured, spontaneous, child-led play is what every child deserves. Real learning happens when children have time to reflect, question, and process what their day has unfolded. Ask any adult where they get their best ideas and it’s usually during downtime activities like sitting in traffic or taking a shower.
6. Children are natural learners. Homework worksheets and lame projects teach children to hate learning when they already know the concept. For a child that is struggling, more of the same is not beneficial. The parents’ knowledge of that child’s strengths and weaknesses allows them to provide meaningful activities to strengthen the concepts learned in school. For a child struggling with fractions, an evening baking with Dad will help more than a worksheet. Choice in supplementary learning must be with the parents.
7. Parents are unwillingly thrown into the role of homework enforcer of someone else’s agenda often to the detriment of a carefully built relationship with their child. If the school insists on marked homework, they should deal entirely with a child’s reluctance not to do it on their own time. Parents who value homework can facilitate it by providing time, place and supplies. Parents who disagree with homework can opt out. A parent’s authenticity to their convictions is a much more powerful lesson to their child then being bullied into a value they don’t hold. They shouldn’t have to ruin their parent-child relationship by being forced to monitor, threaten, bribe and punish their child to enforce unrealistic expectations.
8. Research shows that many parents do their child’s homework. Who is that benefiting?
9. Teachers can use observation, exams and in-class assignments rather than homework to assess grades.
10. If school is truly a partnership between student, teacher and parent, then the schools homework policy should be a beneficial fit by a family homework policy which is created out of respectful conversations between parents and school. Schools which dictate a school homework policy with no input from parents is a dictatorship, not a partnership. It’s important to set boundaries for the responsibilities and expectations for each institution – family and school. Vocal parents push for homework, and other parents shouldn’t succumb to peer pressure! The schools need to hear from the “No” side too.
No one can stop a child from learning and no one can force a child to learn. As parents, we need to question the benefit of homework for our entire families and speak up if when it doesn’t fit.