Sunday, January 9, 2011


1. schoolwork assigned to be done outside the classroom

Want a good reason to homeschool?  Here's a big one:  no homework.  I'm not sure who detests homework more - me or my children.  Actually, I will confess right now that I hate homework far more than my children do.  They don't like it, but they accept it as a part of life.  My dislike of it has really grown this year, as I've seen firsthand what life is like when one child almost never has homework.  (I say "almost" because there have been one or two times when A has not completed her work during the day and I've insisted she do it after school hours.)  Homeschooling A has given me a glimpse of what life could be like if none of my children had homework.

I'm not a lazy parent.  I don't dislike homework because it requires something of me.  I understand that homework can be used to reinforce important new concepts presented in the classroom.  I do think it is sometimes used as busy work.  But here's my biggest complaint about it: I don't like that it takes my children away from me when they finally get home from school.

It's somewhat ironic that I now hate homework since when I was young, my brother argued that I actually liked homework.  As best I recall, my mother laughingly replied that I didn't like it, I just did it quickly to get it over with.  But I will admit that while I rarely looked forward to homework, I didn't mind it.  I enjoyed school, since it was a place where I was successful.  Luckily, my daughters are more well-rounded and have more varied interests than I did.  So there are many ways they would rather spend their time other than homework.

Here's how I'd like for our afternoons to work:  A gets snack ready for her sisters, who come home, change clothes and then alternate between playing, reading and practicing the piano (with a break now and then to drive someone to dance class).  Instead, my afternoons are a combination of reminding B to do her homework, helping K do her homework, driving A to dance and getting dinner ready.  And here's the thing: B gets very little out of homework.  She has to do a reading log every night.  Great.  She reads at least three books weekly, often far more than that.  I can understand encouraging children to read and that a reading log might motivate some to read more and/or more closely.  But this child really doesn't need that.

Of my three children, K probably needs homework the most.  She needs that bit of reinforcement for new concepts.  But because her homework most often requires side by side parent help, if she has homework on a busy night, it simply does not get done.  How to best address this?  What would probably be ideal from a parenting standpoint is to have a customized plan for K's homework that is heavy on reading and requires no more than two nights of work weekly.  I could then manage reinforcing key concepts with our family's schedule.  From a teacher standpoint, that's entirely unrealistic.  I understand that.  I still hate homework.

Maybe the solution is to limit homework, encourage reading, but have monthly or bi-monthly projects to be completed at home.  A never enjoyed projects very much, but I have seen B take ownership and learn a great deal from a science project on butterflies, a moon phases project and more.  Could this be incorporated for first graders without parents going into performance overdrive and completing the project themselves?  I'm not sure.  Maybe I'm the problem here and I should just accept homework as a way of life for the next eleven years.

I started writing this post a few days ago, then was waylaid with sickness and an eleven year old's birthday party.  But I decided to go ahead and finish my thoughts on homework even after the news we received Saturday that A and B did not get into either of the schools that we applied to via our county's lottery system.  This means I'll only have homework to manage for one child next year since I'll be homeschooling both A and B (who will be in 6th and 5th grades, respectively).  I was quick to point this out to B, who was disappointed not to have the opportunity to attend the magnet middle school.  She replied that it will all be homework since she'll be doing it from home.  But I'm betting she won't miss homework at all.  In fact, she'll probably delight in spending her afternoons reading and playing.  I know it will delight me.


Troop983 said...

Speaking from a home that contained no homework for five years and suddenly we've had homework this year, I'm going to agree whole-heartedly with your sentiments. I've been spoiled with planning school work and projects around our family's schedule. That means no huge projects right after or before a trip, or when we have other important projects at our house. I also don't like projects assigned by teachers who don't actually walk the student through the steps of the project. They just say, "Okay, here's what you have to do, go work on it at home." And then I teach the concepts on top of my one agenda. Okay, now I've vented.

Allison in TX said...

Agree, agree, agree.