Homework is Hell!

April 3, 2008

smurfs_posters_homework_gives_me_a_rash.jpgI recently read an article on the relationship between homework, kids and parents. The article focused on homework for elementary school level kids. This was of great interest to me with a child in grade one and another two entering school in the next couple of years.

Homework is hell! From my perspective and the kids. Damian, my six-year old, sits in school all day and hates that, then he has to sit still and do homework in the evening. That makes about as much sense as a screen-door in a submersible.

The boy wants one thing when he arrives home from school. That’s to hit the streets and play with his buddies. Forcing him to do homework, unless he is really motored-down, is akin to peeing in a windstorm. It’s the one thing I can count on to start a big battle between us. He gets angry at me, and I get stressed and angry at him. Great father-son time for sure. Not!

My solution has been not force him to do more than 10 minutes at a time, and then only later in the evening just before bed. I let him play because he needs to have a childhood. In addition to homework I always read a couple of books to him every night before bed. He loves this time with me and refuses to let me miss a night. Lately I’ve gotten him to read some short books to me before I read to him. His sisters, the four-year old twins, also get storytime from Dad every night before bed. I strongly encourage parents to make this part of the routine. It pays off in the long run and it’s excellent parent-child bonding time.

My wife is a teacher. She also believes that too much homework is counterproductive in most cases. This year she is teaching ECS (kindergarten) and homework is never sent home for these students. Grade one is slightly different. Home reading and word spelling lists are a necessity to develop reading skills; however even this shouldn’t become a heavy load on the child.

The article quotes one parent as saying, “educators claim homework projects teach children about co-operation, delegation and time management.” I agree with that. The projects get delegated to the parents. The kids learn to let the parents do it, then they have more time for play. The only co-operation is between mom and dad to complete the project or assignment for the child. The child learns to just pass the buck. Great lesson isn’t it?

This article quoted Vera Goodman, a retired teacher, and author of “Simply Too Much Homework! What Can We Do?” who says, “those hours [that families] have in the evenings should be spent building relationships, not fighting over homework.”

Some observations on the institution of homework,
1. It’s the number one reason children hate school.
2. It’s the main flashpoint for conflict between parents and their children.
3. I hated it when I was in school and I hate in now.
4. It’s one of main causes of stress in parents.

If you think you child is receiving too much homework, push back. Talk to the teacher and if necessary the principal to find out the rationale. If you don’t agree with the explanation make your own rules.

Further Reading:
“The Homework Question” by Amber Bowerman, AvenueCalgary.com, April 2008, pp. 66-72
“Simply Too Much Homework! What Can We Do?” by Vera Goodman, Rod Chapman and Elizabeth Collins Oman, Reading Wings Inc., January 2007

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