Should Kids Suffer Through Homework?

Should your child have to endure homework? Should your child have to spend 10-20 minutes a night practicing what they learned in class that day? Does it do anything?

That’s the question that stems from this news story out of Philadelphia.

For decades, homework’s value has been hotly debated.

But now a growing legion of critics say the notion that America can close the learning gap with China or India by stuffing kids’ backpacks with math worksheets as early as kindergarten is backfiring – creating a nation of stressed-out, sleep-deprived children, despite scant scientific evidence they are actually learning more from the reams of homework.

Some school administrators are starting to listen. Radnor School District has unveiled a policy stating that homework shouldn’t “interfere with the student’s health and wellbeing.”

Several New Jersey districts, including Princeton Public Schools and the West Windsor-Plainsboro School District, are experimenting with banning take-home assignments on designated nights or weekends and school vacations.

As a teacher, my feelings are a bit mixed here. I personally don’t assign traditional homework. My students are supposed to read for 15-20 minutes a night in their independent reading books – books they select on their own for the purpose of increasing their reading comprehension skills. Because I work at a STEM-oriented school, however, I try not to assign traditional homework because I know my kids are going to be bogged down with homework from those classes.

Does that mean all homework should be eliminated? Not necessarily. Homework should have a point. It needs to lead to something. That’s what gets lost in a lot of these education conversations. What is the point of doing whatever it is we’re doing? More importantly, how does it tie back into the lesson of the day?

It’s no different than any other job. My job as a teacher doesn’t end at the final bell. Many of you have jobs that don’t end when you clock out. There’s always something more that needs to be done. The millennial generation and younger don’t have that mentality. Everything is compartmentalized and you only need to do the bare minimum. Going above and beyond involves extra effort, and why bother?

The goal of education is to improve our children’s ability to think and act in the real world. Therefore, teachers have to make best use of their time and their students’ time, and if that means there’s homework, then it had better effectively tie in to the lesson of the day. On the other hand, parents can and should advocate for their children, but they need to realize where advocacy ends and helicopter parenting begins.