Sunday, November 18, 2012

To give homework or not to give homework?

Being a first time blogger this whole homework thing seems like a great idea!  Really why am I doing this blog?  Well I'm doing this for homework! Kind of ironic isn't it? When I first signed up for this class I thought long and hard about how I currently assign work before I even started reading our book. I immediately cut some math papers in half. For two reasons really number one grading papers is for the birds, and number two if they can master the concept in 20 questions, why am I giving them 40???

I was raised with the idea that homework helps you learn! If you want to do well in school, you need to do your homework!  Well, that was 15+ years ago!  Unfortunately times have changed. Homework, school, and our whole society has changed, or at least the ideas of society have changed and everyone in the school world is trying to figure out how keep up!  As teachers whether we are in the elementary classroom or the high school classroom we feel homework extends learning beyond the classroom and we believe it sparks learning at home....... Heck my 8 year old just asked me what I was doing for my homework and when I told him writing a paper on why I think homework is important.  He told  me what I should write, "I think homework is good because it helps me learn at home".  Isn't this why we HOPE kids do homework?  In my little dream world every night I give homework the whole family sits around and helps with homework and the little kids in the family are sitting at the table too pretending to do homework like big brother or sister. While the whole time both parents can help with their assignments and the Internet is working for their research paper they need to finish finding information on, the poster they need to glue pictures on isn't wrinkled from the ride home in the backpack, and mom brings a snack to the table while the student is doing their homework and gives them a kiss on the head! Isn't that what we all see happening?  Oh wait, let's bring this back to 2012, mom just got done with a long day at work, supper is burning, the dog just spilled his water bowl while chasing the cat around the kitchen, the younger child is screaming because he slipped and fell in the water, the phone is ringing, the Internet is down, and the one you want to being doing their homework snuck away from the table in tears because its too noisy and he just wants to play his DS. This hasn't exactly happened at my house because we don't have a dog, but its pretty close to the norm in most homes.

How do we expect kids to finish their work successfully when everyday they have a new challenge?  I have become a firm believer that I give my students enough time to finish their assignments in class, if they don't finish it's because they were messing around during class. The only homework my students get is their spelling words and the occasional few problems to finish at home. I also have them study for tests at home, but only after some brief studying in class. I can do this though because of the huge difference between "lower and upper" elementary and the high school classrooms.

I know I will look at how things will start to change in my classroom.  Yes, I feel homework teaches responsiblity, but I also know there are many other ways to teach it too.  I hope I am not the "easy teacher" but I also know I want all the kids to learn in their own way.  There are more and more students each year who don't extend their learning at home the way we "think" they should.  Is it their fault?  I don't see it that way.  I see it as I am going to help them while I can the few short hours a day I get them and hopefully teach them to love learning and know that it isn't bad if you have homework, it is just suppose to be an extension of learning at home. 


  1. Great thoughts! Nice perspective on the family dynamics. It has become more important to think about the role of the family when assigning homework.

  2. Enjoyed your family scenario. I also believe we need to remember the family end of homework too. It is very nice for me to come home and be able to say, "Want to help bake some cookies or watch a tv show or play a game instead of saying " Let's get that planner out and start your homework." Family can get very stressed from homework and can hinder the dynamics of your household. So the question of balance and communication with family is a valuable part to assigning homework.