As mothers, we understand one of the most critical components to our children’s young lives is their education. Since it’s time to ring in a new school year, the contributors at Fairfield County Moms Blog wanted to share some tips, tricks, and words of wisdom to help you through this exciting, yet stressful time. Be sure to keep a look out for our Education Series posts all this week!
Homework. The word alone can bring back clear memories of tears, frustration, anger, and hopelessness for many people. The tough math problem you can’t solve, the sentence you just can’t translate, the essay draft that is due tomorrow morning and you’ve still got a major case of writer’s block. So why do we do it? Why do we have homework? What are the benefits for our children, who are already going through so many steps in their school days?
Many school districts across the country are asking themselves just that – what are the pros and cons of homework, and how can we shift our focus on to bringing out the best in our children? One school district in Florida has banned homework for elementary students all together and instead, has asked the families to spend 20 minutes a day reading with their children. The district believes that homework time is better spent reading to allow the children to relax and enjoy learning.
Another mom sent an email to her student’s teachers this year declaring that her kid is done with homework because it was just too much. The email quickly went viral because so many families could relate to it. Although these reactions to homework are headline news, the debate on homework continues.
On the pro side, homework allows kids to grow their time management and organizational skills. These are key elements that will transition into life skills needed as they grow. Homework also increases the child’s critical thinking skills, and allows teachers to see how students can perform on their own without the support of a classroom, classmates or teacher. Is the child understanding the concepts enough? Is he or she able to apply the learned material into the essay or response? There is also a benefit to homework for the parents – they can become more involved with the curriculum and the school if they work alongside their children as they do homework. It gives the parent a greater understanding of their child’s day.
So why all the fuss about getting rid of homework? Well, there can be too much of a good thing. American students have a high number of weekly homework hours compared to other industrialized countries, yet we are in the average range of achievement. Too much homework has the potential to cause a child to lose interest in school. The overwhelming amount of work for each subject can simply be too much to handle for a child. If that child doesn’t have the skills in place to manage the work, he or she is more likely to not complete the work at all.
Homework also decreases the amount of time that a child spends playing and/or relaxing. Spending time outdoors, imaginative play, and social interactions with siblings, friends and neighbors are all crucial to a child’s development. If a child has to spend a lot of time on homework after a long day of school (and quite possibly an after school activity) it doesn’t leave time to relax, read, play games, or spend time with family.
Another strike against homework is that it creates a disadvantage for students from lower socio-economic groups who may not have caretakers who can help them with the work or who can afford tutors. These same students may also have a harder time getting transportation to school during off hours for extra help. It can create a wider achievement gap between groups of children.
Overall, the idea of homework is a concept in education that deserves to be looked at again. There are pros and cons to the argument, but in reality, the quality of the assignment, not the quantity, is what matters. How does homework fit into education and to home life in 2017? How do our children (and families) benefit from the kids having to do work at home after a long day of work and school? These are the conversations that we need to be having in our school meetings and at our dinner tables.