slice of life

SOL: To Give Homework or Not to Give Homework?


{photo credit: Mrs. Beattie’s Classroom}

This is the first time I worked in a school where homework was not mandatory. In NYC, I was required to give homework every night, over the weekends and over all of the major breaks. Then, I had to hold the students accountable for actually do it, and then to top everything off I was expected to check and grade it all every day. I had 60-80 kids in both schools. Totally crazy!

Now, what did my kids really learn from having to do all that homework? Did they do it? What happened if they didn’t? Did I let them fail if they didn’t get it done? Do I pass them because they are lazy? All these questions I had no idea on what to do. They were 5th and 6th graders in a school considered a middle school setting for 5th graders. Were we doing a disservice to these kids by giving them too much homework? It literally made them hate school more than they probably already did.

On the flip side, I am in a school now where they don’t micro manage what type of homework we give, and we have dropped down to the bare minimum. I had 6th grade last year and 3rd grade this year and literally a reading log and some math homework here and there and spelling homework is optional. Last year as a 6th grade teacher, I felt that it was important for these kids going into middle school that they needed to be held accountable for their homework and getting it done and so did my team.

This year in 3rd grade, I am beginning to see the uselessness of homework in the lower grades. My kids just don’t do it. And there parents don’t enforce it either. But, can I blame them?

What I have learned about homework recently is this: the kids who need to do it, don’t. The kids who don’t need to do it, do it. The other kids, their parents do it for them. In which case are we doing justice to everyone involved? They are supposed to go home and take what we learned in class and apply it to their homework. I can tell you that my 3rd graders walk out of my room to go home and they don’t remember a single thing about school, let alone how to do their math homework.

The next thing that I learned is that as a 8/9 year old in 3rd grade, I really just want them to go home and play! After struggling to learn and stay focused all day long, they should not have to do any homework when they go home. They are still young and need exercise and need to play and need to relax and just enjoy life. There is nothing more they are going to learn at home about math or vocabulary words at age 8 at home.

My conclusion for my belief is this: upper grades I can understand the homework, getting the students ready for college and preparing to work hard. K-4th grade need to have brain breaks. Even 5th graders, I think they are still young and need some time. 6th graders can handle the work but some choose not to out of laziness and then 7th on should be starting to prepare for college.

How do you feel about it? Do you notice the same things I do? Have you found a solution in your classroom?

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TWL Working Mom

Jennifer is the Owner of TWL and Co-Owner of a Influencer Facebook Group Influential Mamas.  Along with blogging + freelance writing and selling Zyia Activewear, she is a mom, army wife and full-time teacher. Jennifer lives in Washington State and is a born + raised New Yorker. In her spare time, she loves traveling, yoga, the beach, writing, listening to books and drinking coffee.

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  1. Our school is studying this right now. We are finding the research is showing exactly what you said. I will add your article to the ones we are reading. Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. I agree. This is the first year I do not have my students log their reading minutes and turn them in each week. It wasn’t natural and I found I was getting sloppy work. We talk about what we read the night before, and occasionally they have a short activity to do in the evening with what they read at night. I always give a few days for the work. My students are very busy with their after school sports and musical activities.

  3. I teach third and fourth grade and I rarely give homework. Mostly they have homework if they choose to fool around during class or they are absent (and even then I am lucky if it comes back). I agree that kids need the opportunity to play. There is this great book about assigning homework if you are interested.

  4. I’ll share my comment after teaching for 26 years. I felt like I worked my students hard, taking advantage of every minute they were in class with me and did not wish to give homework. Even adults want a brain break when they get home from a work day. My district required it so I gave minimum assignments that should not have taken more that 10-15 minutes to complete. I taught 3rd and 4th. If I had the choice…No Homework for my students. 🙂

  5. When I taught I did not give homework every night. With teaching English, though, I did have long term assignments due. We did spend much time in class writing, conferencing, rewriting, and revising so many students got the work done in class. I taught sixth grade so I did feel the assignments I gave, beside reviewing the work done in class, got the students ready for the upper grade where homework was assigned every night.

  6. I teach 6th grade Humanities and give very little daily homework. They have some occasional test longterm projects to work on for me. I give them some class time to work on the projects, mostly to be sure they know what they are doing.

  7. Much of your observant thinking makes sense to me. Your words reminded me of others I read recently about how teachers ascribe causes to behavior and how we might refocus that lens productively: http://practicaltheory.org/blog/2017/02/11/skills-not-traits/

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