Friday, August 23, 2013

I Said No to Homework...

I've been following the homework debate for years. As an educator, I've read Alfie Kohn's The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing (here is a summary of his ideas) as well as numerous articles, blog posts and online discussions of research, theory and practice regarding homework. (For some bloggers whose writing reflects my own thoughts well, check out Dr. Justin Tarte and Pernille Ripp.) I was an avid follower of the now-defunct site Stop Homework and learned a lot from following discussions there.

As a mom of two school-aged children I've tried to present a positive attitude about homework to my kids while letting it be "their thing." 
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When I thought about returning to classroom teaching I knew that I could not, in good conscience, assign homework. 
I felt conflicted, not with the rightness of the decision, but with how to best express it to parents.  I wrote several drafts of my "homework policy," referring to research and seeking feedback from those I trusted.

I felt nervous to be starting my brand new role by pushing back against a dominant and deeply ingrained culture where homework = rigor and responsibility. 

School started, and I had no choice but to post my homework policy on the classroom blog. I referred to it as "do it yourself homework" and wrote the following:

Language Arts Homework

This year, we will implement the Daily 5, as our structure for the language arts classroom. The five daily activities for building strong basic literacy skills:
  • Read to Self
  • Read to Someone
  • Listen to Reading
  • Work on Writing
  • Word Work
Any of these activities are excellent practice for home, as well as school, and students are strongly encouraged to read and write regularly at home.Our language arts classroom this year will be holistic and personalized. Each student has different needs, interests and aptitudes. Each family also has different needs and rhythms.
Parent involvement in the development of literacy is invaluable. This can take many forms- from reading stories aloud to playing word games and puzzles to conversations about what each family member is reading. Students can work on blog posts at home, as well as taking time to read and comment on classmates’ blogs. After school might also be a good time to practice cursive writing or keyboarding skills.
Regular daily/weekly homework will not be assigned or collected. There will be times when, in order to meet class requirements or finish projects, students will have to continue working at home. In these instances, I will be happy to notify parents via email.
My fear, it seems, was largely unfounded. From the feedback I've received so far, our "do it yourself homework" is working out just fine. Maybe better than fine. I've actually been hugged in the hallways by more than one grateful parent! Students are excitedly talking about the books they're reading at home and several of them have become addicted to Words With Friends
And as an overwhelmed "new" classroom teacher, collecting and keeping up with everyone's homework is one thing I won't miss at all!


Jenny said...

Good for you for doing what you believe is right! It's always great when that manages to work out well.

I haven't believed in homework for many years but having school aged children significantly cemented my opinion! I would love for my girls to not have homework.

ALLEN_Maya said...

I also don't like to do the homework and I think its is really are bored work and I am always try to avoid it and for this I am having really a great choice that is the online homework site...More Info

Andrea said...

If anyone is here reading the comments, that last comment (which is SPAM and which I normally would delete) I am leaving it here, as it brings up another issue with the value of homework.
The link goes to a site where people offer money for other people to do their homework for them.
It makes me really sad, but there is nothing I can do about it. I guess this is the free market, and everything is for sale.