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Life with No Homework

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My solution to stressing out about homework? Get rid of it!

woman burning paper

Elizabeth Lindell: Helping my daughter with homework used to be the worst part of our day. She would forget her workbooks, not recall the instructions for the assignment, complain of hand cramps from writing out spelling words, and erase the paper along with her mistakes in frustration. Her school days were long ones, full of emotional highs and lows, absorbing information, navigating friendships, and trying to produce meaningful work. These days were not unlike adult work days, and at the end of them, she needed to unwind and release tension.

Many progressive schools believe that homework is busywork and is counterproductive to the learning process in gifted children. With homework out of the picture, there is more family bonding and time for the student to develop passions outside of school. Discovering a child's passions and talents while educating them can prevent them from a future of busywork at the end of each day.

The home should be a sanctuary and a safe place to escape the stressors we face every day. When there is work to be done at home, it should be work that inspires us instead of work that drains us. As parents and educators, we can teach our children that projects outside of the school day are meant to enhance the learning experience and not make students too worn out or dread the next day.

My daughter is now at a school where there is no homework. She spends her evenings riding horses, painting, and trying new recipes for her future restaurant. We have time to stop at the park after school, and with her day of productivity officially complete, she will unwind and reveal her day, sharing with me the way she once did in preschool, before she ever knew what homework was.

Instead of greeting her in the car line with, "Did you remember your assignment folder?" I can now peacefully say, "Hi. Wanna go swing for awhile?"

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15 comments so far | Post a comment now
J. February 3, 2010, 5:56 AM

As a former teacher I found most teachers only gave homework because they didn’t finish their lessons during the assigned time and gave the rest as homework. I personally am for a longer school day and a year-round school year (children lose MASSIVE amounts of information during summer breaks) and “daily” homework. I used to give two or three larger projects throughout the semester to enforce what we’ve learned and have them explore the subject in another context/manner, but not useless daily busy work.

Julie February 3, 2010, 7:28 AM

Another former teacher. while I don’t/didn’t believe in homework, I was required by my school district to give a certain number of minutes of HW per day. (minutes changed per grade level.)There were no expectations as to what the homework should be. I was very specific with the parents that if their child worked more than the allottede time, they should stop. The sad part? Many parents asked for more.

This year, Big is in a class where the teacher doesn’t believe in homework. The kids only bring work home if they don’t finish it, and have to hand it in by the end of the year. Wish all teachers could be like this. My child has much more time to find himself without homework.

Marci Baun February 3, 2010, 8:25 AM

My daughter is in kindergarten and has daily homework. The days are long (too long), she comes home tired, we read the book they send home with us, do her homework and often there’s very little time for play because it’s time for bath, dinner, and bed.

There have been studies that show the lack of play is detrimental to creative thinking. So, all homework and no play makes for dull adults.

As a child, we had short days and no homework until about 4th grade (or very little). This was in the 70s when classroom sizes were in 30-32 kids/teacher and no teacher aides. We played a lot, we did our work in the classroom, and we were better educated than any of the kids today.

What did we do then that we don’t do now? I don’t know, but obviously something better than what’s going on now.

Anonymous February 3, 2010, 8:46 AM

homework sucks!

Kate February 3, 2010, 11:54 AM

To me it’s not about the homework or how hard the school work is but learning good effective study habits. I’ve seen first hand bright/gifted/successful students fall apart in college because they don’t have the skills.

tennmom February 3, 2010, 12:21 PM

My daughters are in school for 7 hours. My 4th grader (in public school)doesn’t have homework every day & usually only has to study for 1/2 hour or so the day before a test.
My 6th grader (private school) often has 2+ hours of homework, and often the same day before a test. Some of her teachers send homework over the weekend. We’re working on a special project constantly for at least one subject.
I know some of it is good for her but some days she has very little or no free time.

Anonymous February 3, 2010, 2:37 PM

Another teacher here who hates homework. Half of it is done by the parents. I even end up doing some of my kids’ homework so I know it happens. We do so much more on nights there is not homework. And our home is a peaceful place.

Carolyn February 3, 2010, 3:27 PM

As the mother of 3 kids, I do believe homework is a waste of time. What the kids bring home is just a repeat of what they did in class and they just rush to get through it so they can go out and play. I would much rather have the kids get more free time at home to develop their creativity and other interests.

MusingsfromMe/Jill February 3, 2010, 4:10 PM

Unless all schools ban homework, kids need to do homework. I have heard of kids who did not homework in elem. school who get slammed in middle school. Plus college professors give homework. Best to get children in the habit of doing homework from kindergarten on.

Pamala February 3, 2010, 4:39 PM

I think projects, you know art and so forth, are great things. Busy work is not. I think if homework is deemed important at the very least they could get creative and make homework be something like “Go out and play and observe one thing in your yard, or count the flowers on one bush.” You know something that the family can do and could potentially be fun as well. I mean you could do a whole math assignment and get the kids outside and playing at the same time. Imagine the great science homework you could do by just making it easy to do while at the park or outside in the yard?

CC February 3, 2010, 8:57 PM

I agree with your point, Jill, that kids should be prepared to do homework so they don’t get slammed in middle school for example. But actually homework in college is mostly optional. There are some exceptions, but usually teachers will give practice problems and expect you to complete as many as is necessary for you to grasp the concepts. The point is self-directed learning. That’s what we need to teach kids at all levels. Instead of busy work that’s a repeat of what they did in class, we need to teach kids to spend time wisely doing extra work on concepts they haven’t yet mastered. Or move on to another area of interest that isn’t being covered in class. But there’s no point in making them do 50 math problems if they already understand that concept.

Casey March 12, 2010, 8:39 AM

Thank You! Iam a single mom and I have been to three different schools one private (which Iam strongly against)in the past 2 1/2 years since lost my job. Yes I said I have tried everything but come to school with my daughter everyday; and this recent school the princiable said perhaps thats what I needed to do, to be able to combat this nightly struggle with my daughter over homework! Did I mention she is only in second grade oh and in a south carolina public school like if we tribled the homework that has even made a difference in that we still rank as one of the lowest of all the states. My daughter has developed anxiety and is in the nurses office every other day. Thank God Iam unemployed otherwise she would be failing. What happens when Iam soo fortunite to get a job in this otherwise grey cloud of changing economy , transition period whatever the optimistic xsales trainer person (i use to be) would say. We are rasining little adults right into medicated, labeled disfunctioning adults that we are. We were priviledged down south a few weeks ago to have snow for a day and it was the best day of my life, outside with my daughter playing with nature. I never knew that something soo simple and right in front of my eyes everyday would make me soo happy. It was the best day of my life.

Alan March 22, 2010, 8:54 AM

I agree homework is hard why should they have to do it anyway

Stacie March 22, 2010, 12:47 PM

I had very few optional assignments in college, but I understand your point, CC. I agree that most children today receive too much homework. I also agree that free time with one’s family is incredibly important. To play devil’s advocate, however, it is important for children to learn how to manage homework so that they can succeed in college. Homework can also (when assigned a manageable amount) teach time management skills. (As a matter of fact, time management skills was one of the first things I taught when I taught Study Skills. Do I think that kids need homework in every subject every night? No. Do I think that homework once in awhile is going to hurt the kid? No way! (I have a BA in Art Education and spent several years teaching high school students who were going to be first-generation college kids).

nick April 7, 2010, 2:05 PM

no home work

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