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Thursday, March 26, 2009

To Homework, or Not to Homework? That is the question...

It's teacher conference week, and I've decided I love half days. Seriously. It's the best of both worlds. You have you're mornings free, while your school age kids run off for a little enlightenment and lunch, and then return with plenty of time to be kids and contribute to the family farm.

Okay, we don't actually have a farm, but we are definitely raising several little animals who all need to be fed, groomed, and cleaned up after. And if you think that sounds farmish, you should hear them at feeding time.

Back to the half day issue. I love that they come home with hours to do homework and chores, and still have time to play. I get so sick of our entire evenings being spent on homework, piano practice, chores (which I believe children MUST have to appreciate what it takes to run a family, and become responsible adults), reading, and all the other scheduled activities (like cub scouts) that tend to take away from their free kid time.

I'm a big believer of kid time. When I was growing up we had chores to do (and when I say chores, I mean CHORES!!! i.e., feed cows, haul wood, AND the usual dusting/vacuuming/bathroom cleaning/window washing/dish-doing that a person thinks of when they think of chores), but we never had homework. I literally can't recall bringing home more than the occasional book report or special project during my entire elementary school career. Am I alone here?

So anyway, I love that if my kids have to do homework, half days give them a chance to get it done, make some real household contribution, AND have time to play. And I hate it that the rest of the time I'm constantly trying to decide whether it's more important to deprive them of play so they can be responsible and get homework and chores done, take away chores so they can focus on homework and play time - sacrificing the whole family-responsibility argument - or lighten up on the homework thing and let their grades suffer, so they can concentrate on the two things I feel are actually most important - chores and playtime.

How about now? If I wasn't alone before, is anyone still with me on this?

To clarify, I'm not suggesting we have half days all the time, and I'm not saying school, and occasional homework aren't important. I just believe that homework should be limited to work that could have been finished at school, but wasn't. And as for the half day thing, they're just the catalyst for this argument, because having all the extra time just magnifies the time-shortage we're usually dealing with.

I know that there really isn't an immediate solution to this problem. Unfortunately, we have to wait for the people in charge of education trends to move back to the "no homework" argument (which you know will eventually happen) before this noxious aspect of every school day can be eradicated. Until then, I will just have to suffer through with my kids, watching the one who struggles in school have extra work piled on top of what he already can't finish in class, and the other one review stuff he already gets for no apparent reason. I mean really - aren't seven hours of school a day enough???

I'm just saying.

23 comments:

Chaka said...

Great post. I agree with you. Sometimes I think the best education for a kid would be to grow up on a farm with hard work. I'm sure that makes me sound uneducated. Opinions on education can be as controversial as those on relgion and politics.

McFarland Family said...

I'm totally with you on this topic. It's like I can't even get excited for my kids to start school. I would be in favor of half days all the time, but nobody asks me about such things. Love chores, love playtime.

evitafjord said...

I think it's weird that my first grader has homework (beyond reading every night - I'm all for that one throughout the school career) and my 2nd doesn't have any and my 5th grader doesn't have any beyond special projects. Her teachers have that policy - no homework unless you don't get it done in class. She said she also works on it during other free time. She's very protective of her after-school free time.

Oh fetch, I just looked over at my 5th grader, who is bathing her little brother for me :-), and she is doing homework. That never happens.

evitafjord said...

Oh, btw - the first grader has 1 math paper on Tuesdays only. It's supposed to be getting her used to having homework, but I don't think it really does. It takes her all of 5 minutes and it's only once a week. I don't mind her having it, I just think the reason behind it is bogus.

Alison Wonderland said...

I'm so with you. My kids don't get home from school until about 4:15 so by the time they get their home work done and crap put away, it's time for dinner and then baths or FHE and bed. There's very little time to play in there.

The saving grace is that I don't really like the kids in the neighborhood so sometimes I think the less time they spend playing with them, the better.

Shelley said...

Well said really. I wasn't raised on a farm, but chores out our home had to be done. I'm one of 11. But...when we played, we played! And imagined and created. I feel kind of like I can from the "dark" ages, but TV was rarely even watched. I would be so nice to see a better balance today.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I'm not looking forward to the transition to all-day school next year. You're right, it leaves very little time for much family interaction at all. Maybe we'll all get up at 4 a.m. and just hang out together. Yeah, right. :)

(I sent you an email.)

Machen family said...

spot on girlfriend! The thing is my 1st grader has less homework now than she did in kindergarten! I guess cookies and naps are non-essential, even though it still tops my to do list everyday

Kristin said...

I cannot believe that in a down economy you would suggest such a thing! Not only does no homework eliminate work for a lot of people but it reduces paper production. As a PNW girl aren't you concerned about the rippling effects from your selfish need for family time? Layoffs at Werehouser, pulp mills closing...

Also on an more important note, how will your children ever learn to bring their work home with them in the real world, work long hours and write meaningless reports for their bosses not to read? Bet you didn't think about that did you?

Annie Valentine said...

We're enjoying half days this year. I hate thinking that next year they're taking him away forever, he's just a baby.

Boy Mom said...

So with you girl, I send a little letter to my boys teachers at the beginning of the year notifying them that we don't do weekend homework.

I don't tell them to sign it and make sure they return it with my child or I'll dock their grade, though I've considered it

Melissa Bastow said...

I did think it was annoying the first time my kindergartner brought home some work. We had to postpone our teaparty so she could write the letter "K" 15 times and color a a big letter purple. It was really not worth it.

LisAway said...

Oh, Jen, you need to move to Poland.

I was a little (and sort of a lot) disappointed on the first day of first grade when I found out that Evie would start at 7:30 and usually end at about 11:30. Where was my break!?! That's how it is for the first three grades. (But the schedules are dumb and every day might be different starting at either 7:30 or 8:20 and ending anywhere from 10:45-12:15. You have to check the schedule EVERY day before picking them up.)

Now she's in 4th grade which is different, as she switches classrooms for each subject, like in Jr. high in the states, but she still starts at 8:00 (thankfully they did away with 7:30 starting time) and finishes either 12:15 or 1:10.

Look at me go! There's more!: The thing I hate is the homework. Even after getting home around 1, they eat lunch, watch a cartoon and then start their homework. Evie is a very slow worker and she sometimes spends 3-4 hours doing hers. I hate it. Suddenly it's time to put them in bed. Even WITH the short school days.

Natalie said...

You know how I feel about this. Oh, and I'm appreciating half days this week because I hurry and clean the house in peace and quiet in the AM and then have time for errands in the afternoon (like taking the kids to the eye doctor this afternoon.) It's totally the best of both worlds.

Kelly said...

Home School?

Jen said...

Kel - then you miss those blessed hours of kid-free errands and house cleaning! I could never do it.

Jen said...

Ooooo, and ALL work would be homework. I want to love my children, not abuse them. Someone else definitely needs to teach them fractions.

Nutty Hamster Chick said...

I totally agree with you. Seven hours should be enough. At our school the kids get to play outside for 15 mins and then get 15 mins for lunch. I think it is ridiculous and they wonder why the kids can't sit still. My child is a slow eataer and always comes home starving.

Momza said...

I can't add anything that hasn't already been said, except that I have told teachers in the past that my elementary-aged children are allowed to have 1/2 hour of homework up to grade 3, and an hour up to grade 7. After that, we just do the best we can...they either get it done in school at study hall/seminar or at home.
And regarding the elementary teahers, well, we've never had a problem.

jane said...

i HEAR what you are saying. Homework in our home takes hours, every evening. Piano? my girls go to the lessons, but RARELY practice. Dance, soccer, art, etc. etc. etc. CHORES, a must. kid play time? I don't think it exists...

Sue Q said...

I can't believe I missed this post. I agree, 100%!! The only time I remember having homework in grade school was right after we moved from Hawaii to California at the end of fourth grade, and my new fourth grade teacher decided that the only way I was going to catch up with my class was to do ALL the reading packets the rest of the class HAD DONE ALL YEAR. On my own. By myself. And if I didn't finish them, she wouldn't let me advance to fifth grade.

I still have nightmares about this wicked woman.

In the meantime, my kids are definitely part of our family farm. Except we call it the sweat shop. I've taught my kids to sew at a very young age so they can help me with my business (as well as run the household for me while I'm out in the shop making gazillions of costumes). Please don't report me to Child Welfare Services?

Marivic_Little GrumpyAngel said...

There's just too much homework nowadays, and it's not fair to the kids to have to spend so much of their time at home doing homework instead of just enjoying being kids and being home with family.

Alisa said...

You know, I don't mind homework. I feel like it helps my kids with a good work ethic for when they get to middle school and high school. My 7 year old has about an hour a day or more depending on his ability to focus. My kindergartner has it easy. "Count to 100." "Write your name 3 times." It's a cake walk compared to second grade. If I make sacrifices it's with chores and bedtime. Sometimes chores get put off until the next day or they stay up 20 minutes later to squeeze it all in.
And I'm an all or nothing kind of girl. I like it when they go full day or don't go at all. Half days throw me off.