"Homework, Oh Homework! I Hate You! You Stink" is the title of a popular poem by Jack Prelutsky. It is also the sentiment of countless students. At least that is the opinion held by students I've encountered. My district has wondered about the practice of assigning nightly homework. All too aware that there is a growing body of research that suggests that homework has made no positive impact on students' academic progress or success, my district and a committed committee of educators took a year to research and think about the topic deeply. Teachers, students, and parents were surveyed. The surveys yielded mixed feelings toward homework. Here it is, September first, and I'm wondering what to do about homework. I'm really wondering because in a little over a week I'll need to stand before families and tell them about my homework policy. I had hoped for some input from this committee. While survey results have been shared out, no formal recommendations have been made. I'll have to make some decisions by next week.
Left to my own devices, I'l probably do what I did last year. Find the below excerpt from my classroom web page.
Recent research is making educators around the world re-think homework. There is not a ton of research proving that this age-old practice of bringing school work into the home is beneficial for students. As a mom, the value I see in homework is that I get a glimpse of what is going on in the classroom However, I can't say that homework brings a lot of joy into our home. At times, just the opposite has been true.
What will homework look like during your child's fourth-grade experience? Here is my current thinking:
Meaningful practice is important. I haven't found too many worksheets or even tech based apps. that provide meaningful practice. So, let's agree to the following:
Have you been a proponent of reasonable homework for your child? Does your child miss written homework? Let's keep talking about this topic. I'd love to hear your thoughts. I will definitely be asking how fourth grade "homework" is going when we meet for conferences in November. In the meantime, thank you for trusting me as I continue to experiment with this homework policy. I take your child's education to heart. I am so grateful for your trust.
I did ask parents about the homework experience last year at both November and March conferences. There was an overwhelmingly positive response. Most parents reported much less stress and arguing in the home. Most reported that their child's overall attitude toward school had improved. However, not all parents embraced this policy. Some felt that their fourth-grader felt left out because their siblings had homework. Some worried that my teaching was not rigorous enough to prepare their child for the next school year given that there was no homework. Some mentioned that work ethic was not developing as a result of the no-homework policy and one stated that her children had nothing to do after school as a result of no-homework.
I'm taking their feed back seriously. Except maybe that last one. That's not on me. I'm charged with filling 6..5 hours of a child's day with engaging learning experiences. Do I really have to prepare materials to keep them "entertained" at home too? I'll be interested to touch base with a couple of these parents this year. I'm curious about their child's transition into fifth grade. Like so may other educational issues, this one has me scratching my head. I don't have it all figured out. I'm trusting the research and leading with my heart..