Since this is the week that public school students are taking the TCAPs, I’ve decided to make it Education Week on my blog.  I have enough opinions on this subject for an Education Month, but we’ll just have to see how it goes.
I’ve got a busy day ahead of me and as usual I am already behind, so I’ll just say this:  I hate homework.  If I were in charge of the schools (a favorite opening phrase of mine!) there would be no homework in the elementary grades (with the possible exception of studying for tests) and very little in high school.
Why?  Studies fail to prove conclusively that homework is beneficial, for one thing.  It impinges negatively on family life, for another.  And it makes kids hate school.
If you have kids, you know that a lot of elementary school homework is no more than busy work:  worksheets, or forcing kids to read, or copying spelling words ten times.  For many parents it is a painful nightly struggle to get their tired children to sit down and do more work after they’ve already been sitting still working all day.  I’m sure it’s particularly hard for parents who work outside the home, who pick up the kids from aftercare at 6 p.m. and have a limited amount of time to spend with them in the evening already.
What happens many times, especially in the case of more complicated work like science fair projects (which I loathe, and which probably deserve a post of their own) is that the parents do the homework for the child.  This, of course, erases any potential value the homework might have had.  In our house, homework is the responsibility of the children.  I’ve got enough to do myself and I already did LOTS of homework and am not going to be doing any more.  It has been frustrating to my children to be graded lower on projects they did completely on their own while other chidren’s projects done mostly by their parents received high grades.
When kids are older, and you can’t do the homework for them (high school Biology, for example, has changed a lot in 20 years!), it’s easy to get locked in battles with kids over whether they do their work.  Because usually homework carries a grade, and a bright kid can fail his classes, even if he passes all the tests, even if he understands the material, if he doesn’t do the homework.  And what parent wants that?
High school kids are encouraged to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities, to do community service, to take part-time jobs–all this plus homework, school, some family time, household chores, maybe a little fun?  Do we really want our children stressed out like this?  Stressed out like we are?
I wrote this in 2010 and I stand by every word.  I started homeschooling Lorelei primarily because of the stress of homework, and my nightly homework sessions with William (who does need my assistance) are without question the worst part of my day and probably his as well.


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