Injecting Sanity Into Elementary School Homework

Homework strongly indicates that the teachers are not doing their jobs well enough during the school day. It’s not like they’ll let you bring your home stuff to school and work on it there. You can’t say, ‘I didn’t finish sleeping at home, so I have to work on finishing my sleep here.”

― Jim Benton

During my working career, I understood the occassional need to be assigned overtime – a report was needed ASAP or a project was on a time-line and time was running out. What I never understood was having to stay late to do inconsequential, what I considered “busy work” and the fact that some bosses felt – and they’d tell you so – that the job had precedence over personal life. Fortuanately, I had a few bosses that didn’t believe in overtime, they understood – and they’d tell you so – that personal time was more important than work.

And in my school days, I had teachers of both kinds; the sadists that assigned ungodly hours of homework that wasn’t necessary to understaning what had been taught that day, and the saints that insured that everyone in the class had a working understanding of the day’s material before the end of class. Those saints did their job well, unlike the other kind. And if a student indicated (or the teacher suspected) he/she needed something more, then maybe some homework might be needed on an individual basis, without the need to unnecessarily burden the other students with redundant “busy work”.

So I was glad to read that a school district, Florida’s Marion County schools, will be banning daily homework assignments in elementary schools. Although daily homework won’t be part of the curriculum, teachers will still occasionally assign things like research papers or science projects to do at home.

All the kids are asked to do at home is to read every night. Read anything that interests them. Read for 20 minutes.

You can read all about it at:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/07/17/why-this-superintendent-is-banning-homework-and-asking-kids-to-read-instead/?utm_term=.5f055f5c581.

They are also doing this in a Vermont district: 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/02/26/what-happened-when-one-school-banned-homework-and-asked-kids-to-read-and-play-instead/?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.7c649fb95c80.

All you educators and concerned parents (or people who know school-age children) can also read about the study behind this concept:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2012/11/26/homework-an-unnecessary-evil-surprising-findings-from-new-research/?utm_term=.55f0b76c1afa.

My youngest grandson even had homework last year in kindergarten, for cripesake!

This study makes complete sense to me. Reading is where education begins. If you can instill the joy and skills of reading in elementary students, I guarantee they’ll excel beyond and through high school.

I especially like the Vermont district’s homework policy:

1. Read just-right books every night – and have your parents read to you.
2. Get outside and play – that does not mean more screen time.
3. Eat dinner with your family – and help out setting and cleaning up.
4. Get a good night’s sleep.

I wish that was all of my homework assignment as a kid.

– Bill

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