Did I mention I hate homework?
Homework is a contentious issue. I often have interesting discussions with friends and teachers and the frustration they convey is palpable. Grand master D and Miss Gremlin attend public school in Harlem. It’s a great school, getting great results with a very dynamic principal who is passionate about his charges. The current policy on homework is everyone gets it. This is pretty much across the board in public elementary schools.
So little kids in pre-k at 4 years right through to 5th grade are getting homework.( I do agree with older grades and high schoolers getting homework as their studies are a little different). This work is supposed to support the classroom lessons and give the kids the opportunity to practice what they learn. My experience has been it’s just busy work without real benefit and plenty of unnecessary pressure on family life. Today’s kids are hyperscheduled, often getting home late as parents are working and they are in after school activities etc. Over the years I have clashed often with teachers regarding how long it’s taking to complete set tasks! When they say that a 4th grader’s home should take 1 hour and it takes 4 then there’s a problem. Especially if they’re penalised the next day for not completing the task. I dont want that fight! I dont want to clash with teachers or my kids… I dont know how many evenings I’ve had kids in tears frustrated over homework! Why is this MY problem? I ask this often. I heard this week that there are current studies being done in Europe on the validity of homework and whether it even works! Teachers complain about parents frustration , parents complain about non complying kids, it often ends up the parents are doing it just to get it done. The teachers know this and the point becomes moot because the children gain nothing, in fact it could be perceived as damaging because the kids learn that it doesnt matter, mum and dad will fix it for me. At some point parents have to step out and stop trying to save their kids on everything! The task is set by the teacher and the child is expected to complete it. Now if that doesn’t happen then the child has to accept the consequences. If you do your child’s homework so that it is just completed and the child wont get in trouble for incomplete work then what are you really teaching your child? I have been guilty of this to a certain extent but that hasn’t worked so I have taken another tact. It’s not my problem and the world isn’t fair and children have to learn to stand on their own 2 feet and navigate life. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some things parents must step in for, certain issues are beyond children to defend themselves, perhaps an intimidating teacher or a bullying child ( we are all well aware of the bullying epidemic and the dangers associated) but every action has a reaction and a consequence. If you don’t turn up for work or pay your rent or obey the law then you will come unstuck. Children need to understand that and learn how to navigate these things to grow up to become well adjusted, RESPONSIBLE functioning humans in society. The extent of my homework involvement these days is this…. Have you done your homework? Do you need help? Mum out! I will always be there to offer assistance if required but I’m not going hold your hand or do it for you or constantly nag about it. I will, however, write a note to the teacher if I feel it is excessive or there’s an extenuating circumstance for the incompletion but if it’s just because they didn’t do it then too bad, I’m sorry that this is happening to you but you will do better next time. I had my time at homework when I was at school. If I didn’t do it then I had to accept the consequences. Why should I be doing my kids homework? I shouldn’t…. What I should be doing is supporting them so they can do it to the best of their ability. If they don’t do it or understand it then the teacher needs to see that so the child can get the support they need.
I think that at least in the US public school system, homework for younger children is here to stay for now, so it will continue to be a source of frustration and guilt for parents. Give it back, let them fail….failure isn’t bad, it’s a step towards success. Take back your family time and enjoy your kids.. Leave homework where it belongs, with the kids.