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Making Progress in the Homework Revolution

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Making Strides in the Homework Rebellion

What an exciting week in the war on homework!  In case you didn’t catch it, here is today’s Globe and Mail coverage.

I made an appeal on my website to join the revolution to ban homework in elementary school.  Many of you agreed with my sentiments, and even more people got on board with the release of Alfie Kohn’s book “The Homework Myth”, which provides proof homework not only doesn’t help academic performance,  but actually hinders learning.

Now, the Toronto District School board is re-assessing their policies regarding homework and grading.  Recommendations have been put forth to limit homework, honoring the idea that children need more family time and unstructured time (hallelujah!).  More controversial seems to be the discussion regarding the punitive nature of docking marks for submitting assignments late.  These are exciting times!  I’d love to hear your thoughts.


About Alyson

Alyson has been blogging parenting advice for over 15 years. She has been a panelist at BlogWest, Blissdom, #140NYC and more. Her content appears on sites across Canada and the US, but you can read all her own blog posts right here.

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6 Responses to “Making Progress in the Homework Revolution”

  1. Jody

    Hi Alyson,
    I was shocked to discover that my 4 year old son was responsible for weekly homework in Junior Kindergarten. We really like his school and he transitioned into his afternoon class rather smoothly. Trouble began when he refused to sit down and complete his homework.
    I am a stay at home mom of two young sons, ages 2 and 4. I have my hands full ensuring everyone gets their teeth brushed, nutritious meals and snacks, reading time, naps, getting dressed and out the door to school after lunch. He has too much energy in the morning to sit down to work, he’s at school in the afternoon and he is usually tired when we get home. And, my younger son has just woken from his nap so he usually likes a cuddle and a snack and it’s time to start preparing dinner. IF my husband makes it home before the kids go to bed (between 7 and 7:30) we feel it is their time to enjoy some playing, books, bathing and snuggles, not homework.
    I fear that if we are nagging him to do work he doesn’t want to do (and isn’t possibly old enough to take ownership of) he will have negative feelings and memories and/or he will become dependent upon US to regulate and manage completing his homework when he SHOULD be able to do most of this for himself.
    I also worry that he has become “the kid who doesn’t do his work” because we have stopped the weekly battle to complete and hand in the work. His teacher may not realize that despite his missing homework assignments, he IS a very smart, clever and very, very verbal boy. And I guess that makes me “the Mom who doesn’t spend any time with her kids”! All in all, it has been a negative experience for my son and my family.
    Thank you for your efforts!
    P.s. We used the CIO method last week and after only two nights, both boys sleep all night in their own beds and my husband and I got our bed and our sleep back! WAHOO! Why didn’t we do that earlier?!!!!

  2. Louise

    Hi Alyson,
    Is it just me, or did we have much less homework when we were kids? I certainly don’t remember having to do 1-2 hours of it when I was in grade 4. I think homework in elementary school is completely unnecessary. The kids simply don’t learn from it. And what I’m finding is, the things they are bringing home aren’t even things they’ve been taught during the school day. My husband and I end up being teachers at night (while trying to get dinner ready, clean the house, and heaven forbid have some family time!). I am in total agreement with halting homework for the younger grades. I hope Durham follows Toronto’s lead.

  3. HRP

    I am so excited about the potential changes in the Toronto District School Board. Too much homework hurts children’s abilities to explore other interests outside of school (building relationships, playing sports, brownies, scouts etc). All of these things help to shape a child. Making a young child sit at a desk after being at school all day is not right. I really hope change happens for us!!!

  4. May

    Without homework, my son would not learn as much. Unfortunately he struggles in school and the teacher does not explain things to him in a manner he understands with his learning style. When I do it with him at home, he learns more effectively and the positive feedback I give shows him he is not stupid. I would prefer him bringing work home so he understands the lesson and the next day is able to complete some work at school. Unfortunate fact for some struggling kids!

  5. Pelasia

    As a working mother of two young children, I find merit in having appropriate amounts of homework (1-2 hrs/week, depending on age group). Below are some of my arguments:
    1. Encourages parent-teacher/school partnership
    2. Allows parents to familiarize themselves with their children’s learning strengths/needs/styles/challenges, so that they can become effective advocates for their children (and maybe help their children to learn to advocate for themselves)
    3. Reinforces what’s been learned/presented at school, and is hopefully incorporated into family’s activities/conversations
    4. Helps teachers deal with curriculum demands (often challenging given the range of abilities of students + classroom sizes)
    5. Helps parents and teachers form partnerships to prepare students for provincial testing (EQAO)– esp. important when students are experiencing difficulties
    6. Makes children feel that there are important adults (i.e. parents/guardians who help them with their homework) in their lives who care about them and support their efforts
    7. Forces parents to spend quality time with their children
    8. Teaches children responsibility, and allows them to take greater ownership of their education
    9. Forces families to set up a physical space where children can do work (sort of their office:-)
    Also, school is not just pen+paper activities, as many assignments demand sophisticated teamwork, creative, leadership, and other skills. It is important to familiarize oneself with the curriculum and its learning expectations before expressing criticisms of what’s in place :-).

  6. Alyson Schafer

    Thanks for posting your thoughts Pelasia. I wonder if others would like to chime in for “pro-homework” side of things! Maybe we could create a “best of both” idea for parents and teachers.


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