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Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life—learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
+ Robert Fulghum

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Winter Fun

Homework: Good or Bad for Kids?

I recently caught a news headline that said that the Gaithersburg Elementary School in Maryland has abolished homework. Principal Stephanie Brant made the decision to eliminate traditional homework such as worksheets and instead have students read for at least 30 minutes every night.

I will admit that I’ve never been a big fan of homework. My kids are in school all day, so I’ve always thought of after-school time as family time. Or at least time to develop other skills and interests. Some nights the kids might be playing sports, going to dance or gymnastics, or practicing music. Or they might just be hanging out.

We do spend time going over spelling words, practicing multiplication tables, and doing the occasional worksheet that comes home. Now and then one of the kids has a special project to work on. But that’s about it. The kids have jobs to do around the house and we read together as a family every night. And that feels like quite enough.

Where do you stand on the homework debate? Do you think homework is necessary for kids to develop good study skills and get into top schools? Or do you think homework is more trouble than it’s worth?

P.S. If you think like I do, you’ll love the book The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel, Ph.D. If you don’t think like I do, I hope you’ll leave a comment anyway. It’s always good to look at something from all angles!

Also: The textbooks are from my days as an editor at EMC Publishing. I knew they’d come in useful some day!

Comments

  1. Jonathan Wenger says:

    Seems to me that the idea has merit worth considering. It would need to be complemented by rethinking/delivering what goes on during the school day, since much instruction is built around the assumption that students’ learning is going to entail homework. School day/”classroom” time could be used more effectively by engaging students in dynamic/interactive learning activities as a rule rather than exception. But I do like the part about replacing “worksheet”-type homework with reading. Also like your point about the importance of non-school hours for enriching activities/family time/down-time. We want to cultivate integrated/balanced human beings, not another generation of depressed work-a-holics.

  2. Steph says:

    I’m very proud of my namesake. I’ve always been against homework, especially for young kids. I don’t see the point or value of it. Children should do school stuff at school and home stuff at home. Reading is OK as a school-recommended activity, but that’s as far as I’d go. I got fed up back in Ireland trying to get tired, grumpy kids do homework that sometimes I couldn’t help them with (Irish language and even some of the maths). They hated me and I hated not being able to do proper mum things with them.

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