How is your child’s homework load?
Have you ever been shocked by the amount of homework your kids bring home from elementary school?
When our son started Kindergarten I was honestly shocked by the amount of homework they expected our child to do. Nothing compared to the amount I had as a child.
My husband and I wanted what was best for our son. Of course! We gave our best effort to have our son complete his homework every week.
Even if that meant frustrated kids and parents.
Even if that meant battling tears.
Even if that meant working on homework through the weekends and into the late evenings.
Fast forward and here we are at the beginning of the 3rd grade year with my son.
I’m a stay at home mom, so of course the second I get my hands on his backpack I read through his paperwork and the homework policy.
On top of a hefty weekly homework packet and nightly reading (which we do anyways) they also wanted him to do a nightly math page due the next day M-TH.
At this point, as a mom, I’d had enough. Enough of this piling on of busy work after a long 6 hour school day.
What is my expectation of homework?
I expect that my kids spend no more than 15-20 minutes on homework per night in elementary school. Maybe 30 minutes in the upper elementary grades.
Weekends are specifically for family time. We will not spend this time doing homework.
How did I approach this with the school?
Immediately I called my son’s teacher to make homework accommodations. If she had not accepted I would be right on my way to setting up home school or charter school.
His teacher hesitantly agreed to cut the homework in half for us.
I had made the decision to take homework into my own hands. I would not make my son complete that weekly homework packet.
This is a decision I felt completely justified in!
Here’s Why I Stopped Making my Child Finish Weekly Homework
Let me begin by telling you the arguments the school has given me over the years+ for the amount of homework being sent home.
- It’s meant for practice.
- Most kids are in After School programs where they are given time there to complete homework.
- They won’t be prepared for the increased homework load that comes along the next year.
- They will not be properly prepared for testing.
- It teaches responsibility
Here are the various reasons why I’ve decided to cut back:
Research Shows That It’s not Beneficial
Extensive research has been done on homework by Duke University. They concluded that homework had little to no benefit for elementary aged students. Especially when given too much homework.
Many school districts around the U.S. have stopped giving students homework with positive results! One school district in Minnesota saw better ratings and an increased love for learning after discontinuing homework.
Other countries are ahead in education with little to no homework.
Finland ranks highly in academic achievement with a high school graduation rate of 93% almost 20% higher than the United States. They also have less homework, more recess time, and longer holiday breaks.
We Have Parental Rights
As parents we have a right to stand up to things we don’t agree with when it comes to our children at school.
Battling tears, frustration, and spending hours on homework for night was negatively effecting our family life and our son.
Since when do schools get to dictate how we spend our family time at night and on the weekends?
I made the decision to be an advocate for my son when it came to this homework overload in an effort to ease the stress it was causing.
Stress and Frustration
The study I mentioned above lists stress and frustration as a negative effect of too much homework.
I was seeing this come to life in my own home.
One of the school’s arguments to me was that most children are in after school homework programs. Well, not ALL children are in after school homework programs. Some go home to their families after school.
When your child is tired after a long day and frustrated because they can’t mentally take in the amount of homework given it is only natural to become frustrated as a parent.
Frustrated that you can’t magically give your child the energy to do the homework.
Frustrated that they can’t or won’t finish it.
Frustrated from the pressure the teacher or school is laying on you as a parent to make them do this homework.
Frustrated because you have to stay up late or sacrifice family time to do the homework.
There was so much stress and frustration coming at my child directly from homework. This was spilling over and making us as parents stressed and frustrated.
This is not the type of home I want for my children. I want them to be happy and stress free. I want them to be KIDS!
Which brings me to my next point…
They are Still Kids!
These little people that we drop off at elementary school for 6 hours per day are still kids.
Yes, they like to play, imagine, create, and bond with their family.
It has got to be tough for these little people to learn how to sit still in a chair for most of the day reading out of textbooks and doing busy work.
But, then we expect them to come home and sit still for even more hours doing more busy work.
The two sided, 50+ problem math sheet my son comes home with every night is not meant for practice. This is busy work.
Practice would be a worksheet he didn’t complete in class or 2-3 challenge problems that would take 5-10 minutes.
To complete this on top of his homework packet we would have to do homework for 2 hours per night. Because it takes my tired from school son some extra time to concentrate on this homework.
Instead he could be using this time to be a KID.
He could be running around outside, having a family game night, reading, going on a family walk, or talking to us about his day.
How much can we really expect of these kids?
As an adult I would be angry if after a long day of work I was asked to go home and spend two more hours working.
So then, why are we asking this of our little kids?
The Homework Isn’t Valuable
My sons school isn’t sending home ideas for hands on activities or mixing the typical worksheets up each week.
No, they send home the exact same assignments each week. It is a time consuming packet of homework for any child to complete.
As I said above most of this, with the exception of nightly reading, is busy work. It’s boring, repetitive, and frustrating.
Instead I could be spending more time teaching my kids cooking skills in our kitchen, taking them to the museum or zoo after school, or they could be spending more time working on a more effective homework activity or project each week.
A Love of Learning is Lost
When kids are basically forced to do busy work round the clock the love of learning is lost.
You might find your kids burning out by the amount of homework they receive on top of all the work they’ve been doing throughout the school day.
Let’s face it. Filling out paperwork is not fun. Adults don’t even like to do it.
I honestly don’t expect my son to be more excited about math because he slaved away at a worksheet containing over 50 math problems the night before.
What Homework Takes Away is More Valuable
Excessive homework takes away opportunities for us as parents to create valuable learning moments with our children.
This is because what homework is really taking away is time.
We are an active family who likes to take our children on after school outings, cook together, play games together, and learn skills together.
If all our time is spent stressing out about homework most of those things get sacrificed.
Homework takes away happiness and a love of learning in our kids.
I’m sure for kids in the after school programs homework takes away from time they could be doing hands on learning activities and playing outside.
Now I’m sure you’re asking:
Without homework how are we teaching responsibility?
Responsibility can easily be taught through chores, taking care of family pets, self care, and putting things like backpacks and shoes where we can find them the next morning.We do still work on homework for 15-20 minutes per day during the school week, so there is still some responsibility there.
Without homework how are your kids practicing at home?
Based on the research done on homework I strongly believe having a shorter homework schedule per day will make their time spent working on homework much more valuable.Instead of 2 hours of tired and frustrated work they are doing 15 minutes of focused and energized work they can remember the next day.
Without homework how will your kids be prepared for testing?
Much like I stated above the shorter amount of time spent on homework will be more valuable to them when mentally preparing for testing. They will have more focused homework sessions and will be more focused on learning when they are at school.
Without homework how will your kids be prepared for more work the next year?
They won’t have to be prepared for more work the next year because my standards for homework during elementary school won’t change.As a parent I will continue to advocate for much less homework until high school. At that time they will be growing into adults and should be able to handle a bigger load.
In my opinion the amount of homework our son has this year is comparable to the amount of homework I remember having in high school.
Isn’t this unfair to the kids who have to complete it all?
Yes, it is very unfair to the kids who are made to do all their homework. It is my hope to fight and advocate for less homework for all students. Which is one of the reasons I decided to write this post.If you are a parent who is concerned about too much homework I strongly recommend taking the same steps and expressing your concern to your child’s teacher, principal, and/or school district. Ask for accommodations and explain your expectation for homework.
What are we doing instead of extra homework?
Focusing on more family time
We are happy to have the extra time to spend with family bonding with our kids without the stress of homework!
Creating more fun learning experiences at home
Without homework I have more time as a mom to take my kids to the zoo after school and learn about animals and nature. We can go to the grocery store, learn about budgeting, and make something together in the kitchen. There is more time for educational crafts and activities we wouldn’t be able to do if we were stuck working on homework.
Spending more time reading
Reading is far more important to me than the busywork sent home for my kids. I am so happy that less homework means more trips to the library for us and more time spent reading together. Which also allows us more time to complete the reading log sent home in the homework packet.
Letting our Kids be Kids
Our son has such a long day at school. I am happy to see him spend some time playing outside, with his little sister, and yes even sometimes play the occasional video game. *gaspKids should be allowed to be kids right?
Seeing the benefits of less homework firsthand and enjoying
The best part of decreasing homework for our son has been seeing the benefits unfold before my eyes. Watching a frustrated and tired kid have more energy when waking up, spending more time playing, be more willing to talk about his school day, and being more excited to go to school each day.I’m not lying here. The benefits in our family have been easy to see, a night and day difference that makes this battle worth it 100%.
How about you? Are your kids experiencing homework overwhelm? How has this negatively effected them and your family?
Have you tried to battle homework overload in your child’s school? What have the results been?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
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