Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Why I Hate Homework

Over the last month, I’ve been collecting statements my mom-friends have made about their kids’ homework. Here’s my collection:
  • It took two hours to do forty-five minutes of fourth grade homework.
  • “I am exhausted. It has more to do with homework.”
  • “They get so much homework, it’s almost like homeschooling anyway.”
  • “Now we’re sitting here trying to write . . . . Homework is not for the faint of heart.” 

Now, I’ve been out of school many years, and my children are grown and married. But I remember the many, many hours spent bent over a desk or table, hours and hours of homework.

To be honest, some of those hours, especially on projects and math, were probably well spent.

My own kids had no homework—or maybe all their schooling was homework—since we homeschooled. They did the exercises, practice, and research during class hours. Some days, they spent more time in class than others.

I really understand the time constraints and extra pressures on teachers. You have to teach X amount of this subject and that subject, raise funds for the school, prepare the kids for special parents’ programs, celebrate holidays, have field days and field trips . . . . The list goes on, and teaching time gets a chunk taken out of it. To all you teachers out there, I understand, and I truly care. I understand that some of the practice work absolutely needs to be done at home, since there’s just not time at school.

But, that’s not what I really want to address here. I am talking about non-necessary homework. Let’s say the child is doing great in the subject. Let’s take math for an example. This kid is doing algebra in his head in sixth grade. Math is easy for him. He gets it. He could skip a couple of grades and still glide through math. Does this same kid need to do two pages of problems of sixth grade math every night?

A little girl reads Dickens in second grade. She has a book in her hand ever chance she gets. Does this second grader really need to be in a reading group? Does she need to do extra reading at home, unless we’re talking about “being on the same page” with the rest of the class? Does she need to be on the same page?

Why did the fourth grader need to have two hours’ work ahead of him when he got home from school? Was it really necessary to put him—and his mother—through that?

Yes, some children need extra tutoring and extra help in some subjects. Some children have learning issues and special needs. I totally understand that. But I still believe that they should be able to do most school work at school, maybe get tutoring right after school, and then have the evening free to be at home with their family. 

Play with the dog, brother, sister, and parents. Run. Jump. Laugh. Create. Relax. Be a child.

Homework should be minimal, if at all.

Here’s another thought: priorities. I remember when I was in college, it seemed like most of my exams were on Mondays or Thursdays. The times that I went to church in the evenings on Sundays, the whole time I was in church, I was nervous about the study time I was missing and how my exams would go the next day. (I confess I didn’t even try on Wednesdays, because I didn’t have transportation, nor was it provided.) Maybe things have changed over the years—I hope so—and maybe teachers are more thoughtful of the kids’ spiritual priorities. But, I believe Christian schools should think about the priorities Christians need. Christian kids should be in church with their families on Sundays and for prayer meeting. They should not have to choose between grades and church. How can this be done? Teachers schedule no tests on Mondays or Thursdays, for one. Have light homework over the weekend and very light, if any, homework for Thursday. School scheduling needs to help children honor God, not hinder them.

Maybe I’m against the one-size-fits-all teaching mentality. That is, every student must do 3 pages of math exercises, read 10 pages of science, read one chapter in the novel, fill in 3 pages of English workbook, read another 10 pages of history, prepare a science experiment for the science fair, do a salt map for history . . . . We’re talking about each student spending several hours after school.

Why not give the struggling math students a little more practice, and the ones who need little, not have homework in math? Why not go through the 10 pages of science in class with simultaneous teaching? Why not have one or two class science fair projects with smaller individual assignments, tailored to abilities? Why make a salt map at all? Every child can access the map for history class on his computer. Yes, read the chapter in the novel for homework, but fill in the 3 pages of English workbook maybe in class or in study hall. We’ve gotten the homework time down to less than an hour, for even the most needy student.

Now, I’ve had my say. I speak as a former homeschool teacher with sixteen years of experience. I hated homework as a student, and I still hate it now. I feel sorry for my young friends and their mothers, who spend several hours each evening pouring over books. I'd rather they be enjoying each other.

So, now you know why




Do you? Please comment.


  1. One problem I can see with students having homework only if they're struggling in an area or need some extra practice is the stigma that might bring. Some of the lowest students (academically) might already feel embarrassed, frustrated, etc.

    That is one benefit of home schooling - you can adjust lessons to your particular students' needs and only touch on an area lightly if they have a good grasp of it.

    Like you, I think both I and my children benefited from some of their homework, particularly some projects, but that which is given just as busywork or "just because" needs to be eliminated.

    One of my college teachers said she used to have students do a paper every semester, until one guy wrote a sentence in the middle of his paper saying, "If you read this sentence, I will buy you a Coke." She didn't see it, and he told her about it when she gave the papers back. She realized if she didn't have time to carefully grade the papers she assigned, she shouldn't assign them just because each college class was "supposed" to write a paper. I felt the same way, especially when I got a paper back that I'd spent hours on just to get a check mark on it, no grade. Grr!

    1. You're right about the peer problems if it's public how many kids have more homework. Hmmm . . . there has got to be a way. I loved homeschooling because of the tailoring to kids' needs. But, yes, this is harder to do with a classroom full. I still really think kids need more "family time" without homework. Thank you for your thoughtful comments! God bless!


Please share your thoughts.