The Value of Homework

boys cooking

Talk to any parent of a school age child, especially on a weekday (or Sunday night), and the subject of homework is bound to work its way into conversation.

An article recently came out about extensive research that showed clear evidence that elementary students reap nearly no benefit from homework. But for many parents, this was just official confirmation of what they already knew.

The intention of homework is often stated as reinforcement of skills learned in class. That purpose itself is problematic.

Every child in every class does not need the same level of reinforcement assigned across the entire class  after every lesson. Some children do not need to do nightly, monotonous spelling assignments to score 100% on the spelling test, while some children can do spelling homework until they are blue in the face and never score above a 70.

Many children are avid readers and do not need the burden of a reading log or endless comprehension questions slowing them down. Many other children just need someone to read to them and talk to them more to increase their access to positive literacy experiences.

When  I snapped the photo today of my  sons helping me prepare vegetables for a stir fry dinner, the irony of the word “homework” struck me. Perhaps what children need most is less homework in the traditional worksheet or book report sense and more home work or housework. In trying to keep up with the modern obsession with perfection, many parents outsource house work rather than go the traditional route of assigning chores to their children. Too many children have become so disconnected from the concept of work in the home and that leads to the same disconnect when they get out into the world.

A landscaping company comes to upkeep the perfect lawn. A cleaning service comes to upkeep the perfect house. A company comes to open and close the perfect pool. Painters, plumbers, roofers, ….you name it.  All so that parents can free up time to upkeep the perfect body at the salon or gym or to work long enough hours to pay for all of those expenses.

It is more common to buy food or eat out than to grow food in the backyard where kids can be a part of the process that gets food on the table. Heck, so many American families rarely even make it to the table together due to endless activities and sports practices that often start at age 4.

As a result, work becomes something arbitrarily assigned by an authority figure, rather than something integral to daily life. Our children become input/output machines and then the teachers in the upper grades and later employers lament the lack of problem solving skills and work ethic in the younger generations.  Companies have made fortunes on convincing consumers that life was hard and that we needed a plethora of products and services to make it easier. But actually, the answer is easy and cheap.

Bring back home work in the traditional sense. Turn off the website that drills math skills and put down the spelling lists. Take the time to reinforce life skills and a sense of responsibility. Imagine the potential such a simple shift could have on the typical American family.







2 thoughts on “The Value of Homework

  1. Bonnie Toplenszky says:

    I agree 100%.What would we do if we worked all day and our boss gave us homework? Kids need time to unwind, play and connect with their family.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mrs. Speaker says:

    Basing your opinion on one article seems to me to be rather a lazy way to come to the conclusion that homework assigned by a teacher is not worthwhile. Perhaps it depends on the teacher. Just because everyone doesn’t succeed in everything is no reason to conclude that they shouldn’t try.

    “Positive literacy experiences comes from mastering the basic skill of learning to read and one should not assume otherwise. Are we really going to be satisfied with allowing children to not learn because everyone should be kept on an equal level?

    Why is it problematic for children to have reinforcement for what they learn in class? Perhaps they are not learning much after all. The question is how much time is spent on being indoctrinated about “global warming” bullying, sex ed, equality for transgenders, political correctness, playing games and working on team projects? Not much time is left for mastering basics, learning to think for yourself or being allowed to fail.

    The comments about parents is very demeaning and out of touch. Perhaps the author should understand that the middle class and those living in poverty are caught in the situation of having no choice but to send their children to public school and put up with mediocre education. Meaningful homework should be an integral part of their education.

    Since most parents don’t know what their children are or are not learning, homework provides insight as to what progress is/is not being made in any given subject. Are you not interested in their education? Do you understand why your children are having problems with math, English, vocabulary, spelling, geography etc.? Pay attention to their homework. Do you make an effort to speak privately with the teachers to ask relevant questions? You cannot wait until graduation and then act surprised that your children are totally unprepared for either college or work. Your children are not being educated enough to master basic skills they will need in the real world.


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