Even though I haven’t taught full-time for fourteen years, I am a teacher at heart. An English teacher. I HEART reading and writing and know the importance of practice and repetition. Many spelling and vocabulary tests, book reports, and essays that demonstrate comprehension and critical thinking have crossed the path of my red pen. Truth be told, part of the reason I have avoided returning to full-time teaching is my aversion to homework. I don’t feel like it’s fair to my own kids that I would have hours of grading other students’ homework, time that would be stolen from my kids. Now that they are getting older, they need less direct assistance from me. But I still have a problem with homework. I don’t blame the teachers. I blame the system. It’s become an auto-pilot response to the systematic education process. My kids are in school for 8 hours (not including sports’ practice time). That is a full-time job. They are twelve and fourteen. They hardly ever play outside. This time of year it’s starting to get dark by the time they unload their bags and eat a snack.
I don’t include studying as non-essential homework. I do believe in studying. They need to be taught how to prepare for exams. I do believe in make-up work being done at home.
How do I win my case against an age-old battle? Well, I’ve been thinking that maybe some carefully formulated words directed at the main culprit might win the argument here? So, I wrote a letter:
I don’t like you. You have stolen most of my son and daughter’s childhood. You cause tears on occasion and stress much of the time. Some of it is because my kids are just overworked and overtired and tend toward procrastination when they are finally at home and not in the classroom. But can we negotiate? I’ll do my part if you can do yours. Let’s break it down to three simple areas:
- Quantity – Obviously, a little less busy work would be nice. I’ll give you ten minutes a night per grade starting in Kindergarten. Let’s cap it at an hour a night, give or take some studying or reading. Let’s stay away from anything extra under sixth grade aside from the reading and spelling, ok? I’m all for those Homework Passes that give a parent a break on those evenings when life collides with school.
- Timing – If we can come to an agreement that the schedule is almost always the same, that would really help the planning and sanity in our home. Let’s keep the English tests on Wednesdays, and the History Tests on Thursdays. Then we can avoid the bog down, complete meltdown over the mis-scheduling of three tests in one day! I don’t think this actually needs saying, but no homework over the weekends.
- Parent Help – Maybe we could have some kind of secret code for when we parents need a little help (key/youtube channel?) when the subject is math or science? I mean, come on, it just isn’t being done the way we learned it a couple decades ago (ok, maybe 3 decades)! And please, always write down the directions! Sometimes, it’s like we’re playing the game of telephone at our house – what you said is not what gets passed on at home…
In the end, we all have the same goal – we want educated, dedicated, well-rounded kids who end up loving the process of learning. Let’s help them love it and help me hate you a little less.