My Mother Crapped On My Homework & Set It On Fire

Okay, she didn’t crap on my homework, or crap on it and set it on fire, but she had delusional fantasies of doing so, oh yes she did.

Seriously, what the shmeck is up with all the homework? Teacher, please. Is it necessary for an eight year old to have this much work to do after school?

Last week my third grader had seven pages of multi-step math homework. I’m supposed to get a child that is pretty much feral after a 6 plus hour day at school to sit down at the kitchen table and figure out the rate at which Adele (who is probably going to end up a meth head) is collecting crayons for her birthdays.

This kid (my kid, not Adele) is not math minded. I was not math minded as a kid. She has the math curse (but is a kick ass writer–WOOT!). Might I propose a different math education path for children who are not destined to be engineers or accountants?

Feel free to thwack me on the head for suggesting this, but how about teaching practical math to such children? Like how to measure, how to balance a banking account, how to handle money?

I don’t blame the homework zeal on my daughter’s teacher. She is a sane, smart, compassionate person. It’s the system. Our educational system is so broken. Assigning this much homework seems to be something that has picked up speed over the years, sort of a Hey, I had to take it in the ‘nads, so future generations should as well.

What I can speak to is what I experience on the other side of the bus ride home which is ugly, very ugly. It is two children who hate homework and appear to be getting very little educational benefit from being forced to do it.

Alfie Kohn, high school teacher turned author, was interviewed by the School Library Journal. He said, “No research has ever demonstrated any academic benefit to making kids do homework before they’re in high school. Even in high school, there is only a weak correlation between standard measures of achievement and doing homework. What’s more, there is no evidence that the two are causally related—that is, that kids who have better grades and test scores have them because they’ve had to do more academic assignments after a full day in school. Finally, there isn’t a shred of evidence to demonstrate that homework has any nonacademic advantages, such as teaching self-discipline and responsibility or teaching kids good work habits.”

Yes, what he said. Ok, I haven’t done a whole lot of research past what I wanted to hear (convenient, eh?) but what I’m finding with my own kids is that their homework makes them dread school, it takes the joy out of our time together after school, and it increases conflict in our household.

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Getting my daughter to do this much math homework is about as painful as systematically pulling out pubic hairs one by one. Or stepping on Legos in the dark. I’m sure most parents are well familiar with the struggle.

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I would much rather use the hour or two every day that we wrestle over homework to take my kids to see art at a museum or read to them or have them run around outside. There are so many more interesting and alternative ways to teach kids when they are outside of school. Why not give parents the freedom to create an enriching home teaching environment?

How do other parents feel about homework for elementary school aged kids? How do you motivate your kids to do their homework? Teachers: What purpose does homework for young kids serve?