It was a simple, respectful but gutsy, short note from a concerned parent last year.
“It took (Name withheld) over an hour to do the 28 division problems tonight. Would it be possible next time to check for understanding with only 8 -10 problems?”
I sat and thought about it for about 15 minutes. I had nearly every emotion running through my head but eventually I got to, “Oh my gosh. What was I thinking? I gave 28 long division problems last night and that was just in math!” I had always given homework because I was given homework when I was in school. 4th graders should have 40 minutes of homework right? (10 minutes per grade level rule) Sometimes even when I didn’t have homework to give out I would make something up. I found my self really asking, “Why am I assigning this?” I use to make the kids write their spelling words 4X’s each and they hated it! What’s the point? (Let’s not get started on spelling!)
Now this year my family has gotten the opportunity to be involved in the life of an amazing 4th grade student. Wow – talk about busy! Soccer, homework, snack, clarinet practice, good news club, dinner, reading, and shower. Of course she would NEVER procrastinate at any of these! (I need a drink, oops my lead broke, I know I got this assignment last week, but now it’s due tomorrow!!) Students are busier than I ever was! For me, this school year is different. I’m giving WAY less homework. Sometimes the homework I do give is “Read for 20 minutes” or “study your spelling words” Homework that can be done in the car, or at sister or brother’s game. It just makes sense.
Here are a couple questions for you to consider.
Who actually does the homework and is it a good representation of what the student is capable of?
What types of students/family life really have issues with homework?
What is the real purpose of the homework? Is it just busy work?
I think the parents appreciate a little less homework this year, and I KNOW the students appreciate it!