How much is too much? Or not enough? I guess it varies on grade level and purpose. I was amazed at the amount of homework my neice and nephew would bring home. Some evenings, yes entire evenings, were spent on homework; on some of these evenings, it was brutal. When my nephew, who was in the first grade, started to hide his homework from me, I knew something was wrong. Once I found his nightly packet torn in equal strips in the kitchen garbage can. I told my mother, a 2nd grade teacher, and she said he was getting too much. He started to dislike, and even hate school by first grade.
It was a tough call because I’m a teacher too. I’ve taught at the high school level for years and must admit that I learned the homework issue the hard way. I’d assign vocabulary and novels to be read and my students would not complete them. I tried penalizing my students, but when those zeros started to accumulate, I knew I had to figure out a new approach. One key component was whether my students understood the content. Which then led to several other questions: How much of the homework had been understood and ready for application and reinforcement? How much of it was busy work? Would I have the time to grade all the work and did it serve a purpose?
Honestly, out here on the reservation, it’s tough to assign homework and get it back on time, or at all. I usually have the student complete most of the assignments in class with the occasional homework assignment (with the forethought to be flexible the next if they don’t complete it). It could be school or community expectations are low, but many of my students have families – big ones. Time is an issue – family and travel. They have many family obligations such as babysitting, cooking, cleaning, and livestockcare.
I know of several of my students who still complain about the homework they did in elementary school, and after the experience with my neice and nephews, I realized that a lot of it was busy work. It makes me wonder, if children are given not-fully-planned or effective homework, can it change their attitude about school? Could they see it as non-productive and burn-out by high school with all the work they’ve had to do in the past? Something to think about …
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