Advertisement

Homework doesn't align with our family values. Here's how I explain that to teachers and my kids.

Girls riding bikes on road
The author's daughters.Courtesy of the author
  • I think there are more meaningful ways to spend the after school hours.

  • I typically tell teachers that our family won't be completing homework.

  • Sometimes, my fourth grader still wants to do the assignments.

Despite my best efforts to avoid over-scheduling my family, our weekday calendars are full. My daughters, in kindergarten and fourth grade, do horse riding, swim lessons, and soccer. I have powerlifting two evenings a week. As we run out the door to those activities, our dog looks at us longingly with his leash in his mouth, so we try to squeeze in walks with him.

All of that leaves very little time for homework. This is why I've decided that in our family, homework is strictly optional and sometimes downright discouraged.

The hours between after school and bedtime are so limited. My girls get home at about 3:45 p.m. and are off to bed by 6:30 p.m. Factor in dinner time, I have only two hours to offer them the after-school enrichment that most aligns with our family values.

Homework simply doesn't make the cut.

My daughter is supposed to do about 40 minutes of homework each night

It's important to acknowledge that my district doesn't give much homework in elementary school. My fourth grader is expected to do 20 minutes of reading and 10 minutes each for math facts and penmanship. Gone are the endless worksheets that I remember from school.

And yet, 40 minutes is a huge chunk of our afternoons together. Reading, math, and penmanship are important, but practicing them happens organically throughout our day — when we talk about money skills together or pen a letter to their grandparents.

Rather than sitting down at a desk for 40 minutes, I'd prefer my girls gain confidence and safety skills in the water, contribute to their community by doing barn chores, or just be silly outside in the fresh air.

I sent teachers an email saying we wouldn't be doing homework

I spoke to my daughter's teachers about homework in second grade when I first felt the pressure to choose between homework, after-school activities, and getting the kids to get on time.

I kept it straightforward and sent the teacher an email: "Our schedules make homework challenging, so my daughter will not be completing the weekly assignments. We'll continue to practice math and reading at home. Please let me know if you have any concerns about this now or in the future."

Neither that teacher nor the one after had any worries. I got the impression that their beliefs aligned with mine: there were many ways to learn in the afternoons, and not all of them were academic. As long as the lack of homework wasn't impacting my daughter in the classroom, skipping it was ok.

This year, we're doing more homework than ever before

This year, my approach to homework has been challenged, and I've been reminded that nothing is black and white. My kindergartener is in speech therapy and regularly has "homework" assignments from her therapist. Those go to the top of our priority list — not only does she love doing the exercises, but there's a clear benefit that we can hear with our own ears.

More surprisingly, my fourth grader has decided she's devoted to homework. Just like I was, she's a bit of a teacher's pet and gets genuine satisfaction from the check mark she receives on each assignment. I have no problem with her doing her homework for fun, as long as it's not coming at the expense of more important things, like sleep, outdoor time, and hobbies.

Recently she explained she was going to wake up extra early to complete her reading assignment for the day. I just raised an eyebrow and said, "You know you really don't have to do that, right?"

I'm not sure how we'll handle homework as she moves into middle, then high school. For now, we're taking a laid-back approach.

Read the original article on Business Insider