The thing to do these days seems to be get mad about your kids having homework and complain about it on social media. All the cool parents are doing it. I’ve seen countless articles pop up talking about the importance play, putting forth an argument for why their kids won’t be doing homework. Let’s chat a bit about all this homework hate.
First of all, I can certainly agree that young kiddos shouldn’t be saddled with a hour or more of homework each night — that’s ridiculous. Kids, no matter what their age, need time to play outside, to imagine, to be free of structure. (So do adults.) It’s good for their bodies and their brains. No argument there. The problem I have is parents flat out saying that their little nuggets won’t be doing homework because there’s no value in it and play is more important. Maybe if you think that’s the case, you’re looking at it wrong.
The first thing I look at when it comes to my kid’s homework is content. I personally think that time in the classroom is supposed to be for instruction. Homework time is when the kiddos put the principles into practice on their own. We tell kids all the time that practice makes perfect — in sports, in music, in tying their damn shoes — why would math and reading be any different? If the content I see on my kitchen table gives him a chance to perfect the concepts he’s learning in the classroom, that’s not busy work, it’s valuable. If he’s got to color pictures and shit, I’ll happily let him opt-out and spend an extra 20 minutes on the trampoline.
Next I look at the time it takes to complete. I would definitely have a thing or two to say to my kid’s teacher if he had an hour of homework each night as a kindergartner, but he doesn’t. Depending on how distracted he is, it takes us 20 to 30 minutes each night to complete everything that gets sent home. It’s not that long. For real. The kid gets out of school at three and goes to bed at eight — I don’t really see an issue with spending 30 of those minutes concentrating on homework. There’s plenty of time leftover to eat, play outside, eat again, take a shower, eat once more, watch a show, read a story, and beg for video games before bed. All the essentials are covered.
Sure, play is an important part of childhood, but isn’t education also? Kids do learn through play, but they also need to learn through instruction and practice.
Plus, now that my child is officially school-aged, I miss him. The little bigger used to annoy the shit out of me all day long, but now that he’s in school, I relish the time we get to see one another before the day is done. Homework time gives us some much needed one-on-one. I can understand being pissy about big projects that will fall completely on your shoulders, and in turn, won’t offer anything valuable to your kid at all. That’s not the case with nightly assignments, though.
Also, I don’t necessarily need to wait until the next parent-teacher conference to see how he’s doing; I watch his progress on a nightly basis, and I’m a part of his success story.
What might be the most important issue here, however, is the message we’re sending to our kids by telling them they don’t need to do homework or that it’s bad…. We’re sending the message that they can decide what’s valuable and what’s not. We’re telling them they can refuse to do something assigned by an authority figure if they so choose. We’re telling them that their education comes second.
If I ever find that I have trouble with the homework load or type of homework coming home, I’ll be sure to bring my concerns to the teacher’s attention, but I truly can’t believe that all this homework hate is actually helping our kids.
So tell me, why do parents really hate homework so much? What message is that sending to their kids about how to prioritize education?