Monday, November 28, 2005

Home Schooling

I don't mean the "I'm a SAM and teach my kids at home so that they don't have to be subjected to public school bullshit"- which is very valid and honorable, and I applaud anyone who can do it.

I mean the kind that means I spend half of my night doing something called "homework" with my boys- after they've spent the entire day at school. Well, apparently I'm not the one complaining about the amount of homework being sent assigned. The front page of the Cincinnati Enquirer entitled "How much homework is enough?" Reading the article reminded me of the past few years helping Thomas with his homework. The child is in third grade- he just turned 8 in August. However, since KINDERGARTEN, he has brought homework home almost every single day. It was not uncommon for us to spend 2-3 HOURS every night doing homework when he was in first and second grade. I don't know about you, but the last time *I* spent 2-3 hours doing homework, I was in high school- and that was just because I had a big test the next day or a paper to finish.

The paper quotes one Dad as saying "I think homework is largely about what school has become about, which is about grades and test scores. And so, when my daughter as a first-grader brings home (100 math problems), it's painful and it's silly. And she asks me, 'Daddy, why do I have to answer 2 plus 3 again? I've answered that three times already.'" For the past several years, we have often wondered what in the hell these kids are doing in school- because it would appear that they are bringing home the work they should be doing in class. What's the point of spending 7 hours in school if you don't work on things like math facts and reading? I'm not shirking my duty as a parent- but rather believe that the teacher is shirking HER duty to my child.

I whole-heartedly agree. Fortunately, so does Thomas's current school. He still has homework to do every night, but at his recent Parent-Teacher conference, the Principal said that "Homework is just extra practice, so if it's too much, don't worry about it." WOWZER! An educator actually admitted that homework is "just practice"!

I don't have a problem with older children having homework that actually *is* homework- like book reports, studying for big tests, reading novels and such. But the amount of homework assigned to early elementary students astounds me. The Brown Institute says that nationally, first to third grade students now spend an average of two hours a week on homework. I'm here to tell you that it's not uncommon for kids that age to spend an hour or two EVERY NIGHT on homework. It's ridiculous.

Harris Cooper, director of The Program in Education at Duke University, found that there is NO correlation between the amount of homework assigned and academic achievement amongst elementary school students. NONE. ZERO. ZIP. NADA. By the time the kids are in high school, students in classes that assign homework outperform 75% of students in classes which do not assigned homework. That's a huge difference, and one I support.

Let our young kids be kids. Let me spend time with them at night reading because it's fun- not because it's assigned. Let me play games like Monopoly and Yahtzee, which also teach math (Think about it- if your kid is the Monopoly banker, he has to add and subtract, and in Yahtzee, they have to add up the dice). It's OK to send home a little homework, but the amount these young kids are doing is just insane.


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