Just the daily (or...sometimes daily) rantings of ME!
Okay, so this year I'm teaching second grade.

My homework expectations are very simple, and in MY mind, "just right." That being said, I am NOT a parent. I know that both parents and children are busy, so my homework is generally something very short that reinforces the general concepts we covered in class that day and reading practice. Math homework shouldn't take longer than 5 or 10 minutes at the VERY most, and I want my students to read for 15 minutes an evening (for right now, anyway...that amount will increase incrementally through the year). So...at the very MOST, that is between 20-30 minutes for homework.

Yet...out of 19 students, I only receive about 5-8 homeworks back each morning...not even half. Not a good average. Oh, there's lots of excuses, but I don't want those. Not day after day after day. I think I'm going to do an incentive for the students next week--if EVERYONE in the class brings their homework, each child can choose something out of my prize box. But that means that EVERY child has to be responsible, or the WHOLE class misses out. I like challenges like that. Hopefully it will entice children to spend the couple of minutes it takes and get it back to school.

So, parents, and the general public, what are YOUR thoughts on homework? How much is too much? Should it even be given in the elementary grades? I'm interested in your opinions.

Comments (Page 1)
on Oct 11, 2007
The smallest amount possible. It's good for parents to be involved and know what their children are learning, HOWEVER, these are little guys and they just spent the ENTIRE DAY at work (school).

Adults try to avoid taking work home whenever they can, and it stresses them out when they do. Now imagine doing that when you're 7.

I think no homework over the weekends is something to aim for, and 20-30 minutes is ok, but you have to remember that for some children trying to do 20-30 minutes of work at home turns into 2 hours or more.

My oldest does his homework quickly without complaint. Orian, on the other hand, will drag his homework out over the entire evening despite my trying every method I can think of to encourage him (any ideas?).

So a simple math worksheet turns into an hour-long battle with him being tired, hungry, he has to go to the bathroom, he's distracted, etc.

I used to make them do their homework when they got home from school before they did anything else, but Orian would have literally NO time to relax and de-stress from being at school all day because he would drag his work out so long. It's not fair for him to work that long and I don't have the energy to fight him that long.

Now we do it after supper. When he isn't on task it ends up being late and he has to bathe and go to bed.

Oh, and I also have to add this...I have 3 kids, and no husband (well, for practical purposes). Xavier finishes quickly and then he is busy annoying Orian. Isabella can't be left alone and she will either cry if I am out of the room helping him (separation anxiety age) or if I work with him in the same room with her she crawls all over us and tries to grab his work, the pencil, etc.

Doing "homework" is a lot harder than it sounds for a lot of families!

I am just not a big fan of a lot of homework. Particularly not "busy work" homework.

Other parents may disagree, but that's how I see it.

I don't know about the group challenge thing. It sounds fun, but MY child would be the one keeping everyone from getting a prize and then they would make him miserable.
on Oct 11, 2007
I think you're being very reasonable. My kids actually enjoyed homework at that age. Maybe the parents aren't aware of this? Kids do forget all the time about things like this. You may want to inform the kids parents and get them on board with you.

Maybe also you can have those students that didn't do their HW to do so in class while those who did have a special privilege or free time that the others can't have because they have to do their HW in class?

I'm not real big on punishing the kids who did their work by not rewarding them because the others failed to do the work. To me it's like holding them back for what the others failed to do.

on Oct 11, 2007
One thing my children's teachers do that is really useful is keep them in during recess to finish missed homework. This doesn't bother me in the least since it is a natural consequence of their failure to complete their homework. It also gives them the opportunity to do it without distractions. I realize not all teachers have the ability to provide this option, but I really like it.

Orian's teacher has also offered to allow him to stay with her after school while she is taking care of her end-of-the-day things and do his work then.

KFC: Haha, what kind of homework did YOUR kids have?
on Oct 11, 2007
From what I've heard/read homework doesn't really do much good for primary school-aged kids.

The very best thing a child can do at that age is read at home, but that's about the only thing that will have any lasting effect.
on Oct 11, 2007

I agree that it doesn't seem fair for the kids who ARE doing the homework to miss out because the other kids aren't.  They need to learn PERSONAL responsibility.  They can't control whether the kid in the seat beside them does their homework or not, only themselves.  I think that part of the plan needs to be tanked.  Reward the kids who do what they are supposed to.

My son is in the second grade and I'm sure his teacher thinks she doesn't expect too much of him but it's a huge battle for me.  Also realize that the children do not always cooperate for the parents the way they do for the teachers.  I have tears, crumpled papers, cries of "I can't do it" and "It's too hard".  It is a major stress.  I only have three hours between work and bedtime to feed my children, do homework, give them baths.  Now throw in that some nights, we have to go to the store, my older boys sometimes have activities etc.  Also consider the fact that I have three boys who have homework and need attention.  I do care about my son's education but he does not always turn his homework in.  I have spoken to the teacher and the fact is that it's his responsibility and he will face the consequences.  In his school, he has to miss recess on Friday if he doesn't complete his spelling contract.  He has to stay in and work on what wasn't turned in.  I have no problem with that at all. 

on Oct 11, 2007
Also my school gives all of the students an agenda at the beginning of the year.  It is a huge help.  They write their assignments in there, their spelling words, their behavior chart is in there.  It's great that everything is in one central place and they are learning to manage their time and assignments. 
on Oct 11, 2007
From what I've heard/read homework doesn't really do much good for primary school-aged kids. The very best thing a child can do at that age is read at home, but that's about the only thing that will have any lasting effect.

My son is in Kindergarden. His teacher encourages reading but does not assign it as "homework" except for Wed. when she sends home a "level-reader". (10 min tops.) She does assign spelling lists of 4-5 words on Monday. They have to write them out that day and then write a sentence with them the next. She sent a note home to ask parents NOT to help kids with spelling. She encourages them to write it how it sounds and not just have mom or dad tell them.
This helps with penmenship, reading and composing a clear sentence. So I think simple stuff to reenforce what they are learning is definetely a good thing.

TEXAS-Have you tried a timer? Ask the teacher how long he should spend on his homework. Add 2-3 minutes to that. Set a timer and have him work. When the timer is up, he is done...EVEN if the work is not complete. Let him face the consequense of finishing the next day at lunch (eat alone and do his work) or recess. I've heard that after a few days, they learn to work steadily since they know there is an end point. Plus they are motivated to finish within the allotted time so they won't miss out on lunch with friends or recess. It's not a punishment, just a consequense of not finishing.
on Oct 11, 2007

I haven't read all the other responses so sorry if I repeat.

I think kids should have five minutes homework for every year they are in school.  Meaning second grade, TEN MINUTES TOTAL.  (I am curious..when you were training in college didn't they introduce this concept?  It is fairly common methodology in most teaching colleges.  Or is it being phased out?   I was in college in the 90's and it was really stressed.)

If they are reading 15 minutes a night.  You shouldn't give them anything else imo.


on Oct 11, 2007
No homework. They're 6 and 7. What are you thinking? Not only do they have to sit around all day, they have to sit around when they get home too? Do you give them in-school time to complete assignments? I know I did at least through 3rd grade. I don't remember exactly when we started the 'assigned' homework part, but it was 'do it in class or take it home' before that, for sure.
on Oct 11, 2007
We had homework in elementary school when I was a kid. I remember the third grade teacher used to give out ten pages of math problems every night. One of the third graders heard us second graders complaining about our homework one day and went ape-crazy on us. He started screaming, "We have ten pages! Ten pages!" Fortunately, the parents staged a revolt, and by the time I reached that teacher the homework had been reduced to something more realistic.

I think we may have had some very minor homework in Kindergarten, such as learning to count to ten or looking at our little books which had animals in the shapes of letters so we could learn the alphabet and such. We also had that assignment to learn to make emergency calls by practicing on someone we knew. Little stuff such as that.

But that means that EVERY child has to be responsible, or the WHOLE class misses out. I like challenges like that.

I hate crap like that. It's unnecessarily punitive and only hurts kids who actually try. Why give the kids who did right a sense of futility over their efforts? In the long run, you are just discouraging them. The ones who don't try never cared and likely won't for a long time if ever. (And frankly there are some perverted little souls out there who'd get off on making the whole class miss out.)

Aren't there personal consequences for those who don't do their homework?

Hopefully it will entice children to spend the couple of minutes it takes and get it back to school.

It won't.

When motivating people, it's best to give them something to personally strive for that they personally care about. And it has to be realistic. 100% or nothing is doomed to fail. Shooting for 75-80% compliance would be much better.

on Oct 11, 2007
Yeah, but these days, if you reward one kid, another kid is going to say "Why don't I get one?" and "Because you didn't earn it" is no longer an okay excuse.

Why not give a lot of prizes to the kid with the best homework, and then take all but one away from him/her to give to the kids who didn't do their homework? It would teach them real world lessons about working hard.
on Oct 11, 2007
Yeah, but these days, if you reward one kid, another kid is going to say "Why don't I get one?" and "Because you didn't earn it" is no longer an okay excuse.

Too bad.

It's not an "excuse," it's reality. This whole "one kid got a gold star so all the kids have to get gold stars or their wittle feelings will be hurt" is the reason this country is getting PROGRESSIVEly stupider and heading straight down the toilet.

Once the rules are established and clearly laid out at the beginning, it's then each individual's choice whether or not they get rewarded.

on Oct 11, 2007
Marcie, don't do the chanlllenges, it can backfire. You're going to have the child who might find it difficult and will feel left out and will have adverse effects, feeling of being inadequate, and possibly the other classmates teasing, you won't know about it, but it will happen. I speak from experience.

I've pretty much ran the gamut of Tex's experience, even tried the time clock like Tova suggested, worked in the beginning didn't after some time. This is from the experience of my older daughter and my son.

Now my six year old is in Kindergarten, this is what her teacher does and it might be something to consider.

She gives her class a homework folder with work for the entire week. There's a calendar of the month, with instructions written in for each day's homework. For example, for Monday, the teacher wrote (not verbatim), today we're writing letter M, big M and small m and she asks the students to write each five times so as to practice their writing. Then she will list a word, and ask the students to either, name two words that sound the same as the one she wrote, or draw a picture of the word that sounds like her word. She encourages mom or dad to sometimes write the words for the kids to copy or list the words for them and read it together. This is from Monday to Thursday, then on Thursday night, you sign the next page, and return the folder on Friday morning with the child. In this folder is a sheet for us to list each book we read each night. When my daughter comes home on Friday, she has no homework. When she returns from school on Monday afternoon, the folder is back. So the teacher marks the week's homework over the weekend.

I'm not stressed, Amanda is not stressed and she loves, love doing homework! Doing it this way I believe, helps the parents and helps the student.

So far she has done three projects. The teacher gives us a week's notice and we usually get it done and present it to her the follwoing monday, so even if we don't have the chance to do it during the week, we have the weekend to get it done. She encourages the parents to work with the child so that they know what they are doing, not do the work for them.

At my daughter's and my son's school each student receives a planner they will use for an entire year. If the teacher needs to communicate with the parent, or vice versa, we write in the planner and then we either contact each other by phone or email. Recently my sons's Science teacher had some concern and we are working together to get my son on track with his work in that class because he was out for a bit because of illness and so missed some pertinent stuff and wasn't catching up. The teacher was also concerned that he wasn't paying attention and seemed distance when he was teaching so I had to put a stop to the length of time my son spend in front of the computer during the week when he was not doing homework and reinforce his good study habits. He hates to study and he hates homework, but he knows he has to get them done. What his teachers do, and he's in the 8th grade, they have study hall and they get their homework done at that time during school which is less stress for both of us. I noticed that the teachers here in Florida, work as a team, a group of five or more, which is great because all the classes are on the same assignments and one knows what the other is doing. Like with my son and Science, he was able to tell me what was happening with my son in the other classes because he talked to them as well. I appreciated that!
on Oct 11, 2007
I have noticed that homework has gone up in elementary grades since my now 15 and 12 year olds were in school. I have a 3 almost 4 year old now. I for the moment am a stay at home mom. I guess it might get a little bit overwhelming if I were working. Coming home, tending to dinner, then helping with homework. I say when it comes to school, you do whatever it takes. My children would come home from school and I would sit both of them at the table. I wouldn't help them till they asked for help. When they would ask, I'd tell the to skip that part and come back to it. If, at that point, they couldn't figure it out, I would come up with a different problem to show them how they were to do they problem they were stuck on. Then I would have them do the problem on their own.

Ok after all that, NO, I do not think everyone should be punished because of one child, yes i think its fine to have homework in elementary.
on Oct 11, 2007
I will give you my perspective as a father of two close to the age you are teaching. My son is in fourth grade. He is fairly smart for his age, and typically does his homework on his own. I'm lucky that way. He does need help sometimes, which I'm glad to offer.

I'd say he gets about 15 minutes of homework a night. Which turns into 30-40 minutes if he doesn't understand something. 15 minutes seems about right.

One thing I like is that about 1-2 times a week, he has no homework. Or he had homework, but was able to get it done in class. Letting them do it in class is a nice motivator I think - with the reward of having the whole night homework-free. I think he's young enough that a night or two a week without homework is good as well.

Homework in gradeschool, at least grades 1-5, appears to me to be half-learning and half self discipline. The toughest part is to get these kids to do some schoolwork while teacher is not there. Self-discipline is a great lesson to learn, but the question is where do you really start to push it. Second grade seems a bit early [to push self-discipline hard] imho.

My son isn't inclined toward sports. He'd rather read or play on the computer. So one thing I do when I get home from work is immediately do something physical with him, usually one-on-one basketball. I don't care if he ever plays basketball in school, that's not the point. It's my attempt to keep him from being a complete couch potato (read: out of shape) when he grows up. Also it's a nice bonding activity for us.

After basketball and dinner, I try to play at least one game with him. We have many board games and also a couple computer games where we work as a team. He loves this time.

Basically, I'm trying to spend time with son and do fun stuff together in the evenings. I don't mind doing homework with him, but I admit I'm happy that most nights it's [homework] a minor activity so I can do other stuff with him. We both just spent 8 hours during the day doing "work". I like to have some time to "play".

I'm not saying that 30 minutes of homework would really cut into that, I could deal with it. But I like what a poster above said in that there's times when a 15 minute assignment turns into an hour, so it needs to be a consideration.

But that means that EVERY child has to be responsible, or the WHOLE class misses out. I like challenges like that.

I'm not against this technique as a rule. But it depends on the situation. I can recall once where it was used well was in high school track where coach would have us do 10 400m timed sprints in a row (very hard) - after 7 coach would sometimes say, "if for the next two sprints everyone is under 75 seconds, I'll skip the last one. This worked every time, especially on the post-75 second stragglers who would really push themselves so the whole team could go in a bit early. My opinion is that second grade is too early for social dynamics like this to be effective. It might cause 1 or 2 more kids to do their homework, but ultimately 5-6 kids that were going to blow it off are still going to blow it off despite the incentive, but now the whole class gets let down because of it. If you do use this method, at the very least I would make it a once-in-a-while endeavour, not every week.

I also have an autistic daughter in 1st grade. She gets homework every few nights and it's a huge hurdle for her to finish these, she's just behind in her class due to her disability. a 10 minute worksheet takes her an hour, sometimes more. We work with her most nights regardless of homework just to try to catch her up.

These are just my experiences, take what you will from them.