Your Thoughts: Do Kids Really Need Homework?

Written on August 28, 2012 at 9:02 am , by

When we (the editors of Family Circle) started kicking around the idea of a piece on homework, I grabbed the reins because it’s a huge issue in my household. To put it bluntly, after a full day of school, my 8-year-old son doesn’t want to do more work—and frankly, I’m not at all convinced he should have to. I mean, he hasn’t even reached a double-digit age yet. Shouldn’t seven hours of school cover it for younger kids academically?

Apparently not, as evidenced by his homework assignments in multiple subjects. This necessitates me having to suggest, ask, nudge, prod, and finally, flat-out demand that he do the work, which is a dynamic between us that I have come to loathe at the end of the day. (If he’s forgotten a book he needs, because of the crush to pack up quickly, that’s a whole other source of aggravation.)

Of course, absolutely and without exception, whether it is technically “assigned” or not, I would insist he spend time every day reading. I would think that would go without saying, but I will say it lest anyone be tempted to call me out on the reading issue. When I say “homework,” I’m referring to worksheets and similar tasks.

Anyway, I’m fascinated with the writings of educator Alfie Kohn, who makes a convincing case against after-hours assignments. In his piece in Family Circle‘s October issue, he writes:

Doing homework has no statistical relationship to achievement in elementary school. In high school, some studies do find a correlation between homework and test scores, but it’s usually fairly small. And in any case, it’s far from clear that the former causes the latter. And if you’re wondering, not a single study has ever supported the folk wisdom that homework teaches good work habits or develops positive character traits such as self-discipline, responsibility or independence.

Other educational experts obviously, and vocally, disagree. In my mind, the topic at least merits spirited debate, rather than just rote compliance.

So speak up! Tell us your stance on homework in the comments below.

Jonna Gallo Weppler is articles director at Family Circle magazine.

2 Responses to “Your Thoughts: Do Kids Really Need Homework?”

  1. My opinion is it is absolutely a WASTE of time! It ALSO interferes with the little bit of family time that most families have at the end of their work/school day. I had one teacher tell me that it was “quality time”. That teacher also had no children. It is not, and never has been “QUALITY TIME”. I have about the same experience as you describe times 4 (I have four kids), no they don’t always give me a hard time. But the last thing *I* want to do after a long day at work is go home and help with homework that I don’t even know how to do “the right way” because they teach everything all jacked up from the way we learned it. To me it’s just a huge frustration.

  2. As an educator and a mother, I think some homework is necessary in the elementary years. However, most assigned homework is not beneficial. A child should be encouraged to read at least 20 min. every day and respond in some way to that reading, either by discussing it with someone, or doing a written response. This could be as simple as writing down the main idea. Children should also study memory work each night. This includes things such as math facts, spelling words, and other information they should commit to memory. That should be the extent of weekly homework. The exception would be special projects that require at home assistance.