Homework: The Great Debate!

Ah, the great debate...HOMEWORK! It's Kim here from For a Love of Teaching, and before I continue I must explain a little bit about myself. I'm no longer a classroom teacher. This past summer I accepted the position of Technology Facilitator at my school. However, I taught 3rd & 4th grade for 14 years where I assigned homework on a regular basis. So, I do feel that some homework is essential in establishing self-discipline and independent study skills in students.

Homework tends to be a love/hate relationship for teachers, parents, and students. Parents either hate homework and complain about it, or they love it and beg for more. In my school district, we have a homework policy that helps clarify general expectations for students, parents, and teachers. It explains the reasons teachers may assign homework. It gives "suggested" minimum amounts of time students should spend on homework, and it provides ways parents can support their child's learning environment at home.

When I taught in the classroom I always tried to follow the time chart. As a parent, I know how limited time at home in the afternoon can be.

I knew that assigning the right kind and right amount of homework was important. I knew that homework needed to be based on the application of concepts learned in the classroom. I also knew that it needed to be goal oriented with timely feedback provided for students.

When I taught 4th grade, I required nightly reading and students recorded their reading on a reading log that was checked daily. Students were also given a spiral review of weekly math (Math 4 Today) to complete that was given to students on Friday and due the next Friday. It was also essential that 4th grade students master multiplication facts 0-12 in order for them to be successful in math. For the first semester of school, students were required to practice memorizing multiplication facts at home. All three assignments we're goal oriented with reading and math goal charts were kept at student's desks, in their binders, and/or displayed in the classroom. Timely feedback was provided and rewards were given for successful completion at the end. 

As a teacher, I strongly believe that the love for reading starts early. I ALWAYS required nightly reading at home even when I gave breaks with weekly math homework. I encouraged it over holidays and highly recommended it during the summer months when our students were not in school. I always sent home this visual as a reminder to parents about how important reading is at home. You can download it for FREE in my store!

I think the biggest issue with homework is that some teachers don't think about the objective of the homework assignment before giving it to students. I've seen this happen time and time again with my own children. I think, as teachers, we have to ask ourselves:

1) Is it meaningful? 
2) Can it be completed independently?
3) Is it the right amount? How long will it take to complete?
4) Is it based on concepts learned in the classroom?
5) Is it manageable for the teacher and student?

How do you feel about homework? Do you give it? If so, how much? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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