Homework and Kids

 KUOW education reporter Ann Dornfeld is working on a story about the new no/low-homework policies at several schools, including Whittier and West Woodland. She’s heard from plenty of parents in favor of these new policies, and is looking for a parent who wants to keep homework part of their child’s routine. She’s at adornfeld@kuow.org.


ws said…
this is not at our school, but what I wouldn't give for less homework for our child.
Anonymous said…
Yes. We've had more and less, and less is better in all ways.
Anonymous said…
She should talk to parents on the Eastside. When I lived there many parents pressured the teachers for more homework even beyond what they were already giving in elementary school, which was daily.

Anonymous said…
The problem is acute for students who have that tier 3 schedule of 3.45 or 4pm bell times. These students have a right to after school activities. With those activities and dinner and just a few minutes of complete down time, there is no time for HW. This Tier 3 schedule is horrendous not only for working families (with the 9.30 start time) but for the children.

Reality checker
Unknown said…
My 6th grader does 1 hour of homework per night. If there is nothing assigned from school I get out a math workbook and he practices what he is working on in class. After that he reads for 30 minutes at least. Being African-American, my son already has an achievement gap to deal with. I am betting that the "no homework" crowd is almost all white people.
Anonymous said…
I like my high schoolers to have some homework. It's good practice for them when they move on to college because they will have lots of homework there.
Anonymous said…
My kids didn't start getting homework until 6th grade. Before that, all that was required was 20 minutes of reading a night. Worked out pretty well.

Lynn said…
NwMom - I wouldn't mind homework if high school was actually like college (three hours a day in class). A high school student spends 180 hours in each class. If the work can't be done in 180 hours, time is being wasted.

David White - Your child has an involved parent who values education. He won't experience the achievement gap - whether he does homework in the sixth grade or not.
Anonymous said…

Are you saying that the achievement gap is caused by uninvolved parents who don't value education?

Anonymous said…
I agree with Lynn. The college workload is not at all comparable to the high school workload, being (for the most part) project-based, so that you are able to plan your time and choose to do the work when you are able. The far fewer hours in class also open up many more hours in which to do that work. The LONG high school day with the addition of any after-school commitments such as sports, part-time jobs, or music makes the multi-hour homework load nearly intolerable, especially as kids enter high school. Add on top of the SAT/ACT Prep, AP and SAT subject exams, plus the enormous burden of college admissions stuff during senior year fall, and you have a recipe for a totally stressed-out kid.

The drawbacks of homework often exceed the questionable benefits, in my opinion, esp. in the lower grades. Free unburdened time is also incredibly important for developing minds.

Anonymous said…
Homework in HS is necessary, but some teachers underestimate how much time busywork projects take. HS students have at most 3 hours a night to do HW. If the workload can't be planned to take no more than around 30 min per class per night, then the teacher may need to rethink the assignments. Teachers, please make the homework meaningful and respectful of students' limited time. We are currently dealing with a class that assigns a disproportionate amount of extraneous projects that don't advance the core material, but take lots and lots of the limited time students have to devote to HW. Our child wants to work hard and learn, but the time sucking assignments are not advancing understanding, but diminishing the learning in all classes.

-sanity please
Anonymous said…
My freshman at Ballard has two teachers who have told their classes that they expect students to pull an all-nighter to finish homework. Yikes!

N by NW
Anonymous said…
FWIW, there was no causality in Lynn's statement. I think most of us feel that the only variable we can control as parents is being involved in our children's education.

The parents I know who are pro-homework value it as a window into their child's classroom. I resent that my kid does busywork as homework because some other family feels disconnected from their child's school day. Take a look at their workbooks or writing journals if you are that curious.
Anti-homework said…
Forgot an indentity for that comment. Label me "anti-homework"
Anonymous said…
And some HS students have significantly *less* than 3 hours a night in which to do homework. My own child, who pursues a serious extracurricular interest for 3+ hours every day after school, must get her homework done in 1-2. Some nights, quite frankly, for the sake of her mental and physical health, I've sent her to bed and finished such "busywork" for her, or else allowed her to call in sick so that she can have a day to catch up.

There does not seem any way for her to get through high school in one piece otherwise. I too wish that all teachers understood how insanely busy most high school students' lives are these days. The AP classes alone are like a part-time job. And they NEED their sleep.

Anonymous said…
I disagree strongly with Lynn, and found the comment to David White that "your child has an involved parent who values education. He won't experience the achievement gap - whether he does homework in the sixth grade or not" to be poorly informed and offensive.

The achievement gap is caused by many things. Having an involved parent who values education is surely a big plus, but there are many things beyond Mr. White's control that can and may contribute to lower achievement on the part of his child. They may live in an area with lower quality schools. There are likely lower teacher expectations of AA kids. There are likely higher teacher expectation of misbehavior from his AA boy, leading to higher likelihood of discipline, suspension, etc. There may be more peer pressure to not be a good student. There may be a lot less parent engagement in the school itself, meaning fewer volunteers, fewer after school activities, less PTA money, etc. The teachers, and the curricula, many not be culturally competent. The list goes on. To say that "he won't experience the achievement gap" because his father is engaged in his education is to dismiss the very real impact that socioeconomic factors can have on children and their education. It also suggests that poor achievement is due to parents who just don't care, despite the fact that many parents of low achieving students care deeply but just lack the resources (e.g., free time, excess cash, educational background, English fluency) to do a whole lot to help.

reality bites
Outsider said…
The problem with homework at the elementary level is that it's never differentiated and tends to be useless busywork for many students. It actually creates an awkward dynamic at home: you can't look your child in the eye and say this homework is a good use of his time. It's hard to explain why the system considers useless busywork as an appropriate tool to develop maturity or character. The kid has a tendency to blow it off, and it ends up being the parents who chase after, and make sure it gets back to school, exactly negating any sort of life-lesson that homework is supposed to be teaching.

If homework were tailored to each kid's needs, it could be very helpful. The chance to focus on challenging work a couple hours per week in the calm of home, without the elbows, talking, and constant commotion of the classroom, would be great. But SPS would never do it that way so forget it.
Former Stevens parent said…
My son is a 6th grader at Washington middle school. He and his friends seem to have 20 minutes per week at the moment.
I'm not an advocate for homework, but come on, 20 minutes per week. The level of work that he tells me about in class, is below what he did at Stevens in 5th grade. Thank god for music, or my son would be bored stiff. If it doesn't start to ramp up, I will have to get involved.
Lynn said…
I don't expect you'll make any progress with the school. They are determined not to offer any honors level or Spectrum classes.

I'd be mostly concerned about a lack of challenging work in the classroom than in the homework load.
Former Stevens parent said…
I do think that some homework is fine. It allows for an opportunity to delve deeper into something, but it seems as if the school has two tracks. One for the hcc crowd( who seem to have homework and more rigorous classroom work) and everyone else.
I will be glad when Meany middle school opens next year ( and my kid transfers), so my kid gets the same level of instruction as every other child.
Lynn said…
I think many parents are looking forward to Meany reopening. It will serve a more homogenous population and so may not need to offer separate advanced classes. (Though the principal can choose to offer self-contained Spectrum classes.)

Average demographics at Meany's feeder schools:

9% ELL

8% Asian
20% Black
8% Hispanic
50% White
13% Multi

Average demographics at Washington's feeder schools (which will make up the general education classrooms):

28% ELL

14% Asian
44% Black
11% Hispanic
21% White
11% Multi
z said…
FWIW said: Are you saying that the achievement gap is caused by uninvolved parents who don't value education?

Are you saying this isn't a factor?!

In fact, I'll ask it with more emphasis. Are you saying this isn't a huge factor?
Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
Yes, I agree this homework - it very important, but sometimes students need help with college papers

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