Let me start with a warning. If you are easily threatened when the status quo is challenged, best you stop reading now. Go check out the Everyday Math website for parent help with homework. If you are a teacher who swears by homework, stop reading. Please. I'm sure you are a wonderful teacher; we'll just need to agree to disagree.
Now, here's a shocking revelation. I HATE homework. I don't like assigning it, grading it or doing it with my bio-kids at home. It hasn't always been this way. When I started teaching second grade almost twenty years ago I assigned weekly spelling homework, because that's just what we did. I tried to provide choice and make it "fun," but let's call a spade a spade, when you "assign" something, it's work. Plain and simple.
Parents would challenge me once in a while and I stood my ground, homework was assigned Monday and due Friday, they had ALL WEEK to do it. I couldn't understand the fuss. Then I had kids.
I now go to school, teach fourth grade all day. Do all the e-mailing of parents and prep required for the next day and rush home to my own kids. We eat a snack and then sit at the counter to do MORE fourth grade work. Then we rush off to dance, or baseball, soccer, whatever happens to be on the docket (and trust me, I limit the docket). As I was helping my oldest son with his latest unclear homework assignment, that irritated feeling struck me again. Who the heck are teachers to dictate how families spend their precious home time with their children?
I know teaching is an exception, but how many hourly employees go to work all day and then come home to continue their hourly work? We teachers bemoan how kids come to school without imagination, unable to think for themselves, their parents aren't having rich conversations with them. Perhaps it's because these families are too busy completing worksheet after worksheet.
As a mom it's my job to love my kids, to teach them right from wrong, to nurture their interests and develop their little spirits. As a teacher it's my job to teach my students how to read, write, compute, think, and present their ideas. I'm not saying that these two jobs should never cross, but I am getting a little tired of the lines crossing too much.
Great cognitive development happens through unstructured outside play. As I sit inside on the first sunny day we've had all week working on this infernal famous person report I feel that both the teacher and I are doing a disservice to my son by denying him the opportunity to let home be home. It is insulting to families to assume that without a teacher's directive they are incapable of raising their students. What if the reverse were true? What if I sent to the teacher the list of what my son should be doing at school?
If a parent would like suggestions of how to enhance the work of the school at home I am happy to provide direction. In fact, next year I think my "homework" will consist of a monthly letter of "cool stuff to try with your kid at home." In other words, here's a list of things I don't have the money or time to do with all the kids, but it's pretty neat. I will not collect homework, unless mandated to do so by administration (I sure hope they aren't reading this).
It comes down to this: I trust parents to do what they feel is best for their kids at home, and I hope to earn their trust that I do what I feel is best for their kids at school. Now go play with your kid.