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Too Much Homework for Kids

Updated on April 13, 2012

Homework is a Dirty Word

Homework is not a word that brings a smile to your face. Why do teachers even assign homework? It coughs up a cloud of dread and frustration over my household almost every day. It has been more than 20 years since I was assigned homework, but I don't recall having much anxiety over it then. Things are different today. My children bring home mountains of meaningless, very "in-the-box" homework assignments. Really, what is the purpose of homework? And if we have to have it, how can we make it better?

Does Your Child Have Too Much Homework?

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What's Homework For Anyway?

Educators have explained that homework is crucial for practicing skills and teaching responsibility. Aren't the kids practicing skills during the seven plus hours they are in school each day? And I can think of a dozen better ways to teach responsibility than pouring over endless math worksheets into the night. I understand the importance and need for book reports and projects. Those are great for creativity, self confidence, and for guess what else? - teaching responsibility! My problem is with the worksheets, worksheets, worksheets - pure busy work.

Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

Homophones are words that sound alike but are spelled differently and have different meanings. Fill in the blanks with homophones.

The ____________ was thrilled to have Beethoven as a guest.

The museum has a fine collection of _________________.

(SPOILER ALERT: the answer is at the bottom of this article)

What's the Real Problem with Homework?

The problem with the quantity of homework can easily be solved. No child should spend more than 1 hour on homework each weekday. Weekends should be homework-free. Make a contract with your teacher or principal agreeing that your child will spend one hour on homework and then stop whether it is finished or not. The child should not be penalized for unfinished work. If the students are spending more than an hour on the work, it is too much.

Maybe the real problem is the quality of homework. First of all, worksheets should be banned altogether. Trying to fit a student into the box of rigid worksheets is fruitless. In the blue-shaded box above, is an example from my 5th grade daughter's homework today (yes, this was the inspiration for this article). There was not a corresponding word bank or story that gave you a clue to what the words might be. I plan to ask this question to all the adults at our next family gathering to see who is smarter than a 5th grader! The worst part of this question, is that if my daughter comes up with an answer that fits, but does not match the answer in the teacher's answer book, it is marked wrong. So much for creativity and out of the box thinking. Let's teach conformity instead.

One of my biggest pet peeves is my child's vocabulary worksheets. There is a word bank of 15 new vocabulary words to be used to answer 15 questions about a corresponding reading passage. You only use each word once. My daughter follows the directions, uses complete sentences and shows full understanding of each vocabulary word. Unfortunately, her word choices do not match the exact ones in the teacher's answer book, so those answers are marked incorrect. It is absurd!

Assignment: Create a Food Pyramid Poster
Assignment: Create a Food Pyramid Poster

Change the Quality of Homework

I agree that there is value to bringing home knowledge from school and applying it, but are schools really doing this with worksheets and other busy work? How about asking the students to write a poem, or build a prop, or take a survey, or create a poster? Imagine homework that is engaging and interesting. My daughter once attended a magnet school that did have this philosophy. One assignment was to find a tree in her yard or neighborhood, sketch it and write a poem about it. I suggested this to her current school principal, but was told that most parents want simple homework that the kids can knock out by themselves. If the homework is too elaborate or creative, parents will complain about having to get involved, and, dare say, have to make a trip to the craft store. Really? Have parents now jumped on the bandwagon of assembly line, one-size-fits-all teaching and learning? We can do better than this.

Don't be afraid to bring homework concerns to your teacher, principal or PTA. This is an important issue and our children deserve better. See if you can make a difference at your school.


Did you guess the correct homophones?

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The Answers

Okay, here they are. The correct homophones are "prince" and "prints." My daughter thought of "Jim" and "gems", but realized "The Jim" didn't make sense. My husband offered "colonel" and "kernel", but we weren't so sure about the corn kernel exhibit at the museum! My input was "aunt" and "ant", but we haven't really heard of a fine ant collection either.

Bonus Question: Name the class or group these two words belong to:

"bow" and "stick"

Leave a comment and let me know what you come up with - we are still stuck on that one! I think my daughter came up with a pretty good guess, but we won't know until next week if it was "correct."


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    • profile image

      protechno 6 years ago

      Home-work is given to students to make up for the loss of education that the teacher forgot to impart. Not that there is any education at all in present day public or private schools. Teaching maybe, but no education.

      Yes there is a difference between education and teaching.

      Growing up I always felt that there was something wrong with the schooling system and I on my part was sent to one of the (presumably) most prestigious school of the city. I still wonder who decided that it's prestigious, maybe that person needs some serious check-up.

      And it all started to make sense, when I read John Taylor Gatto and one book, which I will highly recommend is DDDOA aka "Deliberate Dumbing Down of America".

      Highly recommended for teachers and parents.

      Thanks for Sharing :)

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image

      Sarah Johnson 6 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      You are a trip, DML, and right on! It would be nice to send our kids off to public school and not have a worry, but the truth is, parents have to be very involved and advocate when necessary. Homework is only the tip of the iceburg.

      I need to go back and re-read 1984. Thanks!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 6 years ago from Oakley, CA

      I, too, suffered massive frustration with homework back in my day, and hit the re-play button when my own kids were in school. All of it was a long time ago, but still frustrating and maddening enough for me to have written a hub about the entire concept, ("Why homework is a bad idea"), some time back.

      I THINK your two words at the end may fall under 'gerunds,' that is, words that can have different meanings, and serve as either nouns or verbs.

      ("Bow to the Queen," or "Tie a bow on the package.")

      ("Throw the stick for the dog," or "Stick this note to the refrigerator.")

      I did not vote in your polls, because the my answers would not address my current situation. But, yes, my youngest had too much homework, back in the 1980s!

      This was a well-written hub with specific examples of the stupid busy-work that is sent home. Who makes this stuff up? And we let these people teach our children???!!! Be very afraid!

      Finally, yes, as another commenter said, testing is out of control, so the instructors are busy teaching to a test instead of offering a real education. It is actually dangerous to have such a rigid 'please conform''s the stepping stone to losing all our freedoms, which are already under attack.

      Go back and read the book "1984" by George Orwell. He was right--he just got the year wrong...

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image

      Sarah Johnson 6 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      April, that sounds like an awesome approach to homework - I wish all the schools would do this. My daughter's 5th grade class just held a debate on too much homework. Hopefully, the school will take notice of all the concerns raised by the students!

    • April Reynolds profile image

      April Reynolds 6 years ago from Arizona

      Our school recently stopped counting homework as part of the students grades. It now has a separate grade as a life skill. My kids still hate doing it, but at least if I decide its busy work, it won't affect their grade if they don't do it.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image

      Sarah Johnson 6 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      jfay2011, Homework is dreaded in my home, too, to the point of tears. I worry what that does to a child's love of learning.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image

      Sarah Johnson 6 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Agreed, bizwin! Definitely here in the US where testing has gotten out of control, leading to more homework to prepare for the state tests. Seems to be a hot issue these days.

    • bizwin profile image

      Christabel Evans 6 years ago from England, UK

      Great work Chaplin. I think this homework thing affects every parents all over the world. I'm in that category. spending all the time on my child's homework.

    • jfay2011 profile image

      jfay2011 6 years ago

      Good hub. My kids hate homework. It usually gets delayed until later.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image

      Sarah Johnson 6 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks for the input, RTalloni. I also don't hear prince and prints as true homophones. On bow and stick, my daughter linked violin "bow" and drum"stick", so maybe on the right path!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      I always have trouble with so-called homophones because I clearly "hear" a difference in prince and prints in my head, as well as in Jim and gem. (Maybe I should learn a tonal language--oh, maybe that's why I think so many people mumble--hmmm.)

      A bow and a stick are synonymous in the world of music.

      Learning about homophones, synonyms, etc. should be done in tandem with vocabulary at the 5th grade level. A vocabulary based word bank on the worksheet would be appropriate.


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