Through her book, The Case Against Homework and her blog, Stop Homework, Sara Bennett is constructing a rather convincing argument that homework is unnecessary and even harmful to our children.
There is almost no evidence that homework helps elementary school students achieve academic success and little evidence that it helps older students. Yet the nightly burden is taking a serious toll on America’s families. It robs children of the sleep, play, and exercise time they need for proper physical, emotional, and neurological development. And it is a hidden cause of the childhood obesity epidemic, creating a nation of “homework potatoes.”
In many parts of the country, children as young as five are coming home from school each night with homework. The homework often has little connection to what they have been taught that day. Many young children are overwhelmed with the work in front of them and many others are bored with the repetitive nature of the assignments. One only has to spend a few minutes in an afterschool program homework club to realize that homework is not making our children smarter. At the same time, it seems important to recognize that homework can be of value when utilized properly. Many assignments can serve to engage both children and parents in an active learning process that truly brings home the concepts that a child has been taught in the classroom. Rather than considering the elimination of homework, school districts ought to consider homework training for their teachers, encouraging them to think outside the box, sending home challenges to excite their students, making them eager to return to the classroom the following day. School districts should challenge themselves to throw away their mimeographed homework sheets and their repetitive assignments that carry no weight with students.
Homework can be a wonderful way for teachers and families to work together, but it has too often become a battle between school and home. Parents feels that their children are given too much. Teachers are frustrated with a lack of cooperation from home, which weakens their ability to educate. Parents spend too much time trying to convince their children to complete the work, without weighing in on the true value of assignments. It seems that with more care and consideration all around, homework could serve the purpose it is intended to.