Has Homework Become an Interruption?

Homework was not my thing in school. I typically scraped by finishing whatever subject was due just before class. This meant I was often in stealth ninja mode completing my assignments for one class while pretending to listen to the teacher of another.

It became a vicious cycle that I successfully navigated for most of my middle and high school career. It worked for me at the time, I actually graduated high-school with honors, but I would discover that I wasn’t doing myself any favors once I reached college.

Unfortunately, my learned routine would not work in an environment where the ability to study independently would make or break my undergraduate career. My study habits sucked, and I learned that college professors could be very unforgiving, much like the real world.

Homework - Math

Image Credit: Marco Nedermeijer (Creative Commons)

This past year, my son entered the first grade. I had been warned that he would be overwhelmed with homework. I lost count of the masses of parents who complained that six and seven-years-olds aren’t ready for nightly homework and “ridiculous” projects. Sadly, I almost bit and joined in the negative rants knowing that our son would be one of the youngest 1st graders in his school.

The first semester has come and gone and I’m happy to report that our first grader has, indeed, had homework every night. In addition to his homework, he’s required to read a minimum of 60 minutes per week. And, yes, there has been a project or two sprinkled in for good measure.

Being the parent of a grade-schooler, I hear the groans and displeasure of our students’ homework much more frequently. It’s no wonder our children grow and enter successive grades with such disdain for homework and independent study. Our students enter school eager to learn, thirsting for knowledge, and within just a few short years look at education and classrooms with contempt all due to the behavior modeled by their parents.

Homework becomes an inconvenience, and many parents voice their displeasure of this interruption to their children.

A parent’s number one complaint regarding homework and helping their children study is the lack of time. It’s hard to get in homework between all the extracurricular activities. Many parents echo that homework just adds to the stress of a busy schedule.

Ask yourself, who makes the grade-schooler’s schedule busy? Who’s adding the stress by initiating a chaotic schedule? Where are we teaching our children to focus their priorities when extracurricular activities are valued ahead of education? Who’s really to blame when your child brings home a grade less than your expectation?

Too often, we focus the blame on our teachers and a failing education system. As parents, we should be challenged to discover our own accountability for helping our children thrive and grow as a student and life long learner. By putting emphasis on homework and independent study, is it possible that we encourage our children to discover their own strengths and self worth?

Are you encouraging your children to put education or extracurricular first? What are some ways that you’re making time to help your child complete their homework and school projects?


The Beginning
About Chad Miller

I'm an active Husband and Dad to a son and daughter. I passionately pursue, encourage, and inspire others to help change the image of Dads from family idiot to Family Leader. You can follow my journey at ReWritingDad.com.

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  1. I couldn’t agree with you more! While most parents understand the time and energy it takes to educate their children (and that includes homework to practice and reinforce skills taught in school), some put education secondary to extracurricular activities. While sports and arts are among many enriching experiences, education serves as a necessary foundation to everyone’s lives. It’s up to parents to set values and help manage their children’s time. However, there are some parents who can’t say no or those who enroll their kids in multiple activities to show others they have the means to do so. Fortunately, those parents are in the minority – hopefully.

  2. James Hudyma says:

    I’m going to respond with my teacher hat on. I have essentially stopped giving homework because it doesn’t get done. Instead, I have a home reading program and a class website with educational links and updates on classroom happenings. The website gets very little traffic and only a few kids actually participate in the reading program even though a completed sheet comes with a free pizza and a pass to our local waterpark.

    • I spent this morning in some High School classrooms, and was not at all surprised when students freely admitted they hadn’t done their homework from last night. One teacher in particular had assigned one chapter of a book be read and even sent home the 15 quiz questions that would be given today. All they had to do was answer the questions ahead of time to avoid having to take the quiz during class. The average completed number of questions… 5.
      What I was stunned by was the apathy of the students and their complaining of how difficult the teacher was. Again, another mindset that is created at home.

    • That is terribly sad to hear that students have little regard for homework. In your experience as an educator, have you seen a trend leading up to this apathy? What do you think is causing this and is there any hope? Which grade do you teach and is there an age where the homework participation drops off?

  3. James Hudyma says:

    This response is with my parent hat on. My kids will do homework every night. My kids will read every night. Education comes first.

  4. Azadeh says:

    In my opinion, a reward system (based on child’s age and interest) gives them a motivation for staying on homework. Positive effects of rewarding have been proven in all aspects of upbringing.

    • You make a good point, Azadeh. Do you think a reward system can also lead to unrealistic expectations? Some may argue the satisfaction of completing a task to the best of your ability is reward enough. For instance, what reward is there is completing your daily tasks at work, other than keeping your job?

  5. Teresa says:

    I don’t think 6-year-olds should be having homework, aside from worksheets they didn’t finish in class…they’ve spent 6 hours in school already, they don’t need more of the same, they need free play, reading-at-home, or enrichment/extracurricular activites. That said, if there IS homework, parents absolutely MUST model curiosity and positive attitudes towards academics!

This is what I think...