Friday, January 8, 2016

Why I ignore most of my son's homework

My son has been in school since he was six weeks old. Not daycare. School. Before he reached preschool age, he had endured extensive homework requests to put together collages of various themes, build beanstalks, retell stories and (once) to build a robot. And we did it all because education is important to me.

But now he is in Kindergarten and he has homework every school day. Most of the time, we don't do it. I look at the monthly list of items to do, and they all take around 20 minutes, which is time we don't have in the evenings. Frankly, I am more interested in getting dinner on the table and him to bed on time than I am in having him put together a collage. And if we manage to have free time one night, I would rather us play a board game together than argue over the sentence he should write explaining a connection he made to a character in a story.

My son is naturally inquisitive ("can we talk about the Big Bang?"), asks good follow up questions when he doesn't understand ("why is a group of tigers called an ambush and not a pride?") and retains the stories that I tell him so that he can repeat them in his own words (his retelling of the asteroid impact at Chicxulub that helped wipe out the dinosaurs is a thing of beauty.) In short, he is a typical 5-year-old.

I do not want to squash his natural wonder of the world by bogging him down in homework. As this piece in The Atlantic points out, children are enduring so much school structure (starting with preschool) that they are basically burning out by second grade.

So, we cherry pick from the homework list. We do the "bigger" projects on weekends; we skip the stuff he knows already. There are fewer arguments in the household. And my son is still above average on his core skills.

I'll worry more about homework next year, when grades start to matter. For now, I just want him to have a few more precious months of learning by fun.

What's your take on homework? Tell me in the comments.

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