I’m not saying that homework is unimportant, or that kids should get a pass. But once children have been in school for a while, the responsibility for homework needs to shift over to them.
But what if my child fails because she doesn’t do homework? The child should be taught that doing assignments will help help her get better grades. If the child realizes that the homework is irrelevant to her test scores, or that she doesn’t care about the grades, that’s okay.
Don’t children have to learn to follow instructions and do things we don’t like? Sure, in most jobs or in the army they will need to do meaningless tasks just because someone says so. I’ll give them credit that they’ll figure it out when the time comes. But meanwhile, the energy saved on homework enforcement can go to other things.
All of us have to do paperwork, housework or other boring, repetitive tasks almost every day. But there are consequences when those things don’t get done (overdraft, lack of a paycheck, no clean dishes). As a parent, I don’t want to impose artificial consequences on my children for not doing homework. If the school wants to impose reasonable consequences, like a lower grade, that’s okay with me. Then it’s between the child and the teacher, the way it should be. But if the teacher in charge of the material can’t motivate children to do their homework, how can the parents?
What about more substantial homework assignments like research projects? I’m glad to help my kids with these, except that the teacher never explains to the kids what they have to do, step by step (the way I was taught). In every case, the teachers give a general outline and leave the rest up to the parents.
When kids are starting out in school, they need help with how to organize their books and their time. And some kids will need more help than others, and for longer. At times, all children need help with homework. But the message ultimately needs to be that the child is responsible for keeping track of assignments, bringing home the right materials, allowing enough time, and so on.
I found a couple of interesting discussions on the net when I googled "My kid won’t do his homework.":
- Garden Web discussion. See the responses regarding kids with both very high and very low academic ability, both arguing against homework.
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