An Associated Press article featured in today's Modesto Bee about homework made me reflect on my homework practices in my classroom.
I give my students an average of 35 minutes of homework a night. 15 minutes of reading and 20 minutes of skill review. I wait to send homework home until Back to School Night at the beginning of the year because I like to review my homework policy and homework guidelines for parents. In addition to reviewing this material with parents, I also have homework guideline handouts from the United States Department of Education in both English and Spanish for them to take home.
My Homework Policy - Very Simple
1) A homework packet is sent home on Friday and is to be completed and returned on Thursday.
The reason for a weekly packet instead of sending home daily work is because I know that families are not always available to work with kids every night of the week. Many of the parents at my school are night time factory workers. They get to see their kids when they leave for school in the morning and then again on the weekend. If I send a packet home, families can find the time either during the week or on the weekend to work together with their children. I usually have all but 1 or 2 kids turn in their homework.
2) Homework must be completed by the student.
Now I know that this sounds silly but you would be surprised at how many times in my teaching career that I have had to call parents and let them know that it was not ok for them to be completing their child's packet.
3) Don't rush through the packet - do your personal best on each page.
I want homework to be a meaningful learning experience, not just busy work.
The first month of homework is always a struggle. I have to keep going over the rules with both the kids and the parents. I have to bribe kids to make sure the homework is turned in on time. After that though, it is usually smooth sailing. This year, I have had a great return on homework overall. On two separate occasions, I had students who lost their homework packets and didn't come to me and ask for another one. Instead, they took it upon themselves to go to a friend's house from our room, copy the assignments on blank paper and then do the homework. I have never had such responsible students!
Here are some interesting findings from the AP article and my thoughts about them:
1) Less educated parents spend more time helping kids with take home assignments.
I believe this.
2) The most affluent parents spend the least time helping their kids with homework.
Kind of related to the above statement - I also agree that it is probably true.
3) Women spend an average 46 minutes a day helping with homework. Men spend 35 minutes.
I TOTALLY believe this one!
4) Black parents spend more times than Latinos or whites on homework help.
I have no clue about this one - can't really comment.
5) Public school students spend less time on homework than kids in other schools.
I almost didn't publish this one because I know that SOMEONE reading this blog would want to tell me that this is the reason that we need vouchers!
(Boo-down with vouchers)