My daughter just completed her first year of French Immersion, with a grade 1 start. From what I understand, French Immersion is particularly bad for giving homework but, holy cow, did she have a ton of homework? Every. Single. Night. Sometimes it was just reading a poem or two. Other times it was a project. But it was constant.
By the end of the school year, I think I was happier than she was that there would be no more homework for a few months. She’s seven. Her bedtime is still pretty early. I get home from work in just enough time to whip up a quick dinner so we have time to hang out and talk about our day before bed. We fit in the homework, most nights, but it robbed a lot of our free time. Most of the time, the homework annoyed me. It just seemed so unnecessary.
Apparently, my annoyance and feelings weren’t without merit. In fact, a recent 25 year-long study has my back. “There’s no benefit [to homework] at the elementary school level,” the study found.
There have been other studies that discredit the value of homework at all grade levels but this extensive study pinpoints elementary as a particularly useless stage in the academic career for homework.
The research found that, among other things, homework creates a negative impact on a child’s attitude towards school, creates a false sense of responsibility, takes away from necessary rest time kids need to be successful in school, and perhaps most importantly, in this writer’s mind at least, leaves less time for kids to be kids. That’s certainly been the case in my house.
That’s not to say that home can’t be a place to pick up where school leaves off, but the study suggests going about it in different ways, like bedtime reading, household chores and taking kids out to experience culture.
In higher grades, there is more value in giving children work to do at home, the study said. But when children are just getting their feet wet, learning their ABCs, and supposedly discovering a real love for learning, that isn’t the time to overburden kids with nightly school-related responsibilities.
I admittedly struggled to force my daughter to complete her homework every night, and I will fully admit that some nights, I said forget it, and just read an extra book at bedtime to make up for the fact I felt like a terrible mom. It was too much. It is too much.
And yes, I realize another study will come out tomorrow saying that there is value in homework and it does all sorts of valuable things for kids of all ages. But honestly? I agree with the study that, ultimately, my seven-year-old isn’t the one learning to get her homework done and growing because of it. It’s me who is having to find a way to fit it into our already all-too-short evening.
Which I would if I thought it was worthwhile. But I don’t. And this study agrees.