Lisa Maira, a kindergarten and first grade teacher in Massachusetts, dislikes homework as a mother herself. When she does assign it, it’s almost always a less rigid form of homework, usually an assignment that allows kids to practice something they learned at school that day.
Ideally, the assignment allows students to act as “teachers” in front of their families, giving them a sense of ownership and command of the subject. This emphasizes family communication and bonding over instruction.
The minimal homework she assigns is intended to help children become self-directed learners. She said, “It’s also important that parents are informed that these activities are designed to build executive function skills and not to be a source of stress or busy work.”
Maira’s dislike for traditional homework has grown stronger as the pandemic progresses.
“Parents have had so much to deal with during COVID and home-work often feels like an additional burden, on them and on their kids,” Maira told HuffPost. “Kids will need time to decompress after school, now more than ever, and they need their parents to be there to support their emotional needs.”
Though the stress of the pandemic has brought this topic to the forefront, rethinking homework is not a new concept.
Some schools have experimented with a no-homework policy in recent years, citing studies that show assigning home-work in elementary and middle school does not result in higher standardized test scores.
Alfie Kohn, a lecturer and author of “The Home-work Myth,” has been leading the charge against home-work.
Kohn said, “The sad irony is that there is absolutely no evidence that homework is useful at this age.
“In fact, no study has found any academic benefit to giving students home-work before they’re in high school and even at that point the evidence is dubious that it’s necessary to make kids work what amounts to a second shift after having spent six or seven hours in school.”
According to Kohn, “Home-work may be the greatest single extinguisher of natural curiosity ever created. We already know that homework can lead to frustration and exhaustion, family conflict, less time for children to pursue activities they care about, and, most disturbing, a loss of interest in learning.”
Though the pandemic’s stress has brought this topic to the fore, rethinking homework isn’t a new concept. Some schools have tried a no-home-work policy in recent years, citing studies that demonstrate that assigned homework in elementary and middle school does not result in greater standardized test scores.
The “Who Needs Homework?” movement has been led by Alfie Kohn, a speaker and author of “The Home-work Myth.”