No Homework Policy?

Oh, the honeymoon in the beginning of the school year. New backpacks, lunch boxes, smiles, and the excitement of school in the air. The novelty may have worn off my now. Have a school age child? How would a “No Homework Policy” sound?

You may ask yourself, does my child have time to:

  1. Play?
  2. Create?
  3. Run?
  4. Go to bed early?

Beliefs Behind Homework

Full disclosure, I am not condoning a homework policy; however, some parents and children have stress, anxiety and power struggles to no end. So, know there are options! As a parent, you may feel very strongly either way about homework. Please, by no means do I want to push my beliefs.  I do want you and your children to know that if you are feeling overstressed, overwhelmed and overscheduled, there perhaps are other options. If homework is a problem in your house, you feel bad for your child, you are getting into power struggles. Is it possible to see things differently?

Have you tried the following strategies below, only to have your child continue to refuse homework?

  1. Routine Charts
  2. Timers
  3. Screen-time incentives
  4. Spaces with desks and cozy chairs
  5. Meeting with your child’s teacher

Parent-Teacher-Student Conference

Another meeting with your child’s teacher may be in order. Remember conferences are respectful when parents, teacher and your child are included. This provides an opportunity to create a connected and positive experience between home and school. During this meeting let your child share first, if he or she is willing. Allow your child to have a voice about their homework.

If the teacher asked your son, “What would help you most to get your homework completed?” would your child response be, “for my parents to stop nagging me!”?  I know there have been many times my son would say that. Your toughest job as a parent is to accept that school is your child’s job, not yours, says Jane Nelson, founder of Positive Discipline. Your child will feel encouraged through this process. 

Homework Reduction

Know that you can also be an advocate for your child if homework is causing too much stress and tension. Homework that your child’s teacher is intending to take 10 minutes may be taking your child 30 minutes or longer, and her love for learning may be fading. Let your child’s teacher know that you are reading every night as a family together and maybe that alone is enough, or could reduced homework be an option?

No matter what the school’s response is, you know what is best for your child’s healthy development.  Send in notes to your child’s teacher with a reading log or other educational activities and opportunities that may have fulfilled some of the homework goals. Even household chores are a part of building life skills for your child.

Research on Homework

“There is no evidence that any amount of homework improves the academic performance of elementary students. There is only a moderate correlation between homework and achievement in middle school. Even in high school too much homework may diminish its effectiveness and become counterproductive.” (Cooper, Harris, Jorgianne Civey, and Erica A. Patall, “Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Research, 1987-2003.” Review of Educational Research, 76, 2006, 1-62.)

Creative Learning

Many elementary schools are opting out of homework and requiring reading logs, creative activities, and school and home-based projects. Hands-on, interactive and child-directed learning can be beneficial for children’s learning. 

Forcing homework on children causes them to lose their creative spark, says Alfie Kohn, author of The Homework Myth.

Ok, so now parents know homework can’t be forced? How about musical instruments, can we force that? I mean, if I could just get my child to practice his ukulele for 10 minutes. Ten minutes isn’t much to ask, is it?! We tried the routine chart, timers, cozy spaces and music teacher meetings. I guess I can only hope for more relaxing evenings, hoping my first grader won’t tear the house apart! The honeymoon is definitely over.


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