Homework. People seem to have strong feelings about it. Now that the year is over and we can discuss it calmly, let’s have a little retrospective.

I have to admit that homework has been a thing this year. A thing to fight about, to whine about, to resist, to resent. (And that was just me.) While on the face of it kindergarten homework is so easy as to be almost (almost! bear with me) pointless, getting my son to just sit down and focus on a piece of paper and a pencil again, after a six-hour schoolday, is not trivial. Especially when we’d both rather he was outside in the fresh air, burning off some of that six-year-old energy riding his bike, or working on his social skills by having light-saber fights with his friend across the road.

At our little parent-teacher conference earlier in the year, his teacher asked me how long he was spending at his homework. She was surprised when I said it takes him twenty minutes or more, because in the classroom he’s a diligent and attentive worker. Sure, when she’s the one asking, and it’s a new day and there’s nothing more interesting he could be doing anyway. I mentioned to her that some people think homework should be done away with altogether. This was news to her.

“There’s a whole movement to abolish it,” I said.
“Here?” She was alarmed.
“No, I mean, in general.”

Evidently, news of the Stop Homework Now front has not reached the teacher-training colleges, and the research showing that homework at elementary level is of little or no use is not discussed either there or in the staff lounge of our local school.

I do think that at this early stage he’s going to learn at his own pace, and I don’t want to push him. Luckily he’s not the sort of child who agonizes over getting things exactly perfect (more like slapdash me, then, for all my type-A tendencies), so “good enough” every evening was fine for both of us. And every Thursday, homework was finding an object for show-and-tell the next day, so really he only had three nights a week of sit-down writing this year. We ignored the optional take-home packets of work at Christmas and Spring break. Reading at bedtime, is, of course, standard.

I know that I had little or no homework for my first two years of school, because I was an early reader and our homework was always to read the next page of our reading book. Since I had perused the entire thrilling saga of John and Mary, and the antics of Spot the dog, on the way home from buying my schoolbooks in August, I was done with that. I don’t remember anything about homework until I was in second grade, at the earliest. Having nothing further to do after school until I was 7 doesn’t seem to have set me back a great deal. (After all, I’m a DC Moms contributor now, and not many can say that.)

On the other hand, at some stage pretty much everyone in mainstream schooling has homework. And this year has taught him to sit down at home, write the date at the top of the page, find out what his assignment is, and complete it. It’s also shown me more about his progress than I would otherwise have gleaned, as I’ve watched his writing become neater, smaller, and more appropriately placed on the page, as well as seen that when he draws people they no longer all have enormous, Hulk-like arms. Unless he’s drawing Bruce Banner. (It’s also taught me that we need to keep the pencils away from his sister, who likes to bite the erasers off the tops.)

What have you learned from homework this year? Do you think it should be abolished?