First Monday

This coming Monday, April 6, is the first Monday of the month. As I suggest every month in this blog, I hope you’ll send a note expressing your thoughts about homework to your children’s teachers or, perhaps, to a school administrator or School Board member. Even better, join with a few friends and send a collective note. Ask for a public discussion of the problem. Ask the school to be responsive. If you need help in formulating a note, look in The Case Against Homework for some examples, or see the kinds of notes parents have been writing by browsing Moms (and Dads) on a Mission on this blog. If you do send a note, please post a comment and send me a copy of your letter. And if you get a response from the teacher or school, please let us know that as well.

On the first Monday in February, I sent a copy of my book to the principal of my daughter’s high school–a public high school with more than 4,000 students–in Brooklyn, New York, and I invited him to have a discussion with me about homework. He emailed me back thanking me for the book, told me that he shared excerpts of it with some members of his staff, and invited me to meet with him. I did and we had a very open conversation about homework, stress, testing, and all other kinds of topics and I know we both learned a lot from each other. I also know that our conversation will be ongoing and that he is eager to do what’s best for his students.

I urge you to engage in a conversation with your head of school.

5 Comments on “First Monday”

  1. Whitney says:

    Hi I’m Whitney. I’m in 8th grade and almost ready to graduate. I think it’s time for teacher to get over the tradition of homework and do something new.

    April 3rd, 2009 at 9:30 am
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  2. The Homework Factory says:

    This seems to be an interesting blog and 1 that I will be keeping my eye on. From what I have seen so far if nothing else it certainly raises conversation and debate.

    April 4th, 2009 at 7:43 pm
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  3. HomeworkBlues says:

    Homework Factory, stick around! If nothing, you will not be bored!

    April 4th, 2009 at 10:04 pm
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  4. Cate says:

    Hello

    I live in Australia and am not completely anti-homework but do hate really tedious homework that serves no purpose except as a torture device for parents and children.

    Both my husband and I work full-time so by the time we pick the kids up from after school care and get home it is around 6pm. The kids are supposed to be able to do their homework at the care centre but noone really supervises this so our youngest child (who is 6) usually leaves his until he gets home, by which stage he is practically nodding off at the table. I wrote to his teacher outlining the problems we were having and he was given a modified amount of homework to do. We have also started trying to get it done in the mornings as he is much fresher then.

    We stopped reading logs with our older child (now 5th grade) in 2nd grade by mutual agreement with her teacher as our daughter was reading chapter books on her own (although not every night – mainly just when she felt like it). I was also reading a lot to her which I think can be just as beneficial as the child reading independently. I still read aloud to her and she is 10 years old.

    She has changed to a new school this year and her teacher at this school has a great approach to homework. He is using a version of something known in Australia called the Lillico homework grid and includes things like helping with the shopping and noting down prices of common items, recording things you have recycled during the week, giving a weekly presentation on a set topic, filling in a news diary, doing some brain teasers with the family etc. My daughter loves this homework and it is the first year we have not had to battle with her to get it all done. There is also no expectation that the parent will ‘do the homework’, ie, this teacher is very good at making the kids themselves accountable for what they do and this is so much more effective than any nagging from me or my husband. The homework sheet does include a space for the child to write how much reading they have done during the week but this is completely up to the child and not marked.

    The principal of the school often includes literacy tips in the weekly newsletter and is really big on encouraging parents to read to their children, no matter what age the children are. I like this as it gives me an opportunity to bond with my children over somethign beneficial rather than having to crack the whip over something that is eating into our family time.

    Regards

    Cate

    April 6th, 2009 at 3:05 am
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  5. CLT says:

    I was trying to tack this onto the comment someone made about K-12 being considered Harvard prep by many parents, but I can’t find it, so I’ll write this here. When I was in 5th grade in the early 90s, my highly intelligent, college-educated parents took all of us kids (all elementary school age) out of school for a week TO GO TO DISNEYWORLD. I was shocked at the time, but I learned a valuable lesson about the importance of family time to them, and it has stuck with me ever since.

    Incidentally, we took our homework with us, but I didn’t do a lick of it, didn’t ever make it up, and still made the honor roll that term. I had a harder time catching up when the class learned to multiply two-digit numbers when I was out with the chicken pox in the third grade. I thought of this story when my friend was anxious about taking her kids out of school for a week to go to a wedding out of state. I think her oldest is in 2nd or 3rd grade.

    In elementary school, don’t sweat the homework. If they miss an important concept, teach it at home. And after elementary, family should still come first.

    April 8th, 2009 at 6:22 pm
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