Last week, after two researchers from the University of Toronto released a study on parental attitudes towards homework and recommended that homework be abolished in elementary school, there were numerous letters to the editors of Canadian newspapers. Here’s one of my favorites, written by Toronto mother of three, Claire Watson, and published in thestar.com:
After reading Andrea Gordon’s affirming response to the “homework wars” and agreeing with everything related to parent-child conflict, unrealistic expectations of what children can accomplish on their own, her legitimate examples of “good” homework vs. “bad” homework, I was dismayed to read her conclusion. If research shows that homework in the elementary years is of “no benefit” to students, then her suggestion to “outsource” the supervision of homework to tutors or after-school clubs is a sellout position.
The logical conclusion to draw from the research is that homework should be abolished for Grades 1 to 6. As the parent of three children, the youngest in Grade 2, I have quietly rebelled for many years on behalf of my kids at the quantity of homework, the unclear guidelines that lead to parent and child frustration, and at the encroachment of homework into other life-enriching activities, such as sports and music that are not available in school due to cutbacks.
I wholeheartedly agree that reading to your child is essential for fostering parent-child relationships, language and literacy. I believe that children learn so much about life incidentally through play and need after-school time to hang out with other children. I also believe in a parent’s role in helping their child observe and discover their world, as this complements the academic learning of the classroom.
All this can best be achieved through communication from teachers on what children are learning from week to week so that parents can extend classroom themes into their child’s larger world.
I, too, am very weary of the homework slog and hope the Toronto District School Board will heed the research and make appropriate changes to homework policy now. What adult in their right mind looks forward to taking work home at the end of the day?