Here’s a letter Caroline Moellering of Chicago, Illinois sent to her first-grade son’s co-teachers at his private Catholic school when she learned that the teachers would be assigning weekend homework. When her older daughter was in the same school, there was no weekend homework.
Please Don’t Assign Weekend Homework to First Graders
by Caroline Moellering
Dear first grade co-teachers in a downtown Chicago Catholic school,
Thanks for your quick response to my email. I feel compelled to further question the decision to mandate weekend homework so please bear with me.
My concern is that you indicated in your announcement that there would be homework “most Fridays”. The qualifier ‘most’ to me indicates a pretty great percentage of the time, ~90% in my view. I am hoping you will consider reversing this new mandate to ‘rarely, if ever’ or ‘never’. Currently there is much discussion by educators about the value of homework for children, particularly in the younger grades. There is also concern that children are suffering because one of the most valuable conponents of early childhood development, play, is not occuring as children’s time is being eaten up by the over-prescription of homework. Also sacrificed are opportunities to spend quality time with parents and siblings in activities the family unit finds engaging. This could be travel or outings but can also be as simple as cooking a meal together or going for a walk. Finally, children are increasingly suffering from stress and stress-related issues as educators expect more and more of children at younger ages.
Interestingly, I understand that at the 4th-grade curriculum night, teachers announced that there would NOT be weekend homework because children need downtime and quality time with their families and friends. I would certainly appreciate the same concern for my first-grade son and his peers.
Please understand that I am not questioning this just for my family. Fintan is very self-sufficient and disciplined and doesn’t require all of the coaching, hemming and hawing that I understand many parents of children in younger grades suffer through. My concerns reflect a greater compassion for all children and parents. For all parents, working parents in particular, the mere act of getting everyone home, fed and bathed, is exhausting. Friday nights, and weekends in general, often offer a respite in which bedtimes can be pushed back a little and lack of additional tasks (I.e. Homework) allow for peace, calm, relaxation and valuable time for sharing and togetherness.
I hope you will continue to discuss this as a first-grade team but perhaps even at a higher level for the entire school community. I would be happy to supply you with further sources about play, childhood development, the importance of quality family time, etc. Additionally, I believe a number of initiatives could be taken to help parents find simple yet engaging ways to foster intellectual curiousity and creativity at home which could yield great results and make our school a leader in the development of educational efforts targeted at parents and families. This could encompass a number of simple outreach efforts that I would be happy to share with interested parties.
Thanks for your time and further consideration of this matter.