Today’s guest blogger, Aurora DeMarco, lives in Brooklyn, New York, where her 10th- and 1st-graders attend public school. Aurora recently decided to get together some of the first grade parents to see whether they could change homework policy at her school.
My First Grader is Overloaded with Worksheets
by Aurora DeMarco
I was shocked at the increased homework load of my 6 year old compared to the homework load 10 years earlier of that of my 16 year old. My older daughter did not get homework until second grade and even then it was one sheet a night and a requirement that the child read to their parents for 15 minutes. Meanwhile my younger daughter started being assigned homework in kindergarten and by first grade was overloaded with worksheets. A typical night involved, reading, filling out the reading log, two math sheets, a word study sheet and flashcards for her weekly spelling test.
A friend suggested I read The Case Against Homework. Just by chance, while I was reading the book, I saw Sara Bennett in the hallway at parent/teacher night at my older daughter’s school and I talked to her about my frustrations.
As a result I was inspired to organize the parents at my younger daughter’s school. It turns out that many other children and parents were frustrated. We found out that the stated policy of the school was that homework in the early grades should take 20 minutes (10 minutes of reading, 10 minutes of worksheets) per night. Unfortunately, the practice was not in keeping with their stated homework guidelines. Many of us were spending an hour
or more a night with our children who were showing clear signs of stress. We decided to tread carefully and ask that a survey be distributed to the parent body to determine if there was widespread concern about homework overload. We were told by the principal that “homework was not up for discussion”.
Frustrated, but not thwarted, we also decided to send a letter to the School Leadership Team (SLT) outlining our concerns that our children’s homework policy needed a review. (Return tomorrow to read a copy of the letter.) After discussing our letter, we were able to find agreement on two items: teachers should periodically check in with parents to see how homework is going.
It was also decided that students should not be made to do their uncompleted homework during lunch or recess. In addition to our work with the SLT, we began having private dialogues with our children’s teachers and many of us simply refused to do with our children, the homework we felt was harmful. We were told that the first grade teachers met and discussed adjusting their homework expectations. Since then my daughter’s homework load has lessened and the homework has gotten less tedious. Despite the negative response by the school principal, we were glad that we kept pushing.