There’s a new homework book, Rethinking Homework: Best Practices that Support Diverse Needs, by Cathy Vatterott, an associate professor of education at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, who calls herself Homework Lady. The first half of the book, which I loved, takes a fresh look at the research on homework and is written in a very accessible way. The second half of the book challenges teachers to rethink their homework policies and suggests ways to make homework more meaningful. Obviously, I would have preferred a book that followed through to the end with its indictment of homework, rather than suggesting ways to improve it, but I understand the author’s desire to appeal to teachers and this book certainly will. And, if teachers follow her advice to differentiate homework, then maybe those parents who don’t wish for homework at all will get that kind of accommodation.
My favorite part of the book is her Bill of Rights for Homework. She suggests that all teachers implement the following 6 “rights”:
1. Children shall not be required to work more than 40 hours a week, when class time is added to homework time.
2. Children shall have the right to homework they can complete without help. If they cannot complete homework without help, children shall be entitled to reteaching or modified assignments.
3. A child’s academic grade shall not be put in jeopardy because of incomplete homework. Children shall be entitled to an in-school or after-school homework support program if they are unwilling or unable to complete work at home.
4. A child’s right to playtime, downtime, and adequate sleep shall not be infringed upon by homework.
5. Parents shall be entitled to excuse their child from homework that the child does not understand or is too tired to finish.
6. Families should be entitled to weekends and holidays free from homework.