Toronto Zoo

Don’t Do Your Homework

So I don’t make my kids do their homework. I confess that it causes ongoing, low-grade conflict with their teachers, but I have my reasons.

First, they’re only in Grades 6 and 4 (the one in kindergarten doesn’t yet get homework, thank heavens), and I don’t feel like they need to spend more than six hours a day doing formal education. There needs to be some time in their day for unstructured play and exploration, for just hanging out with friends, and for other recreational activities. I want them to live lives that are more than just school. I want them to know that there are other things of importance too.

Second, most of what gets sent home is basically busy work. The kids get math exercises and spelling sheets and anything else the teachers can imagine to help the students repeat and reinforce what they’re learning in class. That’s all good to be sure, but there’s little there that’s very stimulating. There’s certainly nothing there that will hurt them to ignore.

Third, I don’t want to do it any more than they do. I figure it this way – if I can’t see the value in it, if I wouldn’t do it myself, I’m being hypocritical if I force them to do it. If I want them to do things that are worth doing, things that challenge them, things that stimulate them to learn and grow, I should model this in my expectations for them.

As I said, this does sometimes cause conflict with their teachers. They feel that homework reinforces what’s being taught in school, that it builds good habits for later years, that allows parents to participate in their children’s learning, and I don’t disagree entirely. I just don’t feel that their reasons outweigh my own.

In most cases teachers eventually accept that it’s not an argument they’re going to win, but sometimes I have to resort to what I feel is the most important question. “Are they falling behind in class?” I ask, and when they’re forced to concede that my kids are in fact doing perfectly well in class, they usually give up the fight.

And this really is the key for me, if kids are learning well without the extra work, why make them do it? Let them spend that time growing the other parts of their lives. I think they’ll be better off for it.