As we approach the new school year, its time to review your family education policies. You don't have any? Well, maybe you should. The school you send your children to will, so you may as well too.
If you’re lucky, the school will have a homework policy. Odds on it is not going to be family friendly.
Given that traditional homework in infants and primary school brings no benefits (see Kohn’s website and books), and is of dubious use in high school, here is a policy that you can share with the school, right after they share their non-evidence-based ‘that’s the way we do things’ policy with you.
Family Homework Policy
1. There will be no routine assigned homework.
2. If there is homework, the [name] family will not support it being marked.
3. If there is homework, it will take second place to:
a) enjoyable afternoons for children
b) stress free afternoons and dinner times for family, and
c) peaceful evenings when we can read together, play games, explore questions of genuine and productive interest
4. If there is homework, we are not either trained or paid to be teachers, we use the school for that service, so we won’t be participating as proxy supervisors: if professionals can’t get learning to happen in school, we’ve got no chance.
5. Homework will not be attempted if the child is:
b) frustrated with it (because there’s no benefit)
c) not getting anything out of it intrinsically
d) able to do it easily (because there’s no point)
5. If homework doesn’t get done, we’ll write a note to say that we had better things to do.
The basis for this policy is:
If the child cannot complete the homework through lack of understanding then it has no benefit.
If the child can easily complete the homework because they understand the work, it has no purpose.
If the child can move through the homework albeit finds it challenging, there’s no teacher to gauge the learning, so it has no educational point.
If they mark the homework, it's not educational, but a ratings contest. Better for the teacher to work with a child on their areas of difficulty...which they would have picked up if they'd bother to do the work in class.
The school has the child for 30 hours a week. If it cannot manage to stimulate, excite and encourage learning in this period, then it certainly is not going to intrude on family time for no compensating benefit, value or real educational purpose.