The Place for Expert Reading Advice

The Place for Expert Reading Advice

Reading Spotlight Blog - Learning Lessons From Students...

The Gift of No Homework

Why not try giving students the gift of NO HOMEWORK this holiday season?

For a week? For a month? For EVER?

Perhaps my dislike of homework originates from my still vivid memory of my twelfth birthday. After walking home from school, I sat at a basement table for seven hours toiling over pre-algebra, English, science, history, and geography. Quite a load of books to carry, too! My mother did insist on a short break for dinner and cake.

Perhaps my aversion stems from unusual success with high-poverty, struggling readers, who rarely returned any homework, even when I tried mightily. I had to learn how to instruct, review, and include extra practice to my classes without adding work at home.

Perhaps my aversion progressed to loathing when I babysat for my two teenage granddaughters for ten days. The only time they fought with me was when I told them to go to sleep even though their homework was not done. They had toiled over all of it since they arrived home from their high school, with a short timeout for dinner. After 11:00 pm was past their bedtimes, especially for kids who had to walk to the bus stop before 7:00 am. It broke my heart every time I found them asleep over their books, several times an evening, on almost every school night, and also, their refusal to leave the homework undone.

What are we doing to children? What, exactly, does homework accomplish that cannot be accomplished in effectively designed lessons?

The final straw, I think, came when I actually read some research about homework.*

For elementary students it is mostly useless. USELESS! **

 Independent reading of self-chosen books is the one exception.

In today’s educational and cultural climate, independent reading often provides the only situation when students get to choose their own reading materials and actually practice the skills they are learning in an appropriate format. Often parents will enforce time for independent reading when it is assigned by teacher, but, not so much, when it is not an assignment from a teacher.

In addition, mini-oral book reports from classmates have been proven to be an especially great motivator to motivate kids to read even more.

For information about how to select a book on a child’s independent reading level, see my free tip:

Choosing Books For Children

Reading Spotlight’s FREE

Independent Reading Packet

is a helpful design for teachers and parents to develop a program for all students to read self-chosen books independently—the only effective form of homework for elementary students.

When you give the gift on little or no homework, you are giving the gift of more family time, more music, more exercise, more games, and most importantly, more time for independent reading.

Happy Giving this Holiday Season!



*Stanford Graduate School of Education. Quality Over Quantity: Elements of Effective Homework.

**For middle and high school students focused, meaningful homework for 1-2 hours nightly is “somewhat” effective.



© Reading Spotlight 2020


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