Homework Debate: To Assign or Not To Assign

The Homework Debate Photography

The Dreaded Debate:  To Assign Homework or Not to Assign Homework.

If you’re like me, then you are familiar with spending hours doing homework after school while you grew up.  It was considered normal.  But I don’t think there is anything normal about it.  Many people say homework teaches responsibility and it reinforces class content.  While that may be true to an extent,I don’t think teachers need to assign homework to guarantee the success of the student.

Why cut out homework?

Homework is frustrating.  It’s not only frustrating for the student, it can also be frustrating for the parent.  I can’t count how many times I became a slave to a homeschool curriculum.  My mind was set- the homework would get done no matter the cost.  Even if it took my child an hour to do one assignment, I would make my daughter sit at the table until the work was finished. At the time, I believed I was being a good parent. But now, as I remember those battles, I cringe. I remember her tears of frustration. I cried lots of tears myself.  All of this taught me that learning should not be a drudgery; if it is, then why would my child want to learn at all?  Why give homework if it discourages them from learning?

Homework also limits playtime for the child.  Children learn from the world around them.  While they climb trees, have picnics, dig in the mud, or search for roly polys, they are learning.  They are soaking in an education with their imagination.  Grown-ups are so stuck up when it comes to imagination.  Don’t you remember how you learned when you played?  You thought about the bark on the tree, right-it’s color and texture?  And while you had that picnic, you watched the clouds and noticed all the different kinds that God painted in the sky.  When you played in the mud you noticed that some of the bugs drowned while others didn’t.  The roly polys!  How incredible they are to protect themselves by rolling into tiny balls. Why can’t we grown ups see that children learn while they play?

The Homework Debat Photograph

But what should the teacher do if she doesn’t assign homework?

Replace homework with narration.  Narration is the child saying out loud what he knows.  It’s a re-telling (it can also be written) of the reading from a living book. But it doesn’t have to be from a book.  Narration can be applied to everything a student learns. For example, your student can teach you step by step how to solve a math problem.  After reading a book, your student can tell the story from beginning to end.  After learning the anatomy of a cell, they can draw a picture and describe to you how the cell works. Not only does narration give them an opportunity to share what they have learned, it also gives them a chance to share what they think about it.  (Shocked!?) Why not let them share what they love or dislike about what they have learned!? Set them on fire with a hunger to learn by giving them the freedom to express their opinions (respectfully;-))!  And as they learn, point them to the wonder of their Savior. Narration gives them the chance to tell about what they have learned and what they loved about it.

The benefits of narration are numerous. Narration teaches responsibility.  The student listens with urgency so they are able to tell back the lesson to the teacher. Narration also encourages the student to communicate his thoughts in an effective manner.  As the student recalls the lesson back to the teacher, the content becomes cemented in his mind.

A few thoughts before you go…

The child’s heart is the most important priority.  We can teach our children facts and give them knowledge, but teaching them how to follow after the heart of Christ is the ultimate goal.  A child following after God’s heart will grow in his desire to please Christ in the mundane tasks-even if those tasks happen to be homework.  So whether you agree or disagree with a no homework policy, don’t forget that our eyes ought always to be set on Jesus Christ. How does he want us to teach our children?  Are we chasing after the heart of Christ?  If we, as parents and educators, are not chasing his heart, why would our children want to?


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