Confession: I have very mixed feelings about homework, especially at the pre-high-school level. On the one hand, learning how to organize yourself outside of a classroom and attend to an assignment on your own is a good and important skill, sure. With my kids’ executive dysfunction challenges, I know that homework can be a skill-building situation. But on the other hand… if you’ve already been in school for close to eight hours, is it really necessary for you to come home and keep working (especially if you haven’t even reached double digits, yet)? I don’t think so, especially for younger kids. (I like this The Case Against Homework Fact Sheet as a quick-and-dirty overview. 10 minutes per grade level, per night, maximum. And sleep is more crucial than homework.)
During the years where I homeschooled my youngest and my oldest was drowning in middle- and then high-school homework, there were bitter complaints about the fact that it’s no fair that he doesn’t have any homework. That’s when I started looking at the sorts of work my daughter brought home with a more critical eye. I mean, the “here’s a project for you which you cannot complete without your parents spending $100 on craft supplies and a minimum of 10 hours wiping your tears” sorts of things have been reviled by everyone for forever, but now I looked at the math worksheets and even journaling assignments (I love journaling!) and wondered why there was never time for that work during the school day. My daughter was right; it was unfair. But she got to do a lot of fun and enriching things, too, so I hope it balanced out.
Anyway, now both kids are in public high school together and taking advanced coursework and both kids are in the marching band (you may have heard me mention the marching band once or twice or a hundred times…?), and that means time is short and assignments are long. I’m not saying we have a perfect system going, but after years at this rodeo, here’s some Dos and Don’ts that are (mostly) working for us.