the homework dilemma

katherine guzman

katherine guzman was born and raised in massachusetts. she attended fairfield university where she graduated with a b.a. in art history and english. immediately following graduation, katherine began teaching in dorchester, ma. while teaching in the city, katherine attended regis college and received her masters in elementary education with special needs. she continued to teach in the city for ten years in parochial, public, and independent schools and has taught all grades from pre-kindergarten through grade 4. aside from teaching, katherine loves reading, testing new recipes, organizing, and decorating. katherine lives outside of the city with her husband and step-daughters and is expecting her first child this fall.

the homework dilemma

after ten years of teaching grades pre-kindergarten to grade 4, not a single year went by when i did not receive a note in which a parent informed me that the previous night’s homework was a challenge and their child did not complete the assignment. these provided me with a better insight into how i needed to improve upon the former day’s lesson. 

as an educator, i relied on the feedback of students and parents to help determine how effective my lessons were. on the occasional day that I was told a student wasn’t sure of how to complete an assignment, or was too confused to do it at home, i immediately knew i needed to find a new approach. had i chosen to ignore these comments, and continue moving forward without checking for accuracy and understanding, my students and i would have lost out on valuable learning experiences that aided our growth as lifelong learners. 

in each of the schools that I worked at, the homework policies varied. however, my favorite policy was from the first school I taught in. the homework expectation was that children should receive ten minutes of homework for each grade they are in. for example, grade 1 would have ten minutes, grade 2 would have twenty minutes and so on. not only did this honor the level of concentration and cognitive abilities children had in each grade, but it allowed for the students to slowly build up their stamina in completing nightly assignments. 

depending upon each school’s policy, homework has the ability to greatly aid students in a quick recall of their day’s lessons. yet, if assignments are not properly suited for the grade level, cognitive level, or length of time a student is able to concentrate, it may actually work against his or her desire to stick with the tasks, let alone remain excited for school each day. 

if you feel that your child is receiving too much homework, too much busy work, or assignments that are simply too challenging, contact your son or daughter’s teacher. you know what your child is capable of completing, and although a bit of a challenge is always a great way to help students think outside-of-the-box, it should never result in tears, arguments, or feelings of frustration at home. teachers and parents should be co-advocating for students, and by communicating with teachers about the potential or present struggles your child is facing with nightly assignments, you are able to reach a common ground. In this uncertain year of in-school, virtual, or hybrid learning, there is certainly going to be another learning curve when it comes to assignments and homework. 

all too often I have seen parents take a back seat to their son or daughter’s homework; assuming that if it has been sent home, it has to be done. No matter what. this mentality wreaks havoc on home dynamics and usually leads to unnecessary anger, stress, and anxiety. with all the adjustments that are sure to unfold in this academic year, homework should not be one that creates more problems. 

always remember that you know your child best, and if you feel you need to create a better plan for his or her nightly work, take control by creating an open dialogue with their teacher. it can only allow for a better understanding of your child, and in turn create the most beneficial academic year possible. 

katherine guzman

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