Too much homework may be a problem for the children of educated, affluent parents, writes Robert Pondiscio in The Atlantic. These kids start out ahead — enrichment starts in pregnancy — and attend excellent schools. Poor Students Need Homework, writes Pondiscio.
“For the low-income kids of color that I have worked with, thoughtful, well-crafted homework, especially in reading, remains an essential gap-closing tool,” he writes. And it’s not as if homework is competing for time with violin, ballet, karate or Mandarin lessons.
The proper debate about homework – now and always – should not be “how much” but “what kind” and “what for?” Using homework merely to cover material there was no time for in class is less helpful, for example, than “distributed practice”: reinforcing and reviewing essential skills and knowledge teachers want students to perfect or keep in long-term memory.
Independent reading is also important. here are many more rare and unique words even in relatively simple texts than in the conversation of college graduates. Reading widely and with stamina is an important way to build verbal proficiency and background knowledge, important keys to mature reading comprehension.
Karl Taro Greenfield’s attack on excess homework — My Daughter’s Homework is Killing Me — is very, very popular on Atlantic‘s site.
Greenfeld’s children, who attend a school for “gifted and talented” students, are “already big winners in the Cognitive Dream House Sweepstakes,” writes Pondiscio. They would do fine with 30 to 60 minutes of homework per night. But what’s right for his kids may be wrong for other people’s children.
A Chicago elementary school in a middle-class neighborhood has eliminated homework for children in kindergarten through second grade, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. Children are supposed to “read for fun” at home.