Bunmi Laditan on why her home will now be homework-free
There seems to be a general consensus that homework is getting out of hand, even at the grade school level. Frustrated parents press on, encouraging their kids to do it — even though in some cases kids may be exhausted and overworked. School days are getting longer and recess is getting shorter. Should our kids really be required to sit down to homework at the grade school level?
One mom thinks, no.
Bunmi Laditan, the writer behind The Honest Toddler, wrote a now viral post this week about why she’s declaring her house a homework-free zone. And parents everywhere are saying, “Right on.”
“My kid is done with homework. I just sent an email to her school letting her know she’s all done. I said ‘drastically reduce’ but I was trying to be polite because she’s finished,” Laditan begins her post.
She explains that her 10-year-old loves learning, even independently reading “10-12 chapter books a year” and regularly researching things that interest her. She has several extracurricular activities including coding classes and painting. “But over the past four years I’ve noticed her getting more and more stressed when it comes to school,” Laditan writes. “And by stressed I mean chest pains, waking up early, and dreading school in general.”
Those of us who’ve experienced anxiety are familiar with these symptoms: chest pains, trouble sleeping, and general dread about certain stressors. Are we really pushing our 10-year-olds to this by overworking them in school? That’s pretty awful.
“She’s in school from 8:15am-4pm daily so someone please explain to me why she should have 2-3 hours of homework to do every night?” Laditan asks. This is a question that no one has a good answer to — especially when you’re talking about a 10-year-old. How much work should they really be required to do everyday? Are we raising children, or robots?
“How does homework until 6:30, then dinner, then an hour to relax (or finish the homework) before bed make any sense at all?” Laditan asks. “Is family time not important? Is time spent just being a child relaxing at home not important? Or should she become some kind of junior workaholic at 10 years old?”
This is a question that causes endless debates on parenting sites and forums. There is one country in particular that is showing us all how it should be done. Finland’s kindergartners have more recess time than children anywhere. Their older students also have less homework than their peers in other countries. Finnish kids don’t start school until they are seven, and they have only one standardized test a year. Yet these students consistently score near the top in the Program for International Student Assessment for reading, mathematics, and science.
“Children do not need hours of homework time to succeed yet we act like sitting at a kitchen table after a full day at school somehow makes sense,” Laditan writes. “It does not. IT DOES NOT. IT. DOES. NOT.”
Amen. When did we collectively decide that our kids had to perform, perform, perform? We need to chill out. There is a rising epidemic of anxiety in children and teens, and some of that has to do with increased student performance pressure. And can we be surprised? As adults, we’re multitasking more than ever and never stopping. Americans are working more and having less vacation time than ever before. It’s no wonder this way of life is trickling down to our kids and inundating our school systems.
And guess what? There are a ton of teachers flocking to her post to agree with her:
As a fourth grade teacher, I fully support this. In fact, I have not given my students the first night of homework this year, and their academic growth has been just as much or more as I’ve seen from other classes in the past. Not to mention the fact that they seem much less stressed and ready to learn when they walk into my classroom.
I’m a fifth grade math teacher and I quit assigning homework 3 years ago. There is zero data supporting that is does any good and actually increases student anxiety.
I’m a teacher and I agree with this! Most of the teachers I know agree and only give homework bc they are forced to or because classroom learning is eaten up with testing prep.
The only “homework” I give my first graders is to read alone or with a family member for 20 minutes each night. They don’t even have to turn in a reading log – I just want them to read or be read to. I am lucky that my school allows me the freedom to decide whether or not to give homework.
“I don’t care if she goes to Harvard one day. I just want her to be intelligent, well-rounded, kind, inspired, charitable, spiritual and have balance in her life,” Laditan ends her post. “I want her to be mentally and emotionally healthy. I want her to know that work is not life, it’s part of life.
“My kid needs to be a kid.”