I Homeschool to Avoid the Homework Trap

The first (and only) meeting I ever had with an upset parent was over homework. He didn’t think I assigned enough. And I taught pre-K.

why homework is harmful


Homework has become such an ingrained part of our education culture that we not only don’t question it, we have begun to demand it. So much so that even research suggesting homework in the elementary years has no favorable effect on academic performance while at the same time creating extra stress holds little sway for a parent concerned about their five year old’s future success. Much less on a school district obsessed with state testing.

A Vermont school decided to act on the research, however, and instituted a school-wide, no homework policy. Instead, they wanted students to eat with their families, read a book and play outside. The result?

Six months into the experiment, Trifilio says it has been a big success: Students have not fallen back academically and may be doing better, and now they have “time to be creative thinkers at home and follow their passions.”  ~The Washington Post

“Time to be creative thinkers and follow their passions.” Two of the things I think homeschooling provides children. And really, it has to do with simply having time. They have time to get bored. They have time to daydream. They have time to dig deeper into the topics which interest them.

And we do it without homework. That isn’t to say they have no independent work. But I don’t assign the kind of busywork I was assigned in school. You remember those assignments? Book reports designed to prove you had read the book, copying spelling lists 5, 10 or 15 times each and the endless number of math worksheets. And I was in elementary school back when they still thought 15 minutes a night was ideal.

What do they do instead?

They read. They love reading. The library is one of their favorite destinations. They read fiction and nonfiction and check out books on the oddest things I never would have thought they would be interested in, but they saw the book and decided to see what it was about.

They write. Three of my children are working on writing a book . . . four if you count the six year old who is filling a journal with his random letters that he calls his book.

They build. Unfortunately, they lost their fort in a series of storms and a suspected raccoon rampage, but they had a pretty nice one made from scrap they found in the barn for some time.

They garden. Each year, they’ve been allowed to plan a small container garden with flowers for the porch. This year, they are each getting their own raised bed for their own vegetable patch.

In other words, they explore. And almost every pursuit they choose has more value to who they are than any worksheet I could have designed just to keep them busy.

This is part of the Blogging Through the Alphabet Challenge, where I am sharing some homeschool encouragement, from A to Z! Check out what I’ve written so far!

A is for Adventure
B is for Boredom
C is for Christ
D is for Daydreaming
E is for Every day
F is for Failure
G is for Grow
H is for Homework

14 thoughts on “I Homeschool to Avoid the Homework Trap

  1. Yes! I have found exactly the same thing in my own life and explorations/reflections on homeschooling/education. Time — with a nudge to do more than simply watch TV — is so valuable. I love that homeschooling gives us time to do things that are not busywork.

    • Dana says:

      Yes! I despised the assignments that were given merely to prove you had read the chapter. And the ones you got for getting done early. One of the treasures of homeschooling is that you know they did it and when you’re done, you can just be done!

  2. Sioux says:

    Bravo! Will you beat that into my “schoolteacher” brain that I can’t shut off and still makes them do all the work AND then create??? 😉

    • Dana says:

      My kids saw this and teased me that all they ever do is homework . . . because whatever they do is technically done at home. Silly gooses . . .

  3. I think homework was originally assigned in order to give the kids more time practicing because there was only one teacher to many students. Homeschooling has a better ratio so the learning and practicing can take place DURING school.
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    • Yes, that is certainly true. But even in school, I think they’ve begun looking at it as increased instructional time. Part of the problem is that the kids who probably need the practice most seem to be the kids least likely to do it, just making them fall further behind. But schools don’t seem to value free time or family time anymore.

  4. I completely agree about busywork! I allow my kids to completely avoid it and the result is they are creative and self-motivated and self-directed. I still make them write and learn all the subjects but they get to learn in the style that fits each of them best – and busywork isn’t on that list.
    Good post!

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