How many times have you felt pressure from parents to send homework? I’ve felt it a lot. Sometimes kids need homework and sometimes they don’t. Many times I’ve caved and sent something home, even when the kid didn’t need it. Teachers and SLPs send it home, even if it’s too hard, even when it’s too easy, or even if the students haven’t been taught the skill.
Stop it! It’s better to send nothing than to send bad homework — and here’s why:
- When homework is too hard, kids and parents are demoralized — It’s important to remember that parents aren’t teachers. They don’t know where you are in the lesson and they don’t know the techniques you use. For speech therapy homework, parents have no idea what prompts, cues, or models make a child successful. So when a student tries too hard homework, they fail. Parents get frustrated and sometimes angry with their children. “What do you mean you can’t say the S sound? Ms. Sarah said you did it great during the session!” or “What do you mean you don’t know what 12+10 is?” Kids feel bad and parents think their children’s performance is a reflection of themselves. If kids need more practice with a skill to be successful independently, don’t send homework home.
- When homework is too easy, parents get confused — Last year my son kept getting math homework that was way too easy for him. We’re talking like a full year below his grade level. We were completely at a loss and emailed the teacher about it. We got a lukewarm response and it seemed like the teacher thought homework should be busy work. Kids have better things to do than busy work. Instead of homework, they could be interacting with siblings they haven’t seen all day, playing outside, or helping around the house. For speech paths, if you are sending homework for a speech sound that a student may find too easy, make sure you write the rationale on top. For example, I might write: “I’m sending home F words again, but please practice them in sentences this week.”
- When homework was never taught, kids get confused — We got homework this week that was something my son had never seen before. I don’t know if it was a mistake, but he couldn’t do the work because he hadn’t been taught the skill. My son was so confused. We looked at the paper and I decided not to teach it because I’m not his school teacher. I teach him lots of things, but I’m not going to teach him that skill when we would have more fun making dinner together (which is something we like to do). It would have been better to not have a worksheet than to have something out of his reach because he felt bad. As a speech path, it’s rare that I send home something that I might not have taught, but it’s a good reminder to make sure homework is in line with IEP goals.
Honestly, I hate homework as a mom and I don’t care for it very much as an SLP either! There’s so many reasons why homework gets us down here at the Wu home and also it can be a drag to assign, too.
Instead of traditional homework, consider asking a student to do a project (like cooking with or for the family) or simply reading a book. It leads to a better night for families: no struggles or tears at the kitchen table!