Time magazine has a history of publishing research about homework. If you are still thinking you should make your kids do homework, here are some of my favorite articles for you to read:
To most of you, this is preaching to the choir, though. If you are homeschooling, you are not putting your kids through eight hours of school and three hours of homework.
But, also, you are probably not giving your preschooler any “assignments” because if you’ve read this blog for even a short while you know there is absolutely no research to say toddlers should learn math or reading.
But I learned something new from the most recent Time magazine research roundup: Why Parents Should Not Make Kids Do Homework. One of the reasons homework is so bad for kids is it creates conflict between the parent and child. This is maybe a no-brainer for some people, but I’ve never heard anyone say family harmony is more important than homework.
This is a huge vote in favor of self-directed learning, because the only learning where there is no conflict is when kids choose what to learn themselves. But I was really struck by the conclusion that kids should not do homework until they can take responsibility for it themselves.
For a homeschooling family, this means kids should not do forced curricula before age 11. We can conclude form the research that the conflict over learning infiltrates family life whether it’s homework or homeschooling. And an eleven year old can take responsibility for learning whether the kid is doing homework or homeschooling.
In my own family, we did not attempt any math or reading instruction until my oldest son was eleven. He asked to learn math and science. And at 13 he asked to start preparing to go to a “good” college. (We are still exploring what that means to him, though we are preparing as well.)
We have no conflict at all in our house over homework. My son decides his pace, and he decides when he wants to have a break. For example, our family doesn’t do weekends/weekdays because my husband and I are self-employed and my youngest son practices music every day. But my older son built into his schedule that he doesn’t do any studying or music practice on Saturdays.
So the research is starting to line up in a very cohesive way: We know that kids do not need to start learning math until sixth grade. Kids will teach themselves to read before sixth grade. And now we discover that kids will take responsibility for homework if you wait until about age 11.
We also know that if you let kids under 11 decide what to do with their time, they will probably choose to be on the computer. And kids who spend a lot of time playing video games do better in adult life.
So now homeschoolers have even more cause to relax—you don’t have to make the kids “do” anything until they are pre-teens, and even then, you are leveraging their growing sense of responsibility.
Some days I feel like a crazy radical writing this blog. Other days I feel like a genius. This summary of the latest research and the conclusions we can take comfort in feels like a pat on my back, which we homeschool parents need since no one else is doing it for us.