High School Students Don’t Have Time for Homework

Work, extra-curricular activities, and athletics take so much of a student’s time after school that they either don’t have time to do homework, or they don’t have time to sleep.

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“Hey, can you help me?”

At 7:45 in the morning, my homeroom students start to file into class, bleary-eyed and distracted. The first order of business: finishing the homework put aside the night before. Three weeks into the school year, they already have a support group, in which students who share classes tutor each other on the confusing stuff and help each other get through the assignment.

Since it’s usually math or science, I observe. Asking me for help would be counterproductive. 😄

Almost all these students have something to do after school: work, extracurricular activities, or athletics. These activities are not optional. Some students have to work; their parents need them to handle certain personal expenses (phone, car insurance, and even car payments, for example). Extracurricular activities look good on transcripts, and these students want to go to college. Some are gifted athletes, and their performance could earn them a full scholarship.

In other words, they can’t give up those activities.

“I am determined to avoid giving homework as much as possible.”

That is what I have been telling my students this year. I also have an absence policy that states that if you need to be in class to complete an assignment and are absent that day, you are excused. My courses are skills-based; students will experience lessons based on the same skills many more times during the semester.

The students have been warned. Since I don’t want to assign homework, we work hard in class. No dilly-dallying in Ms. E’s class.

This year, we also take class notes. One student is chosen each day to be the “scribe.” They are responsible for noting each thing we are doing in a Google Doc, formatted in Cornell Notes style. Before class, I add the table to the document and often add keywords and questions to the left side to help students add important notes. Students can refer to these notes for any reason, but they can be especially helpful after an absence. They are encouraged to review the notes.

I have assigned long-term independent reading projects. Students learn to manage their time by completing these projects, which involve reading longer works and responding to the text.

I still get questions, but I am training the students each time they ask, “What did I miss in class?” Hopefully, by the end of quarter one, they will know how the process works.

Your Thoughts Are Important

I would love to read your thoughts on homework.

  • What are the benefits of doing homework?
  • What kind of homework should be assigned?
  • Should homework be assigned?
  • How long should a homework assignment take?
  • How important is it to consider the students’ workload when assigning homework?
  • Should students receive a grade for homework?
  • If a popular topic among adults today is “work-life balance,” shouldn’t we consider the issue for students?
  • What other questions could we ask?

Thank you for reading this post. I look forward to your feedback.

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