How I Handle Homework

I am popping in today to chat about the “H” word. No, not that one….Homework. Sometimes I wish parents and students knew that most teachers share the same sentiments about it. I wish I didn’t have to give it.  But, alas, I do.  While I don’t think there is anything wrong with the responsibility homework brings, I severely dislike a few things about it.

1. Hearing when students spend WAY too much time on it at home.  Mostly because they are burnt out and give their parents a hard time.  Whenever I hear “It takes Johnny at least an hour every night” to do what I assume should take 15 minutes, my teacher heart cries a little.

2. Keeping track of it, correcting it, handing it back. 

But I have to because we do give a “grade” for homework (1, 2, or 3 for completion). I have tried to scale it back to a simple operation to avoid any headaches. Here’s how my homework system works.

On any given night, students have a spelling assignment (they choose from a list of options to practice their words), 1/4 of a page of math facts (on their level) and a math review page.  This is THE MOST I ever give. Spelling and math facts are handed in on Fridays.  The math review page comes back the next day. Homework is turned into this basket every morning.

In the beginning of the year, I check the homework for completeness, star it and mark it on my checklist. Then it gets handed back at the end of the day. But once class jobs kick in (usually after 1st marking period), I have two students fill the positions of “homework checker” thus taking over this responsibility.  I keep the checklist on a clipboard directly next to the basket.

What happens when kids don’t do their homework?

Let’s be honest. We have 10,000 things to do each day.  Chasing down kids for not doing their homework is simply, in my opinion, not the best use of my time.  So, instead of running to make copies before lunch then having students complete it during recess, I *gasp* let it go. I realize this may not align with teaching responsibility. But those kiddos who habitually forget their homework or just plain don’t do it need recess the most.
(I don’t just start counting at 2, #1 moved this year which is why that number is no longer)

Instead of a “punishment” for not doing homework, I reward students for doing it. I don’t LOVE rewarding kids for something they should be doing anyway.  But it’s monthly and the prize costs nothing so it all works.
Everyone starts the beginning of the month in the homework club. Don’t do your homework? You are out! Try again next month! (Sometimes I let one missed hw slide depending on the situation.) This adorable freebie is from The Magic of Teaching and you can find it here.
Students who stay in the homework club all month get a FREE homework pass! I say free because hw passes are also for sale in my weekly reward store (20 Stahl Stars).  This motivator combined with having their number up on the homework club chart seems to work well. You can find a copy of these passes here for free : )
Well, that’s it! Not too complicated.  How do you handle homework in your classroom?

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