Study Skills Blog


Posted May 3rd, 2022

As a former high school science teacher, one of the first things new students wanted to know on the first day of school is ‘what is your homework policy?’ The best way to make students dislike school is to over-burden them with a lot of time-consuming homework every night. Good teachers do not have to give tons of homework every night to be effective. I have three children who graduated from a local high school where all the teachers gave lots of homework every night. It seemed that was the mind-set of the school. To make matters worse, they rarely coordinated with each other and routinely assigned multiple research projects and reports on weekends, holidays, and vacations. My children had very little free time and were always in the house stressed out studying instead of being outside in the fresh air, getting exercise and enjoying quality time with friends. This invasion into their personal lives bothered me so much I forbid them from doing homework until they went outside and got plenty of exercise and fresh air.  At that time, I made a personal commitment not to be that kind of teacher.


I began surveying my students every year and discovered that many worked long hours after school, played sports and/or musical instruments, participated in clubs, church groups, martial arts, ride horses, motorcycles, and dozens of other worthwhile activities and hobbies. I realized Science, although important, represents a small part of their overall long and busy day. Over the years, I’ve met hundreds of students that awoke at 6:00 am to go to school and didn’t get home until after 6 pm. Often going all afternoon without rest or anything to eat. By the time they got home and had dinner it was almost time to go to bed and get a good night’s sleep but instead they had to stay up for hours doing homework which causes stress and anxiety. They’d get up tired the next morning and do the same thing all over again throughout the week. It’s an exhausting schedule and not healthy for young people.


Almost all the science my students needed they learned from me, in-person in the classroom, and there was no need to give homework every night. In fact, I would only give a couple short homework assignments a week, never on Friday, and usually gave the students a couple days to complete each assignment. Homework is a great time to have students practice their study skills. I would tell them to spend 20-30 minutes on each assignment and never assigned homework on weekends. On Friday I would say, “okay, your homework for Monday is to rest, relax and have fun, with a special emphasis on having fun. But come back to class ready to work on Monday!” I never imposed on their free time and respected their right to enjoy their quality time. This homework policy worked well for me and I learned that most students will give you more than what you ask for if you get them excited and motivated about what you are teaching.

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