Kids need work to do at home
I’m not likely to make any friends among kids with this, but teachers should give their students work to do while schools are closed because of the snow. If teachers can’t find a way to reach their students, it wouldn’t kill parents to make sure their kids pick up a book.
Some teachers have posted assignments on their school’s Web site for kids to complete and return either when they get back to school or before then, by e-mail. This is routine at many schools and there’s no reason they can’t do that now. One teacher at a private school in Montgomery County, knowing that all of her students have computers, is holding class online for two hours today and is letting kids off the hook only if their parents provide a valid reason.
One of my daughters offered that it might be difficult to give homework for a lesson that hasn’t been given, but I felt compelled to burst her bubble by noting that there were many exercises a teacher could assign to engage a young mind, including simply reading and writing. (She conceded defeat.)
That said, it is true that many families don’t have computers. The U.S. Census reports that about two-thirds of American households report using the Internet at home. But that leaves one-third that don't, even some families in the most affluent Washington suburbs.
It is also the case that some schools don’t have Web sites that make it easy for a teacher to communicate with students. And not all schools have functioning phone trees that can disseminate information.
Meanwhile, thousands of homes still don’t have power because of the weekend storm, and another one is on its way.
But there’s no reason for teachers not to try to reach as many students as possible. And parents ought to make sure that their children spend some time doing something academic. (Some kids might rebel but others may be secretly relieved; one 15-year-old I know admitted that four days of playing Bubble Spinner 2 has driven her a little crazy.)
Closing schools because of the mounds of snow still on the roads and sidewalks makes sense. Kids shouldn’t be asked to take risks to get to school. Adults shouldn’t either. Safety has to be the top priority.
I am not sympathetic to the notion that kids can’t miss “precious” instructional time in class because they must stay on a lesson schedule aimed at high-stakes standardized tests usually given in the spring. Work can be made up; the school year can be extended, spring break shortened, holidays canceled, lessons condensed.
But the empty days are adding up, and students don’t need any more time without an intellectual challenge.
Tell me what you think. And if you think they should get work, what should it be?
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| February 9, 2010; 6:30 AM ET
Categories: Homework | Tags: homework
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