Parents, do not be afraid to write a no homework note to your child's teacher! Not only can you do it, you definitely should do it- as often as necessary.
There are things that are more important than homework- like sleep.
Studies and common sense tell us that our children need to sleep. Staying up late for homework should be a rare occurrence for middle and high school- never elementary- students.
They also need to rest, relax and play. So, sorry, you don't get a round of applause from me if all you ever do is make your kids stop doing homework just to send them to bed. They need some down time, too.
So, what happens if (when) your child still has homework to do and the evening is almost over? How can they eat dinner, take a bath and enjoy some of that down time? Or, perhaps it's early, but you decide that your son has been doing homework long enough. He wants to play outside with his friends, and you think he should be able to. What should you do?
Before we go any further, many parents must get used to the very idea of Unfinished Homework, let alone No Homework! It can be a scary thought; are you hyperventilating? It's hard for parents to believe that the world will continue to turn on its axis if their children don't complete their homework.
Once you are okay with the concept of unfinished homework, say, "Son (or use your child's real name), you have been working on that long enough. Go on outside and play. Don't worry! It's okay. I will write a note to the teacher. No, you won't get in trouble!" Here is how to do it:
How to Write A Homework Note to the Teacher
- Get out a piece of nice, clean paper- or use the actual homework (math, spelling, etc.) page if there is enough room.
- . how long your child was working on homework in general and on the particular unfinished assignment
- whether or not he understood the assignment or concept
- how he was feeling (i.e. exhausted, tired, frustrated) and acting
- your decision that he needed a break and that you told him to stop
- your promise that he wouldn't get in trouble b/c it was your decision
- your hope that the teacher will honor this promise and not punish him
- an invitation for her to contact (call, email) you
Sample Letter (copy; use over & over)
Dear Reasonable Teacher-
Yesterday after school, Betsy spent two hours working on her science project and writing in her journal. She then spent about twenty minutes working on her math homework, and she definitely understood how to do that regrouping, but by this time Betsy was exhausted, cranky and had a headache. I decided that after six hours of school and more than two hours of homework, my daughter had worked long and hard enough. I told her to put away all of her homework. She was worried about getting into trouble with you, but I told her that I would let you know that not doing her homework was my decision, not hers. The important thing is that she understood her math (as you can see from the 8 problems she did). I hope you will not punish Betsy in any way for her parent's decision.
Please call me at (#) or email me at (address) if you have any questions.
Make absolutely certain that you are completely honest. Don't make up a fake excuse to justify your decision.
Do not let this happen to your child:
One morning back in March ('08), I walked into a fourth-grade classroom and heard a teacher ridiculing a student. The teacher was incensed not by the fact that the student had not turned in his homework, but by a note from his mother explaining that her son had done his homework, but left it in his grandmother's car that morning. The problem was that Mom had put yesterday's date on the note. How could his mother know that her son would leave his homework in the car the next day? Clearly, his mother had written the note the night before when her son had not done his homework. The teacher was disgusted and grilled the student about the note.
The note was bogus, but that wasn't the student's fault. He should not have been held responsible for a note that he had not written. What, was he supposed to admit that his mother had lied? Maybe he should have perpetuated the lie and said that his mom must have written the wrong date on the note? He was a child in an untenable position, and I felt sorry for him. I also felt that the teacher was totally out of order. But, that's a whole 'nother talk show.
The point is, you don't need to lie or apologize for deciding what your child will or will not do in your home while under your supervision. As the parent, you must do what's best for your child, and sometimes that affects what happens at school. You are within your rights to say, "That's enough homework for tonight," or even "No homework tonight,"
Say it, mean it, back it up. It doesn't make any sense to protect your child from too much homework and then send him to school to be humiliated and embarrassed.
The real tragedy is that the mother undoubtedly believed that she was helping her son, but all he learned was that you had better be careful when you lie. How much more powerful would it have been if his mother had stood behind her decision- and up for her son- with the truth!
Our children are watching us. Not only must we protect them, we must be confident, honest and respectful while we do it.