The Case Against Homework

How Homework Is Hurting Children and What Parents Can Do About It

By Sara Bennett; Nancy Kalish
(Harmony, Paperback, 9780307340184, 304pp.)

Publication Date: August 28, 2007

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Description

Does assigning fifty math problems accomplish any more than assigning five? Is memorizing word lists the best way to increase vocabulary—especially when it takes away from reading time? And what is the real purpose behind those devilish dioramas?

The time our children spend doing homework has skyrocketed in recent years. Parents spend countless hours cajoling their kids to complete such assignments—often without considering whether or not they serve any worthwhile purpose. Even many teachers are in the dark: Only one of the hundreds the authors interviewed and surveyed had ever taken a course specifically on homework during training.

The truth, according to Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish, is that there is almost no evidence that homework helps elementary school students achieve academic success and little evidence that it helps older students. Yet the nightly burden is taking a serious toll on America’s families. It robs children of the sleep, play, and exercise time they need for proper physical, emotional, and neurological development. And it is a hidden cause of the childhood obesity epidemic, creating a nation of “homework potatoes.”

In The Case Against Homework, Bennett and Kalish draw on academic research, interviews with educators, parents, and kids, and their own experience as parents and successful homework reformers to offer detailed advice to frustrated parents. You’ll find out which assignments advance learning and which are time-wasters, how to set priorities when your child comes home with an overstuffed backpack, how to talk and write to teachers and school administrators in persuasive, nonconfrontational ways, and how to rally other parents to help restore balance in your children’s lives.

Empowering, practical, and rigorously researched, The Case Against Homework shows how too much work is having a negative effect on our children’s achievement and development and gives us the tools and tactics we need to advocate for change.


Also available as an eBook




About the Author

Sara Bennett is a criminal defense appeals attorney and was the first director of the Wrongful Convictions Project of New York City’s Legal Aid Society. She is an expert in the post-conviction representation of battered women and the wrongly convicted, and lectures widely. Sara and her cases have been featured in the New York Times and on 60 Minutes II, Dateline NBC, and the Today show. She successfully challenged and changed homework policies at her children’s schools. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Nancy Kalish is a former senior editor at Child and columnist for Redbook, Working Mother, and Selecciones. She writes often for Parenting, Parents, Real Simple, Reader’s Digest, More, Ladies’ Home Journal, Health, Prevention, and other magazines. While writing this book, Nancy put several of the strategies to work for her own daughter, always with positive results. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.




Praise For The Case Against Homework

“Parents of America, unite! You have nothing to lose but your frustration. The Case Against Homework is an important book that takes on the 500-pound gorilla—homework overload—long ignored by educational policy makers. Every parent of a school-age child should buy it and follow the authors’ excellent advice in order to protect their children from an educational system gone haywire.” —Dan Kindlon, Ph.D., author of Raising Cain, Too Much of a Good Thing, and Alpha Girls

“Most parents have experienced the negative effects of homework on family harmony, family time, and play time, but they accept it as a necessary evil. Bennett and Kalish reveal that the homework emperor has no clothes; there is no good evidence to support piling on homework, especially in the younger grades. They follow through with practical advice for managing homework meltdowns, negotiating with teachers, and advocating for policy changes.” —Lawrence Cohen, Ph.D., author of Playful Parenting

“Very helpful, with practical advice on approaching teachers and working to change district standards. . . . Will appeal to parents who have watched tedious book reports squelch their kids’ love of reading or endured homework devouring family time, hobbies and exploration.”–Seattle Times

“Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish have written a battlefield manual for parents.”–Washington Post Book World

“Provocative. . . . [S]ome of the homework assigned children does not make sense. Bennett and Kalish provide good advice on what parents should do.”–Washington Post
 
"A wonderful book that is not just about homework but about the sadness and futility of turning children into drudges who learn–if one can call it learning–without passion, without love, and without gaining independence. Every educator, every politician, and every parent should read this book and take it to heart."   
–Mary Leonhardt, author of 99 Ways  to Help Your Kids Love Reading

"The Case Against Homework sends a critical message about how to improve the health and well-being of our children by cutting back on busy work and focusing on meaningful assignments, a good night's sleep, and the value of free, unfettered play time."
–Denise Pope, author of Doing School,  Stanford School of Education lecturer, and founder of SOS: Stressed Out Students

"Bravo to Bennett and Kalish for having the courage to say what many of us know to be true! This book serves as an indispensable tool for parents who want to get serious about changing homework practices in their schools." 
 –Etta Kralovec, associate professor of teacher education, University of Arizona South, and coauthor of The End of Homework
 
 “This very important book makes a powerful case that excessive homework is hurting family life and children's full development. What's more, the book does something that is very rare: It gives parents solid practical advice on how they can deal with teachers and schools to produce significant change. The authors care deeply about children and have a special understanding of what childhood is all about.” 
 –William Crain, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the City College of New York and author of Reclaiming Childhood 

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