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Monday, November 9, 2015

Homework Made Easy

I had been pondering for years the ideal way of doing homework, and my move to a new school this year and a new grade level prompted me to finally take the plunge and make a big change.

Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all worksheets for homework! Gone are the days of endless hours of grading! Gone are the days of families struggling to balance nightly homework with busy schedules.

I dreamed up the idea of a homework menu while thinking of new ways to give my students academic choice. Where was the choice in the worksheets I was sending home? Where was the personalization? And as a mother to my own two children, why create an additional unnecessary stressor on busy families that already struggle to simply eat and bathe each night?

Of course, your administration might have requirements for homework, but I'm lucky in that my administration realizes that required nightly homework is for the most part unnecessary in the primary grades, and they allow us flexibility in how we deliver homework. Our little first grade babies have already worked for hours upon hours all day at school, it's just not developmentally appropriate to expect them to continue that pattern at home.

My answer- a monthly homework menu! A list of choices and options that children and their families can choose from, and can also choose when the tasks are completed.

We change and update the tasks at the beginning of each month, and have students turn in their signed menus at the end of the month (with any paper tasks stapled to it). We grade for effort and responsibility, because in first grade that is the bulk of what we are trying to establish.

A key component to our homework menu is the “other” section, where we encourage families to enter valuable learning they do on their own (reading about animals at the zoo, discussion of a mountain habitat on a family hike, etc.).

Of course there are always people who are hesitant to try something a little outside the box, but by and large we have had rave reviews from our families about the homework menu.

Head on over to the store to pick up my FREE Editable Homework Menu (click below)! =) And if you give it a try, please sound off in the comments, I'd love to hear how it goes for you!


  1. Our team is also struggling with what is best for homework for all involved. I was just wondering where do you get your ideas for the tasks? I have been teaching for many years, but new to first, so any help is appreciated.

    1. Hi Jennifer! For reading, we do some independent reading and some read aloud (by parents) tasks, then add a comprehension focus to each from our curriculum for the previous month so that students have more opportunities to put them into practice. For writing we think of prompts that relate to our writing genre we are studying, or seasonal prompts (fun!). For math we try to think of real world/at home connections to our math objectives, ie- grouping and counting small toys by tens and ones to practice place value, finding shapes in your house and drawing pictures and describing their attributes to practice geometry, etc. We try to make all of the tasks engaging for the whole family, so that everyone is involved and it can be a fun activity for parents and kids to do together, not just something they have to get done to check off the to-do list. And they can do it on their own time, so they don't have to ever stay up late or wake up early if they have a busy night. We also have a lot of families that like to do more than the minimum required amount, so families have the option to do more or less depending on what works for their family. It's been so incredibly successful! =)

  2. Great that you were sharing this material with us. Your guys, I guess like those things like sports or cars maybe. Yeah? Education for them, it's maybe too boring. I remember myself at high school. When I grow up, I have so much things to do, but only not to study! I was riding the bicecycle at mountainhills and was a fun of cars on the radio control. My daughter now, is just like me. She is already 17teen, and I understand her, if she doesn't want to do some task from geometry or other boring stuff, and I actually can't help to her, because I'm not quite understand this subject, as well. Specially for that I recently found one way, which made both of our life's much easier, is a help in homework. This can help I guess every one, who have problems with exact sciences. I think that in our modern world we have a lot of homework and less time for fun.


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