Over the last couple of years, I've seen a number of articles referring to studies which show that homework is not an effective learning tool. I have my doubts on this, although I certainly agree that forcing children and teens to do 3-4 hours extra of schoolwork a day is not helpful. However, that is not the sole possible outcome of homework.
Nathan's school has a "learn it at school" policy, where teachers and students are encouraged to work together rather than sending home regular assignments. There are still projects and such but not a nightly set of worksheets. Sounds good but in speaking with some of the other moms, there may be an inherent flaw.
We have no idea what our kids are working on.
Now, this might sound like helicopter-parent anxiety but there's more to it. Since we have no idea what our kids are working on, we can't easily get a sense of where our children might be having difficulty. Expecting them to come to us and say "I'm having problems with this and would like to do extra work" is right up there with expecting "no sweets tonight, Mom, can I have extra vegetables instead?"
It also leaves us floundering when projects, etc., do come home. Recently Nathan had to prepare for a test. I wasn't sure what level he should be working towards. I had a sheet with a series of terms and definitions. Should he be recognizing which go with which? Or should he be able to independently give the definition of a term? (It turned out that he just had to match the term to the definition for the test.)
I'm not sure where a solution lies for this. Nathan does get regular reading and math work sent home once or twice a month, and it takes him a long time to complete it. I don't think I want extra stuff piled on. But at the same time, I'd like to have a greater idea of what's going on. I don't want school to be a black box where I send my child every day.