My daughter Kayley is starting kindergarten next September and as her parent and first teacher I take my responsibility for nurturing her love for learning very seriously.
Here is an opt-out of homework letter that first appeared on Alfie Kohn's website here:
Dear [name of teacher],
First of all, I'd like to tell you how pleased I am that you're Sandy’s teacher this year. Sandy experiences you as very kind, which couldn't be more important to me.
I respect you as my child's teacher, so I want to take the time to tell you why I'm going to pull Sandy out of the homework program this year. I know that homework is routine in first grade, but the more I've thought about the issue and watched the effects of homework on both of my own children, the more convinced I am that it isn't right for Sandy. . . .
I'm sensitive to your concern that learning be supported at home, and I intend to do this as best I can. I know that the easiest students to teach are the curious, interested, motivated ones, and examples of things we'll do at home to foster those qualities might include: finding a weird spider outside, looking up its scientific name and feeding habits and making a "home" for it in a Tupperware container or talking about why we should set it free; reading books every night before bed; planning and cooking a meal together; counting all the change in my pocket and then going out for ice cream; telling stories; writing letters to grandparents and friends; and taking pictures of all the critters we find in the ocean when we go to Mexico and sending them to class to share. Again, I'm interested in supporting Sandy’s learning. I'm just worried that homework provokes anxiety and often gets in the way of family activities and the kind of play (and downtime necessary to develop an internal life!) that help make Sandy such a cool, funny kid.
Please do let me know if there is an assignment such as interviewing a family member -something that simply couldn't be done at school but that is important to the things you're doing in class - and we'll be happy to work on that together. Please also let me know if you have any questions or concerns about my decision, or if you notice Sandy feeling "left out" when homework folders are pulled out - I'm sure we can figure out some way around that. I'm happy to talk - in person or by email if that is more convenient for you.
Have a great year!