I've recently read another online article that was shared on Facebook (why look for things when I get a million posts daily from that group?). This one also rang true to things I believe in, but is actually backed up by research. Yay for research!
I also had a great picture of this (think Bart Simpson) but it was not labelled for reuse on Google Image Search, so I didn't use it. Boo for lawsuits against teachers!
The article in question explains that 25 years of research by Harris Cooper suggests that homework has no positive effect on students at the primary level (though it does have a bit for Intermediate and more for High School).
The article talks of negative effects that homework can have on elementary aged children: creating a dislike of school, straining parental relationships, it takes time from sleeping, it takes time from kids being kids AND it does not necessarily help with responsibility (because children often have to be reminded to do it, which isn't teaching them responsibility).
That being said, several alternatives are suggested. Children should be reading as often as possible, but they should get to choose what they read (comic books, books on their favourite topic,etc). Chores are also a great way to teach responsibility. A third option would be visits to a museum, etc (or anything to expand their experiences). It is also important for parents to realize that students are constantly learning so even playing games can be discussed as what they learned (e.g. strategies to win at a game).
Though there are a lot of "experts" saying how much homework is necessary. I have several reasons for selecting this one as a more valid point of view:
1) 25 years of research is a lot
2) The statements given are not exactly in the extreme, nor are they specific (two things that things tend not to be)
3) It fits nicely in with my prior knowledge and passes the "common sense" test.
4) It offers up alternatives to accomplish the same goals that homework claims to.
I haven't given my students homework this year (except for sending home the homework books I had to at the beginning of the year) and do not plan on changing that (this article will be shared with the naysayers).
Also, I should point out that I shared the article with my students and we had quite the interesting discussion. Good times!