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The Benefits of Flexible Homework & Homework Menus

Okay, confession time: I am not a huge fan of homework. I know, I know… Homework is one of those staples in the classroom that you might expect every teacher to get behind. It’s a core part of education standards, and it has been for a long time. But in my experience, nightly homework and worksheets actually come with a fair bit of downsides.

As a teacher, I definitely see the value in homework. It helps reinforce those key concepts that we often don’t have enough time in the day for. Plus, homework assignments are a great way for parents to learn about what we’re doing in class.

As a parent, I know that homework has several drawbacks. For one, most families have incredibly busy schedules. Our family always has something or other going on after school, whether it’s gymnastics, soccer, or dance practice. It’s hard to find the time every night to help their kids get their assignments done. Most homework shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to complete, but when the kiddos are feeling stubborn or struggling with a certain subject, there’s no telling how long a task can take.

A few years ago, I had the bright idea to try out a new homework format: homework menus! Ever since I incorporated homework menus into my classroom routine, I knew there was no going back. My students and their parents absolutely love the option of flexible homework. It’s something every teacher should consider using with their class!

What are homework menus?

Homework menus are handouts that can be given out every week or month. They should include a range of activities that span what you are learning in class. Students get to choose a certain number of the activities to complete each week. For instance, you might ask your students to complete and cross off at least 4 activities during the week. To confirm their work, parents sign off at the bottom of the menu. Once Friday or the end of the month rolls around, they can turn in their homework menus to get credit!

How do homework menus benefit students and parents?

Since homework menus are due at the end of the week or month, students and parents are afforded more flexibility during weeknights. For example, if Tuesdays and Thursdays are filled with extracurricular activities, students can split their activities up between Monday and Wednesday. Every household is different, so this system allows each family to work out a schedule that works best for them.

I also believe that giving students a choice helps them build their sense of confidence and independence.

How can I make my own homework menus?

These Editable Homework Menus for 1st Grade are hands down the easiest way to incorporate flexible homework into your classroom routine. Teachers can edit their weekly or monthly homework menus as much or as little as they need. They include my own preset assignments with the option to enter your own.

In this packet, you will find a zipped folder with two separate files.  The first one is a secured PDF where I have typed in all of the boxes. I have monthly calendars, as well as two different weekly calendar options for the entire year. The second file is an editable file. You will be able to type into each of the boxes to make this packet work for you. The third set includes a newly added file with editable calendars where the homework squares and the directions can be edited to customize the assignment to your class!

The resource includes enough homework menus to last the entire school year. Whether you prefer to use my done-for-you menus or edit your own, you will be set all year long!

If you’re looking for homework menus for other grade levels, I have Editable Menus for Kindergarten and Editable Menus for 2nd Grade as well!

Conclusion

While I’m not a huge fan of homework, I found a great solution to standard nightly worksheets in my Editable Homework Menus for 1st Grade. Homework menus are an awesome way to give your students some flexibility and choice at home. Plus, parents will appreciate the ability to work homework into their schedules, not the other way around!

The benefits of flexible homework

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