Is Homework Really a Bad Word?

Let’s talk about homework…

I have heard for years that homework is bad. I have even believed that myself. A few years ago though (when pressured to provide better test scores…*rolls eyes*) I went a little crazy with homework. I was running off so much homework, stapling it together and sending it out the door. I was SUPER popular with the parents (NOT.)  

I mean more homework, that should help, right? Wrong. I knew I needed another plan. I decided to research homework. Like really dive in and research the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

What did I learn? Homework is not quite the four-letter word we have always believed. In fact, homework can be very beneficial when done the right way. The research I did was very enlightening but it was time to put it into practice. 

I searched high and low for something that would fit my (and my student’s needs) but I couldn’t find it. I decided to create something and put it into action.

After one month of implementing this homework, my parents and students were thrilled. After a year my test scores (along with many changes in the classroom) went through the roof. Now you are saying…okay, Hillary…get. to. it. lol. So here we go.

I implemented a 321 Homework Program. I say program lightly…lol, it is just a resource I created but other teachers love it too.

How to Use 321 Homework

321 Homework is designed to work multiple skills each week without taking all of the student’s time at home.

What does the 321 mean?

321 means on one night they will have 3 parts, another night 2 parts, and the final night 1 part. The students choose which nights they do which part. Kids are busier and busier after school these days. We know that homework is important but so is being flexible with children’s schedules. The students will be given their homework on Monday afternoon. The homework is due Friday morning. Students have 4 nights to complete their homework. They can choose to do all of it in one night or they can break it up and do the 3 vocabulary words Monday, the passage (or summary) and questions Tuesday, skip Wednesday, and do the writing connection Thursday night. If they have something big on Thursday night, then they would choose to complete it by Wednesday. The schedule is flexible. The bonus activity is just that, a BONUS. You, as the teacher, can incorporate that however, you want or not at all. You can give bonus points, a reward, or nothing. it is left up to you!

What is the Purpose?

The purpose behind 321 homework is for students to have a review during the week of important skills and be able to practice those skills…but also still be able to get it done when they have the time. If you give them homework on Monday and make it due Tuesday, they may be up until 11:00 getting it done if they had a soccer game. We must be flexible and help the students learn! 

What is my Part?

Your part is simple! Run of the vocabulary/passage page and the writing connection page that goes with it (front to back) and pass it out on Monday afternoon. Friday morning, collect it and you can check it yourself with the answer keys provided or go over it in class. 

Special Note:

Please understand all classrooms and students are different. If any of this is too hard for a student, encourage parent help and support. Homework is practice and all students may not be able to read all of these at the same rate. Parent and teacher help and support will encourage the kids to try their best and love learning!

Sounds Good, Tell Me More

Now that you know how it works, I can chat more about the changes I saw in my classroom. We know that with standardized tests, students need practice with “passages.” I am okay with that as long as I am not giving them one to read each night. 

I actually alternate weeks with passages and then reading from a book. BOTH are so important. Even reading a passage is not just important for testing, it is great exposure to different kinds of text.

One week, the students will have a passage and questions, another week they will choose a book to read and answer the response questions provided. (see both examples below.)

Parents have loved this aspect because their kids can still read books they love but also receive passages that encourage higher level thinking. 

Also, the students do not have to finish the book. They can respond on what they have read. For example, if they read 3 chapters…they write their summary, answer their questions and do their writing connection on those 3 chapters. You will also see blank vocabulary spots on these weeks because they need to choose words from their book to look up and learn about! 

What If?

I am always asked the question, “What if all my student’s don’t read on grade level?” Hey! They won’t! This is not a perfect world! Allow your parents to help the children if they need it. If they do not have parent support, have the students do the best they can and partner them with another student to work on it Friday. 

Practice Makes Progress

HOMEWORK IS PRACTICE. I stand by the 100%! I do not grade my homework. I check it for understanding (if you are going to just throw something away, then don’t do it to begin with.) I check the homework and allow that to guide some of my small group lessons and whole group lessons. 

In or Out?

Finally, how do we get parents to “buy-in?” FLEXIBILITY. Parents hate, yep hate, homework without flexibility. 

I send home this home connection letter and buy-in is immediate. I have NEVER (I repeat NEVER) had a parent buck this system. Now, I know you cannot read this but I took a picture because the pink is pretty. lol. Check below for the one you can see!

I needed something like this for my classroom. It is administration approved and actually many districts in different states are using it now. You may ask, “is it aligned with the standards?” I always align everything with the standards but since it includes all skills standards for Language Arts, I did not include a standards page. Let’s be honest, it would be me copying and pasting from the website. No need. 

I hope you enjoy this program as much as I have! My parents and students couldn’t believe this was their “job” every night. Below I am leaving a free sample so you can see it up close and personal. I am also quoting some feedback from teachers. Please feel free to e-mail me with any questions! I love helping teachers! (

“This is exactly what I was looking for. It’s meaningful, easy to incorporate, and flexible! Thank you for another wonderful product!” -Mary Grace T.

“This is wonderful to add into my weekly homework packet. Even the parents have complimented it too!” -Kendra P.

Thanks so much for providing meaningful homework. I have also purchased the 2nd-grade pack.” -Sarah T.

Thank you so very much! This homework really rocks as it’s not too much and it’s meaningful! Thank you :-)” -Atoyia M.

Grab the Full Grade Level Versions Below: