I hate family history assignments
The first homework assignment of the year was an autobiography and family tree. These assignments are emotional and triggering for our family. In all fairness, I am not a fan of homework. After a long day at work and school, one of the last things I want to do is fight my children to get their homework done. I know this is a divisive topic. But a homework assignment that is emotionally hard for my kid is especially rough for our family to complete. Schools must create inclusive homework assignments so that all students can succeed.
Not all families look at the same.
We’re a two-mom, blended, adoptive family. An autobiography means my kid must share a fair amount of information about himself. The older he gets, the more he protects his history. His life is his story to tell. He gets to pick to whom, when, and where he tells it. As his mom, I must respect and advocate for this decision.
Family history or autobiography assignments are a great way to get to know students, classmates, and teachers. I get it. Yet, there are so many reasons family history assignments might be difficult for students. Families look different, consider these scenarios:
- Kids who have a parent that died
- Kids who live with their grandparents or extended family
- Kids in foster care
- Kids who don’t have a positive home environment
- Kids with a single parent
- Kids with two moms or two dads
Inclusive Homework Assignments
To create inclusive homework assignments, students should have the choice to share what parts of their family and history they are comfortable divulging. Questions or prompts should be broad enough that all children can answer them. For example, instead of asking about parents, ask about who the child loves. Also, use caution when asking the child to bring in pictures, mementos, or other items. Instead of asking the class to bring a baby picture, ask them to bring a picture of themselves and offer suggestions like a baby picture, a photo during a holiday, or with someone the child loves. These types of assignments must be approached from an inclusive, trauma-informed, flexible perspective. Offering flexibility and options for these assignments can help students and families complete family history assignments.
We had a long talk about the homework assignment, and he decided what he wanted to include. Once he had a plan, I emailed his teacher outlining my concerns and shared his plan for accomplishing the assignment. I also shared my favorite resource for creating inclusive homework, especially family history projects. I am always so grateful for our school, which partners with us to help our family succeed.