Mom-to-Mom Support/Say Goodbye to Busy Work

Say Goodbye to Busy Work

In traditional classroom environments, busy work is par for the course—and it makes sense. A public or private school classroom usually has 20 to 30 students led by a single teacher. That makes it impossible to give individualized attention consistently to each student. Instead, teachers assign “busy work.”

What Is Busy Work?

Busy work helps with classroom management by keeping high-achieving students occupied and out of trouble. It also ensures that there is enough review and repetition for slower students. Unfortunately, busy work tends to sap the life out of learning and can be a major cause of boredom and frustration for students.

Busy work can be defined as assignments that keep the student busy but don’t necessarily teach new information or improve retention. Here are a few examples of busy work:

  • Endless worksheets reviewing information the student has already mastered
  • Reading comprehension questions about unimportant details
  • Endless book reports that require students to regurgitate information in a set format repeatedly, even once he has mastered the book report format
  • Lengthy handwriting assignments that overwhelm and discourage young writers

Busy work is one of the most effective ways to crush a young child’s love for learning and convince him that school is a chore. Unfortunately, busy work is usually necessary in a traditional classroom in order to make sure all the students “get it.” The teacher does not have time to work individually with each student, so she has to assign extra worksheets to all of them, even though only a few of the students actually need the additional practice.

In contrast, homeschooling families deal with only one or two students per grade. This makes it much easier for the parent to see whether a student has mastered a particular skill—and once he has, to move on to the next area of focus.

Unfortunately, busy work is found not only in traditional classrooms, but also in many homeschools. Since busy work is unnecessary when the teacher is able to give each student individualized attention, it is surprising how many homeschooled students spend their days on busy work. Some home study programs imitate the public school model so closely that they overwhelm homeschool students with unnecessary busy work.

How CHC Avoids Busy Work

One of the benefits of CHC’s texts and workbooks is that they were written specifically for homeschoolers, not for classroom students. In contrast to many homeschool programs, CHC’s curriculum avoids busy work.

CHC materials offer enough repetition to master skills, then leave it to the parent to repeat assignments or pages, if necessary. CHC’s curriculum does not needlessly subject children to mind-numbing exercises that sap the life out of learning.

Here are some examples of how CHC avoids busy work:

  • Spelling and grammar workbooks cut to the chase and have just the right amount of review.
  • Reading comprehension questions focus on essentials and are paired with discussion questions that prompt meaningful conversations on important topics.
  • Penmanship is presented in brief practice lessons. Students try harder to write neatly because they are not overwhelmed by the length of the lessons.
  • Writing assignments relate to the subjects being studied and also to the student’s interests.
  • Literature is taught through a wide variety of exercises and hands-on activities in The Treasure Trove of Literature, instead of through endless book reports.

The Benefits of Avoiding Busy Work

CHC students have more energy to focus on meaningful study since their days aren’t filled with busy work. The absence of busy work also leaves time for activities that strengthen family bonds (field trips, family read-alouds, and volunteering as a family) and for pursuits that develop non-academic talents (for instance, hobbies, handicrafts, and entrepreneurial ventures like babysitting or dog-walking).

CHC strives to offer balanced “servings” of all essential core subjects, without overwhelming the student or his teacher with busy work. After all, even though “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” this does not mean 20 apples a day will be an improvement on the one.

Related Blogs

If you enjoyed this article, you might be interested in the related articles below.


Explore CHC’s top favorites! From art to literature, science to hands-on religion, CHC has materials to enrich every Catholic homeschool.