We are in another year of school. We have had a rough start to the year. Homework almost every night, homework over weekends, etc.
Every night is a battle. The tears, the yelling, the heads dropping, frustration from both child and parents, and a strain the family.
My fears of this battle each night around homework are
- Relationships between myself and kids is more anger and drill instructor than parent connecting and building character to my children
- Questioning the amount of homework
- Tension between my wife and I as we work to figure this out
- Not letting our own kids see our issues with the amount of homework while helping them try to complete the homework
- My kids are going to start to hate school because every night is a battle
My kids are young. They are in 4th, 2nd, and preschool. My first issue comes from the notion that why do my kids have more homework than what is given at my middle school? Is eight hours of instruction during the day not enough for a young child? I don’t mind homework here and there, but a daily does of 45-60 minutes of homework every single night is crazy. We don’t like to do work after working all day and I don’t see the need for a young child to have to come home and do more work. They need a break to be a kid. To go play outside, to play a video game, build LEGO, explore, decompress, etc. Not come home to do more.
A bigger issue I see with the homework is that the homework is not assessing the child as much as it is assessing the parents. If my wife was not a math teacher our son would be screwed with his math homework. I don’t know how to teach the concepts when he brings his 20-40 problems home every night. He brings home enrichment on topics he does not understand. My wife teaches him a lesson every night. The homework is not gauging his skills so much as our family which happens to have someone who knows how to teach math. What do you do if you come from a broken home where there is not time to have one parent devote time to the work? What if the parent is not capable of the work expected? What if the parent does not know how to teach the concepts? I don’t and I am an educator. I need an answer key, a video, and some practice. I will be honest, it is not my job for me to do 30-40 minutes of studying so I can spend another 45 minutes helping my son. My evenings are to be enjoyed with my kids, not battling them.
With so much tension in regards to homework we are struggling. My kids are tired all the time. Their demeanor has changed. They have more attitude, don’t seem as happy, and just generally stressed. Anytime they can escape us they bolt. This is not what it is about. I don’t like to be angry with them either. I don’t work all day to come home to be angry and frustrated.
Conversations need to be developed around
- What is the goal of homework?
- Do young students need more homework after 8 hours a day in school?
- Is the homework being assigned really enhancing the learning or just creating busy work?
- What are the ramifications of homework with families?
- What data are we collecting to ensure that the homework is a necessity?
I read an article Is homework making your child sick? and it raised some very interesting points.
“Research showed that excessive homework is associated with high stress levels, physical health problems and lack of balance in children’s lives; 56% of the students in the study cited homework as a primary stressor in their lives.”
On a bigger scale which is something I am grappling with as both a person, parent, spouse, and advocate for a healthier lifestyle
“These findings have implications that go far beyond homework, stress levels or even health. They are also part of a larger cultural conversation about the profound downsides of our all-work, no-play, winner-takes-all society.”
I struggle maintaing that balance myself. I love what I do, but if I am not careful I will work every waking moment doing this or that. It is an addiction where I feel like I MUST keep pushing. As a parent I struggle with how much to let my kids just be and not do what they want in terms of play vs. keeping them busy, challenging them with activity and the urge to keep them involved in organized x,y, and z.
I not only feel the pressure from those around me and myself, but I feel like as an educator we see the kids who did not start early and not making the cuts later down the road.
On the flipside I see the stress, the hatred for the activity, the injury, the rejection, and negative events that occur from being pushed at a young age. I don’t want that for my own children when I see it in kids as an educator year after year.
Going back to homework I leave with the most important piece from the article
What’s the magic number when it comes to homework?
“In high school, nothing over two hours. In middle school, no more than 90 minutes,” she replied.
What about in elementary school? “There is no correlation between homework and academic achievement in elementary school.”
As a parent do I bring this up to the schools or is it something we just deal with as a parent? Being an educator in the district it is not as easy to raise these issues. This is no way an attack on the teachers or a complaint against specific teachers. This is a concern for all looking at the much bigger picture, but using my children and their education journey as an example.
I believe that this article is just the start to a more honest open examination of homework. We need to really look at the pressures of teachers to perform and report high numbers in proficiency and the trickle down effects of schools not being a place of learning and enjoyment, but stress containers to perform.