For six hours each day, five days per week, children are in school. Many students come home from a long day in classrooms only to sit back down at a desk and work for another hour or two on mandated homework assignments. They’re tired, irritable and may argue about the merits of homework to their parents or other family members. If this is the case in your home, try listening to your children instead of stifling their arguments with an automatic rebuke. They may actually have a good point.
Homework can be a major source of frustration in your household. Arguments over completing homework often dominate family discussions, children become ill-tempered, and you lose quality family time if your child is spending too much time on homework assignments.
Homework has been linked as one of the main causes of stress and academic disengagement among young children and teens, and some research points to the limited influence excessive homework has on academic achievement.
A 2010 study by Education World indicates that the amount of homework assigned to children ages 6 to 9 years old tripled between 1981 and 1997. Another Scholastic & Yankelovich study in 2006 found that reading for pleasure sharply declines in children after eight years old primarily due to too much homework. And in yet another study by the director of teacher education at the College of the Atlantic in the late 90s, Etta Kralovec found that the more prevalent homework becomes in school, the more likely a child will fall behind and ultimately drop out.
The award-winning documentary film, Race to Nowhere, also takes a close look at the homework dilemma, and the advocacy arm of the film’s creators promote what it calls Healthy Homework Guidelines to encourage schools nationwide to reexamine homework practices to better support student engagement, health and learning.
So how do you know if your child is receiving too much homework? Here are a few signs that may indicate that your child might be overloaded with homework:
- Nightly hysterics over homework
- A diminishing love for school
- Homework that amounts to more than 10 minutes per grade level
Is your child bogged down with busywork assignments? If learning is no longer engaging and fun for your child, a homework intervention may be in order. But what can you do to side with your child in the case against excessive homework? Here are a few tips:
Get an idea of the teacher’s philosophy on homework. Does he or she believe abundant repetition promotes learning? Do teachers at your child’s school know that what they are assigning is excessive? Find out these details first to get to the root of the issue before lobbying a campaign against homework altogether, and have a cordial discussion with your child’s teacher to explain the disruption homework is causing in your household.
Check your child’s work. Is he or she laboring on a single concept? Pinpointing the exact cause of trouble can help direct time spent on homework assignments toward understanding that single concept. Your child is more likely to truly comprehend a concept by spending quality time on a limited number of problems rather than racing through 100. Enlist the help of a tutor if necessary.
Work with your child’s school administrators, school board or other parent advocates in your community to promote student-directed homework that advances a spirit of learning in children and allows for a balanced schedule.
One of the best investments we can entrust to the next generation is to keep students’ love of learning alive, keep their inquisitive minds engaged, and promote critical thinking and depth of learning – skills that cannot often be found within the pages of a repetitive worksheet assignment.
DonorNation promotes a number of items that encourages fun, out-of-classroom learning experiences ranging from cultural and historical performances at the La Jolla Playhouse to dance and fitness classes for kids. DonorNation even offers teen counseling sessions on its online marketplace to help your teen deal with the pressures brought on by stressors like homework. In addition, a portion of all proceeds from DonorNation sales are donated to the school of your choice, promoting healthy learning in San Diego schools both in and out of the classroom.