It seems like only yesterday Boy Wonder was bringing home his little weekly packet of kindergarten homework that contained a couple of worksheets, a reading log, and note about the theme of each Thursday’s share day.
As Boy Wonder progressed through his elementary career, the homework began to multiply exponentially. By the third grade this kid had no less than two hours of homework a night, sometimes more.
Now it’s hard for me to look at his third grade year objectively. After all, it was the year where his behavioral issues and lack of focus came to a very ugly head. Was homework taking so long because he wasn’t paying attention in class? Was getting him to do the homework taking up so much time? Or was it just simply too much homework? I honestly couldn’t say.
Last year, fourth grade, was better all the way around. While a more mature and focused Boy Wonder emerged with kickass grades and Student of the Month status, there was homework. Gobs, and gobs (and gobs) of homework. Every single night there were math and grammar worksheets, word definitions to memorize for weekly tests, weekly spelling words and of course, flashcards for upcoming science and social studies chapter and unit tests. And let us not forget the monthly speeches and special projects. Good Lord! Even a focused and determined Boy Wonder had 2+ hours of homework a night!
OK, maybe the actual homework he had to turn in took 45 minutes to an hour, but the required studying and special projects took up the balance of his time each evening.
Up until late last year, Boy Wonder was one of the many kids who walked into his front door at 6pm every evening because his mom worked outside the home. As he tackled his pile of homework at the dinner table, and ate his meat and potatoes over dinner study sessions, we did everything we could in a desperate attempt to salvage even half an hour of freedom before bed. Despite his best efforts, there were evenings Boy Wonder didn’t finish his assignments until 9 pm, 30 minutes past his bedtime.
Monday through Thursday evenings produced high stress felt by the entire family. The night Boy Wonder stayed up until 10 pm reviewing quadrilaterals for an upcoming test was the night I screamed, “This is too much for a 9 year old!” loud enough for the neighbors to hear me.
I know kids need homework. I know kids need to study. But I also know kids deserve downtime and an evening with their families.
Lengthen the school day, cut the curriculum fluff, assign less homework, modify state testing – I don’t care how it’s done, but my God, something needs to be done about all this homework.
Shouldn’t we ease our kids into a heavier workload gradually and save the late night study sessions for high school? I never had this much homework in elementary school.
I’m all for helping my learner succeed in school and I have no doubt that our teachers are doing an incredible job to educate our kids, all I’m saying is that there’s got to be a better way.
I’d love to hear your thoughts as teachers and parents of school-age children: Do kids have too much homework? How much homework should kids have? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!