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I Think Kids Get Too Much Homework

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Recently there was a story on our website about too much homework. Here is my response.

I like my family to live a well-balanced life. So when my boys come home with two hours of homework…EACH… and they require my help and support on projects, reports, studying for tests, or questions about something new they learned that they haven’t quite absorbed yet, I am looking at up to four hours of our family evening filled with stress.

I used to wish that I had ‘normal’ kids…you know the kind. They’re the ones that never seem to be phased by school. They get their homework done in less than 30 minutes, look forward to school, easily fit in and participate in activities, etc. And their parents seem to have no problem coaching sports, baking school treats for parties, and shuttling their kids to all manner of after-school activities, while running school events and fundraisers.

Sigh…I just don’t know how they juggle it all and make it look so easy. But I can tell you that on the other end of the spectrum is the single mom like me….who can barely figure out what to cook for dinner, juggles driving each child somewhere that they have to go after school, trying to re-learn some of the math so that I can help answer a word problem, provide all the arts and crafts materials needed for the multitude of projects that are sent home that the kids are ‘supposed’ to be able to do on their own at their age, etc.

I also have a house to take care of (you know the drill — laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, etc. etc.) and a job for which I must wake up at 3:30 am each day. So the exhaustion level that I am looking at on some nights is indescribable. Because the bottom line is that my kids are ‘unique’ and are many times challenged by the amount of homework that they get.

First there’s the ‘regular’ work in Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies. Then, on top of that, there are ‘specials’ for which there is also homework, or sometimes projects. Then there is a required amount of reading that must be done each week that can run over an hour, or a book that must be read for a book report and oral presentation.

There are actually many reports, oral presentations, and arts and crafts projects that must be completed for each class… on top of the ‘regular’ homework and reading. I could see if it was one class here and one class there, but it is overwhelming to me as a mom and to my boys who are in fifth and sixth grades to know that after over six hours in school they are now faced with hours of additional work that needs to be completed at home.

And my boys work slow. Painfully slow. So to our family, that means that some days we cannot even schedule any extra-curricular activities that are important to us outside of their school life, like visits with family members, church events, music lessons and practices, walks and workouts that are important to our health, etc. Nevermind playing outside with the neighborhood kids, like any child should be allowed to do.

I would rather have the balance of my kids seeing their grandmother for a visit, going to church for a pre-teen event, and taking a long walk together to exercise, without the thought of having to come home and face a crazy workload and the stress that goes along with it.

I understand that there are parents that require straight A’s and feel competitive about more homework in order to keep up and excel in the future, but that should then be optional to those families…not forced on those of us who would like our children to have a more well-rounded lifestyle and not suffer the stress and tears of being faced with multifple tests, projects, and homework each night.

But I have also had many a mom call me distraught at around 8 pm after they have returned from taking their child to football practice and then realizing that child forgot an important book or homework sheet and going crazy trying to track it down from someone who can copy it for them or lend them the book for an hour. I can hear the abject fear in these moms’ voices, knowing their child is facing a zero and humiliation in front of a teacher the next day. It gets a little insane sometimes.

Of course there are some who will say that kids should be solely responsible for their schoolwork, and that I should not be involved in any help with their projects, homework, etc. Believe me, I am not doing their work for them! And if the work was specifically what they could handle on their own, that would be great. But it is not. And it still intrudes, whether or not I help them, with the REST OF OUR LIFE. When I have to tell their grandmother that she cannot come to visit because the boys are stuck inside facing hours of homework, that does not fall into line with a good family life.

I do not feel that I should have to tell my son that he cannot go to church band practice because he won’t get his required reading in for the night. Or watch my son struggle to study for a test that is challenging him well into the night at a time that we should both be getting more sleep in order to stay healthy.

I think that school work should stay in school and that no one should be able to intrude on home life. Why should teachers be able to tell us what we must be doing in our own homes? No disrespect to teachers, who, I’m sure, have the opposite take on this.

But I say that the work the kids do should be kept to school hours.

And I don’t care if I am in the minority. That is how I feel.

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