Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How much homework is too much?

My son has been in school since he was 6 weeks old - not daycare, but a school with curriculum and accreditation and the works. Sure it was all fun and games as he focused his young energy on learning how to walk and talk, but once he hit the age of two, the homework started.

His homework has run the gamut from building a beanstalk, to making collages, to writing his letters and building a robot. So far, it's all been manageable and fun.

I admit to being a bit worried when I heard from other parents how much homework their children have at night. They describe hours of work that can't possibly be completed and that they are unable to help with.

But it turns out that this scenario might not be the standard. This study by the Brookings Institution has used data collected over the last 30 years which shows that homework amounts have been pretty steady. Since 1984, nine-year-old students have experienced a slight increase in homework, however, 13-year-olds have received slightly less.

So why does it feel like the homework has been piled on? I don't have any study data to pull from, but I have theories of my own:
  • My friends who report the homework onslaught have multiple children who are all involved in multiple extra-curricular activities. I sense a mega time crunch issue.
  • In 1984, I had a stay-at-home mom to greet me after school at 3:30. With my husband and I working full time, we are unable to pick up our son until later. 
  • Memory loss. I have somehow retained my memories of the sheer amount of work the nuns gave me to do in seventh grade (there was a tree log, a moon log, the science fair, a book to translate all due around the same time), but other years are a little fuzzy. Maybe we have enough distance from our middle school years that we forget what the workload looked like.
I have a few easy homework years to help with before I can really start to complain. But tell me what the situation in your household is like. Do you think it is reasonable or out of control?

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