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We Interrupt This Childhood to Bring You….TOO MUCH HOMEWORK!

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Is it just me?… or are kids doing a heck of a lot more homework than they ever did in the past? I have a vision of myself, sitting on my bed, doing my high school homework, watching “One Day at a Time”…yeah, I’m pretty old. I have another vision of myself in fourth grade, sitting at the dining room table, doing a page of math out of the math book. Still another, doing my poster on “Charlotte’s Web.” Sadly, I didn’t finish the book and Karen had to help me with the poster. But, get this — These are my only recollections of doing homework!

Did I come in after school, be sure to have my snack in the car on the ride home to save time, so that I could immediately sit down and get going on the pages and pages of homework that night? God forbid, there would have been swim team practice. This is the reality of my sixth grader. We interrupt this childhood, to bring you….homework! Forget about that silly notion of running around outside for an hour and playing. Yeah, we actually have a neighborhood where kids play outside. But, during the school year, I don’t see one kid outside after school. During the summer, the neighborhood is swarming with them.

Pleassssse….someone tell me the benefit of giving a child 100 math problems in one night. Let’s not even begin to think about those dreadful nights where the science teacher assigns something. Then the literacy teacher decides he should give a page or two. Aghh!! A social studies test on top of that? I’m stressed and it’s not even my homework!!

As a nation, we have a huge movement, excuse the pun, to get kids moving. When do they have time to move??? They are stuck with their heads in books. This is not entirely bad, as I’m all for having smart kids, but geez. Come on…..this amount of homework is seriously affecting the family unit. The stress involved in helping kids get it all done is too much.

I’m not alone in these thoughts. There are movements across the country to limit the amount of homework kids do in one night. I believe they are calling it the “Homework Wars.” I am a stay-at-home mom but truly have sympathy for those families where both parents go outside of the home to work. How do they possibly get all of this homework done? I’m guessing that often times…they don’t. How could they, when most working parents come home at 6pm? Let’s suppose they have dinner until 7pm,  do two hours of homework before turning in, wake up at 6AM and start the madness over again. Did anyone see a point where the family sat down together to enjoy each other’s company?

If a math teacher assigns three pages of math homework, the students complete that homework in the evening. They go to class the next day and, you guessed it, they spend a half hour correcting the homework, and the class is only about 50 minutes long. When does the teacher teach the concept? I think that teaching the concept, in many cases, lies in the hands of the stressed-out parents. This is a recipe for disaster. No wonder people walk around in a fog anymore. It’s because of TOO MUCH HOMEWORK!!!

Do you know that there are studies that point to “doing homework” as the cause for many kids to completely drop out of school. Back in the early 1990s, Maine’s Department of Education did a study to find out why at-risk students dropped out of school. Along with reasons such as chaotic family lives and parents who worked at night, those kids kept mentioning their inability to complete homework as a factor for dropping out of high school. (Educational Leadership: April 2001, Volume 58, Number 7)

Stop the madness! I like that idea of the “flipped” classrooms. In this day of technology, the teachers video-tape their lessons. (This might just up the quality of instruction as well.) The students watch the video of the lesson at night. They go to class the next day, and, with the teacher’s guidance, they complete guided and independent activities related to the concept. There ya go. Let’s try that. Another plus to this method is that kids can review the lessons any time they want.

I have this recurring fantasy where I get to assign the teachers hours of  additional work every night. I know…they grade tons of papers. But, instead of them going to work-out, they get to practice teaching in the evening. I bet if the amount of time spent doing this was somehow connected to the time the kids have to spend doing homework, we would no longer have the problem.  Just a fantasy.

Should I Request My Child’s Teacher for Next Year?

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A Parent Says…

Now that the school year is coming to a close in a few short weeks, I look back on the experience my daughter has had in third grade. I did not request her teacher this year, even though most of my friends were making it very clear to the principal what teacher they wanted/demanded for their children. My feeling was that the school knows best. Now, after a very long year with many ups and downs, I’m not so sure that I was correct in keeping out of it. Maybe the squeaky wheel does get the grease, or in this case, the better teacher.

A Teacher Says…

To a certain extent, kids need to learn that they’re not going to love every teacher – especially when they begin to change classes and have five or six different teachers each day. It’s best to teach your child how to cope with different teachers. That being said, a teacher certainly plays a big part in whether or not a child is happy at school, especially in elementary school. However, before you jump to conclusions about your child’s potential teacher, there are some things you should consider. What works for one child doesn’t necessarily work for another. Perhaps your older child clashed with his third grade teacher, but your younger child might think she’s great. Oftentimes, a particular teacher gets an unjustified bad rap because one unhappy parent is very vocal in “spreading the word.” Keep in mind that teachers – especially first year teachers – hone their craft and improve their methods each year. If you feel you have a good reason for requesting a particular teacher, talk to the school counselor or administrator before your child leaves school for the summer. It’s easier on your child if you make a special request ahead of time rather than pulling her out of one classroom and putting her into another at the onset of the school year.

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Test Anxiety: How Can I Help My Child?

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A Parent Says…

My daughter is already having anxiety about the standardized tests she will take when she returns to school after spring break. I really feel for her, and I’m not sure what I can do to lessen her angst. In school, I know they have been “practicing” test-taking strategies all year. It seems that a big emphasis is placed on this. She wants to do well, but feels she might panic on test day and really bomb. I have a neighbor who took her children out of the public schools and put them in a private school largely because she felt too much time and energy were spent on standardized tests. I’m not sure what I, as a parent, can or should do.

 

A Teacher Says…

I have to be totally honest and say that I think the emphasis on testing has had a negative impact on the quality of teaching. As teachers, we are just as frustrated as the kids. It seems every time we turn around, there is another standardized test on the horizon. Much time is spent analyzing testing data and the pressure is on to “prepare the students for the test” and — oh yeah — they better score well or it’s your fault. That being said, testing isn’t stopping anytime soon, unfortunately. Teach your daughter some relaxation techniques. Before a test, I would tell my students to stand up and really stretch and then shake their arms around. We would always end up laughing, wondering if passers-by thought we were crazy. The giggling relieved stress. Make sure your daughter gets plenty of sleep and eats a healthy breakfast. Emphasize that she can only do her best, and if she does that, it’s good enough for you.

 

 

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