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Homework vs. Family time


tjlove November 30, 2009

Are hours of homework ruining your family time? How much of your children's homework do you think is useful or useless? How many hours of homework do your children have each night? Post your homework wins or woes here!

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tjlove December 28, 2009

Oh boy! I originally posted this question because in January GreatSchools is focusing on homework issues. We've heard from a lot of parents that the amount of homework assigned, especially in the primary grades, is taking up a lot more time than they think it should.

Of course opinions will vary but let's please try to be respectful of each other's opinions. I think it's safe to assume no one is looking for a fight. GEEJAY and MagnetMom, thanks for turning this around.

I hope others will still want to join in the discussion!


aephraim January 11, 2010

I agree with a lot of your points and I have a good friend who is an elementary school teacher so I would say with admitted bias that operating on the assumption that the teacher wants what is best is correct. However just two points 1) As someone who has gone to the elite schools in this country dance etc does "help a student ... get into a wonderful university". Fair or not these schools get a LOT of applications with perfect academics and they need to pick somehow so often they base it on extracurriculars. 2) The idea that "If I were to tell my boss that I will only work 10 minutes on the assigned project after work, and I will get done only what gets done" would get you fired probably is accurate but there are jobs - even professional jobs where that is a reasonable statement. It's not right or wrong to insist to an employer that you only work during working hours so it is not "unreal" to not meet a teachers deadline it's just a different value set than yours. No I'm not saying that your wrong to make the decision to work after working hours - many very lucrative jobs require that. However remember its not the only decision that can be made.


DebRist January 12, 2010

We do 2-5 hours of homework per night. It probably takes longer than it should because my 5th grade son loses interest and wants to do fun things also in the evening. It is a constant source of conflict and I feel the amount given is not realistic. I'm not against homework, just the amount they are expected to do. It controls all of our family time during the school year.


BrandyFoltz January 12, 2010

So far this blog was not what I thought it would be. My thought is how do you balance it all? Like it or not the homework is being sent home. What is the average time the parents get home from work? What is an average bed time for kids and what time do they get up? These things are all a factor in our lives as well as the teaching of our children. I am looking for help in getting it all done not bickering from people who know it all. If anyone would put in those things I would find this a little more balanced.


michellea January 12, 2010

My son, grade 7 leaves for school at 6:45 and returns home at 4:30. When he plays sports, he gets home at 6:30. I allow him 30 minutes of "down time" to stretch, have a snack or just chill. He does homework for about 1 hour, then he helps set the table, we eat and clean up. He does the remainder of his homework until about 8:15. He then takes a shower, gets out his clothes and supplies for the next day. If he has time, he may play a round of ping pong, Wii or catch a TV show. At 9:30 he goes up to bed and reads for one half hour, then lights out.

During the summer he has 6 hours of tutoring per week, plus his summer work.

Once a week he has scouts which goes from 7:00-9:00 - dinner is compressed, he often misses his shower, and he rushes through his homework. When he plays sports, he either forgoes practice on the night of scouts, or skips scouts. Religious ed is on the weekends - he doesn't have other activities.

It's pretty hectic, but not much time for hanging around with family.

My HS daughter leaves the house at 7:15 and returns home at 6:00. She plays two varsity sports and works out and plays club sports on the off season. Once a week she has tutoring after sports for one hour - so I send her to school with an extra sandwich and she stays at the school until about 7:00 taking care of sports and school. She has some learning disabilities so she checks in with her teachers after school for about 30- 45 minutes before sports begin. She does not have a study hall. When she gets home, she eats with the family, takes a shower and then begins her work from about 7:00 -10:00. She has tutoring on Sunday nights to get her ready for the week.

Down time and family time happens mostly on the weekends or when I am in the car. I work from home so at least my commute does not interfere with everyone else's schedule.

We manage by having a strict schedule, controlling the phone and facebook, and reducing the amount the chores. If they were to get more homework, sleep time would suffer. Already, they get the bare minimum. I don't think they are overscheduled with activities.


BrandyFoltz January 12, 2010

That was very helpful. I have a 4th grader and a two year old. Just now starting the balancing act so seeing how other parents think and do is very helpful to me. Thanks very much!!


mslolo January 12, 2010

I agree that schools are requiring too much homework. Teachers often assign homework unilaterally. Homework is a significant portion of overall grades which undermines the ability to measure what's being taught in class. When we were kids, homework was designed to reinterate classwork (extra credit) and/or to help kids that were struggling to get them on par with the rest of the class. Increased amount of homework is a by-product of several larger issues (i.e. class distruptions due to undisciplined children, learing disabilities and large class sizes. My first grade child can do his homework in about 20 minutes. But it will take my 3rd grade child and I about 2 hours to complete assignments from different subjects. It never took me over a hour to do homework until I got to 7th grade. Teachers covered a lot of ground during school time. After school, I always had time to complete my homework, do my chores and watch TV or enjoy downtime, and I was a "latch-key" kid. Now, my children are not afforded that luxury. Homework should never support a child's over all should used as a tool to help kids that need a little help or who want to get extra credit.


Andrijana January 12, 2010

There isn't right or wrong answer for this question. People should be real. It can't be balanced perfectly as nothing in a life is perfect. We have to get down to reality. I grow up in EU and, finished all my school tere. There, "only sky is limit" isn't moto. It's a lie. Limit is your personal ability and personal will to sacrifise for your goals. Gaol may be success in a task or, just good fun instead or, just being average in anything you do, or being below average but having more free time. Same with our jobs. We may work endless hours to make more money and live more "lux" life with Wii(s), cruises, restaurants or we settle down for less but, we spend more time with our kids and family, with simplier and more meaningfull things, we do together. Then, we are not all the same. We are individuals. Unique. Some kids will never achieve what other can achieve with ease. I finally got over fact that, if me and my hubby had University degrees, it doesn't instantly make my kids elligible to hold one. We all want for our kids to get better than we are and, surpass us in a life but, a healthy dose of reality makes it easier to handle. I have 3 kids. Each one different from another. One of them hates homework, and never does it. It used to take hin 3 hours what another of my kids does in 15 min. He has some other capabilities that, leaves me and my hubby (put together) in a dust, behind him. He is kind of HFA with aspi symptoms, so what? He may not achieve in a way we define achievment but, he will find his place in this world and maybe achieve something much better than what I had in mind on beginning, even without his homework done ... LOL There are much worse things around: gangs, drugs, drinking, sex, bad company... Be happy with homework...
Happy New Year to all worried memebes :-)


GEEJAY January 12, 2010

Hmmmm...I do understand what you are trying to say but this is when it is under your personal control. Children very seldom have control over their lives. The parents, teachers etc tend to take control of what they believe is best for children.. I agree that when we do become adults that we are a product of our choices but children are a product of what we choose for them in an indirect manner. I do consult with my children but when it comes to homework and making good grades how is it there choice when the parents expect good grades and the teachers pile the homework on? I must agree with the previous answer.
How did it come to this? I think we parents are partially at falt for one. We expect maybe to much sometimes? I have read since my last comment a book called "The Homework Mythe" (I suggest every educator and parent to read) and read some really enlightening articles about this subject from both sides of the line. I even consulted my children to find out what they think would be a fair know what they said and this amazed me.. my children said and I quote "I would much rather go to school an hour longer than have to bring all this homework home"!!! Wow! Has noone thought to ask the kids. I find this to be a very smart solution if this is all it takes. I am not against homework but as the experts say until 6th grade it has shown to do nothing for the overall performance of kids education. From 6th grade on it is a different story and 1 to 1.5 hours is all it should take. I think this is fair but beyond 2 hours even in hight school is unacceptable and just takes away from a childs development in other ways that a school can never provide. Lets remember that this time is so precious and it can never be made up.
I received a suggestion letter from the school the other day with the report cards. This letter says that 2 hours of physical activity a day is opitmal to stay healthy and develop motor skills etc for kids in elementary school. Hmmmm I would like to talk to my sons teachers and ask them how is it that the district recommends this but with the amount of homework he receives each night from them makes it impossible. They are indirectly responsible for ecouraging obesity in kids.


michellea January 13, 2010

Your comment about exercise is so important, Geejay. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise actually helps the brain learn new concepts better. Yet, it is often hard to het that exercise in, given our kid's schedules. When my son arrives home at 4:30 it is already getting dark - so outside play is often not an option. We try to do ping pong, or kick and punch our bag for a few minutes, but it is probably not enough to really get his juices flowing. Luckily, his school offers an exercise program before school starts, and assuming traffic is reasonable and he gets to school in time, he gets to take part in the program.

Let's face it, it's hard to balance all the things on our kids "to do" lists. I'm not sure if teachers ever really "do the math" to determine whether or not their assignments are reasonable. If a child takes 5 core courses and each teacher gives 30 minutes of homework - that's over 2 hours for a regular kid. For kids with memory, processing, reading, or attention difficulties, you could easily double it. Doesn't leave much time for anything else.

That said, kids need practice. I agree that a slightly longer school day with more direct instruction and supervised practice would be preferential to homework. But, I know many parents that would disagree. It's a tough question.

By the way - you may be interested in the book "Spark" by John Ratey. He has done a lot of research about the effects of exercise on the brain and learning.

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