It is two hours past your child’s bedtime. The house is dark, but for the light in the kitchen illuminating a table strewn with papers. Dinner sits uneaten on the stove. Parent and child are crouched over the pages of math homework, essay, or book report, trying to plow through a massive pile of homework. But all anyone can think about is sleep.
Every parent with a child attending school away from the home has experienced this. Teachers are piling on more homework than ever before. The pressures of preparing for college and standardized tests have forced teachers to cram more and more content into their curriculum. And so inevitably, some of that material must be learned and practiced at home.
Homework In Theory And Practice
In theory, homework is a sound concept. It serves to refresh a student’s mind of that day’s lesson. This is especially useful in the later grades where students have multiple subjects in one day, but at this point, they try to avoid doing homework as much as possible. If a student has math at the beginning of the day, then the teacher must assign homework so that the student thinks about math again after a whole day of English, science, history, and a myriad of other subjects.
However, all of the teachers have that same problem of needing to refresh their student’s mind. Children are participating in more and more extracurricular activities, not to mention recreational time, an important part of anyone’s life, especially a child’s. Add that to the ever-growing curriculum, and pressures put upon the teachers to teach more, and the scenario described at the beginning of this article is inevitable.
A popular rule of thumb for determining an appropriate amount of homework is to multiply the student’s grade level by ten minutes. So, a third grader should be doing about thirty minutes, while a ninth grader should be doing about ninety minutes. However, these numbers can change based on a variety of variables.
Schools and courses that are labeled “honors” or “accelerated” typically have a larger homework load. Also, it can depend upon the courses a child is taking. A history class would obviously have more homework, than an art class.
Using the ten minutes is far too limiting. Instead, parents should pay attention to their child. If he or she is trying her hardest and homework is either not being completed, or sleep and/ or food is being sacrificed to get it completed, then there is a problem.
Too Difficult Or Too Time-Consuming?
If the homework is easy but simply time-consuming, then it is probably busy work. Talk to the teacher. Some teachers may be willing to adjust their policies, especially if many parents are complaining. If no adjustment can be made, you may want to consider changing the teacher, course, or even school.
If the homework is exceptionally difficult, to the point where you may even end up doing it for him or her, then it may be that your child does not understand the concepts. Talk to the teacher about giving your child extra help. If this is not possible, there are many high school and college students that would be willing to tutor your child. Though this would cost money, it would certainly be much cheaper than one of the commercial tutoring services. If your child still does not understand, after receiving additional help, then it may be time for a change.
Homework will be a fact of life for much of your child’s life. Even when he or she enters a career, many jobs require working at home. But it is important that this homework be beneficial so that no one has to be up in the middle of the night trying to do algebra.