It is two to three weeks into summer and I still feel like I need to ask my 16 year old if she is doing her homework. My daughter’s junior year of high school definitely proved to be the worst yet in terms of her work load and its impact on our family household. There were no real weekends to rest, take day trips or hang around the house. On the last day of school I felt the same sense of relief as I did for years growing up. As a mother of four, I knew that I had the summer to take a break from the daunting task of homework watch. As the authors of The Case Against Homework write, “Homework overload is turning many of us into the types of parents we never wanted to be: nags, bribers, and taskmasters.”
Here are some facts to think about as our society once again must address the issue of “How much is enough when it comes to our children’s well being?”:
- For elementary school students, “the average correlation between time spent on homework and achievement … hovered around zero.” (Harris Cooper)
- About 20 percent of teens will experience teen depression before they reach adult hood.
- Author, Jean Twenge, believes that a our culture’s focus on the external, from wealth to looks and status, has contributed to the increased incidence of mental health issues,
- The Anxiety Disorders Association of America reports that one in every eight children suffer from anxiety disorders and without intervention, they’re at risk for poor performance, diminished learning, and social/behavior problems in school.
- In 2007, five times as many students “surpassed thresholds” in mental health categories compared with students in 1938. Two categories—“hypomania” (“anxiety and unrealistic optimism”) and depression—grew at an even higher rate, with six times as many students scoring high.
- A Scholastic study found that reading for pleasure decreased dramatically after age 8 . Parents identified homework as the number one reason their children didn’t read more.
“Whenever homework crowds out social experience, outdoor recreation, and creative activities, and whenever it usurps time that should be devoted to sleep, it is not meeting the basic needs of children and adolescents.”
-In Wildman, 1968, p. 204
If we only responded to Wildman’s words of wisdom back in 1968, maybe we wouldn’t be as stressed as we are today!
Things we can do as parents:
- Adhere to the teachers’ policies on time to spend on homework, and allow your child to hand in their work incompete if they are exceeding the time limit
- Ask for homework modifications if your child seems to take longer than average to complete their work, particularly if they perform well on tests without such busy work
- Participate in any PTA calls for “voices” in the community to petition against weekend and vacation homework
- IF your child is taking longer than average to complete homework, then seek professional help to dig a little deeper (e.g. neuropsychology evaluation, speech-language evaluation)
Let me know what you think!