My son is in first grade
and I already have a love-hate relationship with his homework. While at his school first graders are only
expected to read or be read to for 20 minutes per night, I know that the
inevitable hour or more of homework is in his, and my, future.
Part of me likes that he
has an after-school ritual for which he is totally responsible, except really
he’s not responsible for it at all. He’s 7 and can barely remember where he
put his shoes even when they’re on his feet. So technically he may have been assigned homework, but I’m pretty much
responsible for making sure it gets done. Homework can often make for an unpleasant afternoon wrestling match
between an exhausted parent and their equally exhausted child.
The National Education Association recommends that students spend an average of 10 minutes per grade on homework
In my son’s case, my
husband or I would already be reading to our son every night, so his assignment
is easy and manageable, but as kids get older, their homework responsibility
grows. I remember spending hours on
homework as a kid. I wonder what I gained from it, if anything at all.
You see The National
Education Association recommends that students spend an average of 10
minutes per grade on homework, meaning a first grader should spend 20 minutes on
homework while a seventh grader should spend seventy minutes doing homework. Most schools stick to these guidelines as the book suggests, but that doesn’t mean the students or their parents do
That’s because the
average high-school student spends less than an hour on homework per day,
but over double that on video games, TV or other screen devices. Homework can teach kids time management and
organizational skills they’ll need to succeed later in life, but what kid
wouldn’t choose to play Mario Cart over finishing that report on Spanish missions
in California when given the chance?
So Mom and Dad become
the homework police solely responsible for their child’s homework getting done.
I like the idea that their homework is more about the process than about the actual result.
The book’s solution is
for every family to decide how much time their child should spend each day on
homework. After that designated time period is done, even if the child hasn’t
finished his or her homework, he or she can do whatever they want, including
playing those video games for which they’ve been salivating all night long. Sounds
like a good idea to me!
See the book suggests
that most homework has built in busy-work that doesn’t actually benefit a
child. So some of the time logged doing
homework isn’t actually that helpful to a child’s learning. And while I’m dubious of a theory that says
kids don’t have to finish their homework, I like the idea that their homework
is more about the process than about the actual result. And let’s face it, grown-ups want to
decompress with some screen time. Why can’t our kids?
So from now on, I’m not
getting into any video game-TV-homework battle with my kids. As long as they complete their
responsibility, their homework, they are free to spend their time how they wish, doing what they want. I can’t promise my
kids will be smarter, but I can promise I’ll be happier. I’m already tired of being a homework cop and
it’s only year one.