Any parent who has watched their child stay up way past their bedtime toiling
over their books or wasting a weekend working on projects and assignments
knows how tough it can be. Teenagers are especially burdened with work
that leaves them tired, stressed and with no time for social engagements,
sport or family events.
Overloaded children suffer from anxiety and fatigue that many think is
counterproductive and bad for their health and wellbeing. Unfortunately,
an increasingly competitive academic culture and jobs market mean children
have to push themselves further to succeed.
Guidelines for Homework
The National PTA and the National Education Association have set guidelines
for homework which should increase by 10 minutes for each grade. That
means that in the first grade your child will be doing 10 minutes of homework
a day, 20 minutes in the second grade and so on. What this means is that
by the 12th grade, they will be doing two hours of homework a day. Some
experts say two hours a day is way too much and doesn’t leave enough
time for the sleep, rest, social time and the exercise healthy teens need.
More Homework doesn’t Mean Brighter Stars
Studies show that students who did more than two hours of homework did not fare any
better than those who did two or less. While this is counter-intuitive,
it seems like assigning less homework that is focused on areas the student
needs to improve on is far more effective. Unfortunately, most teachers
have no time to give students individual homework that help them work
through the issues they have.
Here one-to-one tutors provide the most effective solution as tutors are
able to help students to get through their homework and cover areas that
they are having problems with.
While studies show that a reasonable amount of homework did improve test
scores for students in high school, it seemed to make little difference
to those in elementary school.
Better Learning, Better Life
The trick seems to be a finding a balance. Parents often don’t complain
to teachers when their children have too much homework but if you see
a negative impact on the performance or happiness of your child or if
your child is experiencing anxiety, you need to work with teachers to
find an amicable solution.
If homework is a daily struggle, speak with teachers and tutors on how
you can motivate your child. Some children have real issues with executive
skills like task initiation, time management, organization or staying
focused. This can mean that your child actually has a reasonable amount
of homework, but they take forever to do it.
If this is the case, find an in-home tutor who teaches executive skills
so that your child learns to organize their time, prioritize tasks and
stay organized. Being able to focus for long periods of time to finish
tasks is a great life skill to learn, so persevere and you will soon have
an independent learner and no homework hassles!
Pic by the US Department of Agriculture