Fellow parents who are tired of our kids being totally tired out by homework: You're not alone. And you're not imagining things.
New research backs the concern that many of us have: Our elementary-school-aged kids have too much homework.
The research, published in The American Journal of Family Therapy, found that primary school children have up to three times the amount of homework recommended by experts. Nearly 1,200 parents participated in the study.
The National Education Association recommends an elementary student have 10 minutes of homework per grade level per day.
So a first-grader should have, at most, 10 minutes of homework per school day, and a sixth-grader should have a maximum of 60 minutes.
But it turns out, many students are getting far more than that. In the study, first graders averaged 28 minutes and second-graders were averaging almost 29 minutes per school day.
Perhaps most notable? The study found that even kindergarteners are getting a heavy dose:
"The 10 Minute Rule does not give a figure for recommended Kindergarten homework load. Yet, in our study, we found that the average homework load for Kindergarten was 25 minutes per day, which may be both taxing for the parents and overwhelming for the children. Further, in a period of life when children are focused on early stages of socialization and finessing motor skills, we anticipate that an overload of homework will likely interfere with a Kindergarten-aged child's ability to play and participate in extra-curricular activities."
Homework probably has its place, but...
Read a parent's Facebook post about the homework struggle, and you'll probably find many others chiming in with a bunch of Amens.
While some parents would prefer their children have no homework, many don't have a problem with it. It's the quantity and time it takes that's weighing on them.
And teachers are having a hard time with it, too. The research notes, "Teachers, struggling to fit core curricula into an already full day of classes, use homework to meet academic requirements."
Too much time sitting at the kitchen table working through math problems and spelling words can lead to stressed kids who act out. And are kids really learning that much when they're maxed out and filling out worksheets just because they have to? Plus, all that extra homework cuts into family and extracurricular activity time.
Is the homework wearing you out, too?
Kids are feeling bogged down by homework. Teachers are feeling bogged down. And, of course, parents are as well: "Family stress, measured by self-report, increased as homework load increased and as parent's perception of their capacity to assist decreased," the study noted.
What's a parent to do?
While homework isn't the most exciting way to spend time after school, it's a fact of life for most kids. How can you make it better?
The U.S. Department of Education offers some advice, including the following:
"Help your child with time management.
Establish a set time each day for doing homework. Don't let your child leave homework until just before bedtime. Think about using a weekend morning or afternoon for working on big projects, especially if the project involves getting together with classmates.
Be positive about homework.
Tell your child how important school is. The attitude you express about homework will be the attitude your child acquires.
When your child does homework, you do homework.
Show your child that the skills they are learning are related to things you do as an adult. If your child is reading, you read too. If your child is doing math, balance your checkbook.
When the teacher asks that you play a role in homework, do it.
Cooperate with the teacher. It shows your child that the school and home are a team. Follow the directions given by the teacher.
If homework is meant to be done by your child alone, stay away.
Too much parent involvement can prevent homework from having some positive effects. Homework is a great way for kids to develop independent, lifelong learning skills.
Talk with your child's teacher. Make sure you know the purpose of homework and what your child's class rules are.
Watch your child for signs of failure and frustration.
Let your child take a short break if she is having trouble keeping her mind on an assignment."
A lot of teachers ask parents to talk to them if daily homework is taking more than a certain amount of time. They're not looking to make your kid's life — or yours — miserable, so a little communication goes a long way.
What do you think about the current state of homework for elementary school students? Too much? Not enough? Just right?