Help with Homework

Homework debate: Too much homework vs. Ban homework; No homework vs. Is homework beneficial?

What are parents and children to do solve the homework dilemma?

Homework has become one of the biggest issues for parents and kids. It brings with it anger, frustration, tears, fears and family disharmony. Jack, a nine year old, often spends all afternoon and evening doing homework, sometimes until eleven o’clock at night. In addition, he always needs help with it, so his mom and dad got him a homework helper from a tutoring service.

Jack’s Dad: “When I was in fourth grade I came home from school and played ball with the kids on the block. Then I ate dinner with my family, did my homework and went to sleep. I have two masters degrees; I did fine. The only thing Jack has time for is homework and dinner.”

His dad is correct questioning the volume of homework. “Is there something wrong with Jack’s teacher?” his Mom said. “My Grandmother was a teacher and she said Jack has more homework in one night than she used to give in one week.

Grandma is right. During the late fifties and into the sixties, kids in elementary school had a weekly spelling test and a test on the times tables once in a while, but that was it. They didn’t have hours of homework, piles of workbook pages, long-term projects, midterms and finals. When they got home from school, they did what children should do: play.

Homework didn’t begin until seventh grade, the first year of what was called junior high school. But, even then most kids didn’t need to carry home all their books because they got their homework done during study hall.

Even high school kids rarely had so much that they couldn’t get it done watching “Dick Clark’s American Bandstand on television.” They also had enough time to be in the school show, or in the marching band, or on a sports team without having a complete meltdown.

There is an optimum amount of homework for average children. Too little and they don’t have a chance to practice what they learned in school; too much and they click-off their brains and simply push pencils around to get it done.

  • What is Quality Homework?
  • What is Too Much Homework?
  • Why Do Children Struggle with Homework?
  • What Can Parents Do to Help?

Find the answers in our FREE “Top 25 Homework Tips” booklet. Here are a few of the tips. To download your free booklet, click here.

  • Tip #1. What Is a Reasonable Amount? Many parents think that a large amount of homework is a sign of a good teacher. That is false. A good teacher helps children learn the material and provides a reasonable amount of homework while at the same time helping children to develop a love of learning. Too much homework doesn’t provide children adequate time to process and rehearse, which makes it counterproductive. However, worse than that, it turns them off to school and to learning.
  • Tip # 5. How Much is Enough? Here is a general guide for the typical amount of time children should be expected to spend on homework each school day: grades K-2, 10-20 minutes; grades 3-6, 30-60 minutes; grades 7-12 will vary considerably, depending on subjects, projects due, tests, and so on, but a reasonable average is about two hours, with more on weekends, as needed, for major projects and exams.
  • Tip #12. Too Difficult: If homework is continuously too challenging and difficult, then a child will try to avoid it. Contact the teacher and see if it is only your child who is finding it too difficult or if the problem is class-wide.
  • Tip # 17. Too Disorganized: If your child brings home his book and forgets the assignment, or brings home the assignment and forgets the book – or if he forgets both! – instead of criticizing and punishing him, help him to develop strategies to remember what he needs. Work with him to come up with a plan. If it doesn’t work, come up with another plan. For example, obtain a second set of books to keep at home. The teacher may be able to provide this or you can purchase them discounted on line. It also helps if there is a back-up plan to get the assignments – for example, a buddy system or on-line access to the homework assignments.
  • Tip # 21. Too Unmotivated: Most kids are not motivated to do homework because they simply don’t want to do it; they eventually complete it, but reluctantly. Others appear unmotivated when in fact they avoid homework to protect their egos. Here’s their logic. If they don’t try and fail, it is due to a lack of motivation. If they do try and end up failing, it could be due to a label they cannot live with: “stupidity.” If your child is unmotivated, it might help if you explain the role homework plays in the larger scheme of school and beyond.

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