Too much homework?

We received two interesting responses to Charles J. Sykes' article, "The Strange War on Homework."
This is in response to the article by Charles J. Sykes, "The Strange War on Homework." I can't speak for other school systems, but where I live, Wheaton, IL, there is a paradox regarding homework. My 6th grade daughter often has more than 2 hours of homework. More than I usually had in high-school. Yet, my children seem to me to be behind where I was at the same age, especially in math, which I consider, along with reading most important for grade schoolers. Somehow, I learned all my facts without doing flashcards at home. Somehow, I learned long division (or as it's called now, division with regrouping) without my mother having to sit down with me show me how to do it.

I am fine with a reasonable amount of homework, but I have read that 10 minutes per night per grade level was ideal. That would be nice.  By 5th grade, the teachers no longer follow this standard here. They pile it on and act as if our family life should revolve around school. (And by the way, my kids don't watch TV on school nights and don't do any sports. We limit after school activities because we believe kids should have some unstructured time in their days.)

My son's teacher recently suggested he could be the gifted reading program next year. I told her he would not be in it because of the added homework. (I know from my daughter's experience.) Plus, I'm not sure how being able to analyze a piece of fiction in 5th grade will make him more successful in the long run. It's his math I'm worried about. Last year, his teacher let him squeak by without learning all his multiplication facts and he is still not up to speed.

On top of homework, my kids have to fill out these stupid reading logs. They are supposed to write down the number of minutes spent reading for pleasure each day and what they read. the requirement is about 20 minutes. This is supposed to somehow get them to read more. I tell my kids to just put down something and not stress over it. They read all the time. Having to record it in a log makes no difference. And if a kid hated to read, I think it would just make reading that much more of a burden.

The point to my ramble is this. We ask for higher standards, but instead get more homework and more testing. I think there is a place for both, but they mean nothing if the material being taught continues to be dumbed down. Also, how is it that 30 years ago, when I was a kid we didn't have all this homework, didn't have yearly standardized tests and yet we came out of high-school smarter than most graduates today?

(anonymous by request)
Wheaton, IL

My daughter just started kindergarten this fall.

Each night we sit with her at our kitchen table to complete assignments.  It is such a lovely way to spend one on one time with our child.  I can't imagine why a parent would not want to be involved in such a process.  Not only are you spending time with your child but you are contributing to the childs knowledge and growth of the world.  Why would this be so stressful?  If this is stressful to many parents in this country what else are you bugging out about?  Calm down and enjoy the time with your kid.  Before you know it the grade schooler will be off to college and the baby will be gone.   
I enjoy the website.  Very informative.  Thank you,

Gena M Such
Oak Brook, IL. 60523

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