School may be out for the summer, but the topic du jour – at least among parents and the education community – is whether kids are getting snowed in by too much homework during the school year.
A New York Times story called parents’ dissatisfaction with increasing homework loads the beginnings of a “homework revolt,” suggesting that some school principals now believe students are losing their childhoods to too much take-home work.
The story quotes Donna Cushlanis, a secretary for the Galloway, N.J., school district, about an hour-long math session with her second-grade son that culminated in tears. When she complained, she found that the district’s school board, which serves 3,500 kindergarten through eighth-grade students, is already preparing to vote this summer on a proposal to limit weeknight homework to 10 minutes for each year of school (20 minutes for second graders, for instance) and ban assignments on weekends, holidays and school vacations.
In fact, writes family expert and former teacher Erin Kurt at Get2Central, even 8 and 9-year-olds are reporting serious stress levels because of an overabundance of schoolwork and lack of sleep. Many of them, she says, manifest the “same physical and emotional signs of stress as the children in war-torn countries.”
As the Times points out, the overall trend since the 1950s has been to increase – not decrease – post-school day workloads. “In the 1950s, the Sputnik launching ushered in heavier workloads for American students in the race to keep up with the Soviet Union,” the article states. “More recently, the testing pressures of the No Child Left Behind law also resulted in more homework for children at younger ages.” And according to Harris Cooper, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, there are diminishing returns to homework in excess of 10 minutes for young children, for whom the guideline is meant to simply teach good study habits.
But there are plenty of proponents of the idea that too much pampering leads to useless kids. The Press of Atlantic City quoted former Olympian Carl Lewis, who is running for the 8th District Senate seat in Galloway, N.J., as publicly saying that the township’s plan “defied common sense.”
Like to see your kids catch a homework break, or are you in favor of the idea that more homework pushes kids to excel?