Excessive Homework

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Excessive Homework



I guess I'm coming at this from a parent, but I do think it's a youth issue in that I think it affects children.

My son isn't old enough yet to have the homework piled on, but I talk to parents of older kids, and every once in a while, their kid will end up in a class with a teacher who thinks it's okay to send kids home with two or three hours of homework per night, in grades as early as three.

A relative of mine has three daughters in school, two years apart each, and when one of them was going through grade three, the teacher was sending so much homework home, the girl would be so frustrated and exhausted trying to do all this work that she'd end up in tears, and of course this would make the mom unhappy too. And the mom has three other kids (two school-aged and one preschool) to take care of at night so it's not like she can spend all night sitting beside her daughter doing her homework.

I've heard this from more than one parent at various times, and I thought of it now because another friend of mine just happened to mention today that their kid is getting an inordinate amount of homework being sent home lately.

I tend to think if that were the situation in my home, I'd be getting my kid to do maybe an hour of work, and then sending a note to the teacher every single day that they sent too much home, saying, "My daughter has done one hour of homework. My daughter also has a family life and other activities to do at night. Please start assigning more age-appropriate amounts of work." And if it continued, I'd be speaking to the principal and, that failing, the school board.

Seriously though - what is wrong with our school system when a kid spends all day at school doing school work and then some teachers figure it's okay to make them do school work all night at home? Every time I hear about this from friends with older children, I feel rebellious and peeved. And I hear it so often that I can't believe it's just something that happens once in a while.

Is there any kind of lobbying happening out there on the part of parents to stop this sort of thing? Spending time at home in the evening relaxing with your family, or playing a sport, or going to a music or swimming lesson is just as important as school work. There's a time and a place for everything. No one wants to work all day and then come home and work all night. If adults don't want to do it, why do we make our children do it?


Wow, interesting article on the subject that I just found:


And how on earth might curtailing homework provide an issue around which to organize resistance to the new economic behemoth? Before you mock Kralovec and Buell as hopelessly permissive, pie-eyed children of the counterculture, consider their very credible point of view. Circumstantial evidence suggests that homework is increasing, they observe, and that it is being relied upon to do the work of teachers who are strapped for time and resources in a climate ungenerous with education funding. Parents are, in effect, doing "unpaid labor" when they come home at night--labor that should be done by teachers. For that matter, so are children, whose "work" should be confined to the 40-hour week for which labor unions fought long and hard.

The best that can be said for the increase in homework is that it involves parents in their children's formal learning process, and keeps them abreast of what's going on--or missing--in the classroom. But in addition to forcing parents and children to do "unpaid labor," there are many other difficulties with rising homework expectations. On a personal level, it turns the kitchen table into a battle zone between exhausted parents--who are already giving enough of their energy to the new economy, thank you very much--and their children, most of whom are already overextended with family obligations and extracurricular activities like sports and community service.

Furthermore, excessive homework leaves unfulfilled the developmental needs of children--for fresh-air activity and social play--at the same time that it intrudes on the nondisciplinary, nurturing aspects of parents' relationships with their kids. Politically, homework is no longer just a big drag; it has become downright oppressive. As teachers rely more heavily on homework to "cover" all that they are expected to teach, the authors argue most persuasively, education becomes less an equal-opportunity leveler and more a dividing wedge between social classes. Children with educated parents, a home library, a computer and quiet study quarters are obviously more likely to do their homework, and to excel at it, than those who lack these things.

[url=http://www.inthesetimes.com/issue/25/04/tumber2504.html]Is Jack a dull boy?[/url]


I've really struggled with this issue over the years. A quick google search suggests that the Catholic boards in Ontario have done more thinking about this than other. There are ministry guidelines, but I havn't found them yet.

Came up with this...

Grade Amounts of Time
1 – 8
5 to 10 min. per grade most nights
Grade One – 5 to 10 min.
Grade Two 10 to 20 min.
Grade Three – 15 to 20 min.
Grade Four – 20 to 40 min.
Grade Five – 25 to 50 min.
Grade Six – 30 to 60 min.
Grade Seven – 35 to 70 min.
Grade Eight – 40 to 80 min.
(plus Read Aloud or Independent Reading)

9 – 10
6 to 10 hours per week (depending on type of assignment, course, or program; some students, including those with special needs, may have more of an in-class focus for their learning)

11 – 12
an average of 10 to 20 hours per week (depending on grade and courses)


which I found [url=http://www.tcdsb.org/curriculum/homeworkguidelines.htm]here.[/url]

They also have a good general discussion on the nature and value of homework once you get past all the religious stuff at the top.

[ 05 January 2007: Message edited by: oldgoat ]


I think that if there are ministry guidelines, they should be MAXIMUM guidelines only. No minimums.

[url=http://www.ncte.org/elem/topics/content/110297.htm]An interesting web conversation between teachers on this subject.[/url] It's nice to see that there seems to be a movement among some teachers to stop assigning so much homework.


I'm not sure, but I get the feeling that the idea is to make learning dull and boring. This was precisley the problem with Dickensian England during industrial developement: what to do with the country's poor children and street urchins as their parents died young from miserable working conditions and poverty in general.

They decided that children should dedicate their lives to the noble cause of aiding rich industrialists to becoming wealthier. English children were to memorize useless information about the empire, and recite facts on demand. I think children ended up hating school and saw it an a troublesome diversion from their daily struggle to eat and run with gangs of other children in order to survive past the age of 21. The streets of hard knocks were where the real learning happened. And I think it's happening to a certain degree today. They desire a large number of low wage earners in creating a Dickensian army of disposable workers. This is a large assumption from a bit of homework, but I think there is some merit to it, jts. The NDP has accused McGuinty's buncg of legislating high school dropouts and all. They don't need no educashun. They don't need no thought control


There's a lot of controversy around homework over the last few years -- a lot of it bubbling just below the surface and then erupting every so often. The Globe and Mail did a couple of major features on it recently, talking to teachers, parents, students and others from right across the country and finding a lot of common ground among those who discussed it.

[url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20061020.homework21/B...'s [/url] one of them.

I think part of the problem -- only part -- is that Departments of Education in all provinces are expanding curricula so drastically that teachers can't get all the work covered during school hours.

Our son, for example, is in grade six. Early in the term, I was amazed to discover on his daily schedule "algebra" and "geometry." I clearly remember that algebra and geometry used to be introduced no earlier than grade 9 -- often grade 10. I'm told by parents who have older children that in grades 10 and 11, students are taking what their parents remember as first year university subjects.

Having said that, there are certainly teachers who overload the kids with homework -- and believe it or not, there are parents who demand it. My sister is a long-time educator who never liked assigning homework because she liked to be able to see how the children worked and what progress they were making. She often said if they took the work home, you could never be sure who completed it. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img] Also, there's always a great deal of difference in the support systems that many students have at home and she felt that too many children were at a disadvantage.

However, when she didn't assign homework, she would get panicky calls from parents who couldn't stand the thought that their kid had no homework -- and who worried about it.

On a very personal note: It's possible that our son could get more work done in school but he brings a lot of work home. Without going into all the gory details, we have hired a homework coach (a friend of ours who took early retirement from teaching and who has years of experience dealing with children at all levels and with all varieties of behaviours.)

He offered to do this because he could see that the confrontations over getting the homework done was seriously affecting the relationship between my son and me. He felt that we needed a neutral force to take the pressure off both of us.

He's working with my son to get him to take ownership of his own work, working on organizing skills, setting both short-term and long-term goals etc. It's still quite early but we're hoping for good results.

Sorry for the length. I could go on and on. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]

[ 05 January 2007: Message edited by: Sharon ]


[url=http://thestar.workopolis.com/servlet/Content/qprinter/20061021/HOMEWORK...'s the whole article, for those who would like to read it but don't want to pay the Globe and Mail for the article. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img] [/url]

[ 05 January 2007: Message edited by: Michelle ]


I apologize. I tried to get that Workopolis edition but when I googled, I kept getting the actual Globe edition. (Yes, I do have a subscription.) I thought maybe the article had been magically put into the public domain.

Thanks Michelle.

Martha (but not...

"When my sister and I reached school age, my mother, having been a teacher, obtained permission to teach us herself at home. She did so for three years, but for only an hour each day. She did not believe much in the quantity of material learned; she aimed rather at helping us to acquire a clear and interconnected knowledge of each item and, above all, to develop the ability to think for ourselves." (Rudolf Carnap, "Intellectual Autobiography", in [i]The Philosophy of Rudolf Carnap[/i], P.A. Schilpp, ed., Open Court 1963.)


BTW, Sharon, that's really interesting, the solution you're trying right now. That seems like a good idea. Kind of takes the not-so-great mom-son pattern of cajoling/tears/anger out of it and makes it something like an extracurricular thing with someone not in the family.

It reminds me of a former piano teacher of mine. She never taught her own kids, for similar reasons - she knew that her kids would rebel against learning stuff from her, but that they wouldn't from an outside teacher.


this is interesting

[url=http://www.livescience.com/othernews/050602_homework_burden.html]Too much homework = lower test scores[/url] - 2005


A comprehensive review of academic performance around the world gives bad marks to excessive homework.

Teachers in Japan, the Czech Republic and Denmark assign relatively little homework, yet students there score well, researchers said this week.

"At the other end of the spectrum, countries with very low average scores -- Thailand, Greece, Iran -- have teachers who assign a great deal of homework," says Penn State researcher David Baker.

"American students appear to do as much homework as their peers overseas -- if not more -- but still only score around the international average," said co-researcher Gerald LeTendre

Jacob Two-Two

And that's just one study. There's actually a large amount of evidence that suggests that loading on the homework doesn't do a thing for a child's education. I know when I was a kid it would drive me nuts how I was expected to do forty problems about the same thing, when I had understood it perfectly in the first five.


As a teacher I object to being forced to set homework. I have found the following
Learning facts and figures is different to learning processes and concepts.
Firstly if kids miss concepts and processes at school then one on one instruction by their parents at home will help, or confuse the heck out of them [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]
Depending on the school's resources (computer access) home work may develop research skills and interest in a subject.
Secondly learning facts and figures is best done with memory tools and repitition. Parents and teachers can come up with cool memory tools for their kids, and the best repitation schedule is one hour then one day then one week, which can be reinforced by work at home.
Most homework does none of these things without strong parental involvement, and careful planning by teachers.


My kids go to a school where the homework is piled on. I help them cope by establishing a routine, setting a fixed amount of time for homework every day, clearing the kitchen table for them and providing pencils and so forth. But one of the problems of too much homework is that the kids whose parents who for whatever reason don't help their kids get left behind.

A homework-heavy system favours the kids with ambitious/involved parents. Left to their own devices, kids won't do homework, but I find my kids don't mind it once I help them get started.

My kids, however, enjoy sitting to do involved tasks. Homework is hard for a lot of kids, especially boys, who have trouble sitting still. I believe all the emphasis on homework these days has resulted in the surge of diagnoses of attention deficit disorder.


Say Southlander, you ever consider moving up to Oshawa Ontario to teach?? It's lovely, really. Parts of Lord of tthe Rings was shot here. ok, it's because they only had to clean it up just a bit to make it look like Mordor. [img]frown.gif" border="0[/img] ..never mind.

Anyway, we've had good experience occassionally using a tutor. Currently we use a recently retired math head from another local high school. My kid's teachers nose is a bit out of joint about it, but too bad. This teachers idea of extra help was just reteaching in the same way and same speed what my kid wasn't understanding in the first place.

It seems from that kids who's parent/s are at home and able to provide the support that Southlander describes will have a huge advatage over those who for any number of reasons can't. The public education system is supposed to be a class leveller, but this points to some real weaknesses.



The public education system is supposed to be a class leveller, but this points to some real weaknesses.

One way to make the system more fair would be to assign no homework at the primary school level, instead completing all the work in class. Then the kids whose homelife doesn't accommodate homework (for whatever reason) won't get left so far behind.

I recall in university there were kids with good academic records in high school who washed out in the first semester of first year because they were totally without self-motivation; ie, they couldn't do homework without mom/dad hovering nearby (discounting the beer factor). Too much parental involvment seems to hamper kids as much as too little. Hard for kids to get motivated if their folks always told them what to do.


My sister -- who's anti-homework -- says that the inequality of opportunity in the home is only part of the problem. She says that some parents who are overly ambitious for their children not only help with homework but -- it was always clear to her -- actually often do the homework themselves.

oldgoat, our son's teacher holds a "homework club" after school on Thursdays. Our tutor/coach goes into the classroom and works with our son while the teacher is working with other students. He seems to feel this relieves her of some pressure and I hope that how she feels and that she doesn't feel resentful. I think it helps that we all try to frame it in a "spirit of co-operation" project.



She says that some parents who are overly ambitious for their children not only help with homework but -- it was always clear to her -- actually often do the homework themselves.

Yes. Even if you're not a pushy parent, t's all too easy to take over when you see your child struggling. To avoid temptation, I get the kids set up and I go to another room, only getting involved if I hear bickering or they come and ask me for help with something specific.

I love the idea of an afterschool homework club, though I imagine there's no funding for that.

TemporalHominid TemporalHominid's picture

Homework is becoming a hot topic. As a teacher I know teachers in my jurisdiction the ATA and parents are questioning the need for large amounts of homework in light of recent research that seems to indicate that homework for homeworks sake is ineffective. Some would argue that it develops a "work ethic", but I and others are skeptical that work ethic and homework load are related.

if homework load is becoming a concern, it is ok to question the workload. Kids have so many other things they could be doing, say staying physically active, playing, spending time with family. Join your PTA or Parent councils to develop with the staff, principal and school board a maximum amount of homework.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

I had a teacher way back in grade six who used to give two to three hours of homework a night (that was fifteen years ago). My mom and one of the other kid's moms went and talked to the teacher about it. He claimed he was just trying to prepare the kids for high school. I also think there's too much homework in high school.

The other thing is there can bea considerable difference in the ammount of time it takes different kids to do a given ammount of homework. This is especially true in a subject like math. At my high school, they would send a notice home saying that 2 hours of homework per day was expected. Thing is, I was so terrible in math that it would take me 2-3 hours to do math homework. Then I would have to do my other homework on top of that. Thinking back on it, its no wonder I didn't often complete all my homework (the stuff that merely gets a completion mark).

Another problem with excessive ammounts of homework is that students don't do a proper job of their homework, they just focus on getting it done. Students who are assigned five pages of math problems are less likely to take the time to do them properly than students who are only assigned one page of math problems.

[ 07 January 2007: Message edited by: Left Turn ]

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

[Post deleted because I wanted to edit my previous post, not quote myself]

[ 07 January 2007: Message edited by: Left Turn ]


[url=http://www.eudoranews.com/section/columns/story/7287]Excessive Homework Counterproductive: [/url]Seems like there are a lot of articles out there professing the same thing: Too much homework = exhaustion = low test scores = an overall decline in the passion for learning that kid's really should have.


The first article from Time written by Claudia Wallis, "The Myth about Homework" cites a recent book "The Homework Myth" by Alfie Kohn who states, "Homework...may be the single most reliable extinguisher of the flame of curiosity."

The article further quotes "top homework scholar" Harris Cooper of Duke University as concluding homework does not "measurably improve academic achievement for kids in grade school" and that "doing more than 60 to 90 minutes a night in middle school and more than two hours in high school is associated with lower scores." The author of the column refers to her sessions with her 12-year-old as conversations that become "nagging sessions," which sometimes end up at 11 p.m. when both parent and child are exhausted. If this is happening in many homes, it is easy to see why the "flame" of learning can quickly become extinguished.

My worry is how much this is going to diminish this "flame" of learning, in particularly of reading. I can't imagine coming home from seven hours of school, doing three hours of homework, and then actually wanting to pick up a copy of [i]Little Women[/i]or [i]The Secret Garden[/i] for pleasure reading. It's just too much for any young mind to properly digest.


[url=http://www.amazon.com/Case-Against-Homework-Hurting-Children/dp/03073401... Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It[/url] seems to be quoted quite a bit on this topic in a number of articles I've read.


When I was younger, I often felt at a disadvantage when it came to homework after about 3rd or 4th grade. While my parents had helped me learn to read, write, and do my multiplication tables very early, when we got to studying French, or math that moved into algebra, my parents who dropped out of high school and didn't speak English as a first language were not able to help at all. I was jealous of how many of my peers' parents could either help them a little (e.g. editing) or a lot (doing their work!).

But I find an issue that is even further stratifying kids today is the proliferation of private tutoring centres like Kumon math. They used to say my generation - kids of the 80s - were too spoiled because our parents competed on things like soccer and ballet lessons and piano practice. But today, kids learn math, and reading and all this stuff way earlier!

Kumon and other programs are not cheap, but I am sure they are effective, especially with teenagers who might not listen to Mom's entreaties to study harder. When I was in high school, the people at the top of my Calculus, Physics and Chemistry classes were all in programs like Kumon. It was very frustrating, since many of the rest of us scored highly, but not getting 100% and the like on tests. It was those top students who would get the highest averages, get scholarships for university, etc.


The purpose of homework is to reinforce learning that is taking place in the classroom. When given with an age appropriate duration, it is a crucial tool in the development of knowledge and skills.

Our son is getting far too little homework this year in grade 4.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Somewhere along the line my parents sent me to a former grade school teacher one evening a week to help me out with class assignments - usually math. As I was hard of hearing (still am) I missed some of the instruction during class periods and consequently didn't comprehend fully how to do some assigned tasks in my homework. I think these evening sessions were two hours long, 7 to 9. They really helped.

Sven Sven's picture

The [url=http://www40.statcan.ca/l01/cst01/arts23.htm]average student[/url] spends a couple of hours parked in front of the boob tube every day (and it's far worse for those over 18 years old). I guess I'd be more concerned about that than two hours of homework per day.


Yes, because certainly it's unheard of in our society for people to unwind for an hour or two in front of the television, right? Say, with a movie or a couple of dramas?

Why do we expect our children to need less leisure time and down time and vegging time than the rest of us?

Sven Sven's picture


Originally posted by Michelle:
[b]Yes, because certainly it's unheard of in our society for people to unwind for an hour or two in front of the television, right? Say, with a movie or a couple of dramas?

Why do we expect our children to need less leisure time and down time and vegging time than the rest of us?[/b]

Actually, children should have [b][i]more[/b][/i] leisure time than adults. I'm not sure why you took my post to mean that children should have less leisure time than adults?

My point was this: What is more worrisome, a kid spending two hours a day in front of the boob tube or a kid spending two hours a day doing homework?

Most children have several hours to devote to non-academic endeavors every day. There are a lot of ways kids can spend those hours: reading, playing with toys (or taking up a hobby, for older children), playing with other kids (or hanging out with friends), engaging in healthy physical activities, and so forth. Watching TV (or playing mindless video games) is probably not the best kind of leisure time. And, as a concern, I'd be more concerned about two hours of TV watching than two hours of homework.


I agree, the TV is OK, The homework needs to fit in with travel time to school, sport, sleep, housework, leasure time and time with the family (including time watching TV). These are all more important than homework, especially poorly set, or poorly done, homework.


I also kind of got the impression especially with my son's Grade 4 teacher that she assigned homework, hoping the parents would teach the kids concepts she couldn't teach like adding fractions for example.


I think there is a difference between homework and "busy work." I remember getting a lot of both in middle school, in particular. I remember completing really rewarding assignments that allowed me to use my creativity and expand my knowledge, but I also remember a fair share of busy work. (ie. colouring maps of the world) Homework is essential, but I also think it can be fun and educational at the same time. One of my favourite math homework assignments was using catologues from various grocery stores to piece together a budget for a dream party and another one using Ikea-esque catologues to budget a dream room in a house, all of which combined math skills (ie. taxes, multiplication, division etc. etc. etc), with organization skills. Now budgeting just seems like a horrible reality of real life, but back then it was fun.

Another favourite, similar to this, was [url=http://www.realgame.com/]The Real Game. [/url]

I just hope kids aren't missing out on these fun learning experiences in order to colour maps, or make title pages or countless essays on what they did on their Christmas vacations.



I feel the same way about homework over vacation times like March Break and the winter holidays. As far as I'm concerned, holidays are sacred. I don't have to work on my holidays; my kid shouldn't have to work on his.

What are we teaching our kids if all their free time and "down time" is taken up with homework?

Luckily, my son hasn't run into one of these teachers who assign too much work. And hopefully he won't.


Back in elementary, I was a bright kid in a school where the list of bright kids was rather short. I used to finish the work I was given halfway through each class on things that weren't busywork, and spend the rest of the class reading.

That changed abruptly when I got to high school and went into an "advanced" program. About the worst of it was when I got a pile of organic chemistry homework to do over the summer between grades 11 and 12. I think I started around the beginning of August and spent the rest of the summer on it. Wound up getting a crappy mark on it too, because my crappy handwriting made drawing organic compounds difficult, and by the end I was just so exhausted and pissed off I didn't care anymore.

Worst part was, we never really got any instruction on organic chemistry, we were just expected to learn it ourselves. Apparently, they were trying to cram 4 semesters of chemistry into a 3 semester program, probably because there was no budget for it. I think that if I hadn't dropped French in grade 12, I would have had some sort of breakdown.

That's one thing I appreciate about the job I'm doing currently... most of the time, I can go home at 4:30 and leave the job behind.


Both my children had piles and piles of homework. WE were by one of the teachers that my kids would not be ready for the provincials because she (the teacher) had fallen behind. I am not saying all teachers are bad but we have had our share of bad ones. So I kept at the kids and we didn't get to do a lot of things because of homework.
NOw my kids in university and one of them is taking 6 courses per semester. I asked her how she did it (I had a tough time with 4) and she said that it was nothing compared to grade school. So, maybe lots of work prepares them for the years coming up?


For a young child I definitely think three hours of homework is ridiculous. Maybe for someone in grade 10 or above, 3 hours is OK, but for a young child? No.

People tend to forget that children not only tend to need more sleep and leisure time, but they also have shorter attention spans than adults and can get cranky more easily under certain circumstances.

I would never make homework more than an hour for a young child, and that only if it was a big project ("big" being relative here, mind).


Well, homework doesn't have to be work. It is learning. I think it's a good opportunity to get your child into learning for fun. We don't have a problem sitting them down in a theatre to watch a movie for 2 - 3 hours and most kids can and will sit and concentrate three hours if it's entertaining.


Homework has its place but from what I've seen the expansion of homework hours seems directly in proportion to the expansion of standardized tests, i.e. No Child Left Behind down here in the states. And its not just the Feds, state and local districts have fallen under the idea that more means better and standardized test scores mean a district is 'better' and therefore deserving of more money.

Add to that the philosophy of many US educators that our kids have it too easy compared to the rest of the world (and that is based in truth) and you have a veritable pile on of homework. Now the problem I see is that there's enriching homework and then there is 'busywork' homework and, we can also add, homework teaching material that the poorly prepared teacher didn't get to for whatever reason.

The problem I see is that there is a fine line here between genuine enrichment and piling on where kids see 'school' as hours of forced drudgery both in school and at home.

The positive benefit is the undeniable fact that based on your university major, homework only gets more arduous there. My oldest son starts at Ohio State this fall and is majoring in computer science engineering. His adviser told all the students in the major during orientation they would get 2 hours of homework for every 1 hour of class time. She also suggested they break up with their significant others now to save time and anguish later and no, she was not kidding.

My experience may be coloured by the fact that I saw classroom and homework as boring beyond measure.


I agree with you, AE. Now that we have standardized testing in Ontario at certain points (grade three is the first one, and lucky me, my little one is going into grade three this year!) teachers have to "teach to the test" and spend valuable class time teaching kids how to do well at taking tests rather than on the subject matter. And what good does it do? Makes kids in low-performing schools feel bad about themselves? Gives kids test anxiety at 8 years old?

Stephen Gordon

I wouldn't worry about that so much: the kids (at our school, anyway) aren't told their results.

Although I find the whole homework thing to be a grind (our guys are going into grades 6, 5 and 3, so you can imagine what our kitchen table is like at 7:00pm), I do appreciate the fact that it keeps us informed about our kids' progress. We know what things are going well and what needs work well before the arrival of the report cards.

But what worries me is that they system seems to be designed for people like us: parents who have the time and inclination to make the effort required to take full advantage of their kids' education. Many people can't (I have a very flexible schedule, so I can make the time) or won't (eg: they thought school was pointless when they were kids, so why knock themselves out now?).

Instead of giving kids a more-or-less equal opportunity, the emphasis on homework may just be reinforcing the advantages that children at the top of the spectrum already have.


Proper homework will reinforce the learning that takes place in school. Reinforcement is important for learning to happen. Perfect ptractice makes perfect. Yes, children whose parents are able to help them with their homework have an adavantage over children whose parents aren't able to help them. Even without homework some children will have attendant socio-economic advantages over other children.

Our eldest is going into grade 5 and youngest starting kindergarten so our kitchen table will begin to look like two-thirds of Stephen's. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]


It’s already been addressed in this threat – but more homework is the result of helicopter parenting (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helicopter_parent) and over parenting in general.

If there is an observation that I can make about any of my teachers friends is that assigning homework isn’t “fun”. Grading and verifying that it was done is an added task to the job. However with post-secondary education being more of an expectation and parents investing more of their learned in the work place knowledge, they place more emphasis on homework.

Anybody ever notice that it’s always the math and science teachers who are busiest on parent teacher interview night?

Did the parents ever clue in their kids either aren’t good or don’t like chemistry? I remember an awful lot of people having tutors, before the kids grew up the courage to say, “I’m not going into science, I don’t like it and I’m not good at it” Before parents relented and became supportive of other choices. (Luckily I didn’t have to deal with that too much…but that’s because I was the third of four kids…)

Also on the issue of too much homework, I’ve heard of kids having bad backs because of too many books….why do 9 year olds need backpacks with wheels?



Our eldest son attends an elementary school I went to. I know memories dull with the passage of time but I get the impression I had more homework 35 years ago than he has now.

Skinny Dipper

The general rule of thumb for homework is 10 minutes per grade per night--weekends not included. In the lower grades, homework might involve having a child read to a parent or someone else. In the middle grade, homework is work that a child has already started in class and should be able to understand the concepts. In the higher grades, there is research that a student cannot always do in class. Nevertheless the research topic and format should be discussed in class.

Skinny Dipper

If your child seems to be bringing home too much school work, ask the teacher how your child is performing in class. If your child is in grade six and has two hours of homework, ask if the child is doing work in class, struggling, or primarily talking with friends.


Ability (willingness) to complete mindnumbing rote homework tasks is not related to intelligence or potential, despite what any number of teachers tried to tell me over the years. What much of the education system taught me was how to work the system as a whole.

Find out what you need to do in order to accomplish what you want inside the system, and don't give another second of time or attention beyond that level.

Pogo Pogo's picture


Originally posted by arborman:
[b]Find out what you need to do in order to accomplish what you want inside the system, and don't give another second of time or attention beyond that level.[/b]

Then log onto the internet for the remainder of your day.



Originally posted by Caissa:
[b]Our eldest son attends an elementary school I went to. I know memories dull with the passage of time but I get the impression I had more homework 35 years ago than he has now.[/b]

What I remember is exactly the opposite: I hardly remember doing any homework at all.

I do remember one particularly egregious homework event that happend to my brother. In grade eight, they were given an empty map of Africa and were asked to put in the country names, the capitals, etc. It just so happened that the Globe and Mail had a big article, with a full-page map, entitled something like "The New Map of Africa". The article talked about all the new names, new capitals, etc. and it was all indicated there on this big full-page map. So my brother used that map instead of the fifteen-years-out-of-date map in the old atlases they had at his school. He got an F, because (surprise surprise) his assignment didn't match the school atlas. He brought the Globe and Mail article in the next day. The teacher told him she didn't care, and left his grade as an F.

I don't know why I told that story: it just says something about homework, I guess. (Or maybe only about that particular teacher.)


Those are important life lessons too, I figure, when stuff like that happens to kids. Sometimes I wonder whether parents are too quick to jump in these days when an injustice like that happens to a kid at school with their school work. I remember one English teacher who marked opinion essays based on whether kids agreed with her or not. I took a contrary viewpoint and she gave me a really bad mark. I was mad as hell.

But you know, a couple of semesters ago, I took a continuing education course, where the professor was this pompous jackass. He used the term "Ph.D. ABD" to describe himself and required students to address him as such on the cover pages. It was ridiculous. And he was also ridiculous about the way he marked essays.

But you know, even though I've never had a C in my life in university, I took his C and thought, whatever. As long as I pass, I can get through a course with an idiot professor. Because the important thing is what I'm learning in the course, not what mark I get.

So, one time when he asked me to give him a call before he "finalizes" the mark, during his office hours which I was working during, I just sent him an e-mail saying that he's already given me his comments and my mark, and I'm fine with that. Maybe he expected me to protest the mark, but I didn't. He just wasn't worth my time. All of his comments were about style over substance, and I have no time for style over substance types.

I think that's the lesson kids could take out of marking injustices in high school. That as long as you try on an assignment and you're pretty sure you're right, then even if you have an idiot teacher, it doesn't really matter in the long run. Stupid people are everywhere - even in front of the classroom in elementary, secondary and post-secondary levels.


It would be nice if kids could be that philosophical about marks, but I think several factors militate against that. First of all, thinking back to when I was a kid, I know I would have been... well, not crushed, but certainly quite upset if I got a low mark. Children, I think, in the main, [i]want[/i] to please the adults in their life and as their emotions aren't under full control in the first place (brain researchers have proven this is particularly an issue for teenagers owing to the way the brain is doing some heavy-duty rewiring in those years), it isn't reasonable to expect a child to not feel quite the sting of injustice over arbitrarily given grades.

In addition, with the pressure on from a very young age to "do well in school!" thanks to our society's obsessive focus on [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Credentialism]credentialism[/url] as being the be-all-and-end-all of educational existence, children are under, IMO, unreasonable pressure to get those high marks in school at a time when the grades don't even matter insofar as getting a C or better basically passes you to the next grade anyway. So parents are partly at fault here, too, by creating unreasonable expectations for their children based on their (understandable, but probably excessive) concern, created by the media, that their children won't make it to university unless they get that winner-take-all attitude in grade 1.

This, I think, is why people are recollecting getting less homework in the 60s and 70s than today - because teachers weren't under such governmental supervision, and because the pressure wasn't on to make sure children went on to university if they honestly didn't show the aptitude for it.