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Too much homework and not enough time?

Children can often struggle with the homework load, feeling overwhelmed and stressed with the amount of work they have to complete.

With teachers assigning more homework than ever before, many children are stressed, sleep-deprived, and, worst of all, losing interest in learning. However, numerous frustrated parents are fighting back and winning. You can too!

The homework emergency

For every mother who complains that her child has too much homework, there is another parent who feels her child has too little.

The research is a mixed bag. Studies indicate that only 5% of children participate in two or more hours of daily physical activity. However, other surveys indicate that students across the board are working longer hours.

Remarkably few school districts have homework policies, and even in those that do, teachers are free to assign whatever they choose. For middle and high school students juggling between six and eight classes, the workload can quickly become unmanageable.

Experts recommend parents request that teachers adhere to his rule of 10 minutes of homework per night per grade – 10 minutes in first grade, 60 minutes in sixth grade, etc. – which is optimal for learning, according to research.

There is room for variation, particularly in the upper grades where students can choose advanced placement classes. The best policy would allow teachers to tailor assignment lengths to the needs of their students.

If your child is on the brink of breaking

Be on the lookout for the symptoms of homework exhaustion: persistent frustration, loss of motivation, and waning interest in learning. And be willing to speak up.

The following are some suggestions for parental actions:

  • Conduct research: Ask your child’s school if it has a homework policy. Keep track of homework assignments and the time required to complete them.
  • Consult with other parents: If you believe that a particular assignment is too difficult, send an email to your classmates asking if they agree, and if so, suggest that they inform the teacher. There is strength in numbers.
  • Confer with the teacher in private: Approach your child’s teacher in a cooperative, non-confrontational manner. Teachers are frequently unaware of how stressful homework can be, and most will want to find a solution.
  • Consult with the principle: If all other options have been exhausted, contact your child’s school principle and share your child’s struggles with them.

Good vs. Bad Homework

The majority of experts concur that the purpose of homework is to review and reinforce the lessons covered in class that day. Ideally, homework should instill a sense of curiosity and teach children how to study effectively, including how to divide their time between difficult and simple tasks and how to test their own retention, so that they become lifelong learners.

The most effective homework should accomplish the following:

  • Mix it up: Rather than grouping all difficult questions into a single section, assignments should contain a few simple questions here and there. Children will find the work easier and more enjoyable.
  • Address particular needs: Tasks should be age-appropriate, with shorter assignments in lower grades to accommodate attention spans. The amount and difficulty can be increased for high-achieving students.
  • Be dispersed over time: Children retain more information when they review material in short, repeated bursts over several weeks as opposed to immediately after learning it.
  • Apply to activities kids enjoy outside of school: Not only do the best assignments develop essential skills such as reading, writing, analysis, and critical thinking, but they also encourage students to engage with topics they care about. The objective is to keep them interested.

How to help your child

Here are three ways you can help your child cope better with homework:

  1. Provide a quiet, well-lit area for your child to complete their homework, and establish rules for when they should complete it — ideally late afternoon or early evening.
  2. Don’t do their homework for them. Instead, imitate Socrates by asking your child questions that will lead them to the correct conclusions. So, the next time your 13-year-old mishandles an algebra word problem, have him reread the question and ensure he comprehends it before he attempts it again.
  3. Set out clear consequences of not completing their homework. For example, if your child refuses to finish their homework, they are not allowed to play video games for the rest of the afternoon.

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