How Do You Deal With Homework at Your House?

We are a month into school and homework is on my mind today. Oscar and Betty are in 3rd and 4th grade and their workload so far hasn’t been too challenging. But poor Maude. Her homework is cutting into her sleep time.

She’s a sophomore now and the work load is definitely heavier than it was for her last year. Part of the issue is that she’s a diehard member of the Cross Country team. Practices are long and she puts in a ton of mileage. In theory, she could quit Cross Country and have plenty of time for homework, but that doesn’t really seem like a feasible option. Cross Country is the happiest part of her life at the moment! And all that running seems to keep her teen emotions balanced — there’s nothing like post-run endorphins to put anyone in a great mood. Taking her out of cross country doesn’t seem like the right thing to do. In fact, I’m reminded of that saying: “Don’t let school get in the way of your education.”

Ralph experienced similar late nights last year, but with Maude perhaps I notice it more because she loves her sleep. Late nights typically hold no interest for her. If she’s tired, she has no issues going to bed early — she’s not one to fight sleep in order to watch a show or something like that.

I get that this homework situation is normal high school behavior — and I did the same thing as a teen and survived. But seeing her stay up late, fighting sleepiness so that she can finish her homework, is frustrating. It just seems like a seriously flawed system. No doubt these thoughts are amplified because I feel like I’ve read over and over how important sleep is for everybody — but especially for teenagers.

[ UPDATE: In 2016, our elementary school instituted a No Homework Policy. Spoiler: I LOVE it. ]

How do you deal with homework at your house? Is it messing with your family schedule? Or have you figured out a good homework rhythm? Do your kids attend a school with no homework at all? Have you read anything lately on sleep — or on homework — that has you thinking about this? Also, I’ve heard some high schools out there are experimenting with late starts so that teens can get more sleep. Has your school tried this? I’d love to hear!

P.S. — Do you kids cover their textbooks with paper? Here’s a cute tutorial on book covers if you want to learn how.


Video: How to Set up a Study Space. Image by Lindsey Rose Johnson for Design Mom.

91 thoughts on “How Do You Deal With Homework at Your House?”

  1. I am the exact same as Maude. I LOVE my sleep and remember this same struggle in high school. Since I am much better off in the morning I used to leave a few of my easier pieces of work for 6am and let myself go to bed early. I seemed to get more quality sleep if I went to bed early and woke up early. Also, I agree, definitely keep up the running/extracurricular. It is crucial for emotional and physical health. Good luck, Maude! From one sleeper to another… (ps – yes, I still love my sleep as an adult!)

    1. I echo Kelsey and Maude! As an adult I still need 9-10 hours of sleep per night. My six year old has 1 hour of homework per night, which is an adjustment for us. I have done the same thing as Kelsey: moved some of the easier homework to the morning. My daughter is thus able to complete some homework when she is fresher, and less likely to get frustrated.

  2. Last year I was a high school teacher, and I thought about this topic a lot. I watched my students completely loaded down by homework, sports, and extracurriculars, and I really felt for them! I taught an elective (theology) so I kept my homework assignments pretty light, and really gave a lot of thought to them–instead of giving busywork, I only gave assignments that were necessary to better understand the material.

    It was funny, though, because when I talked to my husband about it, he had a different perspective. When I was in high school, I was a total slacker (didn’t become a good student until college!) and I didn’t do my homework at all! So I couldn’t relate to what the kids were going through. But my husband took Honors and AP classes, played baseball, and was involved in his church youth group. When I told him about my overloaded students, he wasn’t sympathetic. He said, “They’re teenagers–what else are they going to do?” I guess it’s just different for everyone!

    Also, there was talk around the faculty lounge about block schedules, and how that can sometimes ease the homework load by focusing it on only a couple classes a night.

    1. My daughter has block scheduling at her high school. It is wonderful! She is very busy in many activities so this gives her more flexibility to fit in all the necessary homework. In general, I do not have a problem with homework since it is teaching my children to better manage their time. I know my kids feel otherwise, but they do seem more engaged with their learning when it’s happening outside of school as well.

  3. First of all, I completely agree with allowing her to continue to do Cross Country- I was a 3-season athlete in high school, and while it was challenging, I strongly feel that being on those teams was an amazing experience. I’m in college now and remember those nights of little sleep in high school (and now, for that matter). Unfortunately, I feel that it is often unavoidable. Perhaps the best advice I have is to figure out if there are assignments that don’t need to be done on a nightly basis (or perhaps skim-read certain reading assignments if you know that you won’t be expected to know small details). If it makes you feel any better, this schedule will definitely help prepare her for college! There are very few nights in my life right now where I get to bed at a good time, but I also know that the hard work will pay off in the end (and I will be happy when I have a more normal schedule with work).

  4. When I was a teen, sleep was really important to me. I always got to bed between 9-9:30 unless I had an impulse/drive to do some homework. That didn’t happen often, but I felt that if I was in “the zone” then I should take advantage of it.

    What I did instead was wake up at 2 or 3 am after I got a good chunk of sleep in and then did an hour or so of homework, then went back to sleep before seminary.

    Similarly in college, I was in bed by 9 and up at 5 or 6 to do any work I didn’t finish the night before.

  5. My mom had a hard and fast rule: two hours. She would set a timer and if it wasn’t done in two hours it was too much homework. She informed our teachers of the rule and everyone knew, if we couldn’t get everything done in two hours we weren’t going to do it. It had no noticeable impact on our grades and a HUGE impact on our sleep.

    1. So, as a highschooler, is that 2 hours total for all of your classes? I don’t think that this is a bad rule, but I remember taking 3 AP classes with at least an hour of homework each, not to mention regular classes. Add extracurricular activities, and for me a part time job. And, getting up at 5:30 for early morning seminary. It was alot! I used to fall asleep during 3rd period every day. I would work at my job and doing my homework until 11, nap for an hour or two, get up and do more school work, and then die until I had to get up at 5:30 again! This balance (or lack of balance) is something that I dread already, and my oldest kids are only in 3rd grade (with over an hour of homework each day). Yikes!

    2. I think this is a great idea in theory, and for my middle and elementary school kids-absolutely. But as the mother of a high school junior-it’s just not realistic. Maybe if she wasn’t college bound, that would be fine-but in order to get her work done successfully, especially with AP classes, I can’t set limits on how much time she spends on her homework. The one thing that helping her this semester is one of her electives: yoga! I wish she could take it every semester from here on out as part of her daily class schedule.

  6. I was a kid who both loved sleep, but also felt drawn to stay up at night. Odd and incompatible tendencies, which usually resulted in ill-informed late nights followed by a dread of having to wake up (I’m still not a morning person). In high school I found my niche with the theater group. I worked backstage, and often I’d be at school until late at night hanging out with my theater friends and doing all kinds of work for whatever production was being developed. I tried to find creative ways to get homework done during the school day (such as doing math assignments weeks ahead of time during class–not recommended since I would look lost if actually called on in class), but was usually left with a lot to do when I got home. I remember plenty of nights typing papers on a computer in our basement into the wee hours, long after my sister and mom had gone to bed. Some days I was so tired I’d sneak in a nap in the nurse’s office during lunch.

    I’d never have left theater, it was my favorite part of high school to this day (and my parents thankfully never considered suggesting it). Staying up late was painful, and I’m sure not ideal health-wise. However I did make it through, and in some ways it prepared me for the time management necessary to get everything done in college. As a parent I’d hate to watch my kids struggle with sleepiness like that, but in some ways I suppose that these challenges with balance and sacrifice are a part of growing up. Then again, my kids are tiny–something tells me that when they’re actually struggling with this that attitude will go out the window!

  7. My boys are still young (Kindergarten and 2nd grade), so we haven’t hit this phase yet, but I do remember it well. I had extra-curriculars, sports, as well as a part-time job that kept me out until 10 or 11PM several times a week. I know zero TV shows that were on from 1987-1992 – who had time for TV? That’s not a bad thing, though. I did stay up way too late talking on the phone. I think it’s an important way for kids to learn how to manage multiple activities and still take care of themselves.

    Our school district just voted to move the start time of the high school back an hour to allow the teenagers to sleep in a bit. Several towns in the area have done so already. Speaking personally, we had a later start time when I was in high school but then some of the extra-curriculars started meeting in the morning so it made no difference to me. I was still there by 7:30 every day. I understand the reasoning, though, and think it makes a lot of sense.

  8. My friend is a professor, and one of her biggest complaints is the idea that students feel like they should be making As in every class. As adults, we prioritize work that is important and relevant to our jobs, and her theory is that students should also focus primarily on subjects that are relevant to their strengths/interests. Not that you would not complete homework, etc for other classes, but it does not make sense to place equal value on all subjects.

    1. I have also taught at the university level. Our major tended to attract perfectionists. Some of my co-workers intentionally gave more work than could be done perfectly all alone to force the students to prioritize, work in teams when appropriate, and realize you can’t do it all. It’s a good lesson in a workaholic world. Sometimes you can just let some things go.

      1. As a tenured professor, I shake my head at the emphasis on AP classes at the HS level. Yes, I am glad for some additional rigor beyond the typical HS curriculum, but in my classes, I see students who think that because they took the AP course in HS, that they don’t have to study or work hard. Boy, are they surprised at semester’s end! For every student who remembers what they learned in AP, there is another (sometimes two!) who don’t remember anything.

        All of which makes me wonder at why poor HS students are giving up sleep and potentially rewarding extracurricular activities for AP classes?? If it’s an option, taking *a* class at the community college level would be a better introduction into college-level work than AP and would still leave more time for athletics, band, academic competitions, and community service.

        And I totally agree with the previous posters’ comments about prioritizing. It’s an important lesson to learn, even at the HS level.

        1. Ugh-don’t get me started on the AP classes. My daughter is a high school junior and I’m so disheartened by the emphasis on these classes, the work load and what they’re focusing on. Instead of just being a higher level class (I don’t care whether she gets college credit or not), and actually trying to learn and understand the material-the entire class is devoted to getting a good score on the AP test in the spring. What the heck has happened here?!???

          1. I guess these Professors don’t sit on their college admissions committees because the fact is that college acceptance is more competitive than ever and many parents (and students) are willing to sacrifice sleep for a bit of an edge in the college race.

          2. Our AP classes aren’t entirely focused on getting a good score on the AP, but there is an emphasis on it. Unfortunately, my daughter either has to take the AP class or take the lower level class and be bored to tears. We used to be allowed to take the AP Class but not take the exam, but with state testing and all, now it’s a requirement. She has 4 AP Classes this year…that’s almost $400 just to take the tests, and she doesn’t actually get college credit for those, just the ability to take higher level classes in college. Plus the exams are in April…they hardly do any work for the month of May since they’ve already finished their “finals.” What a flawed system.

            She doesn’t get enough sleep in the fall, as she is in marching band and that has something every day but Sunday. We are a bit more lenient with her on chores in the fall, and I refuse to allow her to get a part time job until after the season ends. She would like to earn some money, but with 2-3 hours of school work a night, I just don’t see it as feasible. I want her to be a kid while she can.

  9. I’ve been following your blog for years but this is the first time I’ve felt compelled to comment. I feel your pain. We are in the middle of the homework wars at our house too. We have twins in Grade 4 and a daughter in Kindergarten at the school where my husband and I both teach; a progressive international PYP concept-driven school. We question every spelling list, comprehension, math worksheet, etc… And it’s fairly awkward because we work at the school! I truly believe that homework discourages children from living a well-balanced life. When the school day is done, children should be encouraged to chase their passions, not do more school work. For tomorrow my son was supposed to have memorized his poesie (you may remember this from your time in France), but instead he spent hours outside riding his bike, playing with his sisters on the ruelle and collecting chestnuts. I can’t pull him away from experiences that I value and make him memorize a poem. I just can’t.

    At a meeting his twin sister’s teacher’s last week, we said that we didn’t really want any of our children doing any kid of homework, except reading of course. It sounded strange when I said it out loud to other educators, but we haven’t built up the courage to do it. Unfortunately we’re still plodding along doing what we can, but I would love to go cold turkey. No more homework during these last few precious years of primary school.

    Here are a few articles if you’re interested:

    1. I love your comments about allowing children to chase their passions. As a middle school science teacher who just came in from our parent night, I wish I had those words as I described my low-homework beliefs. I offer several “extra credit” options hoping to interest and excite students and foster love of learning. I met NO resistance from any parents and am surprised and pleased. I also imagine I offer a bit of a break in the nightly battle to do hw and nowadays parents can use a break as well! This is still such a compelling and complex subject. Ps I taught at an IB school for years in NY and incorporate many concepts at my new school. World learners…as it should be.

    2. My kids attend a school where most teachers have a no homework policy before 4th grade. The exceptions are reading and special projects like science fair. Their belief is that it doesn’t help and there are more important things for them to be doing. Hooray!

    3. Love what you wrote here Jenny. My daughter is now 37, but I well remember the agony of SO much homework. Schoolwork should be done during the day. Even lengthen the day a bit, if they want, but keep the late afternoons and evenings free for other things. Between the outrageous burdening of our children with huge debts from college loans, and the way we burden our children with homework, it seems like we’re a society who hates children, even while individual families loves their own. I feel sorry for kids growing up in society that is So Not kid-friendly. Other counties provide free or low cost education, including higher education to their youth (their future). Our U.S. priorities are totally screwed up, and this is one big, sad example of it.

      1. And the bottom line there is NO research that has proven a positive correlation between homework and academic achievement in primary schools. In fact in some schools that have banned homework there is a RISE in achievement and motivation.

    4. Thank-you for your comment Jenny! My kids are little, not even started school yet (they’re 4 and 2), but even still I have thought a lot about homework because the (excellent) elementary school they will attend is known for being super heavy on homework and I am dreading it. I love reading with my kids and I expect that will be welcome “work” but when we are home together, I want us to have family time. Or I want them to be able to learn to ski, play soccer, take dance and live. I want homework for remedial purposes if they are struggling, but they are at school for long periods. Can we not get the curriculum in during that time?

      On a bit of a tangent, but I think it’s related, I recently left a fabulous job that I loved in order to spend more time at home. My work was great and did its best to accommodate me, but it was still all consuming with really heavy expectations. I often wondered why I could not make a little less money and have more vacation time or more flexible billable targets (I was a lawyer at a big firm). I wonder whether this homework-centric attitude in schools is a reflection of a larger societal problem that over emphasizes a particular kind of work and under values personal development and family time, or which assumes that someone must be home full time to pick up the slack for all the work that the kids and bread winners have to put in. Would more women be able to work at rewarding careers and be moms at the same time if we could adjust our thinking to look at the whole person and not just an outdated model of squeeze every last ounce of productivity out of each little worker bee? Could companies actually do better financially by letting their workers have more personal time? Would kids perform better at school if they did not have so many competing commitments? I think the answer is yes.

  10. I’m currently pregnant with my fourth. My oldest two are urrebtlt in kindy and 2nd grade. They’re supposed to read very night (Baggie books and on free choice) an my 2nd grader is supposed to do a math sheet on week nights. We did really well until pregnancy sickies kicked in. Now I don’t really care. I wrote a note to the 2nd graders teacher just so she knew but I don’t care that it’s bringing her grade down a little. We get to it when we get to it and I refuse to feel guilty for not pushing through my barfiness every afternoon to make my kids do it all. It isn’t even a lot but they’re so young I have to make it happen and right now I just can’t. That’s life. Thankfully they’re young enough their grades don’t really matter and they’re able to learn enough at school to be just fine academically.

  11. Our local NPR station had two guests on last spring talking about teens and sleep. They said every parent should be pushing for later start times for high schools. I didn’t listen to the show again before commenting, so I hope this is accurate, but they also said that schools who moved start times later and did nothing else differently saw improvement in test scores. Teenage brains are just more awake later in the day.

    I have middle school and high school kids both doing fall sports and it is rough. It is rare that they are in bed before ten, most nights it’s closer to 11:00

    Link to the show:

  12. I feel incredibly strongly about this topic too! I have 3 kids in grades 7, 9 and 12. They have been homeschooled for the past seven years and all decided to go back to school this year. I was thrilled to find an alternative-type program that was just approved in our school district for my younger two. It is project-based and is one classroom, in a local high school, for grades 7-9. So far we love it and the best part is no homework.
    My oldest is really struggling with grade 12 in the school system. Due to a school strike in our district, this is only the second week of school for them, but already my oldest is exhausted! He is very active in fencing and usually fences 6 hours a week but before a tournament, like now, he is fencing much more. The part that my son finds so frustrating, after doing his last two years online at home, is the silly homework. He used to be able to get all of his work done in a few hours in the morning and then be done for the day to live his life fully. Now he is at school for six hours, seven if you count the walk to and from, and then he has hours of homework also. So far it all just seems to be busy work too. Coming from a background where he knows that the work can be done in so much less time, he just can’t wrap his head around all the wasted hours in the day. He is already thinking of doing his second semester online again.
    It is tough to see him so bored and tired after only a week and a half.

    1. Kathy we live on the island and are back at school after the strike experiencing the same thing! So much busy work, my son is already disinterested (and I am too). Such a waste of time!

  13. Gabrielle- There is a great courses course that talks about this and solutions- “becoming a superstar student”. In short, maybe early to bed for some good rest with an early start to study when refreshed, there is good science quoted to back it up! Good luck and good rest to Maude- awesome that she is so dedicated! Wish she and my cross country loving hard working smart daughter could be friends!

  14. I have a junior in HS and his sophomore year seemed to be the hardest so far. I think it was actually the first time he needed to study to make sure he was prepared. Up until then he had been coasting by. He’s also very involved in marching band which is an extra curricular, demanding as much time during the week as any sports team and most Saturdays as well. Relearning how to effectively study and prepare for the next day as well as for me letting go of the expectation of solid A’s was what helped the most. Interestingly, now we have moved to a school district where the HS doesn’t start until 8:20. Sadly, we still get up early since he’s committed to going to seminary (Mormon scripture study class for the teens) and since there is more than one HS represented we start rather early. He does come home and sleep an hour though before school.
    I struggle as I watch him stay up late studying(so far not too bad this year thanks to a 2 hour study hall every other day…he uses it well), wondering if it’s all worth it. No wonder so many of these kids opt for a gap year before starting the whole cycle over in college.

  15. My daughter is only in 8th grade and we’re already finding homework to be a very disruptive force. She’s up later than I’d like (and than she’d like) most school nights. Admittedly some of this is borne of time management skills that need strengthening, but as a 13-year-old she’s only just learning these. We went to a high school open house last night where the principal candidly spoke of 3-4 hours of homework/night.

    I really struggle with this partly because I certainly don’t remember being up late doing homework as a middle schooler. And even in high school, I don’t remember hours of homework each night. The effects are obvious the next day when it’s next to impossible to get her out of bed in time for school. It is definitely an imperfect system and I’m anxious about what the high school years will hold for her.

    1. My daughter’s also involved in sports and I agree with everyone else who counseled having Maude continue with that. I think having a break from the academics (be that sports, art, or something else) is critical for kids. Also, my daughter’s school (which is grades 6-12) starts at 8:20. There had been talk of moving it later by 20 minutes, which would have been great for us. They didn’t do that, but I know that 8:20 is still later than a lot of schools so I won’t complain. :)

    2. Amy3, if you are an adult then the public school of your youth is dead. It’s gone. You cannot compare your daughter’s experience to yours.

      This is a whole new world in which state and federal guidelines/mandates and increased input from the private sector (lobbysits who represent companies who produce tests/textbooks/prewritten curriculum) rule the classroom. This is, of course, a generalization but things are changing quickly everywhere.

      But take heart! Schools are still run and serviced by people – usually people who are in education because they care about kids and helping them to succeed. Your daughter is so fortunate to have a mom who is interested and who cares – hang in there!

  16. I taught AP English for four years, and I left teaching partially because of the homework. I was constantly badgered by parents and administrators to give more homework, when I felt that it was unnecessary. I was completely overwhelmed by high school and felt that very little of the homework served a purpose. My husband, a college professor, says that students are largely unprepared for the more reasonable college workload because they had about 50 grades per semester, per class in high school. I think that students should learn more applicable skills, such as personal finance and nutrition. I don’t have children, but if I did, I would seek out alternatives to traditional schooling. Based on the stress and high college dropout rates, the current situation isn’t working for anyone, especially young kids.

    1. I’m so interested in Alison’s comment about the parents wanting more homework, especially after a meet-the-teachers night at my son’s school where one parent expressed concern about the homework load and several other parents more or less jumped on her for questioning the assumption that more work = better learning. I should note here that the original parent’s point was that if, as two teachers had just told us, our kids should count on about 90 minutes of homework per class each day, that added up to 9 hours of homework given that they take 6 academic classes sophomore year in this particular program.

      It was really disheartening, but it made me understand why my son (also in 10th grade, and also a runner!) is reluctant to talk to his teachers about the truly unmanageable workload he has this year. There is definitely a masochistic, hyper-competitive subculture out there. For now, I’m contacting his teachers as needed while also gathering information from other parents about their concerns in the hope that some of us can work for a slightly more sane approach for our kids. All this = a long winded way of saying, “Hang in there, Maude (and family)!”

      1. I worked in a private high school in the DC area. Many parents were of the mindset that more homework=more grades=higher average=better college. From the school’s point of view, more grades allow the school to blame the student for a low average (“You had plenty of grades, you should have a higher average. It’s your fault, not ours.”) It’s completely disheartening, I agree. As a former educator, I was burned out just watching these kids. Most of whom had no idea what their true interests were, and, if they did, could not find the time to enjoy their passions.

    2. Alison, I had the same problem! I was a gifted department chair at a well-regarded public middle school and parents equated homework with academic rigor. Like homework was going to get their kids to Harvard! (Everyone wanted to go to Harvard.) I found the same thing at the high school level.

      1. I hate to hide behind the “anonymous” label, but I will. I am a former English professor at a large state university, and I did in fact go to Harvard and still interview locally for Harvard (hence the anonymity). I am baffled every year by high school seniors who brag about the hours of homework under their belts while having little or no idea about what motivates them, what is important to them, and what goals they have for the future. While I cannot speak for Harvard, I am 100% certain that the strongest candidates for highly-selective schools are not a product of homework! :)

  17. PLEASE talk with other parents at your schools – it can make a difference. We have 1 child at home and 5 children in school (2nd,4th,7th,10th,12th grades) and have fought the homework wars beginning in 3rd grade for many years now. While I feel that homework can be helpful to reinforcing a topic taught in school, it should not” take over” family time. The amount that parents have to do – sign this, observe this, help with this project, etc was astounding, and the hours the kids spent was even more incredible. After having our children in a private school, we quit in order to have time to talk and have fun together. Many others left for the same reason after voicing their concerns. After spending 2 years homeschooling our children were ready to go back to school, and to our amazement, the new leader just cut homework across all grades and instituted study halls for 7th-12th grades because he understands the need for extracurricular activities and having time as a family. Victory!!!!!!! My 10th grade daughter, who dances 6 days a week, still stays up until midnight 3 days a week, but the homework is truly reasonable (she is just at ballet all afternoon). You can make a difference and bring about change!

  18. I grew up in India and my high school started at 7 AM got off at 12 noon. We got tons of homework and most of the days we stayed back two three hours in school to finish difficult homework with friends or clarify any difficult concepts with teacher before they left. Once home other homework got finished by 9 or 10 PM. By the time I was in 12th grade getting up at 3 or 4 AM was an everyday thing for everyone I knew. We also have half day school on Saturdays so course load is distributed for six days a week. I did two extracurricular activities but both of them were in the evening and by then most of my home work would be done and gave a good mental break. There was no TV, phones or video games,we played with neighborhood kids daily, walked to nearby vegetable market with mother to buy vegetables for that evening meal or helped in household chores or even neighbor’s chores too. For those pushing for late start time, early start, early finish, few chosen extra curricular activities gave lot of time on hand to finish minimum homework for me…yes, forgot to mention, in India school homework is considered minimum homework. Not getting or not finishing home work is unimaginable there. I live in Bay area and I know Indian parents here asking teachers for more homework…they just can’t help it.Long post but just wanted to give a glimpse into Indian high school student life (of my generation) in general.

    1. After reading Dee Dee’s account of day in life of her kids in Asia , I felt like adding some info about Indian students life as of today…they do much more work then I did when I went to school for sure. Just like Dee Dee’s kids, they all go to after or before school school which they call coaching classes. Before school programs start at 6 AM and afters school ones can end as late as 7 or 8 PM. These classes keep them ahead of school curriculum and give their own home works and tests so kids do both home works, school and coaching classes,which is why school homework is considered minimum work . Students of sciences also attend special coaching laboratories to perform extra experiments related to curriculum as well. Most kids learn programming either on their own or some other classes while in highschool as well as a “fall back” career. For school curriculum they have Math – Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus, Statistics , typically three or four languages – Hindi, English, one regional language as each state has its own language and sometimes Sanskrit, then there is Social studies which comprises of History, Geography and Civics (how government is structured and few basic laws) and some schools have environmental science. In school exams start at Kindergarten although very mini fun ones but surely to get kids used to exam taking concepts. Real exams start from first grade, two mid terms and one final and regular quizzes. In 12th grade exams are no longer given by your school teacher, there is one question paper per subject set by state school board for entire state where all schools participate at the same time. This exam decides whether you will go to college of your choice so competition and pressure to do well is tremendous. Students loose place for admissions to colleges for fraction of points. There is no A,B,C grading system, it is pure percentage and can be in 97.5 in Math or 94.25 in Hindi minute differences decides admission to college. If you did well in this exam that is you scored no less than 97 to 98 percent, you have good hopes to get in otherwise chances are dismal. After this each university has its own entrance exam,written and sometimes face to face interview so students get busy preparing for these right after 12th grade exams. Sometimes they overlap, sometimes in completely different city depending on where the college is and kids take multiple exams in a day if that happens. At a billion plus people they understand competition is fierce and this is what they have to do to get ahead. Recently I was explaining this to an American mom of a child who is in my daughters class..she was stunned and said well things are different here but maybe we need to adopt some of this. My heart totally sank, and told her yes maybe but not too much, stay they way you are mostly and her reply was well how will we compete with you guys otherwise..I told her yes, work hard, expose them to variety of experiences as inspirational spark can strike from many different paths and it is important to stay creative so let kids enjoy, not slack but enjoy till grade 8 and then there is no escaping more work and come college that is a necessary skill but till then don’t worry about what Asian parents do but she was not convinced I felt. She said well are you going to let your daughter get away with a B?. I said there are many ways one can justify a B such as making silly mistakes which reflects lack of practice and can be rectified quiet easily or just blanking out in exam time or something unexpected happens and exam suffers and in such cases yes but getting a B without understanding concepts is not acceptable…I think she read this as you cant handle a B and so “I am not convinced”. Got me thinking too.

  19. Makayla Sampson

    Does Maude get a study hall during the day where she could do part of the work? If not, perhaps her schedule for next semester or next year could be adjusted for one. Also, is she taking AP or Honors classes? If so, perhaps regular classes have less homework and could be considered. Personally, I am not sure if AP or Honors classes are worth it. It depends on what work the teacher is giving. My son took AP and graduated high school with 20 college credits, however, because the college has so many requirements, he will not finish early and it will not save our family money, as some told us. I am glad he had the experience and the AP classes were definitely on his level, but if a student needed more sleep, I would put that ahead of taking Honors or AP classes.
    Could some of her work be done on the weekend to spread the homework out?
    My kids sometimes have a lot of homework. I feel its good preparation for college where much of the work is done outside the classroom.

    1. Oh, the horrors of AP and college credit in high school. My 3rd teenager just graduated in June with an associates at the same time getting her high school diploma. We were told she would enter college as a junior. When everything was all tallied, her college only took 1 year of her courses. It’s not a loss as community college was cheaper than the 1 year we would have spent at college, but not sure we would have gone that route if we had known that upfront- and we did ask MANY questions.

    1. Race to Nowhere. Like PK said.

      I have a college freshman who attended an independent, pressure cooker school (which masquerades as being laid back and groovy). After honors and AP classes (which was the academic pipeline he was one), mock trial, Ultimate Frisbee, and playing in a jazz band and ensemble at a local university, he was cooked. He would get up every day at 7:00 am and I don’t think he went to bed before midnight anytime during the last two years of high school. That is not nearly enough sleep. The problem was, he LOVED all his extracurricular activities. So, we did not let his schooling get in the way of his education and let him follow his passions. Today, he is studying jazz at a prestigious university-based jazz program and while he logs hours and hours in the practice room, I have never seen him happier. Sadly, he needed all the high-level classes, good grades, and extracurriculars to get into the amazing program he’s in. And, in a such a competitive field, it is really important to go to a well-respected (and likely very expensive) program. The competition is fierce, and the competition for scholarships is even fiercer. That is the system we live in.

      1. This is what is making me crazy! In order to get into a good college, we make our kids jump through all of these hoops. I worry about my daughter’s mental and emotional health with all of the things she needs to do besides just getting good grades.

        1. I think the nebulously defined concept of a “good college” is a huge part of the problem that’s being discussed here. Study after study show that Ivy league education makes very little difference in the success of the student later on in life. Most public universities are wonderful. The idea of a “good school” is poison to our culture right now, and it has been cleverly marketed by for-profit institutions. What do we have to show for it? Crippling student loan debt from schools that cost 30, 40, 50k a *year.*

          I wish more kids would have jobs in high school, or learn an employable trade/skill. To all of the parents who say they think AP classes are silly, give your child permission to not take those classes!

          I’m 25 years old. AP was huge when I graduated not too long ago, as was the pressure to get into a “good” college. Instead of AP I decided to graduate a year early. I’m a debt-free, functioning member of society (with a diploma from a wonderful state school that cost $7500 a year). It pains me to see young people killing their bodies with stress. It’s okay to say “no” to the high school/college rat race. I wish more parents and kids would. Then maybe something would change.

          1. I work at an Ivy League school and sit on two admissions committees. Here is the secret I have learned: If you do very well at a state school, you can get into a really great Graduate program. If your kid is an academic superstar, the actual undergrad school doesn’t matter so much as what they DO as an undergrad (leadership, volunteering, researching, etc.) for their future success. I have great kids I work with who went to state schools for their undergrad and are on their way to very prestigious doctoral programs.

          2. I’m not talking about Ivy League schools. I’m talking about the UC schools and some of the state schools (we live in California). You need a 3.8 to get into San Diego State. Back in my day (I’m close to 50) that was a “party school”-and you barely needed a 3.0 to get in. At the top UCs (San Diego, Berkeley, LA) you need over a 4.0 to be admitted.

        2. I would like to comment on the “good college” concept.

          Because our oldest son has a passion and intense desire to study something that is a very difficult field in which to make a living at (jazz performance), we counseled him on getting into the best program he could, where he would find the best teachers who have connections around the world. His college education is much more of an apprenticeship (even though he will get a bachelor’s degree), so who he studies with was really important. Most state schools do not have the depth of expertise that private institutions have in this area.

          Our second son is more even in his interests – there is not one outstanding area where he chooses to spend his time. Therefore, our counsel to him is to go to the best school he can get into in order to get a broad degree and figure out the focus later. He will be fine at one of our good state schools, if that is the route he chooses.

          But yes, college admissions is a nightmare. The bar is really high for excellent schools, whether public or private. And frankly, the rigor of the classes you took in high school counts.

  20. I have three boys with one in each phase of the school system. Homework is not much of an issue here- they have really focused on taming that beast. Our high school does not start until 8:40am, so that allows some sleeping. This is great as studies show that teens often cannot go to sleep until 10:45pm. My oldest is textbook model of that. One teacher gives her homework for the entire next week on Fridays so the kids can work ahead if they have a busy week- such a great life lesson and skill! We do have some late starts that are usually partnered with a no homework night before so that families can enjoy a family night of fun without worries. Lastly, I am starting to see teachers move towards a reverse classroom idea- you watch the lesson via video as homework (or read the chapter, lesson, etc.), and then you come to school to do the work and practice with the teacher. This leaves parents out of the “help with homework” equation, which might be better for the kids anyway as they move more and more up the ladder of difficult classes. I could not remember a stitch of Physics or Latin if you paid me! Anyway, I think these ideas are great! Our teachers have also said that if our kids are spending more than one hour on homework from their class then we are to let them know. They have also given personal numbers and emails so that if our child is upset by the homework after a good amount of effort then we should just email or call. Homework is supposed to be a time of practice and highlighting what you need to work on more…it should not feel like a test in and of itself!

    1. I love so much of this – the 8:40 start time and watching videos/lectures or reading at home in preparation for in-school “homework,” getting the week’s homework on Friday. All great ideas!

  21. loved this… the “homework wars”
    it’s challenging to compare the homework I had to the amount of homework my daughters had (they are now in their mid-to-late 30’s)… but, I can say that our daughters did not watch TV during the school week.
    Both participated in extra-curricular activities & by high school, both had figured out how to get their homework completed & still participate in multiple activities.
    I’m not going to say it was easy… or they didn’t study late hours… nor that I didn’t worry about them getting enough sleep. But, they survived… both left home for college at 18 years old & never returned to live in their home nest again (not including visits for vacations or holidays). I feel like I prepared them for life!
    The youngest daughter swam or played water polo which meant she was in the school pool at 6am. On late practice days (Mon & Weds) she got home at 7:30pm. After dinner, she would lay out her practice suits, and climb into bed by 8:30pm. The swim coach arranged for a study spot so the girls could do homework from 2:45 to 5:15 – then they could jump in the pool again at 5:30pm. My daughter who craves sleep, learned to manage her time… & often spent weekends reading ahead & completing long term reports. She was a “B” student and had a couple of AP courses.
    While in her early 30’s, my oldest completed a law degree (requiring significant amounts of reading; listened to all books on CD because her visual disability is such that she cannot see print)…
    I still have guilt about “letting them do” so much. But, they both tell me, they wouldn’t do it any differently if they were in high school now.
    From what I can tell, the amount of the homework hasn’t changed in the past 15 years! extra-curricular activities are optional! the distractions are different (electronic devices vs TV)! BUT, parents can’t help their students w/homework. That’s not bad… kids will manage! believe me! they will.
    The “flipped classroom” as Kristen mentioned above does make them accountable for their learning! and as Nyha Veyas mentioned, other countries look at education differently. In England, we noticed students attended school half-day on Saturdays. So, give kids opportunities to manage their time; support them when needed; and expect them to do their best! They will rise to the challenge.

  22. In high school I short-changed my sleep for homework and sports. I also dozed a lot in class. It was a painful struggle to stay awake. The bad habits of staying up late and dozing through class continued into college until I was in grad school and had late morning classes. It was amazing how much easier school was when I was awake and alert in class. It cut down on the time I needed to study because I didn’t need to teach myself everything I had missed while struggling to stay awake in class.

  23. Gabrielle- not like I have anything new to say that hasn’t already been said, but rounding out teenager #4 who is a Junior and comin’ round the bend is pre-teen #5, I gave up worrying about my kids study habits. No matter if I nagged or made a casual comment about their studying or said nothing at all, they always got their homework done and excelled at school. Yes, we would talk about their habits (good or bad) and how they should tweak their planner here and there to help their body rhythm/sleep habits, but ultimately I told them to listen to their body, respect their body, and 1) get exercise, 2)eat healthy, and 3) don’t procrastinate! The 3 laws of a student!

  24. I agree about how important sleep is. I have no problem letting my kids go late to school if I feel like they need to get some extra morning sleep in order to stay healthy. Our school district is actually considering a later high school start time because of all the research on teenagers needing sleep. Moms are in arm on this one. It will be interesting to see if it goes through!

  25. My oldest is in 10th grade and also runs cross country. Watching her stay up late to finish homework and study for tests is very hard. Today on the way home from practice she told me that she might stay home from the meet on Friday because she has two tests, and the teachers won’t let her test early. Retaking the tests next week will just put her behind. We haven’t made any decisions yet, but I am torn between letting her participate in something she loves, or encouraging her to keep her grades up.

    Our high school is on a block program, I guess that’s what it is called, A days seem to have a heavy homework load, while B days allow her a night to catch up. This is an improvement over last year, where each day had classes with huge homework assignments.

    Our schools this year went to a late start for middle school and high school. I love that seminary now starts at 7:30am, but dislike that our youngest gets home hours before her older siblings. Living out where we live, there aren’t any neighbors to play with. So she spends a lot of time reading and making up her own crafts, fun stuff, but not so fun when you’re use to having big sisters and a brother around to play with.

    With all that said, I really have no advice or words of wisdom, mostly that I feel for you and your daughter. Maybe just knowing someone up in Oregon, is in the same boat, checking in on late night sleepy girls, is enough to help ease your worries.

  26. Such an interesting read…

    We actually live and educate our children in Asia. Our eldest just began her sixth year of local school and is in grade three, our youngest, grade one. As you are probably aware, the Asian school day begins by 8 am and ends near 3 pm, only to be followed by after-school-schools that end between 7 and 9 pm for elementary age students (for older students it is obviously later). THEN, they begin their homework. The after-school-schools provide additional, new material, that also includes separate homework and exams. (Yes, exams begin in grade one – two days for mid-terms and two days for finals each semester – along with weekly quizzes in three subjects and chapter tests (16 chapters per semester) in Chinese and math.)

    Most North Americans would be floored at the reality of the education system here. The expectations are tremendous. It’s other-worldly…..

  27. My oldest was a sophomore last year and we actually switched (private) schools this summer because the homework load at his previous school was so heavy it overwhelmed him to the point of daily anxiety attacks. He had at least 3 hours a night and also played a sport. I felt the same way you do about pulling him out of the sport. Some kids I’m sure thrive with that sort of pressure, but he is not one of them. This year has been much better so far. I want an academic challenge, but I also want him to be physically and emotionally healthy.

  28. I have 6 children and my freshman runs cross country (as I did). If he didn’t, what else would he be doing besides on a computer or just hanging. I figure this isn’t half as hard as living in most of the world, so he will learn to not be a lazy, self-righteous, entitled American. Sleep will come and he will have learned some discipline. Sometimes there is definitely to much homework but mostly not. His school does block days and those 3 late days of 8:15 help. Good luck with your daughter.

  29. It’s interesting to read the comments about kids in AP classes and how each AP class has an hour of homework each night. My take on AP classes is that students should take them in the subject or two they are really interested in and want to challenge themselves in, not every subject they are eligible for. I graduated 2nd in my high school class and on the college track, but chose to not take AP biology my senior year (which was almost 20 years ago) since I wasn’t big on science. I instead added on a 2nd foreign language since I liked studying that more. I think we need to expose our kids to challenges and different subjects and fields, but not necessarily have them take on a crazy work load just because it exists as an option. Similar to balancing out their extracurriculars. As a runner, I love that you support Maude in cross country. For me, running provides countless mental, emotional and physical benefits. But ideally she’s focusing on that and not balancing 20 different extracurriculars. I work at a selective private college now, and I often find myself advising students that sometimes, they can’t do it all (double majors, minors, study abroad, extra programs….) and they need to prioritize and choose what is most important to them during their 4 years here. I think the same should go for high school kids too.

    1. AP classes are used as a major weighting factor in determining school rankings for most of the national publications. This encourages schools to overenroll students for these classes, whether or not the student really has a passion. They are also weighted more heavily when determining GPA/Class Rank so students and parents are more likely to take AP to “keep up” with peers and rankings.

      1. So many great comments! A few observations:
        One issue I see in our local schools is that kids have to choose between AP/ honors or a too-easy class with students who truly don’t want to/ aren’t prepared to learn (I’m talking about seriously disruptive students here, not just kids texting in class). There isn’t a middle option here in our Northern California public school district for those who might want to be challenged but not in AP classes. (And, quite honestly, our public universities do have highly competitive admission rates.) Maybe other districts serve “the middle” better than ours?

        Two, our district has not offered summer school since 2008. And don’t even get me started on busing…or really, on the complete lack of transportation offered to middle and high school students here. All these factors add to the general anxiety associated with the high school years. Local paramedics, pediatricians, and mental health workers have expressed concern about the number of highly stressed teens they’ve seen in the past several years.

  30. I’m sure you will got lots of comments on your good question. It’s true that scientific studies show that teenagers truly need lots of sleep. And to have the physical and social release of running in cross country is without a doubt good. And colleges look at how well rounded students are, so you could even argue that strategically sports and extra curricular activities play a part.
    The issue of too much homework is one that many parents have, and gaining success in time to help your own kid is very hard. Improvements come slowly to institutions, and a lot of high school teachers are heavily invested in homework.
    I can think of a few things that might help. First is to talk to the CC coach and some of the parents of other team members. They may have suggestions for you.
    The second is to maybe be more strategic with your daughter’s schedule, if that’s possible. Take a heavy workload (and perhaps not as interesting) subject or two and plan on doing them during summer school. I learned this by watching a friend who is a brilliant neurologist and sent her kids to the Ivies, that’s one thing that she did. This can also be a way to avoid the really dreadful teachers, take a summer school class instead when someone else teaches it.
    Then use those freed up time periods with either less workload subjects or study hall.
    You may also find out that there are one or two teachers at the high school who let kids come in an chill and eat lunch in their rooms and catch up on stuff.
    I wish Maude the very best of luck, some sleep, and to keep on running.

  31. After 20 years (how did that happen?) in and around public education, homework is another reason our family will be opting out of traditional education pathways. As much as people complain about homework, there are complaints when we don’t assign any – people feel like we *have* to give homework or it indicates an absence of rigor. Plus, with additional state and federal mandates in place it IS hard to get everything done during the day.

    I love that you are supporting Maude and her passion! So great!

    On mornings: I attended a high school with a 7:30 start time and I never struggled one iota – I am not a big sleeper. At the last high school at which I taught, we started at 9 and I still had sleepy, draggy kids. It doesn’t matter how late school starts if kids stay up until 2am but it could probably really benefit someone like Maude who really needs/prioritizes sleep and has the maturity and home support to get things done.

    Love this topic! In my experience working with teens, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for how to do it all. Keep us posted! :)

  32. At my son’s middle school (he’s in 7th grade), they have a 45 minute study-hall at the end of the day. It is child-led (they have goals they try and meet each day) and my son has never come home with homework. He finishes it all in study hall. All he has is reading, which he enjoys doing anyway. He’s also on Cross Country team and track.

  33. Argh. Homework has been a big issue in our house this year. Wolfie is in 5th grade and we have seen a HUGE spike in the homework situation. For the first few weeks it was SO overwhelming—according to the school we should be spending 50 minutes a night on homework in 5th grade (40 min for 4th grade, 30 for 3rd etc). Plus 30 minutes of reading a night. We were easily spending 2.5 hours every night, and when I asked a few other parents if they were finding it a challenge, I discovered they they were spending 3+ hours and still not finishing! It was ridiculous. Lots of busy work (“Write your spelling words with your right hand. Now with your left hand.” HUH??), excessively long math worksheets, and writing assignments and reading etc. I do think some of the assignments were valuable, but then even those had far too many rigid components (“Write 15 sentences, one for each spelling word. Each sentence MUST have at least 10 words, I will count!”) The killer was homework on the weekend. Reading (which I actually did approved of) and then busywork spelling sheets (one for Fri, Sat and Sun). It was having such a negative affect on the entire family. And I found that I was spending hours myself just trying to navigate all the worksheets and plot out a sensible schedule (she gives us a thick homework packet and we have a week to complete everything, however we wanted to parcel it out). I reached out to the teacher (who is extremely sweet but in her first year teaching 5th grade) and I think several other parents did too and she has mercifully cut back a bit. But it’s such a flawed system. I’m very curious if students in private schools have more, less or the same amount of homework? Sometimes I feel like the massive work sheets are to make up for the fact that we have such large classrooms and she couldn’t get to everything in class.

    And yes, so glad to hear Maude is sticking with her cross country love! It’s so important to have fun extracurriculars (or even just “down time) to be able to explore their passions. It’s those things (sports, theater, music etc etc) that can help encourage a child and make them love their school experience, which is SO important. I love your chats about school and the kids. (I love all your posts, but the conversations on this topic are always fascinating to me!)

  34. Debating whether I should post as there are so many, many thoughtful posts here! Great topic. I have three kids all doing different programs this year. I have a 6th grader who is home schooled, a 9th grader who went back to school after being home schooled off and on since 4th grade, and a senior doing a college-in-high-school program after being home schooled since 4th grade. We’ve been in so many programs, I feel like I’ve seen it all. My daughter has a ton of homework this year, which is so discouraging because we know that learning subjects well (even math with the practice that entails) can be done in much less time. She is also on a jump rope team, which demands a great deal of time. My oldest is at a community college, and I love his having that experience in high school while we can be here to support the transition–only three classes is a full load, but, he has the time to fully immerse in the subjects he’s taking. So, while his peers at the high school have calculus as one of six classes, he has it as one of three. If he needs to spend three hours studying a math topic any given day, and he frequently does, he has the time. I don’t want to imply that he doesn’t have to work hard, he does, but, I watch my daughter go to seminary at 6a then to the high school for French, then to the Jr. High for the rest of her classes and get home at 3:15p. Then, she literally works up until we go to jump rope at 5:30 and doesn’t get home until 9p. I understand that people in different cultures school more hours of the day, but I wonder the impact. My husband had a conversation about this topic with two of his co-workers who are from China (not of Chinese descent, but moved here from China recently). They both said they thought the education system here seemed to offer more opportunities than in China. That in China, you have one shot, while in the U.S., there are many paths to success–even in college and beyond. I know that very competitive colleges only take very competitive students. But, I have also heard that many students are burning out before they ever make it to college. I watch my oldest son continue to succeed, and I wonder if the reason he is willing to take risks (he can’t wait to take college-level physics and chemistry after he finishes his calculus class) is because he had the time to read so many books and try out so many subjects without the risk of failure at every turn. I am watching my daughter drown under all of the homework, and I don’t think it’s healthy. She has also talked of quitting jump rope in order to have time to accomplish the homework, and jump rope has been her life-long passion since 1st grade (I’m not letting her quit, no worries :). As an aside, we don’t do TV or video games during the school week (except my son does love the 2048 app, which is more math than game :). To finish the conversation, it’s interesting that to this point, the U.S. still provides the most innovation and technology worldwide. I’m not upset that kids have to work hard, but I do want them to work smart as well.

    Thanks for the post! It really has me thinking… Good luck finding a balance! Please post again in a few months to tell us what you did to make it successful :).

  35. I learned to do homework between activities, during study hall and get as much work done in class as I could. I don’t remember a lot of late nights, but I do remember fighting distractions at home made homework seem like torture. I preferred doing them in a quiet place at school whenever I got a moment. I remember getting together with friends to do homework when it was convenient after school. If I waited to do my homework last thing before bed, I found I’d just fall asleep and retain none of it. I’m just not an evening person. I had to get creative and carry everything around with me. I feel for your girl!

  36. I have 2 in HS and two homeschooling/unschooling for various reasons, one of them was the homework (and her particular personality). It’s a long story, and mental health issues involved, but by the time she was done with first grade I thought, “School it taking too much family time away” I know it’s how it’s always been, but there are more pulls for our time as families now more than ever, it seems and they spend all day at school. I appreciate the teacher at the top that says she is thoughtful about the homework she gives only if it’s essential to understand something better. That is what homework should be for, not hours of busy work. My youngest HS student misses a lot of sleep for homework that she really needs her teacher’s help with. She’s not understanding it better because she brings it home, even with help sometimes. We’ve altered a few classes to eliminate that pattern this year- changed a science teacher and made sure math teachers were ok, or for my son’s case, he has a lot of extracurricular and is caught up in his math (his least favorite subject, even though he’s still good at it) credit wise. He is required to take math his senior year, so I told him he does not have to take it this year, because I don’t want to hassle him about homework and redo assignments to bring his grade up. His drama, band (jazz and symphonic, marching and pep) and choir is where his heart is, and I feel he should get the most out of these opportunities- his education. (don’t let school get in the way of your education) I feel like school is there for my kids, not them there for school. I love the idea of schools tailoring their system for no homework for elementary. With the talk of childhood obesity constantly out there, how can our kids get out and play if we saddle their afternoons and evenings with homework. Play is important for kids and sleep is important for teenagers. I am thankful for options for families, including homeschool. Not one thing will work for everyone. This is a subject I am very interested in, and love to hear other opinions.. as long as you are ok to let me do what’s best for my kids too :) I might not be the best educator, but I want my kids to be as whole as possible and this is how it needs to be done for now. I won’t get into all of the homeschool stuff, other than it was a prayerful and personal choice and we are still working it out, and probably will learn something new about it each year. But I am starting to see some tangible evidence about why we need to, aside from both of us going crazy and crying every morning and night! :)

  37. Your words:
    “In theory, she could quit Cross Country and have plenty of time for homework, but that doesn’t really seem like a feasible option. Cross Country is the happiest part of her life at the moment! And all that running seems to keep her teen emotions balanced — there’s nothing like post-run endorphins to put anyone in a great mood. Taking her out of cross country doesn’t seem like the right thing to do.”

    Are speaking out of my heart. We just said the same words to the teacher of our oldest daughter (10) but instead of “cross country” we call it “synchronized swimming”. Every week it takes 13 hours of exercising, but it’s totally her life and she learns so many good things for life – apart from being super fit – that we would never ask her to quit. Education. That’s the key word and with her passion, she has much more of great education that she would ever learn in school…

    Thanks for knowing that you are in the same boat ;-))


    1. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay

      My daughter does synchro too. Our club keeps the practice at 6 hours per week right now. I would tell her teachers flat out that synchro is essential for her well-being and education over hours and hours of homework. The exercise, self confidence, teamwork and sisterhood are nothing but positives in her life. She is only in 6th grade and I know the psycho “you are nothing if you are not taking multiple AP courses” culture that she is heading to. We aren’t having it. She can be average in school and continue her synchro and friendships and other interests and be successful in life. So there.

  38. My little guy isn’t old enough for school yet, so I don’t have anything to say about homework for him yet, but I did want to mention “classroom flipping” (which a few people referred to).

    My husband teaches 6th grade Latin, and he started flipping his classroom (lectures at home, “homework” at school) when he realized that the actual hard work of learning Latin–reading and wading through the material–is often what teachers give kids to do at home, without any help. So they read and speak Latin at school instead. I really hope more teachers start adopting this method (where appropriate, of course) by the time my son starts middle and high school!

  39. We are dealing with the exact same problem at our house! I have felt the same about football vs homework. My son also has ADHD, so the football and exercise are helping, but he has such a hard time focusing at night. It’s good to hear there are others frustrated with the same thing. least I know we’re not alone!!

  40. We’re still at the young end of this–my oldest is in 4th grade–but my oldest two are both in dedicated high-ability classes, and sometimes the amount of homework they have is mind-boggling. My 2nd-grader worked on homework last night literally until 15 minutes before bedtime (we stopped at the playground for 25 minutes after school, and she took an hour for dinner, but everything else was straight homework). I think that is insane, quite frankly.

    My 4th-grader has more homework, but also more opportunity to finish it at school (and she’s used to it, so it goes more quickly). Even my kindergardener has homework every day, which is part of why I am the only parent in the entire district to pick my child up halfway through the day (he’s 5; he doesn’t need to be there all day) so that I have a few quiet hours to work with him before the older ones get home.

    I really hate that my kids have so much homework. I hate that we’re in these golden fall days and they’re inside working, and I think this post & comments have given me the courage to do something about it!

  41. our school doesn’t really have a late start, well, Tuesday is late start day and they start at 8:30 instead of 8:00, but I’m not sure that counts. What our school does that is unique is that it requires every student to take a study hour “class” every day. They have 45 min every day to do homework. I know my daughter doesn’t actually “need” the time, she’s a good student and gets all of her stuff done on time, no matter what. But it has given her days when she was super busy with other things and she would have needed to make choices that would have been hard. (Go to ___activity, or get home work done, or stay up till tomorrow to try to fit everything in.) It’s nice! And as my younger children approach HS I am very glad for this. They each have their own “study personality” and I’m sure it will really benefit them.

  42. Wow. There could be an entire blog dedicated to this subject! The AP course comments are really interesting to me because at my HS the AP courses had less busy work and were far more interesting than the regular ones and I loved them. I do worry about the time/sleep issue for my oldest. She’s in 7th grade, desperately needs her sleep, and isn’t quite getting enough. It’s hard to balance school, extra curricular activities and just a little down time! At this point I have more issues with my elementary kids’ homework, which is ridiculously much. I have emailed my kids’ teachers and told them there are things I won’t do. But I’d like to scale it back even more!
    Good luck to Maude! I hope you get your sleep, sweetie!

  43. It’s 11:52 PM and my 8th grader is not done with a required 3rd party math website assignment. I’m about to email the teacher and say enough is enough. It’s been almost 2 hours. My daughter is a high achiever and won’t give anything but her best. She is also an athlete and is currently on a competitive club soccer team and her middle school team. She has double practices 3 days of the week. So after a long day of school, 3 hours of soccer (plus drive time) she won’t give anything but her best and won’t go to sleep. Tomorrow is the last day of 1st qtr and it isn’t even studying for a math final.

    She did her first 6 yrs of school in a “back to basics” traditional school with a significant homework load. My oldest thrived but my number 2 struggled with the demanding approach. When we moved a couple years ago, we felt strongly about our neighborhood schools and out lives changed. Right now….homework is a non issue for my 1st and 5th grade daughters. Pretty minimal – reading, occasional spelling practice. My 8th grader doesn’t always have a ton but some nights are rotten. This double sports situation isn’t helping. But she is the type to stay up until midnight anyway. No matter what….

  44. Gabrielle – I love this post.
    I hate homework. My feeling is this: Kids are at school all day. I want them to sleep. Play a sport. Learn an instrument. Play outside. Goof off. Argue with your brother. Do a chore. Read a book for fun. Get some sleep. Eat dinner with someone in your family. Even play a video game (!)
    If there is more than one hour of homework – it’s too much – even in high school. Perhaps I should have lived in prairie times. But with four kids, I hate seeing so much of their time spent on that. Sometimes with our 3rd grader, we don’t do it. I send a note that says, Lucy worked for 20 minutes and we are done. As long as she is learning and happy, I am fine. The teacher disagrees.
    So, thanks for bringing this up. Important topic with lots of different views.
    I love your blog.

  45. My 6th grader has a learning disability. The school day is exhausting for him. I question the benefit of any homework assigned to him. It just extends the frustration of keeping up with the normal learners. Reading, journal writing and even French are subjects he can make it through without a lot of stress, but math homework invariably ruins the whole night for everyone in my house.

  46. I’m a high school teacher and, while I don’t teach AP classes, I do try to limit the amount of homework I give, especially busy work. I also have them turn in packets of classwork and homework after a few weeks of working so they can budget their time how they see fit. If they don’t have time one night, then can make it up the next. They do have to write essays, some at home and some at school, that take more time to complete, but I never give them just one day to write them, I usually give them at least a week. Of course, some save it until the last minute and others plan ahead to make time when they don’t have other commitments.

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