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 have 4 kids, typically the younger 2, still in elementary and middle school will finish homework in less than an hour after school. My older 2 in high school both take advanced (honors/AP) classes, by their choice. They also attend an early morning religious class. So bedtime for everyone is around 8:30 pm most nights. My kids enjoy staying up late, but if they get less sleep then they should (about 9-10 hours) they are miserable and tired the next day. Anyway, my 2 oldest typically have homework from the time they get home until bed. with a break in there for dinner. I find 5-6 hours of homework not only excessive, but ridiculous. Basically this means for our family extra-curricular activities only happen during the summer vacation, which I find more than sad. On a side note, my oldest was in a class and they asked the students to write down how much sleep they got each night. Then the teacher had them look up the recommended sleep for teens. My daughter was the only student in her class getting the recommended amount of sleep. The next closest was 2 hours behind her. That’s insane to me. For a very interesting read including Teens and their sleep,check out, Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman:)

  2. I am finding such a jump in the level of homework between grade 2 and 3. While I feel it is important for the parents to be involved in what the children are learning at school and we appreciate the specific hints the teacher writes in her planner, we are fighting to complete all of the homework assignments right before bedtime, when she is tired and cranky. I refuse to give up her gymnastics, piano and other after school activities that she loves and thrives on. We are all getting frustrated with having to cram in homework when she is tired and not really retaining or learning anything other than how to do the minimal amount of work to just get it done!

  3. My oldest is in 4th Grade and I am already contemplating the early morning seminary situation. I did early morning seminary and over-all had a great experience. I do wonder if that great experience wouldn’t be even greater at a reasonable hour. We have a family in our area that has chosen to do independent seminary for lots of good reasons, one of them being sleep. I’d love to come up with a healthier time option for group seminary for my own children who will be sleep deprived like many who have gone before:)

  4. My mom, a teacher (and an avid reader of your blog but unwilling to use social media, haha), wanted to share info about the campaign/documentary “Race to Nowhere,” Her school hosted a private screening of the film for parents concerned about over-scheduling, over-testing and overloading kids with homework. Hope you find it helpful!

  5. As a sleeper, I know how this is. I ran track in high school and I used to sleep after practices. I don’t think other people did this, others had more natural energy. I wasn’t great with my homework, but was a music nerd so I did my things well. Now, my husband gets up before me and goes to bed often times after. People have their own biological needs.

  6. As a die hard athlete myself, dropping out of sports is not an option. You will fill that extra time with other tings not homework related.

    My children are much younger, but we really struggled finishing something that should take 10 minutes, in less than an hour. The solution was doing the homework in the car. Amazingly it is now finished in time and does not really cut in to anyting else.

  7. I have 5 kids, my second oldest (4th grade) was getting 2-3 hours of homework a night. If the homework wasn’t complete, he lost recess the next day at school. I sent an email saying we would give homework a good solid 45 minute try at night, and i would appreciate him not losing out on recess if it wasn’t complete (recess is so important to a 9 year old…i don’t think they get enough of it at school as is!). The teacher completely ignored my email, and was very vocal at back to school night about how she loves to give a lot of homework. I pulled my child from school the next day to homeschool. If i’m going to be spending 3 hours a night working on homework, i would much rather be doing that during the day when we aren’t tired and when I have a few less kids around and can give him some quality time! It’s been going great. And I love not having the homework battle in the evening (the rest of my kids have a manageable amount of homework and they don’t have a problem getting it done on their own most nights).

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