Sunday, September 7, 2008

Homework Limit

Over on Stop Homework, I read with interest all the differing views on kids and homework. Now that D is in public school again, it's an issue around here. I've never allowed my kids to spend their whole nights doing homework - they spend 6-8 hours at school already!
One point is made that homework is a way to keep parents informed about what their children are doing and learning at school. I can do that by reading over the papers he brings home. I don't mind some homework but there is a limit. In middle school I gave my boys one hour. The very slow workers had to do more simply because they COULD have done it more quickly and didn't. D is a slow worker but it's not because he's playing around, he's too thorough. He doesn't write a couple of sentences for an answer, he writes a half page! Now that he's in high school, I allow him to do an hour and a half every night unless he's getting too upset and frustrated.
Some argue that parents are wrong for not being involved in the homework - TOO BAD! If I teach D the lesson and then we spend an hour practicing what he's learned as he works through questions and problems, I'm homeschooling! He doesn't need to spend all day in school then, does he? Another problem I've noticed is that when we try to discuss and enjoy something he's learning about, he doesn't have time to finish all the assignments; from waking to bedtime is schoolwork. No time for his own thoughts and experiments, no time to watch MythBusters or How It's Made, shows I consider as good as school. He has no time to spend with friends or playing the piano, being with us, learning programming with his brother...
I don't know what the answer is. I understand the fear that not requiring it is teaching our kids to be slackers but I don't agree. Working from waking until sleeping each night on acquiring knowledge through bookwork is not necessary or good for anyone - experiential learning is necessary too. Social interaction, family time, all these are as necessary and probably more necessary. For us, the time limit on homework is still firmly in place.