Most every family has some form of the homework wars.
Kids who are bored by it, or just hate doing it. Parents who think their kids get too much of it, and those who argue there’s not enough. Kids who are stressed about getting it done, and parents who do their kids’ assignments for them.
A recent essay in the The New York Times raises a point about homework that’s rarely discussed, which is that Americans tend to focus on quantity of homework, rather than its quality.
Annie Murphy Paul writes:
And evidence suggests that as of now, homework isn’t making the grade. Although surveys show that the amount of time our children spend on homework has risen over the last three decades, American students are mired in the middle of international academic rankings: 17th in reading, 23rd in science and 31st in math, according to results from the Program for International Student Assessment released last December.
Murphy Paul cites a 2008 study that finds that “one-third of parents polled rated the quality of their children’s homework assignments as fair or poor, and 4 in 10 said they believed that some or a great deal of homework was busywork.”
Yes, we're supposed to teach our children to do their homework, strive for good grades, and value education. But what about when they get stuck with an assignment that is just – there’s no better word -- DUMB?
Here’s a personal example. Just last week, my son came home with a 4th grade assignment to do an “All About Me” poster. He was to cut out and paste pictures of his favorite things, from food to hobby to song to sports team. ("Coloring" was highly encouraged.) The next day he had to speak about one of his favorites in front of the class. He balked at the project for two reasons: He dislikes anything arts-and-crafts related, and he said it was boring since he’d done the same thing for the past three years. (In fact, we still have last year’s poster; he asked if he could use it again. I said no.)
I’m sure the teacher (who I like and consider highly qualified) was using the project as a way to introduce the kids to each other, and being tasked to speak in front of the class is a worthy assignment. But decorating a poster of “likes”? It sure smells like busywork to me.
In our recent TODAY Moms survey of 26,000 moms, there was plenty of discussion by moms on what they do when their kids get saddled with silly homework.
We asked respondents: Have you ever done your child’s homework? 24 percent of moms of school-aged kids said "Yes."
Some homework-related “confessions” from our anonymous moms:
I do my child's homework sometimes -- word-searches for 'spelling'. What the heck does a word search have to do with learning spelling, especially when the child is dyslexic? It takes my children 4 hours, and me 5 minutes. . . too much torture, not enough payoff.
I'm a single parent and I sometimes do my 9 year old son's homework to save time. I would not advise anyone to do this, because this year I discovered my child was ADHD and it was affecting his learning abilities.
This isn't exactly a secret to my kids' teachers, but I'm a horrible homework mom. I hate helping with the homework, I hate keeping track of the homework, I hate nagging about the homework, and I HATE big projects for school.
I do my kids’ homework if they are too tired.
What about you -- do you help your child with homework? What’s the best homework assignment your child has been given? What’s the worst?