Has your child’s homework become a second job for you, too? If so, does that mean he’s being assigned too much of it? Here’s how to find out.
Step 1: Be informed Be aware that there is debate whether a correlation even exists between homework and academic achievement, at least in elementary school. So if your eight-year-old is drowning in homework, you can make a good case for reducing his workload at the next PTA meeting.
TIP: If your child is in middle school, 60 to 90 minutes of homework per night improves test scores; in high school, two hours is optimal. Any more than that is excessive.
Step 2: Know the rule of thumb Know the rule of thumb for grade school homework, which is ten minutes of homework per grade per night. In other words, first graders should get ten minutes of homework, second graders should get 20 minutes, and so on.
Step 3: Investigate Find out what, if any, is the official homework rule in your child’s school and compare it to other schools in the area to see if your school truly is overburdening its students.
Step 4: Assess the situation Assess the situation in your home. Be honest: Is your child overwhelmed because the amount of homework he receives is unreasonable, or because he’s too busy chatting with his friends online to do it?
Step 5: Talk to the teacher If you honestly believe your child’s after-school workload is unfair, schedule a meeting with the teacher or teachers who are burdening him.
TIP: Always speak to the teacher first. Going directly to the principal is not going to be warmly received by either party.
Step 6: Be specific Be specific about your complaints. Is your child too busy to pursue sports or hobbies or music lessons because of homework? Is he getting too little exercise because of the workload? Is he losing sleep over it?
Step 7: Consult other parents If you don’t get anywhere with the teacher, contact other parents to see if they have the same complaint. If so, you can band together to approach the principal.
Step 8: Consider a transfer If all else fails, and you have discovered that other schools in your area do indeed give less homework, consider transferring your child. Grade school isn’t worth an ulcer—for you or your kid.
FACT: Seventy-two percent of parents polled in a survey said homework is a major source of stress in their household.