My son, now in 6th grade, has had homework since Kindergarten. That’s right, nearly every day for more than six years he’s come home with assignments. They started out pretty simple, coloring a picture, or writing a caption for a drawing – not so bad, except when your kid really wants to be playing outdoors after school and not sitting inside doing more schoolwork.
These days, homework comes with higher stakes – each work sheet, essay, or list of vocabulary word definitions is graded and becomes part of his final grade. Sometimes he has homework in three or four subjects every night and it may take up to two hours to complete. This is in addition to a long school day. By the time he finishes his homework, it’s already dark outside- not exactly time to play outdoors. And we wonder why there’s an obesity problem in our nation.
Projects are another issue altogether – multi-step projects based on a rubric that indicates every segment of the project and the maximum number of points that can be earned in each area. The projects are often spread out over a month, with deadlines for each area. This is great if you have a kid who plans his or her calendar, but for those who are less (shall we say) deadline driven, this often requires late night trips to Kinkos and Staples. Good times. I understand that the teachers are trying to impart our children with time and project management skills, but I don’t know if at 11 or 12 years old, these children have the executive functioning skills to master that task.
I know that I don’t necessarily enjoy taking work home with me – and I try not to – there has to be some time to connect with family and friends, right? There’s so much emphasis on work that the simple joy of relaxing and playing seems to be getting lost. I know that this new level of homework is a by-product of middle school (and the workload will get heavier as m son progresses in his education), but I wonder, is it all really necessary.