This is a slight departure from our normal news posting, as it will contain some personal opinion with, perhaps, some political mischief about homework in the TDSB (which probably applies to other boards, as well). This post is also open for comments, by visiting the online version of the post. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue, and to engage with other parents on it.
Kids get to be kids ONCE
I spoke to a parent last week, and discovered that a grade 4 child was doing 2 hours of homework a night. I have heard similar stories from different families with children in different grades over the past year or so.
Nothing about that sits well with me. The child is stressed, does not get to play (play is supremely important, just check this BBC article on play in educational settings), and the parents have to focus more on getting the work done than on family time (reading, talking, playing, cooking, walking, gardening, shovelling, etc.). The most important question, I think, is “Should children experience stress?”. For me the answer is a resounding “No!”, at least where normal growing experiences are concerned.
Onerous, repetitive, and over-demanding assignments are stealing your child’s childhood. They only get to do this once, shouldn’t it be an enjoyable period in their lives? As one parent put it: “Their job is to go to school.“. Isn’t that enough?
What about their emotional and physical health? Social interaction with family and friends contributes positively to both of those things. Check out this article based on a Stanford study that talks about this.
Did you know? The TDSB has a Homework Policy
This publicly available homework policy document is very telling about how homework should be assigned, as well as the types of work, as well as goals for each type. I encourage all parents to read this, regardless of your child’s age.
The most important statement about homework, in my view, is the following statement from the document (emphasis added):
Time spent on homework should be balanced with the importance of personal and family wellness
and the wide array of family obligations experienced in our society today.
The importance of personal and family wellness is what should be dictating homework. If your child’s, and family’s wellness is affected by the amount of homework being assigned, I encourage you to do one of two things:
- Remind your school teacher of their obligation to stick to the policy, with respect to your current situation.
- Simply don’t do the homework.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be monitoring your children’s understanding or ability to execute concepts. Rather you should send the message to them that understanding the concepts and being able to action them is enough without punitive repetition and excessive time spent at home.
What do Teachers Say?
I spoke to two separate TDSB teachers, both of whom told me that the guideline for time is 10 minutes of homework per day, per grade. That means that by Grade 6 you would be looking at a maximum of 60 minutes. If your kids are doing anything more than that, there is likely a problem at school that needs addressing.
What do you Say?
I look forward to your comments and thoughts below, and hope we can help our kids find a better balance!