Both articles include parents seemingly at wit's end and on the verge of tears, or speaking about their children being on the verge of tears due to the homework load.
“It was a constant homework battle every night,” Ms. (Shelli) Milley recalled. “It's hard to get a weeping child to take in math problems. They are tired. They shouldn't be working a second shift.”The lead in this story held a pertinent piece of information -- speaking to how the family would rush their kids home from soccer and skating to then have to deal with homework. A nagging question arose when I considered the lead with the graphs I've quoted above-- could the Milley children be overprogrammed?
It's not as if, the couple pointed out, they don't value education. They know firsthand the work involved in earning university degrees. But they wanted the academic work done at home to be on their terms, based on where they knew their children needed help. Brittany, for instance, was struggling with spelling, but “we never had any time to focus on that because she had so much homework,” Ms. Milley said.
And there were plenty of frustrating nights, she said, when her kids were so tired, “we'd stand over them, saying, ‘write this, write that.' ” If that's what families are doing, she asked, “how do the teachers even know whose work they are marking?"
Similarly, from Wednesday's piece:
It never even gets that far for Shirley Munk. “I refuse to monitor, remind about, and schedule time for any homework for my elementary school child,” the Halifax health care worker says. Her daughter, who attends Grade 3 at a private school, makes good grades and talks about what she learns in school. Ms. Munk meets regularly with her teachers. But homework, spelling words included, “is not a part of our family life,” she says. “I don't see why 61/2 hours of formal schooling isn't enough for an eight-year-old.”This issue got a lot of press (as these things usually go) in 2008 when the Toronto District School Board completed a review of its homework policies. Other boards across Ontario, and the Ministry of Education, either followed suit or were already in the midst of their own homework reviews. A general guideline used by many schools is 10 minutes per night, per grade. So a Grade 3 student would reasonably be expected to have 30 minutes of homework per school night, and so on.
This issue very quickly gets into topics of how as a society we're raising our children and what today's parents are expecting from their children and are doing to raise (or not raise) resilient children able to deal with workload, stress, failure, etc. Not having kids myself, I don't know where a parent strikes a balance between helping their kids with their homework, monitoring that it's being done versus crossing the line and doing it themselves or going to the extremes these families did when they felt the burden was overwhelming.
The comments on the Globe articles beautifully get into these issues-- give them a read if you have the time.