Most kids today are given tremendous amounts of homework at younger and younger ages. So, how young is too young for your kids to get homework, how much is too much and what should you do if you feel they're overwhelmed?
Shortly after my daughter began preschool last year, she came home with a 10-page packet of handwriting and math homework that that took her 45 minutes to complete. Although she seemed to enjoy it initially, within 15 minutes, she looked weary, which left me with reservations about children having homework at 4 years old.
And I'm not alone. More and more parents have growing concerns about just how early their children are being assigned homework and just how much they're assigned.
As parents, we are our child's greatest advocates. So what should we know?
Cathy Vatterott, professor of education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and author of Rethinking Homework: Best Practices that Support Diverse Needs, notes, "Never before have with lived with the specter of No Child Left Behind and the accountability it demands. The pressure to meet standards has never been more intense, and homework is seen as a tool for meeting those standards. The pressure has changed education even at the kindergarten and 1st grade levels."
So does this mean that we must simply accept that this is the new norm? Absolutely not.
Just how much homework should we expect our children to do each night? Vatterott offers this rule of thumb, "When you add classroom time to homework time, school-age children should not be working longer than an 8-hour day. Children benefit when their time outside of school includes not only academics but play, productive hobbies, family time and downtime."
If you feel that your child is being assigned excessive amounts of homework, speak directly with the teacher. Be sure to communicate just how long it is taking your child to complete the assigned homework and ask for modifications. Vatterott advises, "Individual children also vary from day to day in their ability to complete homework. Sometimes they are too tired or just can't concentrate. On those occasions, write a note excusing your child from homework, and expect your wishes to be honored."
When I was certain that my daughter was sometimes overwhelmed by the amount of homework she was assigned, her teachers encouraged me to trust my gut when she sits down to do her homework. As they explained it, if it feels like too much, then it probably is.
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