Too Much Homework? Bahhhhhhhh!

Are you a parent that feels your child has too much homework to do?  Does your child feel they have too much homework?  Let’s investigate this a little bit.  Help me out here by answering a few questions. 

Is your child in school? 
—–Well, they should have homework.  The teacher can’t possibly help them learn every concept in the short time they are together at school.  Thus, HOME WORK. 

Do you want your child to succeed in life? 
—–You should pray that they have homework.  How can a child who doesn’t gradually do more and more homework as they progress through school ever have a chance at earning a college degree?   We all know people that graduate from college have more success in their careers.  What about a graduate program?  More homework! 

Is it really that the child has more homework or is it that the child wants to waste their time on their phone or other device?
—–We all know that children don’t play outside anymore, so what are you taking them away from by asking them to do homework? 

Do you have your child in every single activity that has ever been offered to mankind and that is why homework is a problem? 
—–Here is a solution.  One sport and one other thing.  Your kid is not going to be good at the 20 activities you have him or her enrolled in because there is no way one person can be excellent at so many things.  Pick one or two things, that they can be good at, and that they love.  That is plenty, believe me.

Are you really invested in being a good parent? 
—–Sorry, I had to say it.  But, step back and ask yourselves.  Is it YOU that doesn’t want to read with your 6-year-old?  If so, aren’t you setting a bad example?  Is it really YOU that doesn’t want to go to the store so the poor kid can get poster paper for his country report?  When you signed up to have a baby, you signed up to help your child succeed. 

I don’t believe kids have too much homework.  There is a study that showed that homework amounts have not changed in 30 years, in fact.  What I do believe is that some kids naturally work harder than others and there are some parents who push.  Personally, we have had to beg our kids to take a break from studying once in a while.  But there are also parents who are lazy and thus produce lazy kids.  I also know that some teachers are better than most and have meaningful homework, while there are others who do expect the child to learn some things on their own. 

There are a lot of things that need to change with education in America.  We are being outwitted by students in other countries because their education system is better.  BUT, my point is that, if your child is in school, then as a parent you have a responsibility to support YOUR CHILD.  If the project assigned is lame, it is lame.  Sorry.  Part of being a mom or dad.  I don’t think we want to raise children who are disrespectful of authority and teachers because their parents complain about them.  This is about supporting our children and helping them succeed in the environment they are in.  If you can move in order to put your child in a better school, then do it.  If you can give up one hour of watching Downton Abbey to help quiz your child on chemistry, then, please do it.  

Our kids are in college.  Our son will graduate this spring and our daughter will graduate next spring.  They have a lot of homework.  My daughter has three math classes per semester, plus she takes upper division English classes for fun.  My son has so many Spanish and science classes with labs that he leaves at 6 a.m. and comes home at 10:30 p.m.  Then, they both study on the weekends and at night.  That is what a lot of homework looks like.  They both manage to have active social lives and work part-time jobs and serve in our community and church on top of it all.  But, I am convinced that the reason they seem to thrive in this environment, and can handle the really tough classes with all the demanding research is because of one thing:  We supported them in their homework when they were younger.  We didn’t complain or gripe about the teachers.  True, there were favorite teachers, mostly in junior high and high school, that pushed them to the brink with meaningful, investigatory assignments, and there were others that were draining with the endless worksheets and such.  But we emphasized the good over the bad.  Tried to learn something along with them.  Encouraged them to talk about what they were learning at school during dinner.  And clapped and whistled when the good grades and scholarships came rolling in.  But, good grades and scholarships don’t roll in.  They are earned by a lot of sacrifice, blood, sweat and tears. 

As I think about our kids graduating from college and going on to graduate school and professional careers, I often wonder what it is that made them be able to do it.  I think the answer is easy.  We were excited about learning at our house.  The kids wanted to tell us what they learned.  They still do.  It’s funny now to have my son try to explain deep organic chemistry principles that are far over my head, or listen to my daughter explain in an 8-page paper “why zero is zero” for her Foundations of Algebra class.  But it makes me happy that they love learning.  They are smarter than we are and isn’t that the point?  To make each generation better than the one before it?

A big payback at our house has been that because our kids have always loved school and learning, and also spent many, many hours learning and practicing music, they never have grown attached to the X-Box or Wii or Playstation.  They don’t care about their smartphones.  They only use their laptops for homework.  When they are finished studying, they don’t want to see another screen.  They are playing their music, out with friends, playing basketball, or skiing.  They have learned to work hard at their jobs and earn their own money. 

I do not profess to have all the answers about raising children and I would never pretend to understand all the ways we could improve the education system.  But I do know that raising children to be excited about the world around them is important and teaching them by example to respect teachers and other authorities is critical. 

Our daughter will be a junior high or high school math teacher in a year and a half.  She has studied and worked hard to achieve this dream of hers.  I hope she is prepared to encounter parents and students that are whining about too much homework so they can play video games or participate in 12 different sports.  My daughter’s whole dream of becoming a math teacher is to help our world be a better place.  She believes that if more people could get over their math phobia during those critical years and learn to love and succeed at math, we would have more engineers, more scientists, more doctors, more inventors, and a stronger economy.  She remembers the hours we spent with her to overcome her fear of fractions and will tell you herself that this one thing, getting over her fear of fractions, helped her to love math.  We did that, not her teacher.  I know she is excited about being a teacher.  My biggest fear for her is that she throws in the towel after a few years and joins the private sector where she can earn a far greater salary, just because all her efforts and passion are not respected by lazy complainers.  Please don’t do this to my daughter.

I know every child is not cut out to be an engineer or a doctor or a lawyer.  Please don’t write me and tell me that.  I know it.  I know every child has challenges and weaknesses and strengths.  My own kids do.  Please don’t misunderstand.  I just want us as parents to step up to the plate and give it all we’ve got.  The world is in trouble.  It needs our kids.  It needs them to be strong and smart and wise.  It needs them to be prepared to be engaged in solving its problems.  They can’t do this without homework.  Even if gluing cotton balls on poster board seems meaningless, and maybe it is, it is teaching our kids to sacrifice for education, for the greater good of becoming smart.  So they can be leaders and explorers and writers and teachers, and maybe even President. 

Ghandi said, “Be the good you wish to see in the world.”  When it comes to this topic, we as parents can be the good.  Be a good example.  Teach your kids that it’s okay to do the homework, to read the books, to make a poster.  Teach them to want to make the world a better place.  They have the power to do it, but they need inspiration.  They need us to help them.  And, if it keeps them off smartphones and video games and out of bars and jails and off drugs, then why complain about homework? 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s