Yesterday while Annie was at gymnastics, I was talking to another mom, Sarah, about our kids’ school. Sarah was freaking out because of her daughter, Ava, and her upcoming schedule. She couldn’t figure out how they were going to make it work.
Sarah told me that Ava, who is in second grade, gets a homework packet on Monday that’s due on Friday. It’s filled with math problems, spelling words and related worksheets, and a writing assignment. (Sarah showed me the packet. It wasn’t easy stuff.)
Ava also has to log 20 minutes of reading every night. And there’s a spelling test and math test each week to review for. Plus a couple of special projects a month.
Little Ava does two activities right now: gymnastics each Thursday and Brownies every weekend. That’s it.
I listened as Sarah told me how she and Ava figured out a schedule for getting her homework done. It just barely works out – if nothing unexpected happens and there are no special weeknight events like a birthday party.
But if an assignment is particularly difficult, or if Sarah is running late from work, or if Ava has a playdate – there are meltdowns. Big ones. From Ava and her mom.
And now soccer is starting in March, which is going to throw a monkey wrench in the whole situation. Because there is a practice on Tuesdays at 5:00 p.m.
Sarah can’t figure out how they’re going to make it work. Ava doesn’t have the stamina to do more than 40 minutes of homework plus the 20 minutes of reading each night. But how could she give up soccer when she loves it, the exercise is good for her, and learning teamwork is so important?
So in essence, Ava wants to do two activities a week and it may be too much because of her homework load.
The kid is in SECOND GRADE, people.
And she may not get to play soccer because of homework.
I think this is insane.
And it’s what Annie is in for next year.
I’m really struggling with this. So, being me, I did some research to see what the experts have to say.
There is something called the “10-minute rule,” formulated by the National PTA and the National Education Association. It suggests that kids should be doing about 10 minutes of homework per night per grade level. In other words, 10 minutes for first-graders, 20 for second-graders, and so on.
This means Ava should have 20 minutes of homework a night. She has at least 40. Plus her reading (but according to Sarah, Ava would do that anyway since she loves to read).
A Google search I did turned up several references to studies that have found no link between how much homework elementary school children did and how well they did in school – or how high their test scores were.*
So, do our little kids have too much homework?
Are we depriving our young kids of their childhood?
I think the answer to both questions is YES.
I believe that kids should be able to come home from school every day and play.
Whether that play is gymnastics or soccer or playing in the backyard, children need to play. It’s important for their development. And their happiness.
I’m all for reviewing spelling words or math skills for 10 minutes a night with my first grader. That sounds reasonable.
But not being able to play soccer and do gymnastics two days after school because of second-grade homework does NOT sound reasonable to me.
So if Gracie comes home with 40 minutes of homework each night in second grade? You’d better believe we’re stopping after 20 minutes. And I’m going to have a discussion with her teacher.
For the love of all that is holy, schools. Let my elementary-school kid be a kid and PLAY and don’t pile on the homework when she’s 7 years old, mmmkay?
Does your young child have too much homework? What do you think is appropriate?