A daily tug-of-war with a second or third grader, with you cajoling, coaxing and threatening to complete school homework in time and a reluctant, tired and irritable child in turn pleading, crying and throwing tantrums. Is there something wrong with the child or is the real culprit the amount of homework itself?
Points in favour of homework include the idea of reinforcing the lessons learnt in school, inculcating a sense of discipline in the child along with a healthy habit of going over what has been taught on a daily basis. When you look at homework thus, it is difficult to understand why it is abhorred by children and parents alike.
According to the National Education Association, children should not be assigned more than 10 minutes of homework per grade. This means, a third grader should not be working on home assignments for more than 30 minutes a day. Since they already spend 6-7 hours at school, plus an hour or even more travelling, when they are asked to work for yet another couple of hours at home, there is no time left for play or cultivating other hobbies or even to bond with the family. The result need not be stated as we are creating a frustrated, unhappy and restless child and even pushing the child towards early burnout.
Setting homework is actually a methodical process that needs to be done with a set goal in sight. Mindless non-age appropriate project work that forces the parents to do the homework on behalf of the kid just to gain marks defeats the very purpose of project-making. Many a times, homework is outsourced to professionals which is unfair on children who slog over it themselves but will naturally fall short of the finesse achieved by adults.
What can be achieved by brief, yet effective exercise can become overkill when heaps of the same activity is dumped on the child. A child can devote only so much attention to one activity. We have to also remember that children are also dealing with a number of subjects on a daily basis.