Homework and Resume Building
Recently I read a blog written by a former teacher who is now a mother. She was ranting against homework and the amount of activities that her children have and how it leaves her child with little unstructured family and self time. It is a thoughtful blog and if homework is an issue for you than check it out.
Schools wouldn’t feel the pressure to pile on the homework if they thought that colleges would be more discerning about person and less so about academic achievement. But colleges still mostly remain focused on grades and test scores to be able to determine the fit of the student to the school. Some school do focus more on the student and seem to be none the worse for it, yet the majority of colleges still look at academic achievement above all.
Teachers have gotten smarter about what assignments are more valuable to students yet most every teacher holds the value of their course above others and so can justify going above the recommended amount of homework time. Depending on the grade some schools have it pegged at 20 minutes a class and some others 30 and some at 15. But what is 15 minutes of homework for one child may be an hour plus for another. Differentiating homework assignments are having their 15 minutes as teachers and schools try to figure out how to adapt to the differences in the classroom.
Part of the issue is that is not so much that teachers have added more minutes to the homework (although they have), but that students have added on more activities. Chances are a parent today did less after and before school than their child now does. It was probably less than ten years ago when I first heard the word resume attached to what a high school student did. Now resume building is an elementary school activity. Many is the parent who has lamented that both their child and they are over-booked.
There are all manner of levels of problem solving that need to occur to shift this dynamic and my guess is resume building is now a life-long activity. For better and worse most children and adults are working today for what they want to do tomorrow. Among the stress-reducing resume-focusing actions a parent can take is to sit down alone with the other parent and talk about what your own hopes and expectations are for your child. If you want your child to be in contention for an ivy league school work the resume and crack the books and let go of the concept of balance. If you would be happy with your child at basically any school where the/he would learn and enjoy themselves you can take another approach.
90% of the students I speak with know what their parents want for them when it comes to college and close to 50% can tell me what their parents want for them career-wise. If you do have preferences why not be overt about them? If it is only acceptable for you to have your child attend school close to home, better to tell her/him sooner than later. If you are not going to help pay if he/she doesn’t major in business, better to mention it early. Your children need to be informed consumers of your expectations.
Your child may or may not honor your desires, but you know that already. Of course, the whole college process is often the most stressful time a family has had to manage. There tends to be a lot of bickering and short tempers The stress of not knowing what are the best choices, whether your child will get his/her applications in on time and will she/he be accepted or not fill the air in most homes until decisions are made.
How much you want your child to invest in their homework is up to you and him/her to decide. You might wish she/he did more or you might wish she/he did less. You can’t control the choices your child will make. You can control what values you share and expectations you have. If you want your child to spend more time doing non-school creative activities help structure that time. If you want your child having meals with the family and just hanging out more with you, structure that time. You can’t control the amount of homework your child receives, but you can control your reaction to it. If getting high grades is the priority so be it. If you have other priorities so be it. Just realize not everyone has the same priorities as you and fulfills them the way you might.
Since I work at a school I can tell you they don’t like parents to be unhappy about homework. Your voice won’t change anything right away, but it will help more than your silence. If you think your child's work load is too much or too little speak with the teacher. If you don't feel heard and respected talk to their department Chair. It probably won't change much, but hopefully it makes you feel a little better.