Op-Ed in Contra Costa Times, California

Today’s post is an op-ed published in the Contra Costa Times on November 15. It’s written by Kerry Dickinson, who was Monday’s’s guest blogger.

Homework is Culprit
by Kerry Dickinson

I was both thrilled and perplexed with the front page article “Healthy development tied to nature” on Nov. 8. I’m thrilled because our family loves being outdoors and we know that nature is good for the mind, body and soul. I’m delighted that this article promotes riding one’s bike or walking to local schools and stores. That’s great for the environment as well as for one’s own health.

I am perplexed, however, that the writer mentioned video games as one of the main reasons kids stay indoors. It’s true that after school activities such as video games, sports, or music lessons do take up a considerable amount of time, time that could be spent playing outdoors. But let’s not ignore the fact that children are spending one to three hours on homework after school each night and sometimes more on the weekends. Add homework to after school activities and it’s easy to see why children spend so little time outdoors.

As parents we have a choice about our children’s extracurricular activities. But we DON’T have a choice about the homework they are given. I would much rather send my boys outside to play after school than nag them about doing their homework.

Imagine a time when you came home from school and the first question out of your mother’s mouth was “Who are you going to play with today?” instead of, “How much homework do you have today?” Chances are, that time was 30 years ago when you were a kid.

2 Comments on “Op-Ed in Contra Costa Times, California”

  1. TooMuchHomework says:

    Whenever I hear how homework takes from one to three hours, I’m left puzzled. Hey, we’d kill for three hours! Try five, six, seven some nights. And then it’s still not finished. I kid you not. It’s never three.

    Whenever an article decries the state of homework, I am at once immensely grateful yet come away feeling it still doesn’t go far enough. Why are our lives a caricature of “worser than worse?”

    I’m tired. So please. No lectures on how we/she aren’t doing it right, it shouldn’t take this long, as if it was our fault. My child is exceptionally gifted with ADD who learns best in depth, hyper-focus style. It takes her longer. Schools need to build in for varying learning styles, differences and disabilities.

    When I was a child, it didn’t take a psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, tutor, medication, homework coach, yoga,stress relief and a national support group just to get through homework. So please don’t suggest all that help. Except for the national support group!

    Homework has spawned a lucrative industry of tutors and coaches and professionals, all designed to essentially make the child do what we shouldn’t be asking the child to do in the first place. There are times when your “defiant” child is simply worn out, anxious and sleep deprived. They aren’t being oppositional, they are crying for relief.

    Excessive homework proponents may laud its positive benefits. The only benefit I see is that the curriculum gets covered…at home! A relief for the teacher, torture for parent and child alike. I eventually homeschooled because, you guessed it, we were already homeschooling. At the end of a long day.

    We don’t do the tutor/homework coach brigade. Here’s the joke. We don’t have time. If I dragged my daughter to all that help, the time it would eat up, I am sure, would cause more stress than the original problem netted in the first place!

    My daughter has had an abiding passion to learn, to study, to grow intellectually. She is hardly a case of the smart slacker, on Facebook until ten o’clock. I can attest to the fact that her workload is insurmountable and unreasonable. It is relentless, every day and all weekend too. We finally said, go do an activity, homework or not. We hadn’t encouraged it in the past because homework eats up every minute and I am saddened by all my child missed out on.

    My daughter is yes, smart but also diligent, conscientious, serious. She is perfectionist, so yes, I admit, she could tighten it up, learn to be more efficient. But when did this become my job? If schools are so bent on sending all this work home, THEY need to be teaching effective study skills, not me. I can’t afford to hire the help.

    December 12th, 2007 at 3:11 pm
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  2. DianeAdel says:

    Kerry – I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments. In fact, I emailed the “Children and Nature Network” (www.cnaturenet.org) and asked them to consider conducting a study to investigate whether excessive homework loads could be as serious an impediment as computers etc to getting kids outdoors. Have not heard a response as yet 🙂 Maybe if many people asked the same question …. who knows? Just a thought 😉

    An extra thought provoked by the post from “TooMuchHomework” – How come we, as parents, have no legal rights when it comes to deciding how much time our kids should spend doing schoolwork at home – or do we?

    December 14th, 2007 at 10:11 pm
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