Morgaine Pauker, a mother of a soon-to-be ninth grader in Westport, CT, wrote the following letter to the Westport News, after learning, at a meeting about high school, that the children could expect to be “inundated with homework.”
Letter to the Editor–Homework Policy Needed
by Morgaine Pauker
Wednesday night I attended the Staples High School parent meeting to welcome new families. We were introduced to the administration followed by a Powerpoint presentation by the school counselors. The meeting was informative and the staff seemed friendly and eager to make the transition from middle to high school as smooth as possible for our kids.
However, when the subject of homework was mentioned, casually at first statements were made such as “You can expect a lot more homework than middle school” and “up to a few hours per night.” When homework was addressed directly we were told, and I quote “Your children will be inundated with homework.” I was taken aback that we were being told point blank that our children would be overwhelmed, engulfed, submerged with work after they have already spent 6.5 hours in the classroom.
When I asked what the homework policy is at Staples the administration looked at each other questioningly, finally deciding that there was none.
Two high school students were also present to answer questions. Their response to homework included, feeling “overwhelmed at times” and “the work is really difficult even if you take A level courses” (the lowest level offered). Students claim, “If you work really hard you could possibly get an A grade in an “A” level course but if you take advanced placement or honor classes it is nearly impossible.” Both students present were taking some honor courses, what about those not so gifted, how are they fairing?
Our children get up at 6 a.m., go to school for 6.5 hours and are required to put in hours and hours doing more work at home, it’s a 9.5 hour day, at least. Little do the teachers know but many children I’ve spoke with who are doing 4-plus hours each night and on weekends. Most kids have after-school activities until 6 p.m. or later and don’t get started with homework until 7 p.m.
Where is the time for dinner with the family, a shower, or dare say a moment for relaxation? No wonder an increasing number of academically gifted students are downloading papers online, reading CliffNotes instead of novels and cheating on tests. At some point they reach their limit.
We need to decide that there has to be more to life than schoolwork. It is simply not worth throwing away their childhood to do what is often busy work for school. We are seeing evidence of the stress these kids are under in anxiety attacks, nervous tics, nail biting, eating disorders and obesity. At some point we need to recognize that children are just that — children. We need a reasonable homework policy in place that supports raising healthy, happy, well adjusted children.