March 3rd, 2011
I have been asked to sit on the panel to discuss the mom-made documentary titled, Race to Nowhere." The documentary discusses the amount of homework our kids get on a daily basis, cheating in the classroom, drug use among kids, requirements to get into college, and the pressure our kids feel to be the best at all that they do. Some parents feel there is too much homework and some feel that there is not enough. I recently heard about the term "Tiger Mom." Tiger Moms, as it's been described to me, are moms that believe kids should be involved in some type of structured academic development from morning to night. Correct me if this description is wrong. I am posting this today in an effort to hear your feedback. What do you think about the above?
My son is a fourth grader at public school and he is struggling. I remember being in the fourth grade (in the 1970's) and not getting homework until the fifth grade. I do not remember having the STAR testing during that time which I know the current school curriculum is being based around that test. Fourth graders in my son's school are accountable for their daily and weekly homework tasks as well as the annual Science Fair projects, the California Mission report (which looks like a lesser form of a term paper), Mission oral report and their monthly Book of the Month report and project. He struggles on a daily basis to keep organized, keep track of what homework is due and with just plain sitting still at his desk for long periods of time. I know schools are designed to take care of the masses (partly in thanks to No Child Left Behind program) and I know he will never fit in that school model well. I believe boys are just wired differently than girls and that's why we have the ever popular labels such as ADD and ADHD diagnoses. I think kids haven't changed all that much and the school expectations have. I had always thought that kids needed a strong academic environment, but now I believe kids just need to be kids. Believe me as an Asian mom I've been that "Tiger Mom" pushing my son when he was struggling through that piano piece. I've roared when he'd come home with failed tests that I had to sign off. Did it really make any difference? I don't think it did--I believe it just made our relationship more disconnected than ever. His frustrations with school led him to act out in the classroom. He has had three suspensions within January. He has been labeled the "bad kid" at school for a while now and we started taking him to see a child therapist. He was diagnosed with ADHD with superior intelligence, but processes information differently. There are a lot of issues that are creating all these different problems with our kids and not just one easy solution.
I definately think kids have to much homework. Most of the homework my daughter has, who is 6 years old, I have to teach her as if she has not even heard or seen it before. Basically, I am doing the homework for her, which will be this way up through 3rd grade. Her school even invited the parents to Winter Wonderland one evening, coaxing us in by saying the students would be singing songs. They did sing one song and then the rest of the time was spent having the parents go to 10 different stations showing us games that teach our kids in a fun way at home. Of course your child could not do any of the games by themselves, they would have to have an adult teaching them. I wonder what are they focusing on in school and if we need to teach them at home too their way, are they pushing them to learn to much to soon?
I used to believe the way you did with my oldest child (my boys are 19 years apart). I had him involved constantly from early morning until bedtime. He was in the gifted program, graduated high school from a very prestigious high school with a full scholarship across the country. By the time he started college and finished his freshman year, he was confused and burned out, in the meantime we had his little brother. He did finish college but it took him awhile. With my next child I am learning that the schools are much more competitive and require more homework. My youngest son is also gifted, but he has less extra time after he finishes homework, AR reading, power point projects,etc. I am allowing him down time after his homework and chores are finished. He needs this. I feel a parent really needs to listen to their child and allow them to grow.Some children thrive in extra-curricular activities others do not. I feel the schools have more pressures to teach kids to standardized tests, instead of teaching them to think for themselves. I am taking more time teaching my sons about values, good work ethics and the value of a dollar. The children really need to learn how to be independent thinkers in order to compete in today's market.
Wow, what a great topic!! In a nutshell, I say there's too much. I'd love to discuss this more. I wrote an entire essay on the topic a few years ago, in response to an editorial in the Wall Street Journal by Jeff Opdyke in his Love & Money column. I'd love to send you the entire piece (may I email it?). But I can tell you, I end it by saying, "I never thought I'd wish for our children to done with schooling (meaning, all done with high school - grown-up and gone off to college), but for their sakes, I do."
Homework is a good thing to teach kids to be accountable. We have never had issues with "too much" homework. I have 3 kids who have gone to 4 different schools in 4 different states. They are also involved in activities outside of school by their own choice. It's mostly about time management, theirs and mine. I believe that learning should not be left entirely up the schools and the teachers. Part of my motivation to be a stay at home mom is to be available to help and teach my children. But also, all kids do not learn in the same way. Standardized testing is silly. There are alot of smart kids out there who don't test well. And the schools are forced to teach them how to test well. I understand that they don't have the resources to teach every kid individually based on the child's preferred method of learning. So, I help my kids at home as much as possible with reading and retaining. This, to me, is the one thing that can carry them trough school. If they can learn how to read and understand what they read as well as listen and understand what they hear then they can do well. My son had a rough start in school. In kindergarten he was off the walls. He didn't focus, didn't want to sit down to read much less learn to read, didn't retain much. And though there were some very frustrating times for both of us, I worked with him for a year, then 2 years. The level of help he needed eventually tapered and now he is in 2nd grade and a great student. Now, there are times when he still acts out and goofs off in class while the teacher is talking. But, when asked what she just said he will repeat word for word. He has learned to pay attention and retain information while also being the wonderful boy that he is.