“Hey mom”, my 15 year old said as she walked in the living room with that ‘I’ve been thinking about my life look’ that teens get once they enter high school. “How much homework did you have when you were my age?”
“This could potentially be a trap”, I thought. “Answer carefully”, I told myself.
“Well…,” I began cautiously, trying to read the look on her face – trying to see if she was just curious or about to have a HUGE stress out moment because of having too much homework that night.
“It does seem like you have more homework than Daddy and I had when we were in High School. But…our afterschool lives were also not quite as full.”
She gave me a blank look before responding.
“I think we have too much homework and we need more time to be kids. You and Daddy tell me that you and your friends used to do things and have time to hang out on weekends and stuff. My friends and I don’t have that. We even have tons of homework on weekends. THIS – IS – JUST –WRONG!!”
Then she added: “THEY…”, she pointed to her book bag, “ are stealing are childhood!”
I didn’t say anything in response just yet.
“So”, she continued. “Do you think we have too much homework? Do you think our childhoods have been stolen?”
I didn’t want to freak her out, but the truth is I did think she was right and knew the data supported her observation. So, I simply replied. “Times are different today but I have to agree the homework seems excessive. Perhaps there’s a way you and your friends can look into this and see if so much homework is needed.”
“That’s a great idea! Our Principal seems like a really cool guy. We’ll do some research.”
With that, she left, seeming more at ease.
In truth, our kids have much more homework than we had, as well as more overloaded afterschool lives. How much more homework? About 50% more!
Kids need a balance of education, extracurricular activities and free time. Since we were kids, so much attention has focused on programming their lives that no room has been left for our kids to water their own childhoods and to grow them in the direction of their choosing.
We live in a time of excess and the concept of moderation has flown out the window. Our kids can’t keep having every aspect of their lives pushed to the max: homework, afterschool activities, school sports.
TIME Magazine ran a very interesting article on The Myth About Homework that not only echoes my daughter’s concerns but tosses out some intriguing solutions, such as homework limits. The article points out what I’m seeing in my daughter, her friends and teens nationwide: the push on homework is actually backfiring – our kids are getting burned out and turned off to learning.
So, it’s time we support the movement my daughter and so many other teens nationwide are demanding in their lives. This is their childhood and they deserve time to explore more than just books and word problems.
BTW, the data is on the side of the teens with this one. More free time is exactly what their lives need for better learning…and better health!
Do your tweens and teens feel their childhoods are under attack either from too much homework or too many activities…or any other reason? I’d love to know!