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Do kids need a tutor, or even medication to help them deal with it?Do kidsincluding preteens and teenshave meltdowns over the never-ending grind?But is it really beneficial when we constantly argue about homework or stay up late to do our kids' assignments with themor for them?
In fact, as this book will explain, when children are asked to do too much nightly work, just the opposite has been found.
And study after study shows that homework is not much more beneficial in middle school either.
With four hours of homework each weekday night and many more each weekend, Nancy's then-eighth-grader, Allison, had rarely made it to the family dinner table over the previous few years.
Many weekend plans with friends, parents, and grandparents had to be canceled so she could do her assignments. Lots of other parents at our school were complaining about the homework load, but no one was doing anything about it until Sara, who had an eighth- and a fifth-grader, organized a parent group to discuss the situation.
In the second part, we'll deconstruct the most common assignments and show you which ones advance learning and which don't.
We'll teach you how to do triage when your elementary or middle school children come home with more work than they can handle, and give you the ammunition to confidently write a note to the teacher about why you've decided your child shouldn't lose sleep in order to create a replica of the Pentagon out of Popsicle sticks.Almost always, it comes back to the parents and the prevailing belief that there's so much homework because competitive moms and dads want their kids to get ahead. More than one-third of the parents we surveyed feel the same way.Ironically, other parents who took our survey insist that the amount is "just right," only to go on to describe all sorts of negative effects their kids suffer-from nightly crying fits to stomachaches to facial tics. One reason is that many parents have faith in the school system and assume that educators have good reasons for subjecting our kids to so much work.We were surprised to discover that homework overload is happening everywherefrom Montana to Mississippi to Maineand parents from across the country shared their stories with us.(Please note that some parents we surveyed or interviewed chose to remain anonymous and some names have been changed). The finger-pointing goes in every direction: It's the kids' fault, it's the school's fault, it's society's fault. Homework polls and surveys routinely demonstrate that between 20 and 30 percent of parents believe their children get too much homework.A former Legal Aid attorney, Sara had been successfully negotiating with teachers for years to reduce her own kids' homework loads, and she decided to push the school to finally change its overall policy.By getting other parents into the act, Sara knew that the school could no longer dismiss each parent's problem as "personal." She was right.But the truth is, we're more than qualified to advocate for our kids, and there's plenty we can do to bring an end to this mess.In the first part of this book, we'll bring you up to speed on the latest research about homework and all the reasons it's not working for kids, parents, or even teachers.Even in high school, where there can be benefits, they start to decline as soon as kids are overloaded.That's why educators, child psychologists, and other experts on learning are questioning the value of homework, especially in large amounts.