This is the first time I’m writing in to a column so please bear with me. I have an issue with homework. My kids are coming home and have to immediately begin doing work and It’s ridiculous. I don’t remember getting this much work, and I can’t allow it to continue. My children are growing up in a generation that has a poor work ethic, and yet we expect children to attend nine hours of school, not even counting the 45 minutes on the bus each day. When he finally arrives home he gets a quick snack, and then begins working again, and It’s just not healthy. They also expect the kids to search information online which requires supervision and I can’t be with him. I did read your article about this subject, I just didn’t feel that it answered my issue. I want to tell the teacher that homework is wrong. I’m siding with my kids. How can I do that? R.K. – Far Rockaway
Homework has become an issue for many families, and I think you hit the nail on the head. Our generation is extremely lazy, and yet we demand non-stop work from the kids. I’ve been in houses where the father comes home after a long day at work, and he sits back and relaxes. In the meantime, his children are frantically doing their many homework assignments. They also had a long day. School is work.
My initial response is that I agree with you. As a Rebbe, I do the work in class, and if any boys do not complete the work, they finish at home while learning with their Chavrusah. I actually encourage parents not to help their children with the work. I’m fond of telling parents, “If your children don’t understand something, it’s my job as an educator to help them.” Once parents start helping their children with the homework, it’ll never end. Additionally, teachers should want to see where students had difficulty with the work, in order to review/explain the material in class the next day.
Let’s take a step back and try to understand the point of homework. In school the kids learn a lot over a relatively short amount of time. There may be nine hours of school, but your son can be learning Gemara, Chumash, Halacha, Navi, Math, Science, History, English and much more. That’s not including Davening, recess, lunch and breaks. The Rebbe or teacher wants to reinforce the material that was learned, so he gives a little work at home to review. At least that’s what’s supposed to happen.
Realistically speaking, many Rebbeim and teachers have a certain amount of material they need to cover. If they don’t have enough time, some simply assign it for home work. In these instances, the kids come home with a lot of work, and they usually require assistance – which can be tough on parents as well. When my 1st grade son came to me for some homework help, I quickly realized that I cannot do first grade math using Common Core.
I have spoken to many parents who feel that the constant strain of homework is destroying their relationship with their children. They put pressure on their children to finish up, and both the kids and parents become tense. As one mother wrote, “A foul mood descends on our house nightly because of the homework situation”. That’s not acceptable.
I cannot come up with a simple answer for the schools. This is definitely a serious issue, and they need to have some internal meetings to come up with a viable solution that fits their curricula. I can however, give you some advice for your home. I do suggest that people first read the homework email I wrote a few years ago, which gives solutions to help manage the workload. My suggestions below are more focused on coming up with viable solutions on a permanent basis.
Have a great Shabbos.
Rabbi Yitzie Ross is a Rebbe and has been working with parents and kids for many years. You can read more about him in the "about" section.