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Most parents of students in traditional school see their kids off to school in the morning and come home for dinner with their children still hard at work - with homework lasting hours after school has ended. Middle and high school students sometimes work longer hours than their parents. While laptops and tablets have at least started to solve the backpacks-to-back-problems issue, we are still seeing an alarming amount of homework coming home with our kids every day. And with all this extra homework, where are the resulting grade-level rewards for the kid's hard work?
The fact of the matter is that quality schoolwork packs more of a learning punch than hours of homework after school.
The education community has long stuck with a general rule-of-thumb of about ten minutes of homework per grade. This means first graders get ten minutes of homework while seniors in high school should expect more like two hours of homework after school - split between their various classes. If your student is doing much more than this - and not because of a struggling subject - the school is assigning too much homework.
It's been found that a small amount of homework can improve a child's study habits (they learn how to think about school outside of school) and can help remind students of what they learned in class. However, teachers in recent decades have confused homework with actual studying. Homework is fatiguing, taking lessons home and doing hard schoolwork without the help of a teacher. Studying can be a fun set of reminders that helps turn recent short-term memories of class into long-term memories and applied learning skills.
As a result, good schoolwork followed by brief studying and applied-learning is more valuable than hours spent scraping answers out of a textbook or practicing reams of workbook pages that take hours to complete.
Children need even more work-life balance than adults. That's one of the reasons schools let out around 3 or 4 PM. Kids need time for physical activity and relaxation before bed. In fact, it's essential for learning. Consider when you learn something new and tough to think about. We often feel the need to take a walk and 'absorb' the information. Kids need that, too! And since their job is learning, they need plenty of 'down time' to let their lessons percolate into long-term memory.
Kids need time to relax, to spend time with family, and to fall asleep without worries. Too much homework can give children stress and anxiety. Children may have trouble falling asleep and wake up anxious because their hours of homework are incomplete.
In fact, sleep is essential to learning. Kids with too much homework may lose sleep over it, both before bed and trying to get up early to finish, which actually damages their ability to absorb and remember the lessons. Slumber is when our brains take recent short-term memories and file them in long-term storage. This is why people with multi-day sleep deprivation can forget what happened the day before. Students who don't get enough sleep aren't just cranky, they can actually forget their lessons instead of learning them - even with all that homework.
At Futures Academy, we focus on helping kids grasp new lessons at their own pace and within the bounds of school hours. We know how important physical activity, relaxation time and sleep really is. In our one-to-one learning model, teachers focus on wearing out each child's brain with tough, interesting thought before the "bell rings" and it's time to go home. Instead of piling up homework and hoping the lessons stick, we work personally with each child on every lesson until they reach full understanding, knowing that mountains of homework won't make a difference without learning core concepts the right way.
Is your student being buried under mountains of homework that are causing more fatigue than learning? We fully understand and can help your student reach their full potential with schoolwork, not homework, and one-to-one learning with a dedicated teacher. Contact us today to further explore the flexible in-person or virtual learning options at Futures Academy.