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POLL: How Much Time Is Spent on Homework in Your House?

Not much? Too much? Take the poll.

More than once at Wednesday's Board of Education meeting, the dialogue between several parents and administrators turned to how much time kids -- and their parents -- are spending on homework.

It came up during a discussion about the Reader's Workshop literacy program now in use at Village Elementary and Indian Hill School. In an effort to reinforce and build on reading skills, students are asked to spend at least 20 minutes reading their designated books at night, paying special attention to story elements and their own reactions to them, which they are encouraged to jot down. Several parents said that it is putting a burden on kids who already have homework assignments in math, science and other subjects.

Indian Hill School Principal Tali Axelroad and K-12 Humanities Superviser Susan Alston listened to the concerns.

"Our kids are coming home way with way too many demands," said Board Member Ana Vander Woude, who is also the mother of a sixth grader. Another board member and parent, Dennis Pavlik, expressed concern about "massive homework."

The Board of Education's policy on how much homework a Holmdel School district child should receive is available on the Board of Education website. Policy 6154 sets the following guidelines:

Village School
Kindergarten: At the discretion of the teacher
Grade 1: 15-30 minutes daily
Grade 2: 15-30 minutes daily

Indian Hill School
Grade 3: 30-60 minutes daily
Grade 4: 30-60 minutes daily
Grade 5: 45-75 minutes daily
Grade 6: 45-75 minutes daily

William R. Satz School
Grade 7: 60-120 minutes daily
Grade 8: 60-120 minutes daily

Holmdel High School
Grade 9: 75-150 minutes daily
Grade 10: 75-150 minutes daily
Grade 11: 75-150 minutes daily
Grade 12: 75-150 minutes daily

DPage January 27, 2012 at 12:45 PM
My 6th grader is required to read for at least 30 minutes, not 20 minutes every weeknight.
Mary January 27, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Wish I could have been at last nights meeting. My 2nd grader is required to read 15-20 min./night and may not skip 2 nights in a row so she is also reading on the weekend. In addition there is a writing assignment 2-3x/wk., math very night, and spelling or vocal. Every night. in addition she receives spelling words from basic skills to study. She spends well over an hour each night on homework. This may not be typical as she has Inattentive type ADHD tendencies and needs extra time to complete assignments. I pick her up from the 1st stop on her bus route (about 3:45); otherwise she would not get home until 4:15. This leaves little time for activities, exercise, dinner, shower, family time, etc. Free time? What's that? I'm not necessarily complaining, but I am very lucky to be a stay at home home. I don't know how two working parents manage.
Mary January 27, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Sorry, that should read "math every night, and spelling or vocabulary every night." not blaming the teachers, there is a tremendous amount of pressure on them and they are in a seemingly no win situation when it comes to assigning homework.
Tara Brunner January 27, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Homework, a hot topic in my home and with many peope. It is something that needed to be changed long before Readers Workshop came along.Children leave their house in the early hours, and return late in the day. In between, they are given short periods of time to learn or even "master" many different subjects.They are rushed through lunch and recess. Meals and play are a huge part of their ability to absorb information and stay alert throughout the day.When they come home,they then have to "do" school again. None of these homework guidelines can be followed when you are trying to fit in afterschool activities,a (possible)family dinner,and just doing what families are supposed to be doing on their OWN time.I refuse to take my children out of these activities, because that is their only creative outlet after being in school all day.Plus, lets not forget the fact that children need a ton of sleep.Especially if they are expected to perform well in school. Sometimes I actually tell my children to put it all away, because this is "our time". Gone are the days of diving in to a good book with them at night,especially now that readers workshop has become homework.Isnt a workshop supposed to be done in school? What if every company president,construction worker, or any American who puts in 8-9 hours a day, were told that when they got home, they had to do it all again? This country is already in a state of high stress and diminishing family time.
Thomas Scarano January 27, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Family time can be the parent helping the child with homework. The current Readers Workshop is a program that has long ago been noted as a failed program. It is indeed a difficult balance.
tony January 27, 2012 at 05:21 PM
The amount of required reading for Readers Workshop was not effectively factored into the daily homework assignments. It is a large burden on the Indian Hill children after they have already been doing 45 minutes of independent reading during the school day, and have many other homework assignments and afterschool activities each night. This is another example of how this program has been extremely mismanaged by the administration since its rollout at Indian Hill.
Marlene January 27, 2012 at 05:49 PM
We struggle with an over abundance of homework as well. Both my husband and I work and sometimes I travel for work. This limits our time together as a family. In addition we are all out of the house by 7:00 and don't get home until 7:00 pm. It's a long day for all and having to sit down at that time to work on homework is exhausting. The kids try to have their homework done but that doesn't always work out if they are stuck on an assignment. Then there is studying for test and yes the cumbersome reading assignments that are teaching kids to hate to read because they are being told to do so, rather than allowing them to pick up a book at their leisure and enjoy it. As if homework is not enough, there are the projects that are sent home that let's face it, are too hard for a kid to complete on thier own, therefore, they need an adult to help them work on. My husband and I completed school a while ago and at time feel like we are doing it over again. In fact, when the projects are graded, we feel we are being graded. Somethings has to give. Kids need time to play, relax and enjoy the little time they spend with their families. I don't see any benefit from the extra homework, instead I see them being discouraged from the whole idea of school. It's all work and no play.
mary ann January 28, 2012 at 02:39 AM
I also found it very distressing to hear Mrs. Alston's condescending comments at the 1/25th BOE meeting. There had just been an Anti-Bullying presentation given to the Board right before Mrs. Alston sarcastically questioned Mr. Pavlik's judgment regarding the time-management of his child's homework. It's ironic that in this instance it is not children bullying other children but rather the administration bullying the parents.
Lynn Saporito January 28, 2012 at 03:43 AM
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the Board of Education members for welcoming the parents at Wednesday night's meeting, and for agreeing to look at Readers Workshop in Curriculum & Instruction Committee, including how its effectiveness is being assessed, as well as the incremental homework that it adds to an already heavy workload for our children. Thank you again for volunteering your time to ensure that the children of Holmdel get the best education possible.
Mariano DiFabio January 30, 2012 at 01:47 AM
As a parent with children soon to be entering the public school system, and with exposure to many others inside the school system, I find that there's too much homework all around. I thought so when I was in school and I think so now. When do children have the opportunity to explore and be themselves? School is an important part of every day, but there's no room for creativity anymore - it's all about performing up to a certain artificial standard. Instead of rigid assignments, why not let the children decide what they'd like to work on every night? School is there to provide structure and context, while at home children should be given the opportunity to thoughtfully explore whatever interested them from that day. Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, William Shakespeare, and countless others from our past did best when they chose to explore the world on their own, focusing on what fascinated them, not on what others told them was important. In sum I will not always force my children to finish their homework, and I will not set expectations for above average performance in an inflated and inorganic system. Perhaps in doing so they will be labeled as underperforming, but if they are happy and fulfilled in what they do, I've done my job.

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