Our children do NOT need longer school days!

I just read the story that The State Board of Education signed off on rule changes that would allow schools to lengthen their days to shorten their year.

From the AJC:

“The State Board of Education early today signed off on rule changes that will allow schools to change from the traditional 180-day school year, provided students still end up with the same amount of class time.” …

“The Murray County School System, located in Chatsworth, has already approved a 160-day calendar for this fall that adds an hour to each school day, but allows students to start the year after Labor Day.” …

“Dana Tofig, spokesman for the State Department of Education, said several school systems appeared interested in looking at a schedule change back when gas was over $4 a gallon.”

This decision just stuns me as a mother!

Apparently the School Board members are too old to remember their children getting off the bus exhausted!

Last year, my kindergartner fell asleep on the bus ride home every single day. My 2nd grader was completely worn out and just mentally done by the time she came home. They work so hard at school and that is a very long day for children. Adults talk all the time about work/life balance. Where is that balance for children during the school year?

Here’s is our current schedule during the school year:

7:30 a.m. – Wake up and get ready for school. This is very late for most school children.

8:15 – Catch the school bus.

8:30 to 8:50 – Math lessons before class begins. (The school really pushes letting the kids ride the school bus so they can have this extra instructional time.)

8:50 – Class officially begins.

3:20 p.m. – School gets out!

4 p.m. – Get off the bus exhausted!!!

4 to 5 p.m.- Rest and play

5 p.m. – Start homework, play when they finish

6:30 p.m. – Dinner

7:30 p.m. – Bath and bed routine

8:30 p.m. — In bed

So the state Board of Education thinks it would be appropriate for my children to get off the school bus at 5 p.m.! That is absolutely insane! Children are not going to absorb information when they are exhausted. And you are just going to have discipline problems keeping children at school too long.

And when will they fit in sports, church, activities and their homework? I don’t think they’re going to take away the homework.

I’m a big supporter of public school but bad decisions like this drive parents to private institutions where they can have more control over their child’s school day.

I actually don’t mind the idea of spreading school days around the year — as in some during the summer. I think the summer is pretty long. But I don’t think that is their goal. I think their goal is to cut school days and save money on transportation costs.

I’m sorry if schools want to save money on gas for their buses. There must be other solutions than overloading our children and making them hate going to school and hate learning! Many of the universities use alternative fuel buses. Maybe that is a gradual move the school districts could make instead of making our children suffer for those cost savings.

What do you think? Could your kids really stand being at school another hour? Would they learn during that hour or just stare at their teacher? Could it affect their like or dislike for school? What are other solutions the schools should consider to save gas money?

Clarification: Dana Tofig from the State Board sent me a note to clarify that the State Education Board just adjusted their rules to align with what the state legislature passed. (So they’re the ones that don’t see their kids get off the school bus tired! They’re also the ones that wanted to eliminate funding for school nurses. At least we got that nipped in the bud!) Here’s the clarification:

“The State Board did not make the rule change to allow for shorter years and longer days. That was done by the state legislature through HB 193. Because it is now law (signed by the Governor) the state board has to adjust their rules to align with state law.”

“Additionally, the board rule changes have not been approved yet — there has to be a 30 day public input period. However, the law is the law. Even if the state board didn’t change its rules, the law would still be in effect.”

99 comments Add your comment


July 9th, 2009
2:12 pm

This kind of schedule would definitely kill family time for us. Religious Ed on Tuesday nights and sports practice one night a week, plus homework, dinner, bath and a little “down time” before bedtime (8:00)is pretty hectic as it is!


July 9th, 2009
2:25 pm

You obviously didn’t understand the decision. The State BOE basically did away with a state mandate and gave the local schools systems more control over how they put together their calendars. Instead of mandating 180 days and a school day of 8:30-3:30, schools are now allowed to tweak the times and number of days to more or less. Local boards now have more control over this as long as they have the same number of class hours.

If you have a problem with your school calendar now, then you can now go to the local BOE.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

July 9th, 2009
2:31 pm

hey Gary — I get they can control it — but the intent was to lengthen days to lessen days to cut gas bill — that is what I have a problem with — As I said, if they want to spread the vacation days around or even go more days, I’m actually fine with that. What I am not fine with is lengthening the days.


July 9th, 2009
2:34 pm

I have to second Gary. What this did was not lengthen the school day – though that is how one school system decided to use this new freedom – what it does is places the control in the school board’s hands. Essentially you now have MORE of a say in your child’s school schedule. I agree there are certain pitfalls to longer school days, so if that’s a fear of yours now is the time to start speaking up and letting your local school board know how you feel. And I don’t think there will be huge push by most school boards to lengthen days and shorten the school calendar now that gas has gone back down.


July 9th, 2009
2:37 pm

Could you imagine homework after that long day?


July 9th, 2009
2:37 pm

I’m so glad public school is over for us. I’m glad my daughter is out!!!!

This will be the first year in 12, that I have not received that big packet in the mail…….the first year I don’t have registration, etc……..

No more fund raisers, no more Ann Frank projects (3 years in a row), no more summer reading, etc….WOO HOO…..


July 9th, 2009
2:40 pm

Wow…that’s pretty outrageous. I went to three high schools (my family moved twice while I was in high school…I thought that my life was ruined!). At the first, I started around 8 in the morning and got out at 2:20 (that was in WA state). At the second, I started at 7:20 and got out at 2 (IL). At the third (in GA), I started at 8:13 and got out at 3:23. After being in schools that got out before 3:00, being in school until almost 3:30 made for what felt like THE longest days. The idea of younger children being in school for even longer is ridiculous. How do they expect kids to have time for homework, family and extracurricular activities if they are taking away an hour of the day? (And what about older kids who are also trying to fit in a part-time job?)

I wonder how the teachers feel about this.

GA Teacher

July 9th, 2009
2:41 pm

I am a teacher and my students are engaged in lessons from 9:20 until 4:00. They are already tired by the time they get to last period. I don’t think lengthening the school day is going to help. I’m all for lengthening the school year though. Give the kids more breaks! It is amazing how rested and more interested they are after even a four day weekend. I know that may pose problems for parents with small children, but surely we can reach a decision that is best for students and parents alike!

GA Teacher

July 9th, 2009
2:44 pm

Let me also add my theory on homework. I have taught math for many years and it sickens me to see other teachers giving students 45-60 minutes of math practice every night of the week. I understand that students need practice, but my students can show me what they know by answering 10 or less problems, not 40! We spend the first few minutes of class reviewing homework and answering questions that students have. I find this much more valuable than giving students busy work that many teachers don’t even look at!


July 9th, 2009
3:00 pm

The problem with ANY change is the fact that it will disturb something.
Everything our children do will have to be altered. Sports and other extras such as music lessons is the biggest issue the older the kids get.

The other thing I still cannot fathom is getting out late May and returning in early August. It almost impossible to vacation with friends and family in other states when some are year round and others get out mid June and rturn late August. Throw a kid or two in the mix that participate in sports and you NEVER get to enjoy the Summer.

Our education system needs an overhaul just as bad if not worse than our heathcare system.


July 9th, 2009
3:08 pm

I get the point that this gives local school boards more control. I just hope these school boards realize the impact of a longer school day on students – especially younger students. As a teacher and a parent, I have observed that students do much better in the morning classes than in afternoon classes. This is why I LOVE schools that use a rotating or revolving schedule so students do not have the same class last every day. The difference between two similar groups of students with one group taught 1st period and another last period is shocking. The 1st period group will always move at a quicker pace, be more alert, and require less re-teaching than the last period group.


July 9th, 2009
3:09 pm

I am a teacher too and do feel the children getting tired by the end of the day. But if you can get them some hands-on time at that point where they can get out of their seat to do things, it helps.

I am not for or against this, but I would like to say that we have issues with budgets and funding right now. Lots of good and qualified teachers have recently lost their jobs around the state and country. If we can find other ways to cut back on costs, other than make classes bigger and fire teachers, I think we owe it to everyone to at least explore the possiblity.


July 9th, 2009
3:10 pm

JJ — but instead of high school packets, your daughter is getting inundated with stuff from college! Meal plans, housing information, orientation, marching band handbooks, placement music, student account information, alcohol awareness class, placement tests, etc., etc. And it’s all addressed to her, not to you! It was all I could do to keep from ripping open a package from the college regarding housing stuff, addressed to my daughter — I was so used to dealing with all the school stuff! Even with one in college already, old habits die hard!

Back to the topic: I wish little ones had more of a chance to play and rest at school than they do, now. Recess in the morning and afternoon, nap time after lunch . . . I remember kindergarten and first grade starting at 8 am, ending at 2:45 pm. And we weren’t taking standardized tests every time I turned around. Sadly, I don’t think schools have that luxury anymore. A longer day may actually give them time to build in things like recess and naps, which might help with the coping.


July 9th, 2009
3:14 pm

Here in Cobb can you imagine if the days were lengthened by an hour, middle school wouldn’t get out until 5:15! Plus can you imagine all the parents that will cry “what will I do for daycare” if school is 4 days instead of 5? IMO that’s not the school’s problem.

School does need to start after Labor day & end around the 2nd week of June due to the unbearable heat in late July/early August, but stick with the hours & days that are already in place.


July 9th, 2009
4:23 pm

When we were in Chatham County, our school year started after Labor Day and it was fine. Maybe it was because of the climate there, but all of the schools system wide had early schedules and ended early. The latest time for ending a school day was 3:00pm. The trade off was of course, their school days started earlier. I don’t have a problem with the altering of the hours. I also don’t mind a longer calendar year with more frequent breaks. Your vacation schedule should NEVER factor into the equation.

The gas prices should factor into the school system decision. When gasoline was unavailable due to the hurricane and prices were astronomical, the prices for the schools went up as well. The schools need so many things academically, if it would help but money back into their budget to alter the hours, I would certainly be willing to hear the proposal.


July 9th, 2009
4:54 pm

DB, I was thinking the same thing about JJ and am also thinking that her daughter is going to a state college ( which is technically still public) …am I wrong?

My youngest is 17 and I do not think the changes will go into effect next month. I do understand the reasoning but would hate those long days.

Theresa, what about the kids who are dropped off at day care at 7:00 ( before yours are awake) since their parents have to be at work by 8:00? This is why some schools feel starting at 8:00 or 8:15 catches learning time that many children waste watching morning cartoons at a day care. I am so happy mine never had to do this but I know there are lots of kids out there who do!

The fact is that there are probably certain things that will be changing and many parents are not going to like it. There is no way you can please everyone….not going to happen!

Jesse's Girl

July 9th, 2009
5:15 pm

Leave it alone…..make the summers longer by cutting a day off of Christmas, Thanksgiving and have them go on MLK. Just because its a national holiday doesn’t mean the kids HAVE to have it off….I’m sure longer summers would be more appreciated:) More time to be kids is what most are missing…


July 9th, 2009
6:08 pm

MJG – not sure where JJ’s gal is off to, but I did giggle a bit at your observation that it’s probably still a “public school” . . . and at least she won’t have to sell Sally Foster and buy cookie dough!! So, I guess my daughter is transitioning from “private” to “public” . . . hehe, never thought of it that way! All I could think of is that college will be cheaper than high school, especially if she hangs on to the HOPE!


July 9th, 2009
6:11 pm

MJG has a good point re: the day care dilemma. Day cares open at 6 AM and are often open until early evening. There are LOTS of kids dropped off at day care, ferried to and from school in the day-care bus, and then picked up at dinner time. And the after-school programs at school are almost always crowded.

It may not be optimal, but it’s the best many families can do.


July 9th, 2009
7:23 pm

Our school has lengthened the school day by 20 minutes for everyone by starting 20 minutes earlier. Of course, after 3 years many of the driveby parents have not learned yet, and continue to drop their children off after the doors are locked and class has been in session (reading class for most) for 20 minutes. Our school has also started another class 30 minutes even earlier several days a week for kids who are behind in math (by invitation) and another class for 30 minutes after school for those who are ahead in math (by invitation). Then, in the run-up to CRCT, we have afterschool tutoring for those we fear will fail the CRCT.

I tell ya, folks, we will soon be keeping them on cots in the gym so we can use evenings and early mornings to “improve” their scores.

We have kids on the bus at 6:30 and off the bus after 5. Too long a day for any kids! They get over 6 hours of intense instruction each day (plus 20 minutes recess and 20 for lunch.) I mean in your face instruction. Kids literally are trotted from one class to another. This is school? No, this is an endurance contest already.


July 9th, 2009
9:31 pm

catlady I hear you and I think the schools are WRONG for it. Especially Elementary level. They need to have 2 recesses a day (morning and afternoon) and less time trying to jamb every little CRCT fact in their heads. Kids today do not know how to think! They only know how to regurgitate information.


July 9th, 2009
9:58 pm

I think the State Board made the right decision. I don’t think longer days are a great idea, but I’ve heard some rural systems in South Georgia are really low on funds and are desperate to cut transportation costs (which are particularly high in large counties with a spread out population). Also, a longer day can be used other ways by systems not so hard up for funds if they choose. I know of a school system in Virginia where they’ve lengthened the day a little to make every Monday a half-day for parent conferences and teacher planning, not to save money. Other places have lengthened enough to skip Monday or Friday only every other week, saving two days per month of transportation, instead of a 4-day week every week. It also saves money on sick days/subs as teachers now voluntarily schedule doctor’s appointments for those off days where before they didn’t have time free during office hours before. These plans may not work well for all communities (and by all means, petition your local boards and let your voice be heard!), but I think the State is right to let the local systems and their constituents make the call.

Scooby Snacks

July 9th, 2009
10:18 pm

Lengthening the day by an hour gets you down to 160 – so how about a compromise of adding a half hour and getting it down to 170? It really doesn’t matter all that much – kids are very resilent and they will get used to it. Last school session my Pre-Ker was at school by 7:15 and got out at 2:15. It will be more of the same this year for Kindergarten. I do feel for those kids that ride the bus for any length of time. Fortunately for us, our school is 2 blocks away and we walk or ride our bikes.


July 10th, 2009
1:26 am

Wow, my county neighbors Murray County. I didn’t realize they were considering this. Murray is so small town, rural….. You never hear about news coming from Murray. Funny thing, I once saw a bumper sticker that read, “Proud to be an AMurrayCan” ( the car was from Murray County). I thought I was going to run off the road laughing my @$$ off when I read that.


July 10th, 2009
1:30 am

Ok, back to the topic at hand…. I am glad to know that local school districts have more flexibility with the schedules. If they have recess, and gym EVERY day, I don’t have a problem with extending the school day a little bit. Probably an hour is a little much. I agree with another poster who said if they shaved off a couple of days off Christmas break, take away fall break, etc. the schools could achieve the same result without extending the day too much.


July 10th, 2009
7:12 am

Jesse’s Girl…do you actually think GA will vote to give up the holiday and go to school on MLK? Please restart your thinking cap….LOL.

Also, Christmas is officially WINTER BREAK. Perhaps we will eventually give up December 25th as well. Some schools do attend on Good Friday, so don’t think it cannot happen. Times are a changing…..

HB your points are intriguing but the parents who think the school owes them childcare will pitch a FIT if they have to find it with this on and off schedule!


July 10th, 2009
8:17 am

MJG — Daycares are there to make money….they will charge parents extra to keep Susie and Billie for the whole day, like they do when there are school holidays or half days.


July 10th, 2009
8:18 am

I love the fact that school systems and BOEs and many parents who don’t want to deal with extra childcare always want more days, longer days, etc. However, most people I know my age and older got a really good education with long summers, plenty of holiday breaks and an 8:30 -2:50 schedule. It comes down to parental involvement and being involved in your child’s life and education.

Having said that, I get the idea behind cutting fuel costs in rural school systems. I wonder if they explored any other way to deal with that? Probably. I think if they’re going to incorporate a longer school day, then the extra time should be for study halls and extra curricular activities -not longer or more classes they’re going to tune out of after 2:30 or 3:00 in the afternoon.

As for holidays and vacations -YES VACATIONS SHOULD FACTOR INTO SCHEDULES!!!!! I learned an amazing amount on my childhood vacations, and they are incredibly important times for families to bond and be together and for kids to get a break. And MLK day is here to stay as a holiday. Growing up in a private school and teaching in a public metro-area one for years -we NEVER had Good Friday off unless it happened to fall during spring break. That seems to be more of a northern thing.

first time poster

July 10th, 2009
8:20 am

Why not attend school on “Good Friday” or even Christmas, not everyone celebrates these holidays? Winter break is way too long, 2.5 weeks in my county. Many kids have a hard time getting back into the school groove after being off for that length of time. Make it a week, problem solved.


July 10th, 2009
8:31 am

FCM….please give me a little credit…I KNOW that daycares are there to make money, as is any

I am saying that there are some parents who think it is the school’s obligation to keep their kids for them while they work and not upset the apple cart. Did we not have this discussion a while back when bloggers were complaining about teacher work days.

This is where I am coming from, HB shared this: I know of a school system in Virginia where they’ve lengthened the day a little to make every Monday a half-day for parent conferences and teacher planning, not to save money.

Parents will pitch a fit if they have to figure out what to do with Johnny on Monday afternoon…..


July 10th, 2009
8:36 am

I agree with Theresa – school days should not be longer. What everyone should consider is making the school year longer for continuing education.

Question for Teachers

July 10th, 2009
8:36 am

I don’t want to hijack, but I’m really curious what some of the teacher posters would say to this:

I had a boss during college with two teenaged daughters – 13 and 17 in the 7th and 11th grades. They didn’t do homework before high school. At the beginning of each school year, the mom would go to the teachers, explain her stance (”They are both smart kids, they get straight A’s. If they needed this extra practice, they wouldn’t do so well without it. I’m more than happy to accept extra assignments in any area they are struggling with, but as long as they’re earning all A’s, they won’t be doing homework. You get them for 8 hours a day, they’re mine when they get home.”) I thought it was genius, personally! Because I was the type of kid who sat bored in class all day, got A’s in everything and rushed through pointless assignments at home from teachers who felt they HAD to assign homework. But I always wondered how she got the teachers to go along with this!

My question, teachers, is what would you do with a parent like this?

And, parents, would ever do this?


July 10th, 2009
8:41 am

Since I mostly taught Kinder, I will defer on this question and leave it to those who can give a qualified answer.


July 10th, 2009
8:54 am

I look forward to the answers to the “Question for Teachers” post!

I despise most homework. Like the example I have two straight A students and almost all of their homework is nothing more than busy work. Drives me insane. Especially the CRCT crap.

It's been on my mind...

July 10th, 2009
8:56 am

I’m not so sure lengthening the school days is such a good idea. It might work a little better for the teenagers, but for those who are in elementary and starting junior high, that’s a pretty long day!

I would definitely rather see a longer school year. I would actually be in favor of school year round with shorter days and more frequent breaks! I think this would allow the kids to have more time to learn instead of having it taught in such a short time! This would also help them be a little more prepared for the “real” world of work!


July 10th, 2009
9:04 am

Honestly MJG – yea college is public, but I was saying we are out elementary, middle & high school. I think it’s a little bit different.

DB – we really haven’t been hit with all that stuff you mentioned from the college. We have been to orientation, paid all the fees, and are ready to go. The only thing we have left is for her to buy her books, and that happens after she moves in, before classes start…..she moves in on a Sunday, and classes do not begin until the following Tuesday, so she has Monday to get her books, find her classes, etc. It’s a very small campus, so I believe she will find her way very quickly. My daughter is very adaptable, and is good about finding her way around on her own. Of course, I’ll be with her all day Sunday and we plan to scope things out. We basically know the campus, as we have been there several times.


July 10th, 2009
9:19 am

Good morning. I wanted to talk about the “daycare” issue. Times have changed since we went to school, and while there used to be a lot of latchkey kids, mitigating the need for formal daycare for kids as young as first grade (and sometimes younger), it’s just not safe to do this any more in most places. The fact is, in many families both parents work, and this is a real issue to think about. It’s not that all parents consider school to be daycare, but rather it’s that they know their children are someplace supervised and (hopefully) safe while they are doing something constructive. For parents with little flexibility in their own work schedules, substantially changing the school schedule can be quite problematic.


July 10th, 2009
9:21 am

Homework, in my opinion, is for work that was not completed during the school day. When I was in school, we NEVER had this much homework. Maybe 30 minutes a night, and that was usually reading, preparing for the next day.

But to send kids home with 2-3 hours every night, in my opinion, is silly. And it definately cuts into family time.

I’ve never done what that lady did, but I sure wanted to. My daughter was overwhelmed with homework, mostly in middle school. It lightened up a bit in high school.


July 10th, 2009
9:39 am

One thing that none of you have mentioned is that there are studies which indicate that children of all ages absorb and retain more information and disrupt classes less when they have recess or pe each day.
My older son, who just graduated, took 4 AP classes and 2 electives each semester this last year [modified block :(]. He got up at 7:30, left at 8. School started at 8:30 and ended at 3:30. He played Varsity soccer from the beginning of February to the end of April so on practice days he was done by 6. On game days, he wouldn’t be done until 9:30 or 10. He worked very hard all year long.
With the type of schedule I described above, I can’t fathom a longer school day! Our system lets the kids out for holidays at least one day per month. We have a Fall break and 3 weeks for Christmas. We start school in early August and end right before Memorial Day. We have early release once a month.
Making each individual day longer might help the school/county budget but I do not believe it is in the best interest of the students.

Jesse's Girl

July 10th, 2009
9:40 am

Ah…to restart thinking-caps…isn’t that what all BOE’s need to do MJG? That was my point after all. I personally think that the holidays that see families travel for family gatherings…ie, Christmas/Hannukah/Thanksgiving….all the usual suspects…should be the ones the school’s calendar year focuses on. We do not need to take off for MLK or any day honoring a President. They spend 2 weeks prior to both holidays studying these folks anyway:)

Per the homework issue…..our oldest will be in 7th grade this year, starting a new school. Her previous school was very homework-happy. My girl is in all AP classes and makes straight A’s….although she did pull her 1st report card B this past year:( She was devestated, we were overjoyed for her to just be done with the mad-cow teacher she had!:) But I had numerous, passionate discussions with her councelor about the stress she was under at home to get 2-3 hours of homework done. Its pointless….DEFINITIONS!!!! Writing words 20 times each….I’m sorry, are we in 3rd grade detention? It was ridiculous and insulting to the abilities of all the children in the “gifted” classes. Our daughter has asked to be taken out of these classes at her new school. And I gotta say…we are seriouly considering it. She..like us…recognizes the fact that she doesn’t have to be in gifted classes to be smart and get stellar grades. I wish teachers and adminstrators would wake up and see the stress they are causing their brightest to suffer.


July 10th, 2009
9:56 am

JJ…here is a tip about books, you can save LOT of money by ordering them via internet or even at the Books for Less near the MOG. My neighbor even told me that her daughter ( at GA Tech) saved about $75 on one book.

College is different but IMHO public colleges that are larger tend to allow students ( my son included) to get lost in the crowd. Kids who have not demonstrated sound decision making ( in high school) live with parents that handle everything for them tend to get into trouble quickly. Every child will make mistakes ( as we did) but some kids make doozies and I have ( so far) been lucky with mine.

I saw this with my son’s peers and will probably see it with my daughter’s peers too. I walk on eggshells hoping and praying that the values and responsibilities we instilled in our kids will remain in proper focus.

My daughter had a TON of homework ( this past year) during her junior year, as she was in higher level classes. I do not remember her brother ( also with higher level classes) having this kind of homework ( or perhaps he never did it) but he woke up when he went to UGA. It took him a while to realize that he had to get more involved in his classes both inside and out.

So, I am wondering if children have little or no homework in HS, will that be helpful for college? You may be an A student in HS but college is a whole new ball game.

I have been told by my own son and friends who attended our Gwinnett County High School that some state colleges ( NOT UGA nor Tech) are actually easier then what they had to deal with in HS. What is up with that?


July 10th, 2009
10:00 am

Doesn’t really bother me. If they change my kid’s schedule, I will work it out. I just appreciate the fact that the state provides an education for my child. He is enrolled at a very good school that the State of Georgia and my county provides through tax payer dollars. I am grateful for this and if they need to amend their schedule, I will not complain. I do not feel entitled to anything from them and appreciate what they do.


July 10th, 2009
10:02 am

Questions for Teachers, if a child is ice skating through school then they should be placed in classes that are more challenging. Many schools are placing students in math or language classes for the next grade level for that reason. My son experienced this in elementary school and this was the solution persented to me. It worked. And he was less of a discipline problem. Plus, he got one full day of gifted instruction. What will the parent do when the child is in college and the professor gives homework?

Although I teach public school I am absolutely sick of it as a parent. As my son moves on to middle school I’m giving them one year. If I hate it, he’ll be in private school. I can remember when he was in kindergarten and they refused to give naps. He would be asleep when I picked him up. And then they had the audacity to give homework that took almost an hour to complete. I complained not only for my son, but for the other students as well. The teacher actually listened and less homework started being given. Homework should have a purpose. An hour of homework in kindergarten serves no purpose.

Longer days are an awful idea and if my child’s school decided to do it, he would be pulled out immediately. I really have just about had enough.


July 10th, 2009
10:08 am

I wholeheartedly agree with the people who have mentioned recess being so important. Right now, both elementary charter schools near us (one of which my kids will attend) have recess. While I’m not a big advocate of home-schooling, I would almost home school before I would send my little kids to a school with no recess! Why anyone thinks 6 -10 year olds can sit in desks for hours at a time with no physical activity is beyond me. Add two recesses from 1st through 4th and 1 for 5th and 6th and watch the need for ADHD meds plummet. NO, I don’t think ADHD is made up, but I do think many kids (especially the boys who are singled out so often for being ADHD) just need to go run around for 30 minutes. I think the kids who truly have ADHD would receive more proper attention from teachers then as well instead of what many get -another eye roll of “here’s another one”. If schools want to lengthen school days for budget/fuel reasons, then perhaps they should add an hour of physical activity to the curriculum. It certainly wouldn’t hurt any of our kids not matter what their age to get some exercise.

I went to a state community college near my home in the summers and one fall semester I “took off” between transferring schools, and it was MUCH easier than my high school courses! However, my “real” college courses at UGA and Agnes Scott were not.


July 10th, 2009
10:31 am

Sorry, JJ, but I had to laugh when I read about you taking your daughter to school and having all day Sunday with her – we did the same thing with both sons when they went to college.

But when I went to college many years ago, my parents, who were (and still are) the most protective and overbearing “helicopter” parents that may have even lived (yes, even moreso than MJGoose) they helped me load my car and said we’ll see you when we see you, and watched me drive out of the driveway to a college 4 hours away that they had visited once with me!

And then, when I finished graduate school and got my first job they again helped me load the U-Haul and waved again as I made the 13 hour drive to a place and job of which I had no idea of what I was getting into!

Ah, if only I could do that with my kids!!!


July 10th, 2009
10:42 am

JATL – I totally agree with you 100% about recess. You just cannot have a child sitting perfectly for 6 hours without some form of release. PE and recess are breaks the kids need to move around.

THEN they want to put the kids on ritalin becuase they can’t sit still…..?????

Lakerat – my parents put me on a plane to go to college, to a town I had only been to ONCE when we went to look at the college.

We were living in Colorado at the time I was accepted to college out there, but right after I graduated high school, we moved down here. I was forced to come down here with the family, even though it was only for 6 weeks.


July 10th, 2009
10:51 am

lakerat, it tickles me for you to think that I am a protective parent. Those who know me would be amazed at such a comment, for dozens of reasons.

My daughter went to camp last week, while I was at the beach with my sister. She packed all by herself ( for the week) while I was gone. Do helicopter moms do this?

When my son left for to UGA, I was not even in the state. He got his stuff together and moved into the dorm as my husband dropped him off. His roommate’s mother unpacked her son and set his side of the room up for him, as other moms will be doing in a few weeks( is that overbearing?). My son just rolled his eyes.

When I was 18, my parents dropped me off at the airport to fly to college with an airline ticket I paid for myself and I also paid for every college expense myself ( worked at Wal Mart). I got $1000 When I graduated and my Dad acted like he was doing something huge. I am as independent as they come and my kids are too. My friends and neighbors remind me of this all the time.
Sorry if that is not the you or others see it.


July 10th, 2009
11:01 am

I asked the question about homework, and I wanted to clarify that her kids DID do homework in high school and also had to do projects, papers, etc. in elementary and middle school. Just not what she deemed to be “busy work”. Basically she felt if they could ace a test on a subject, they obviously didn’t need more practice. I agree with the above poster that they probably needed to be placed in more challenging classes, maybe skip a grade ahead.

The major differences between college assignments and grade school homework as I see them are first college assignments are nearly always necessary. There’s very little busy work. Second, and more importantly, you don’t waste ALL STINKIN’ DAY in college. You go to class, get what you need and leave. I played college soccer and participated in several clubs, etc. during college along with a part-time job and my courses were a lot harder than high school. I still, however, had more time for homework because I did not waste so much time in school. In grade school, kids are in school for 8 hours and then spend 2 doing homework at night. There’s no downtime between classes to get work done.

What I still don’t understand is how this mom got teachers to go along with her no homework mandate. Most schools wouldn’t go along with this, right?


July 10th, 2009
11:05 am

I second motherjanegoose’s comment to JJ about ordering textbooks over the internet. For my first year and a half of college, I spent an outrageous amount in the school bookstore at the beginning of each semester. I spent far less buying (usually used, but sometimes new) books from half.com. Just be sure before you order that the books you are buying are the correct edition.


July 10th, 2009
11:10 am

Question for Teachers:
I teach middle school and believe that by that age students need to begin to demonstrate the ability to work independently and begin to manage time and responsibilities effectively. I agree that young children should not have homework. As a teacher and a parent, I think homework should begin around 3rd or 4th grade and should be limited at that time.

I do not give a lot of homework, but I think homework is important for many reasons. I try to make homework important and meaningful. I too get frustrated when my kids come home with “busy work”. However, sometimes the purpose of work is not clear to the parent – especially if the child does not communicate well at home. A conversation with the teacher may reveal aspects of the assignment that the parent has not seen.

If a parent approached me with this request, I would have to discourage him or her at the middle school level. I think it is important for students to establish good work habits, commitment, and time management at this age. A student who has no homework until until high school may suddenly be overwhelmed and not know how to manage the new, much heavier responsibilies. Of course, there is a very small handful of truly gifted students who are going to breeze through regardless. It is up to the teachers AND the parents to work to motivate and challenge those students with a course of study that is appropriate.

As a teacher I get frustrated with the excuse that homework is interferring with practice/lessons/etc. I believe after school activities are important, but parents and students need to learn balance. Most children can not participate in 3 or 4 hours of daily aftershool activities and still perform well in school. As a parent I know this is hard because my own kids have a lot of interests outside school, but sometimes I have to say no. If a student is doing poorly and has 3 hours of gym or karate or baseball or whatever 4 nights a week, the answer is not less homework.

OK, sorry about the sidetrack on the soapbox.


July 10th, 2009
11:11 am

Sorry, MJGoose, obviously I just can’t get past that time you wrote about assisting in your son’s college insect collection homework for him….also, I didn’t say you were not independent, just “hovering” over you kids, just as I have done to mine!

And, you and your son were right, the other parent who set up the roommate was overbearing, same as me when we did that with our 2 sons when they went to college – and my sons have lived in their respective college towns over every summer ever since!


July 10th, 2009
11:21 am

I think two or three hours of homework each night would be fine for high school students — IF they only attended classes for half a day. This would be more like college, where students spend less time sitting in classrooms and more time studying and doing schoolwork on their own time. That would leave more time for kids to pursue other interests like sports, music, vocational training or working at actual jobs — you know, spend time becoming well-rounded and productive young adults.

Kids attend school for six or more hours a day, 180 days a year, for thirteen long years. That’s over 14,000 hours BEFORE you add homework and travel time to/from school. At the end of all that schooling, graduates are qualified to a) work at low-paying unskilled jobs, or b) get MORE education or training. It’s no wonder most kids resent homework, or that so many drop out of school. We lecture them about the value of education, but the education we offer them is often just a big fat waste of time and they know it. We can do better, and our kids deserve better.


July 10th, 2009
11:37 am

Can we please get rid of the ridiculous 11-week summer? I have yet to hear a single good argument for keeping this antiquated schedule in place. I’m against longer days, especially for younger elementary students, but am for a longer school year (year-around even!!) with shorter but more frequent breaks for kids to recharge without losing an entire year’s worth of learning during a 3-month gap.


July 10th, 2009
11:51 am

OK lakerat, if you are stuck on the insect project then so be it….LOL! My son has been on his own for 4 years ( pays for everything now) but MAY end up moving back home for a few months…in our finished basement. He is NOT happy….hahaha. I might like to see him once in a while but know the food will disappear.

I am just back from picking up my child from driver’s ed. We can all brag on our children and rightfully do but when a stranger ( driver’s ed instructor) tells me, “your daughter is very responsible…” then, I feel like maybe I did something right!

Back to topic…I have always wondered if HS could implement this homework routine:
Monday 1 and 2 period
Tuesday 3 and 4 period
Thursday 5 and 6 period
Friday NONE
This way, kids will not have 4 hours of homework on one night.

Maybe I am missing something, as I have never taught high school…never want to and I am not smart enough any way!

I sometimes gave homework in Kinder: cut out pictures of 3 things that are red. One time, a kid came in with pictures that were smaller than a dime ( in an envelope) ….I laughed and knew that his parents had probably never sat through group circle time where we shared our pictures, as no one could see his pictures.


July 10th, 2009
11:59 am

As a mother of a second & an eighth grader, I just can’t wrap my head around the schedule my family would have if they added an hour of school. I work full time and get home by 5pm. This year my eighth grader’s bus was home between 5:15 and 5:30pm. It picked him up at 7:30am when I was leaving for work! Add another hour in the afternoon and that gets him home at 6:15-6:30! Now add karate two nights a week. (Karate has been the best thing for both my kids. They are more respectful, improved their grades, and lost a little weight! It makes me want to take classes! LOL!)Also, add church on Wednesday nights. And don’t forget about the homework and projects! All of these things are important and there needs to be a balance between them but I find it difficult enough already! It just seems to me that adding another hour to an already busy day is going to add additional stress on families.


July 10th, 2009
12:08 pm

I like the idea of 4 days on 3 days off or half days on Fridays. That’s the work schedule that I would prefer as well. I wouldn’t complain one bit if our school system took advantage of the new law.


July 10th, 2009
12:11 pm

On the recess thing, I agree. Middle school is going to be a big adjustment for my daughter coming from a charter school where she had recess EVERY day after lunch.


July 10th, 2009
1:10 pm

Longer school days are not necessary. If the school days are lengthening, then you all as parents should fight so that it includes PE, Gym, and/or naptime. Grade school was too long when I was attending. My teachers was constantly sending notes home or calling my mother because I fell asleep in class (Usually the last two classes of the day, we had 6). I made an agreement with my mother, if I brought home anything less than an “A” in those classes, she could place me on punishment until I earned an “A,” but if I had an A out of the class she had to leave me alone. That was one of the most peaceful years because all my mother could say to the teacher was that she was aware of the situation, and that it was not affecting my grades. My mother understood my situation because she realized that the seven hours spent in school was tiresome. This did not include after-school activities, family time, homework, and personal time to recoup from the day.

As a side note:
For those parents that have college bound children for the fall, one of the best places to buy textbooks is on-line at half.com, amazon.com, http://www.ecampus.com, textbooks.com, and Barnes and Noble (especially if you pay for membership). Barnes and Noble is good if it a new edition (less than 1 yr.) because you get a discount for ordering online, plus if you have membership ($25), you get an additional 10% or more for the book. If your child cannot find the specified edition for class, have them to ask the professor if a previous edition is okay to have especially if the older edition was just used last semester. In most cases, for the new textbook editions, the chapters were rearranged to better present the information and previous mistakes (problem solutions, grammar, etc) were corrected.


July 10th, 2009
1:18 pm

April – thanks for the great answer!

Did anyone else grow up in Florida like my husband? He always had a half day on Wednesdays and is under the impressions that’s how all schools in Florida do it.

I definitely agree school days would be much too long if an hour was added especially when you figure in bus time, but there’s so much required of schools now. They’re supposed to provide exercise through phys ed. and recess, music education, art, etc. I’m not saying I don’t think this is very important for children’s development. It does take a lot of time away from core classes and makes the school days already too long, in my opinion. I wish there was a way to let schools handle the important stuff in a 4 hour school day and let parents handle enrichment. As a mom who wants to stay home full-time, I can imagine nothing better than sending my kiddos to school after breakfast and having them home for lunch. But I know that’s just wishful thinking and not even close to possible for some parents. I’m grateful for the education we have provided to us free as Americans, and dread sending my future kids to public school at the same time!


July 10th, 2009
1:19 pm

JJ…if there is the opportunity, I would DEFINITELY get my books from on-line. Standing in line with a BUNCH of other kids who need the same books is quite frustrating! Not only do you not have to waste the time looking through all the shelves, you don’t even have to drive there! The books are usually delivered to your door! DEFINITLEY check for the appropriate edition (or see what the changes are from the previous to current!)

I don’t necessarily think homework is a bad idea, but more along the lines of what they didn’t finish in class OR stuff that they are struggling with. If they were to add an extra hour, perhaps it could be used more as a “studying” skills section?! Especially for those in junior high!


July 10th, 2009
1:29 pm

Ordering on line is a great idea for books, but when you don’t know what books you will need until the day before classes, what do you do? I know they sell used books, and I have steered her that way…….

And does it make me an overbearing parent to take my daughter to college, and help her set up her room? She’s the one that wants me there……..

She’s starting to realize she is going to be on her own. She made a comment to one of my friends last night at dinner, than she just realized that when she gets in college, and needs something like a cotton ball, or battery, she can’t go to mom’s bathroom and get it……she has to actually buy it herself…….LOL….


July 10th, 2009
1:34 pm

Another big vote here for internet book purchases! One semester, we saved over $240 by careful shopping. My son’s books generally run between $350 – $600 a semester. We also did this for my daughter’s books at her private school, where we had to purchase her textbooks. Many schools will post the books required on-line with the ISBN numbers, and then you can go to town comparison shopping. My son drew up an spreadsheet and compared prices at five different places, including the school book stores. Occasionally, the school book store would be cheapest. Just watch out for shipping charges — some places will stick it to you and negate all the “savings” you thought you were getting. If you find that you are getting most of the books from one source and the shipping is reasonable, you might want to consider buying a few more books from them that are within range, but not necessarily the cheapest, because the shipping (or free shipping!) evens it out. Also watch out for “new” vs. “used”. Some places aren’t overly clear on whether you are buying a new or used book, and you might find yourself paying almost “new” price for a “used” book. I’ve actually had pretty good luck buying and selling on eBay, too.

If you are buying a package deal with a wrapped CD or workbook included, DO NOT open the package until after the first class. College teachers are notorious about deciding not to use books on the book list, and if they have changed their mind or the book store made a mistake, then you can return your purchase for full price much more easily than if you have ripped open the packaged book/workbook/CD, etc.

Is it hovering when your child WANTS you to stay and help him assemble a shelving unit, the futon or help with the loft beds?

Re: Hovering. Several of us were talking about this the other day: We don’t remember orientation programs for our parents when WE went to college. Are there programs now because parents hover, or do parents hover because the programs encourage them to? Many of us “back in the day” just got dropped off, then went to an “orientation” session, and then school started a couple of days later. Now, there are two-day parent orientation programs where you get talked at to death over things that are basically out of your control — yes, there’s a health service. Yes, there’s an alcohol awareness program. Yes, there’s housing (duh). Yes, the lunch at the cafeteria was very nice (this once!) And the idiot questions from the parents!!!! Geez! At my son’s university, the dean of students was a riot — she started off the session by giving us her cell phone number, her home phone number, her assistant’s cell phone number, etc. We were all aghast — I mean, this was for almost 5,000 freshmen! And then she proceeded to give us a hilarious rundown of the kinds of things NOT to call about, that parents had called about: “Don’t call me and ask me about the guy that has asked your daughter on a date. Don’t ask me to loan your child $50 for the rest of the month. Do NOT call in a panic because your child hasn’t called you back within twenty minutes — especially if you know they have a class during that time.” And so on . . . I was laughing and marveling at the advanced helicopter skills at the same time!


July 10th, 2009
1:38 pm

Good ideas MyOpinion. As a NON helicopter parent, I do not even know a TOOT about those ordering links and the discounts…..hahaha!

My son has mentioned to me that he orders as much as he can on line and I trust him to handle it on his own. I do admit that I was nervous when he ( told me) used his debit card, as I was fearful we would have no recourse, but it seemed to work out o.k.

My neighbor told me that she made a deal with her daughter, whatever money she saved on looking for deals on books would be hers to keep and do with it what she wished. I thought that was very clever.

JJ…I know you probably cringe at many of my comments but today, we may have saved you some money that you can spend on yourself….LOL.


July 10th, 2009
1:41 pm

JJ – I remember my first Christmas in college asking my family for gifts like shampoo and pens. I was so not ready for all those little necessity expenses!!


July 10th, 2009
1:46 pm

WOO HOO, thanks Momma Jane and everyone else for the great ideas…….and I hope to be saving a lot of money with her being away.

Thank goodness for the 529 plan……I would not be sending her to college without the help from that……..

If you have small children, or children at any age, start investing into a 529 plan NOW!!!!! We (my mother and I) started too late, but at least there’s enough to get her through her first year……and if she didn’t use it, the funds would roll over into her cousin’s account. And if that cousin doesn’t go to college, the youngest niece gets it all!!!!


July 10th, 2009
1:54 pm

DB…we also sat through that same speech. I was amazed. Who are these nutty parents?

I am not passing judgement on those of you who are moving their kids into the dorm and putting their clothes in the dresser for them. If it suits you and your child, it is not my business.

I was countering the comment from lakerat who insinuates that I am hovering.

IMHO a hovering parent would not be ( as me) in a different state and trust their child to move into the dorm on his own. Thus, I do not think I should be labeled as a hovering parent.

I am also the parent who sent her daughter to overnight camp at age 7….my sister and husband dropped her off and got her settled. I was in California. She had a blast and has gone to camp every summer since.

DB, I am with you on the last paragraph. I DO think more kids today would fall flat on their butts if someone just dropped then off. MANY parents I know give their kids say $1000 for personal spending to last the first semester. The money is gone before Halloween ( DB’s comment from the dean:Don’t ask me to loan your child $50 for the rest of the month) because MOMMA and DADDY have handled everything in their child’s life and they cannot do the math of $1000 for 18 weeks should not mean that you can spend $100 each week. My son still has room mates that are behind on paying him for the utilities. He put them all in his name, so that he knows there will be water for showers and electricity too!

Rearing responsible children does start before they enter Kindergarten but too many parents pick their battles and let the children win the war. In the end, the parents are the losers…finding out when it is too late.


July 10th, 2009
2:07 pm

JJ…if she has already registered for some of her classes…I would keep looking. I’m sure there’s a book list somewhere! They just aren’t making it obvious!

My husband & I took my youngest brother to college. We packed up the few things he had and carted them up to his room…then he was on his own!

One of the hardest lessons he learned (take note moms) was to STAY with his laundry! He put his laundry in the washer and went to his room (2 floors down) to study. When he came back, EVERYTHING was gone…I’m talking socks and underwear too! WTHeck is wrong with people?! He was attending school with a grant b/c my mom was SO poor!

Thankfully, I worked with some great people and they (along with us) took him shopping for new stuff! Needless to say, he stayed with his clothes from that point on!


July 10th, 2009
2:07 pm

Sorry…that was TOTALLY off the extra hours on the school day topic! :D


July 10th, 2009
2:18 pm

Regarding the 529 plans, just be sure that the kid(s) go to college – otherwise if they choose not to go then you DO NOT get the money back!

JJ – no, delivering your child to college and helping her get settled does not make you overbearing, though I did use that term previously. I am as gulity as anyone for “overprotecting” my kids, though as I think back maybe I was not as protective as I thought – the older one was always big for his age so we had him in a full day baketball camp at age 5 – don’t kow what we were thinking, but he was still the biggest kid there, and everyone else was two years older than him! And he survived.

We have friends who’s kid went to GA Southern, and, as MJGoose pointed out, was one of those who went through his first semester allowance by the end of September (Hilton Head must have been great, at least while it lasted).

And, MJGoose, I was not insinuating anything – you and I are a great deal alike!


July 10th, 2009
3:01 pm

MJG, other than the insect collection I have never had the impression you were anything but common-sense. When I read the characterization of you as a helicopter, I was confused. We all have times we are a little more hypervigilant than usual.

I have also encouraged some independence. Took the first and last ones to college (dropped off and left within an hour, cried all the way home). The son threw his guitars in his Miata and throught he was ready to go! His big sis came running out with pillows and sheets. I figured he would notice after a while.

My children have traveled independently a good bit (England, Scotland, Belgium, Mexico, Alaska, Bahamas). The younger one (I think she was14 at the time) flew to Europe to meet her sis by herself. After she was seated she asked the attendant if she could sit in first class since she was flying by herself and they put her up there and she had a terrific time. She would also, as an 8 year old, get on the city bus in front of her school and ride it up to the University where I was a grad student, get off and walk to my building.

The younger daughter used some online bookstore for her jr, sr, and grad school books and saved a lot. It really helped for her extreme math and physics books for her major. I don’t know how she found out about it. She only got burned once, with someone very slow to ship the book, but she worked out something until it came.

Cultivate this phrase, “So how do you plan to handle that?” and use it liberally.


July 10th, 2009
3:18 pm

Catlady – that last question you suggested is golden!!!

Obviously, catlady/ZAAA...

July 10th, 2009
3:20 pm

…that city bus was NOT in Atlanta!!!


July 10th, 2009
3:54 pm

HOORAH…I am going to proudly wear the common sense crown ( bestowed by catlady… what is up with the ZAAA…is this a new catlady or the one I know and love….LOL) all weekend. It will be invisible to everyone else but I will know I am wearing it. Lakerat, I also take it as a HUGE compliment to know that you actually admit that we are a bit alike. ALERT, there are those on this blog who wish I would drop off the earth.

Re: the insect project, I have looked for and sent post cards for other’s children ( Social Studies projects) from all over the country. I took Flat Stanley with me ( for my nephew) and so I thought that some of my friends and relatives who know my son would be happy to look for a bug or two…and they were. He had the neatest insects that some of my clients were kind enough to capture and share. They got a kick out of it too!

I will solemnly swear that I NEVER did any part of any paper for either of my children and unlike some other parents, I have not proofed and corrected their papers either. This is becoming more and more common. My daughter has a friend whose Mother studies with her. NOT happening here.

Here is a totally unrelated thought….I have been teased about asking others to help with my son’s insect project. In the spring I was sent lengthy letters from college students that are ” excited about the chance to participate abroad in a mission trip and I am asking you to help make it happen with a financial contribution…” I HAVE NEVER BEEN ABROAD and while I support all sorts of church type venues, this gets to me. Get a job and make it happen yourself…or how about “I have saved $1500 of my own money and now need others to help with the rest…” I got one from my college room mate’s daughter, whom I have never even met…they do not live close. This is WAY more than asking for a katydid, if you happen to see one in your yard!



July 10th, 2009
4:10 pm

Ordering books on line is the best way to go. You can find used books usually even less expensive than the college bookstore.

@JJ – professors will post their syllabus’ way before classes start. Your daughter should start looking within the next two weeks. Her book list should come with that. I would not wait until a few days before school starts. I work at a university and many professors post reading assignments or assignments that they want brought to class on the first day (even in the intro levels classes) for the first day of class. Your daughter doesn’t want to feel behind on your first day.

She should have gotten some of this information during orientation. I am not sure which school your daughter is going to and if they separate the student from parent during some of the sessions. Hopefully, she has already made some connections during orientation that will also help smooth the transition.


July 10th, 2009
5:55 pm

MJG, I became ZAAA earlier in the day when the cat walked on the computer as I was typing on another blog and I did not notice she had erased and given me a new “handle”.


July 10th, 2009
6:00 pm

MJG: Oh, gosh, I am SO with you on the mission trip solicitations! My daughter went on two abroad in the last three years, and I never allowed her to send those letters. I told her, “if you want to go, fine, but you will start out by NOT accepting charity from others in order to go do charity for others!” However, when relatives asked her for suggestions for birthday and holiday gifts, she suggested that she’d like the cash for the trip in lieu of a gift, and several relatives were happy to do THAT.


July 10th, 2009
6:28 pm

Online ordering is great and sometimes cheap, but, in our son’s case, he had three classes where the books involved a special cd and online code to be used so he could not order these online. He has been able to sell most of his books back which is great. Sorry off topic!

On topic – longer hours – NO! I do not give homework other than if they do not finish something in class, they will finish it at home. Parents must sign their agendas everyday and add notes if need be. We have the “balanced calendar” schedule in our county and we love it. 6 weeks on 1 week off. Yes, I would also like to start later(early Aug. stinks with the heat), but, I think the children and teachers do much better with the 1 week off. They come back refreshed and ready to learn again. It can get very crazy at times but they are children. I do agree that P.E. should be everyday, but, with the emphasis on CRCT(UGH!!) teaching this is almost impossible. We do have recess and most classes take them right after lunch to get the kids out and running off steam. Not everybody is happy when there is change. We all have to learn to adapt.


July 10th, 2009
8:48 pm

Our elementary and middle school kids are limited to 30 minutes per day TOTAL. So the teachers have to coordinate with each other to be sure no child/parent is asked to work too much.


July 10th, 2009
10:43 pm

This is off-topic, but on the subject of helicopter parents — is proofing a high schooler’s papers really a bad thing (I think several people have mentioned this on various blogs)? I don’t think parents should write the papers for kids or even ask to proof them (should be only at the student’s request), but I know I sometimes asked my mom to give mine one more quick read for typos after I had proofed it myself, or occasionally asked if she thought a specific passage sounded ok (if it didn’t, she told me so and I reworked it — she did NOT rewrite it for me). And she used to ask me to do the same! In high school, I would occasionally proof work letters, etc for her. In college and grad school, we were encouraged to have peers review/proof our papers, and my colleagues and I proof each other’s reports before making them public. Is it really important that kids do all projects completely on their own? I tend to think it’s better to teach them when it’s appropriate to ask for input/help from others.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

July 11th, 2009
2:02 am

I personally think proofing is fine. I don’t think a parent should rewrite a whole section if something is bad — I think I would say, hey you may want to rethink the second section, it’s not clear or something like that. We had multiple people looking over stories when I worked at the paper. Obviously more eyes are better than just the ones that wrote it. Also when you stare at something for so long you start reading over the mistakes. That’s why we always printed out the pages for the final proof — you totally spot things in print you don’t spot on the computer.

Jesse's Girl

July 11th, 2009
8:02 am

I agree Theresa…..I proofed our daughter’s papers…all 92 of them this past year!:) Nothing wrong with that….


July 11th, 2009
8:37 am

Theresa…obviously, proofing is up to each parent but there are more and more high school and college kids out there whose parents are writing the papers for them Also, just wondering, if you proof your child’s papers in HS, will you continue in college or who will proof them?

I believe someone ( DB maybe?) said a roommate asked her son to proof and it was so bad that he could not even make suggestions without re-writing the paper…where does one draw the line?

Jesse’s Girl….where do you find the time to proof 92 papers? WHEW!


July 11th, 2009
9:08 am

Me again, agreeing that peer proofing is really a great skill. That is a tool to use that can be a life long skill and a learning tool for those who work together.

I just heard last week ( from a teacher whom that lives near me) ” My friend called and her son had to write a poem….LOL…I told him that I would be glad to help her out wink wink as I am good at poetry…that’s why she called as she knows it…”

I do not think it is right for anyone to “do” the homework that a child is assigned. I also feel that helicopter parents would have a hard time proofing and then say ( as Theresa mentioned) “hey you may want to rethink the second section, it’s not clear or something like that. ” but would be more prone to re-working the paper themselves or giving STRONG suggestions to the child.

I want my children to use the resources they have. My goal is to send my kids to college prepared to do many things for themselves or figure out who they need to check in with for assistance, as Mom and Dad will not always be there. This is why my daughter packed her own suitcase and my son made his own car payments for three years, two before college.

Years ago, I was writing a children’s song. I had been singing it in the house for a few days. Low and behold, my daughter submitted part of it for her music class. Her teacher sent the paper home with a glowing review. I laughed and discussed plagarism ( sp?) with my 3rd grader and sent the paper back with a note on top that said…” glad you like the song, it is actually one MOM is working on….LOL…” I knew her personally and we got a kick out of it.

If MOM writes a HS or college paper for precious child, will she have the same attitude?

catlady….am I on the wrong page here?


July 11th, 2009
9:55 am

I agree that kids do not need a longer school day.

If school systems want to save money, especially on gas for bussing, they need to stop bussing kids who live a few blocks from school. I live 2 blocks from a local elementary school, and I know of kids who live just 4 blocks from the school who are bussed there. That’s so wasteful! No wonder so many kids are overweight!

Theresa – I think you could do a topic on kids exercise. They need recess and regular PE classes – why can’t schools get that message?, Kids need to walk to school if they live maybe 6 or less blocks from the school. Parents need to stop driving their kids to school. There have been a few news stories of towns that have encouraged kids walking to school and found great results. Kids also need more free playtime outside, even during the hot summer. Try taking the kids to the park early in the morning – that’s what I do. I’ll stop there before I get started on nutrition.


July 11th, 2009
10:37 am

MJG: Yes, it was my son who was asked by a friend at college to look over a paper that was so bad that my son had to hand it back to him and suggest that he take it by the university’s tutoring/help center for review, instead. He told me that the grammar was terrible, and even if the grammar was cleaned up, it would have still been a bad paper because it was so disjointed. The friend was offended, *shrug*, but hey, at some point, that kind of incompetence is going to catch up with you.

I’ve proofed many a paper, including my husband’s reports and briefs, but only on request. And he’s proofed my stuff for years — he’s got a great eye for errors. My kids learned long ago that spell-check is not infallible! Pointing out areas that are confusing or unclear is, to me, ok. Re-writing it yourself is crossing the line, but I suspect we’ve all been guilty of that to one tiny degree or another — it’s hard not to, if you are pointing out errors in grammar, and trying to understand what the paper is trying to communicate.

Have you all seen the original poem, “Candidate for a Pullet Surprise”? It appeared in the Journal of Irreproducible Results back in 1992, and has been stolen a zillion times, sometimes as “Ode To My Spellchecker”. It’s hilarious — here’s a link, one of the view that have the proper attributions: http://www.bios.niu.edu/zar/poem.pdf


July 11th, 2009
10:37 am

I probably proofed 3-4 papers among the three kids during middle and high school, at their request. I think I also proofed a college ap essay. I would hand the paper back and say, “You might want to look at this again” with a problem sentence underlined–not the specific mistake. My kids rarely asked me for help of any kind, such as checking over work, and I didn’t offer. They knew where to find me!

When I was working on my PhD my older daughter proofed for me! Not for spelling and word usage, but to make sure my thesis sentences were well supported and that I had tied things together so that someone with less knowledge in the field would understand where I was going.


July 11th, 2009
10:56 am

As a former secondary English teacher, I have no problem with high schoolers having their papers proofed by a parent. As long as the parent isn’t auto-correcting and writing the material for their child, it’s good practice to have your work proofed!


July 11th, 2009
11:14 am

JATL ( thanks for your comment), as a HS teacher, were you able to TELL when parents actually did write the papers? I have never been in this position and since the music teacher thought my child was VERY creative, when do the red flags go up? Just wondering as we know someone who has written papers for their college child …..

I guess I am thinking of parents who hover over every homework assignment and check every paper, without their children asking them but because they want to see what they turn in.
I always think of the children who live with one parent ( who works very long hours), older grandparents or perhaps parents with limited English and how this is so unfair to them if they are completely going it alone while other kids have parents who are basically doing their work….just like school projects.

I am in hopes that astute teachers will recognize that the performance in class and on tests should match up with what is submitted on written papers at home.


July 11th, 2009
12:48 pm

I don’t think the school day should be lengthened, but actually think the school year could stand a few more weeks of education. The summer break is a bit too long. Take the days from there. I know, that counteracts the money-saving plans. I don’t have a fix for that. I’m simply expressing my opinion today. And, even when I was a sahm, I disliked a mid-winter break in Feb. However, as one who traveled over the winter break at Christmas, we thoroughly enjoyed the two weeks, sometimes two weeks plus, off.

Regarding the proof reading of hs papers: I did it for my son…when he asked. All I did was underline or circle and tell him to re-read and consider re-phrasing — and to use a thesaurus and enable spell check. When he asked me to proof his essays for his college applications, I suggested he ask a teacher or counselor. He told me I was far “pickier”. I did laugh.

Jesse’s Girl…your daughter is entering 7th grade and is enrolled in AP classes? College courses? Regarding TAG, I suggest that you keep your daughter in those classes in middle school, unless she is struggling. And, if the school is wasting money on offering AP classes to middle schoolers, I’m sure they can save money by eliminating that option. I have no idea as to where you live. But, in our district, middle school TAG classes were smaller and the kids who were in them, were there to excel. My son grew tremendously in 7th & 8th grade. I did disagree with the class size, though. Kids who were engaged and wanted to do well in school, would do so if they sat in a class of 16 or 30. TAG in the elementary school was a joke…and most of the kids did not continue on into TAG in the middle school. Another waste of money, imo.


July 11th, 2009
3:25 pm

Re: textbooks at half.com. When I was in grad school, there were students who ordered the books from this site and were unpleasantly surprised that some of the chapters were missing of the the type was smeared and illegible. if you do decide to use this site, make sure to understand the return policy and check the entire book upon receipt.


July 11th, 2009
11:03 pm

fk, I’m with you! Summer vacation is too long! Year-round school or “balanced calendars” don’t solve the financial issues that districts face, but it sure would benefit the students.


July 12th, 2009
4:04 pm

Maybe I am not in tune with “today”, but I clearly remember having a long summer break. I had friends over, played in the pasture/woods, traveled around a lot etc. I hate the thought of depriving my children of that special time. JMHO.


July 13th, 2009
10:12 am

MJG -unfortunately the parents of the children I taught were not in any position to really help their kids by writing their papers. I’m sure a few of them could have helped out, but the few who cared enough to even check and see what the kid was doing for homework were also the ones who came to PTA and conferences. While I was delighted with their participation and interest in their child’s education, they didn’t posses the grammatical or writing skills to help. I know that sounds crass and snotty, but it’s the truth. I only had problems with a few of my kids due to plagiarism. I had so many kids who never turned in a writing assignment it was staggering! The ones who did certainly had no help, or if they had help it was more to their detriment!

I did teach in a different type of school my first year. I recall one conference with a parent where the parent basically admitted to writing half of the student’s paper because the student had a learning disability. His disability should not have affected his being able to complete that assignment, so that situation centered more around several of us trying to convince the parent that just because his kid was in Sp. Ed. and had a learning disability, it didn’t mean he couldn’t do school work!

Conservative Values

July 13th, 2009
2:04 pm

So how much homework is going to be given to these kids who fall in the front door already asleep. Not to mention any family time at all. By the time the parents fight to get their sleeping kids fed, bathed and into bed you mine as well be parents without kids.

Think about these kids before you make rules that will take all fun out of childhood will ya.

Middle School Teach

July 14th, 2009
11:28 am

As a teacher I want to say kids this age need some time to be kids. Just because they are 11-12 does not mean they are ready to act like they are in college. School is intense and in my opinion, they need time with their families, time to play and time to be kids. I wish school’s would start earlier and get out earlier. When I was in middle school and high school we started at 7:30 and got out at 2:10. Home by 2:45, had homework and chores done by 4:30 and had the rest of the day to be with my family and be a kid. Kids need this.

I think school should start earlier because many of my students have to wake themselves up, get ready for school and get on the bus by themselves. Many oversleep and just don’t come. If students had to be at school earlier, parents could make sure they were there.


July 16th, 2009
3:24 pm

As a elem. teacher I am ok with the no homework thing -under 1 important condition Parents sit down and talk with their children nightly, read to them and get them engaged in the real world around them. Talk about cooperation, budgets, chores, saving money, listen to them read to you. IF parent did this we would NOT need any homework at all until later grades.


July 21st, 2009
11:15 am

I totally agree. When I was in middle and high school, I remember getting anywhere from 2-4 hours of homework every day. Add this to a longer school day… yeah right. I think they are just trying to train us into being workaholics.

The Sarge

July 23rd, 2009
12:41 am

When American society was primarily agrarian, the kids were needed by Pop in order to help on the farm demands. Inasmuch as we, for the overwhelming majority of US residents, no longer live in such an environment, what’s all the fuss about limiting the hours in a day and the months in a year which are oriented toward educating children? The arguements I see thus far are of the “boo-hoo” variety…interupted vacations, and,in general, a more harried life style. All I can say is “get used to it”! College is not (necessarily) a 180-day-a-year proposition, unless the kid (and parents) don’t mind seeing that 4-year bachelors degree in six (or more) years. To be sure, the work world is a 50-week-a-year (with the rare 2-week vacation) operation. If we are intent on preparing kids for the so-called world economy, then let’s stop whining and get on with it…I believe many other countries already have.


July 26th, 2009
5:38 am

Wow I am so glad I’m going to be done with school in 2 & a half years.

Longer school days would be horrible! Especially for kids :(

Give longer school days to us teens, but please don’t for elementary kids, that’s just cruel. For once think about how the kids feel.

They’re completely drained out after school, all of us are, & you want them to come back home at like what 4:30-5:00 PM

Unless you cut out homework, & give them like a 15 minute naptime or at least make sure all the kids do it at school, I’m not for it one wee bit.