Should kids have homework during the weekend?

My fourth grader’s regular classroom teacher doesn’t believe in homework on the weekend. She says the kids work hard enough during the week and should enjoy their two days off. However, my child’s gifted teacher who instructs her in math and language arts does believe in homework over the weekend.

So last weekend my child did three pages of math, wrote the final draft of a paper, finished reading the last of several assigned chapters in a book and answered a page of questions about what she had read and then read several chapters from another book that they will eventually use for a project. She spent about four hours on Saturday and about an hour and a half on Sunday doing work.

It felt like a lot of homework for a 9-year-old, especially for a weekend. You can’t exactly take a weekend trip with that kind of work hanging over your head.

I will say that this week’s homework has seemed lighter. I’m not sure if it’s because we did so much over the weekend and are actually ahead of schedule or if she realized it was a lot so backed off some.

Am I crazy or was that a lot of homework? Should teachers assign homework for the weekend? If so how much is acceptable in which grades?

Ancillary question: Is 9 too young to read “To Kill A Mockingbird?” Rose has been reading Newbery books for literature study at school. One of the books she is working on is “Ginger Pye” by Eleanor Estes. Estes was not an author with whom I was familiar but her brother and sister characters remind me a lot of Jem and Scout from “To Kill A Mockingbird.” I think Rose would enjoy the relationship of Jem and Scout and would handle the racism plotline pretty well. But I am worried about introducing her to the concept of rape, which is what the black man Tom Robinson is accused of in the book. So I’m thinking I should wait even though I think she would enjoy the writing style and like the relationships of the characters. What do you think? What’s a good age for “To Kill a Mockingbird?”

(Check back in at 1 for a second topic.)

43 comments Add your comment

hlb

September 23rd, 2010
4:58 am

That seems like a lot of weekend homework for 4th grade. I can understand having to work on a project or maybe study for an upcoming test on the weekend but not math worksheets and reading responses. My daughter is in 3rd grade and in gifted at another GCPS and the only weekend homework she has had so far has been a project on habitats.

As for “To Kill A Mockingbird,” I would probably hold off on reading that until middle school – maybe 6th or 7th grade – for the reason you mention.

Mary

September 23rd, 2010
5:16 am

Re: “To Kill a Mockingbird” is covered in the eighth grade language arts classes at the middle school where I teach. Speaking as the parent of a relatively mature nine year old myself, I would hold off a bit. Nine seems a bit young to deal with mature themes such as rape.

JoDeeMcD

September 23rd, 2010
6:45 am

I agree with Mary. Hold off a bit on TKAM.

I teach middle school, and we are instructed by our administration NOT to give homework over the weekend. Long-term projects and studying for tests are OK, but not homework. I support this fully. However, I do remember doing homework on Sunday evenings when I was in school, and it didn’t interfere with anything I did over the weekend—-Sunday night was a school night without any of the other distractions like Scout meetings, sports practice, or music lessons. I really don’t see the big deal with kids doing 45 minutes to an hour of homework on Sunday evening. There are still two nights off from homework on Friday and Saturday.

I would also like to point out that gifted students often choose to do work at home that they have not been asked by the teacher to do. My students are gifted, and I sometimes have to ask them NOT to do work at home or read ahead. If I ask for 10, they give me 50! Is the teacher really requiring this, or does your child put this on herself?

1sus

September 23rd, 2010
6:51 am

My 4th grader has so much homework that we are now having her do her entire week’s worth of spelling homework over the weekend just to try to lighten the load during the week. Now thinking of adding her vocabulary too. The volume of homework is a pet peeve of mine right now. Don’t get home until 4 . . . would really like to head into to brush teeth and go to bed by 7:30 to allow decent time for reading together before bed. That only leave 3 1/2 hours to include homework, dinner, shower, etc. I swear the kid’s head is going to pop off if we keep up at this pace. Granted, the homework must be taking her longer to do than the average bear . . . . but she’s working her butt off! Kids need time to blow off steam, get some physical activity and play!

Grumpy

September 23rd, 2010
6:53 am

We homeschool. Never have homework. It’s fantastic.

catlady

September 23rd, 2010
6:59 am

That seems like a lot to me, too, Theresa.

Parents who are concerned about homeowrk loads: Go talk to your child’s teacher. See if what you are seeing for homework actually IS homework, or unfinished classwork. See if your child is working much more slowly than others. You need (as does the teacher) some feedback on why this seems to be so much!

No, you are not crazy for asking the question...

September 23rd, 2010
7:07 am

…yet we continue to complain about GA lacking the rest of the nation in school test scores, so there seems to be some sort of disconnect in this topic and the test score concerns. Personally, I see nothing wrong with weekend homework, though 5.5 hours seems like a lot – I do not know your daughter or her abilities at working either slowly and diligently vs diligently and getting the stuff done in a more timely manner. She is in the “gifted” class for math, and this type of teaching by pushing the children is what is expected for this class.

Also, I find it interesting that this is the topic for this blog today, and the current topic on the “Get Schooled” blog is about “When kids complain” – seems apropo that we have the Mom complaining…

And, if the load for

Sandra

September 23rd, 2010
7:21 am

Right now we live in the UK and whenever the younger kids don’t get homework (even over the weekends and holidays) we give them some. Over the summer break we gave them spelling, reading and they finished a math workbook. They do get breaks and have fun. Our youngest son plays soccer (football) on a team and we will be putting our eldest daughter in dance classes. But I do think that we have learned from raising our eldest child (a boy) who is now a teen. When he was younger we never pushed him and now he thinks that because he doesn’t have to study to get good grades that there isn’t a reason for him to try harder. He is in the top sets (his classes are divided up by ability or sets) for maths and science and most of his other subjects (in art he was singled out as the best in his year) and we have to really nag to get him to even open a book much less study . Homework when it is done is always at the last minute or in 10 minute bursts (per day, not per subject). We are always striving to find the correct balance between challenging and stretching their minds and letting them have fun. I do think that 5 ½ hours of work is a little too much for a weekend but I would have no problems with between 2 – 4 hours as we usually start their weekend homework on Friday after school and try to divide it up equally between the days.

BTW, I personally think my 9 year old son is too young for “To Kill A Mockingbird”.

Momof2

September 23rd, 2010
7:47 am

I also homeschool, but we did go to public school for several years. Weekends are family time and they shouldn’t have any homework on weekends. Even if Sunday night is a “school night”, you would have to cut weekend activities short in order to make it a school night. What if you are traveling, what if the kids go to church on Sunday night. If the kids can’t learn something in 6.5 hours a day at school and then doing 2-3 hours of homework 4 nights a week, something is wrong with the school.

motherjanegoose

September 23rd, 2010
8:05 am

I am not a fan of loads of homework and never gave it on the weekends in 2nd grade BUT that was over 20 years ago. Wait until you see the homework they have in HS and college.

Last year, my son studied 15 hours for a Pharmacy test…one test. He lived at home and was up all night. He has moved closer to school now, as he will need to study more each year and did not want to waste time in traffic plus wanted his own indepenence and I understand!

DB…have you seen him lately. Let me know. I have not seen home in four weeks this weekened…LOL…he has been out to the house but I have been in hotels!

Children IMHO do need to work up to homework or they will have NO idea what to do when they are faced with it later.

cc

September 23rd, 2010
8:24 am

My son is in Middle School gifted classes and the homework load is much lighter than in Elementary. He does have math homework everyday but it is only one sheet. They do that so the class does not get behind. We will see how this approach works when progress reports come out.

RJ

September 23rd, 2010
8:25 am

That’s entirely too much homework and I would address it with her teacher. I don’t care if it is a class for gifted students, she’s 9. I don’t have a problem with homework being given over the weekend as long as it doesn’t involve a project that takes hours to complete. If it’s a worksheet or something similar, I’m totatlly okay with it. I hate when teachers give too much homework. I recall my son’s kindergarten teacher giving 75 words to write 3 times for homework in addition to a worksheet. He never did it and I complained about it. She agreed and appreciated it being brought to her attention (she was a 1st year teacher).

To Kill A Mocking Bird is inappropriate at this age and should be held off until 7th or 8th grade.

Camille

September 23rd, 2010
8:30 am

Parents don’t want the kids to have too much (if any) homework during the week, and then don’t want homework on the weekends. That really just amazes me.

My oldest has done both public and private schools, where he is currently in a public middle school. At the private school, it was almost regular where there was a lot of homework during the week and homework on the weekends. When he first started there, I was surprised and did some complaining. But, then we adjusted, and it just became a part of our regular routine. Even doing the weekend homework. No matter where we were or what we were doing, it was always done before Monday. Now, in the public school, there are many days that I have to give him things to do for homework (and this is GCPS). My kindergartener, who is in a charter school, too many times has more homework than my middle schooler. And, yes, I do check the homework website to make sure that my oldest is telling the truth about not having homework. This is definitely not at all what I expected.

mom2alex&max

September 23rd, 2010
8:48 am

My 4th grader actually receives a homework packet on Monday that’s due the following Monday. While it’s not required that anything be done on weekends, it usually works out that some of it would have to done on Sat or Sun simply because there is A LOT of it! And while I try very hard not to overschedule my child, between flag football and scouts, there simply isn’t very much time sometimes on week nights.

It bugs me really because I consider weekends family time, relax time, plus various activities we have to attend. So more often than not, it turns out to be Sun nights. Ugh.

TechMom

September 23rd, 2010
8:50 am

For whatever reason I think my son had the most homework in 3rd, 7th & 8th grade. He’s now in high school and although he might have a little bit in each subject, it’s not overbearing like it was in 7th & 8th. Now that he’s in high school the teachers are structured more so like college where there is less busy work and more emphasis is placed on tests (and therefore studying). My son has definitely struggled with studying in the sense that there isn’t something to just complete. For history class I’ve had to make him just do the questions at the end of the chapter otherwise he just sits there and wastes time.

5 hours is too much on the weekend unless 4 of that was reading. I was a big reader and even if I didn’t have to finish a book for 3 weeks, I would end up reading the entire book as soon as I got it. Not because I felt like the teacher wanted me to but rather because I don’t like to read multiple books at one time and would rather get the required out of the way so I could read what I wanted.

What I don’t like are projects that aren’t broken into pieces. If a project for a student is supposed to take 6 weeks, then require drafts, updates, whatever to be checked weekly so that a student (and parent) aren’t forced to spend 1 entire weekend working on just that project. Most students aren’t good time managers and do very little work until the deadline is looming. By requiring small chunks to be turned in weekly, you’re helping the child learn how to prioritize their work and free time without making it a burden on the entire family.I know someone is going to say that the kid just needs to learn to do that but let’s be realistic here and know that simply doesn’t happen for most kids.

momoftwo

September 23rd, 2010
9:00 am

I have a 6th grader this year and what a rough couple of weeks,He is in 4 out of 5 AC classes.Everyday we(I) check 7 teachers blogs and write down assignments and homework.If something is not finished in class it is then added to the homework pile.It takes about 45 minutes to check/find all work and then HOURS of homework…
I am a high school teacher and do NOT give any homework.I would much rather have students ask me for help than a parent that has not seen the material in 20 years (like me)

Then, momoftwo...

September 23rd, 2010
9:04 am

…as a teacher you are not preparing your students for college or life if you do not give homework to HS students (unless you are a PE teacher)…

TechMom

September 23rd, 2010
9:13 am

I didn’t have a ton of homework assigned in college so actually @momoftwo is more like college teachers than many high school teachers who do assign homework. The final grade for most college courses I took were based on tests and projects only.

JJ

September 23rd, 2010
9:19 am

Absolutely NOT. The weekends are family time. School takes up so much time during the week, with 2 – 3 hours of homework per night.

I still believe homework is work that was not finished during school. These kids are burdened with so much homework durng the week there’s no “family” time anymore. With kids in multiple sports and after school activities, dinner on the run, homework, baths & bed, you are exhausted by 8:00 at night.

I say NO to homework on the weekends. I say NO to homework of more than 30 minutes every night.

Momof2

September 23rd, 2010
9:23 am

No, it just doesn’t take me 55 minutes to teach each subject. With only 2 kids to teach, I get through the material so much more quickly. If they don’t understand something, then we spend more time on it; if they understand it, we can move on. And believe me, they have plenty of assignments that keep them busy. We just don’t have weekend homework! Ok, I have to get back to teaching the kids. Have a good day everybody!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 23rd, 2010
9:49 am

The teacher has a web site that I check every day to make sure Rose wrote down correctly what she is responsible for that day. The final paper was due on Tuesday. So I guess she could have stopped partially through and written more on Monday but I think that would be stressful to do after a long day of school. Everything else was due on Monday.

Any other suggestions on quality books with an interesting brother sis relationship like Scout and Jem??? Michael was suggesting crazy things — he’s off my book recommending list

HB

September 23rd, 2010
9:58 am

Just curious, what’s the real value of the homework people are seeing? How many of you who think kids have too much homework feel some of the assignments lack substance? Are you finding that kids are working on really reinforcing what they’ve learned and building skills, or do you feel much of what they have is busy work? Are elementary students working on good projects or building 6 diaramas each year (I really can see the value of home craft projects — learning to plan, construct, etc — but it seems like one or two a year would be enough of that sort of thing). If you think there should be less, what specifically do you think should be cut? Should some homework be optional? Could half of a night’s math problems be required and half optional, so kids who have the unit down pat can move on and others can get it a little more practice? Is there a more efficient way of helping kids learn than having them do schoolwork more than 8 hours per day (especially the younger ones)?

Kate

September 23rd, 2010
10:00 am

Fortunately for my son, his school seems to have a “no-homework on weekends” policy. Of course, he’s only in the 2nd grade, so obviously, things may change. I will say, over 5 hours of homework on the weekend seems like a lot, but then I’m sure I probably had at least that much many weekends back when I was in school.

As for letting a 9 year old read “To Kill a Mockingbird,” don’t be too quick to dismiss the idea. Although I was never the best student in world, one subject which I always excelled was reading. If your daughter is anything like I was, books that are intended for her age group are probably not going to be challenging enough to keep her interested. I found that a lot of kids who were advanced readers lost their love of reading around this age because teachers and parents insisted that they only read books appropriate for their age group which seemed stupid and boring to them. The only thing that saved me was that my mother allowed me to read adult books when I was still in elementary school. I admit, most 9 year olds are probably not ready for “To Kill a Mockingbird,” but I was not much older the first time I read it (10 or 11) and I really enjoyed it for the same reasons you mentioned. I was too young to fully understand the concept of rape, but that’s only referred to obliquely, the book is not explicit.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 23rd, 2010
10:42 am

HB — I do feel like this teacher’s homework is high quality homework. They are truly learning and growing their brains as they do this homework and she has very high standards for the work. However, I worry it is too much. I think Rose’s writing and understanding of literary terms and how to analyze books will greatly improved. (Not that they are bad but i think she is forcing them to a higher level.) I think she will be very thoughtful and methodical approaching writing assignments because they are doing them that way and doing so many. I am find with the work during the week. I just think they need a break on the weekends.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 23rd, 2010
10:42 am

Be sure to check back at 1 for a second topic for the day.

usually lurking

September 23rd, 2010
11:08 am

@momoftwo – why are -you- checking the teacher’s blogs? I still am amazed (and my sons are in high school) how many of their classmates’ parents monitor homework daily. If the boys can’t manage on their own now, what are they going to do in college?!?!?

TechMom

September 23rd, 2010
11:24 am

@usually lurking – I look because I’d rather bust him at 9pm when he still has a chance to get the work done (even if it means staying up late or getting up early because he “forgot his book” or whatever the excuse is that day) than wait for the failing grade that’s going to drop his GPA. Unfortunately there’s a catch 22 in allowing your child to fail and the fact that GPAs don’t start over and I do want him to get into college.

That being said, his school has a website setup such that it takes all of about 3 minutes to see what’s for homework and when the tests are so I’m not spending 45 mins like the other parent reading a teacher’s blog.

DB

September 23rd, 2010
11:37 am

It’s interesting, but in TKAM, the way “rape” is described is pretty dry: When 9 year old Scout asks Calpurnia what it is, Calpurnia basically says, “Ask your father”, and Atticus takes refuge in a dry legal definition of “taking carnal knowledge”. I loved Scout’s dismissive reaction — “Oh, is that all . . . ” In the trial, the rape is not described in detail, but more along the lines of Mayella getting beat up.

You can judge her readiness best, T, but I find that kids tend to read what they comprehend, and skim over stuff they don’t comprehend. There’s even a pretty trenchant observation by the judge during the trial, when they are whispering whether the children should be there: “People tend to see what they want to see, and hear what they expect to hear . . ” If you think she could handle the race relations aspect of it, I’d probably let her read it, and be ready to discuss it. If she’s 9 and in a gifted program, I suspect she probably has heard the term “rape” before.

When my son was in 4th grade, his reading teacher gave him “The Giver.” I asked her if she didn’t think it was a little too “out there” for a 9/10 year old (the part where his father kills the twin, and when he realizes that the old people are being euthanized), and she said, “For most kids, yes — but I think he’ll do fine, and I knew you’d be able to explain anything about it he didn’t understand.”

I remember the first time I read “Rosemary’s Baby” — I was 8, and didn’t have a clue what the heck was going on, but the story was deliciously scary – I didn’t make the connection between Rosemary’s demonic encounter and the baby. It was only when I re-read it when I was 13, I realized, “omigoodness!”

And to the topic — yeah, that was a BOATLOAD of homework for an elementary school kid. Hopefully, the teacher will adjust a bit.

DB

September 23rd, 2010
11:39 am

@MJG: Yep, I had a sighting last week! He was busy, so I didn’t talk to him, but I did see him. :-)

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 23rd, 2010
11:45 am

hey Guys — i am holding off on our second school related topic for today at 1 because I just posted a second blog on the Katy Perry Sesame Street controversy. Check it out — it is a crazy story! I am trying to load the video now so give it a second and you can see the video too.

http://blogs.ajc.com/momania/2010/09/23/katy-perry-too-much-boob-for-sesame-street/

deidre_NC

September 23rd, 2010
2:22 pm

as for homework, unless it was studying for a test or writing a paper, my kids homework was always what wasnt finished in class so they rarely had it. they just did it in school then didnt have to worry about it later.
as for the book, i agree with DB…i always let my kids read what they wanted to-from the library and from my own library. some they put down because it was too old for them and some they read and loved, then would re-read later and get more meaning from it. i did the same when i was growing up, i was always allowed to read whatever i wanted to and some first reads i got a message that was enhanced by reading it again years later. so i say let her read it. and be ready for questions or not…it may surprise you what parts she will question.

a mom

September 23rd, 2010
2:58 pm

I believe there should be homework on the weekend and not just have them turn off everything on Friday afternoon and not think about school until Monday morning. For high schoolers it is only getting them ready for college. Our college senior came home over Labor Day weekend. Got up Sunday morning about 9, read a book for one class, did some research for a paper, and did the on-line discussion assignment for a class. Finished about 5. Got up early on Monday morning and wrote a paper; took about 5 hours. It was a very good example to our high schooler what college is like. Lots of reading and papers. High schooler has the first quarter literature research paper due next week. Has been working on it most weekends as there are larger blocks of time to do research and write than during the week.

Think about your work life. I work five days a week and always have something I am looking at over the weekend. I specifically go over my week on Sunday night to be prepared, especially if I am traveling. Students need to do that, too.

As for reading, I probably wouldn’t recommend having a fourth grader read To Kill A Mockingbird. That is more appropriate for a middle school reader who can derive more from the book than just a “story”. There are so many things to think about, to discuss and understand in the context of the setting/time of the story versus today.

JJ

September 23rd, 2010
3:50 pm

@a Mom – glad you aren’t my mother……

And on the weekends, I totally turn off work. That’s why we have weekends…to get away, regroup, relax and spend quality time with the fam.

My guess is you don’t go on vacation either…..

motherjanegoose

September 23rd, 2010
4:15 pm

@DB…thanks…it is wonderful to know that he is still alive…LOL.

mom2alex&max

September 23rd, 2010
4:29 pm

@a Mom: maybe you. *I* completely and utterly shut my work off on weekends and I have finally gotten my husband to do the same (for the most part). Weekends are family time.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AJCMOMania and Carrie Schneider, ajcparenting. ajcparenting said: AJC's Momania blog: Should kids have homework during the weekend? http://bit.ly/d8PUX2 [...]

V for Vendetta

September 24th, 2010
10:45 am

Are you kidding me? Too much homework? I can’t believe this is even a topic. I hope your kids never have to work on the weekends for the rest of their lives; they might not be able to handle it. Sheesh.

And as far as TKAM is concerned, I would wait until 13 or 14. I think they’ll appreciate the book much more at that age.

penguinmom

September 24th, 2010
3:45 pm

We try to not do homework on the weekends but it happens sometimes.

TWG, we loved Ginger Pye when we listened to it in the car as a family. Estes is an excellent author. Her ‘100 dresses’ story is wonderful.

Like others, I think To Kill a Mockingbird is a bit old for a 9-year-old. Middle school or high school is a better fit for the depth of the story.

swimming upstream

September 24th, 2010
5:59 pm

This topic here is an example of why the educational system in the United States will never be “fixed”. The school day is not long enough for students to fully grasp all the topics covered during the school day. Extra work outside the school day is needed. I currently live outside the United States. Not only do the students where I live go to school on Saturday (even the preschoolers), but their parents pay for them to go to “cram” school after school to make sure they will pass the proficiency exams to get into high school and college. Americans want it all. They want 21st century education with a 19th century mentality.

Sandra

September 24th, 2010
7:40 pm

@swimming upstream,

That’s not quite fair. There are good and bad points about all school systems. I personally miss the longer summer holidays in the States. Our kids had 6 weeks this year and we missed having them home when school restarted. On the other hand, I do like that the kids can start formal schooling here at 4 instead of 5. Because children start school a year later in Georgia and the month he was born, my nephew (about 6 months younger) is two years behind my 9 year old son ( Year 5 ) and is in the same grade as my 7 year old daughter.

J

September 25th, 2010
10:12 pm

I read TKAM in a book club at age 9, and while i understood the plotline, i really didn’t get much out of it – many of the subtler themes of the book were completely lost on me. when i re-read it at age 14 in my 9th grade language arts class in high school, i understood much more and loved it. 9 is an acceptable age to read TKAM, but it might be a good idea to read it with her, Theresa, and help her to get more out of it.

Chelsea

September 26th, 2010
11:39 am

To Kill A Mockingbird is probably my favorite book of all time. I read it for the first time when I was 10 1/2- 11? It was 5th grade… I wasn’t confused or anything by the book, it was a great book.

notbuyingit

September 29th, 2010
1:04 pm

I don’t buy into the idea of homework AT ALL. When my ten year-old has to spend more than one hour a night doing homework, i draw the line. I tell him no more, put it down, and send a note to school with him. It reads:

“(Child’s name) spent one hour on homework and I will not allow him to spend any more time each evening. My taxes pay for your salary, and I suggest that you do your job to my satisfaction within the allotted time frame you are given (that is the regular school day). If you are unable to do this, perhaps you should look for another career.”

Needless to say, I’m not any teacher’s favorite parent, but I could give a hoot.