Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care

Homework Can Be Stressful for Parents, Too!

homeworkHave you heard about the no homework letter one teacher sent home at the beginning of the school year? The letter was first shared on Facebook by Samantha Gallagher, whose daughter is in Mrs. Young’s class, and it quickly went viral. The response to this letter has been overwhelmingly positive. Parents everywhere have shared comments agreeing that student success is less reliant on nightly homework and more dependent on children spending their evenings playing, eating dinner and reading as a family and going to bed early.

As a mom of school-age children this letter really hit home for me. My children are now in sixth, third and second grades.

I often find myself resenting homework. My children are at school roughly 7.5 hours a day. My husband and I are at work between 7-9 hours a day. At the end of the day I want our family to have the freedom to decompress from the day’s events, relax, and enjoy time talking, watching TV together or going for a walk. The National Education Association recommends the “10 minute rule,” 10 minutes per grade level per night. That translates into 10 minutes of homework in the first grade, 20 minutes in the second grade, all the way up to 120 minutes for senior year of high school. According to CNN Health, a recent study published in The American Journal of Family Therapy found students in the early elementary school years are getting significantly more homework than is recommended.

My sixth grader spends 1.5 to 2 hours on homework almost every night. My second grader’s homework includes 20 minutes of reading, 10 minutes of math facts practice, and completing one sheet in his homework packet. That is about 30-40 minutes of homework a night.

I’m not saying that my children should never have homework. I believe that homework can help students develop and strengthen responsibility and time management skills. It also helps parents to see what their student is learning. I am saying that homework can be good or it can be bad depending on the volume and the quality of the assignment.

What can parents do to lessen the stress that homework can create on the family?

I have found that having regular communication with your child’s teacher is helpful for school success. Most of the time they don’t realize until you talk to them that the amount of homework is overwhelming and causing continued family stress. Work together to come up with a plan that will work best for your child and family while respecting the teacher’s needs. Most of the time my children’s teachers’ homework expectations were the right fit. So far this year we are struggling, but I am hopeful that with the teacher’s help we will find the right balance.

What do you think of the no homework letter? Do you feel your child has too much homework? Too little? Just the right amount? What are some things you have tried to lessen the stress homework can create?


Is my child ready?

4C was recently contacted by Channel 9 News to get our opinion and advice to assist parents with one of the hardest decisions a parent must make…what age can I leave my child alone.  School age children begin to insist they are old enough to stay home alone.  With the down turn of the economy, many parents have faced challenging child care options.  Seeking advice on when is the right time to leave a child alone is a smart option.

There are a few things to consider.  Each child is different.  One child may be ready to be home alone at the age of 12 and another child may not be ready until the age of 14.  “The decision about whether your child/children are ready for self-care is a continuing process rather than a singular event.”  It will begin with allowing your child to be left alone for short periods, a brief 20 minutes while you run a short errand.  The process is one of developing skills in your child and increasing confidence in the parent- with frequent monitoring of the self-care arrangement.  Please consider the following tips when preparing to leave your child home alone:

  1. Can your child lock and unlock doors and windows unassisted
  2. Can your child tell time
  3. Can your child recognize danger or a dangerous situation
  4. Can your child solve conflicts without adult help
  5. Does your child have a sense of security and confidence
  6. Does your child have the skills to handle boredom and fear
  7. Does your child handle personal responsibility
  8. Does your child understand expectations
  9. Is your child willing to stay home alone
  10. Will your child seek help from another adult if the need arises

A few other options to consider are safety of your home, a list of emergency phone numbers, who is allowed in the home with your child/children, responsibilities for your child, cooking guidelines, telephone and door guidelines and overall communication.

School-age child care professionals differ on if and when self-care is appropriate.  Neither 4C nor any school-age professional can decide what is safe or appropriate for your family or your children.  The information provided in this blog or our website @ is just a guide to use as you consider , evaluate or prepare for self care in your home.  The final determination of whether or not, or when to leave school-age children home, unattended by an adult, is the full responsibility of each parent.

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Watch the 4C for Children interview on WCPO