Especially at younger ages? And what is the cost to their psychological and emotional well being?
You can hear one local psychiatrist’s viewpoint on these issues at a talk Wednesday evening at Murwood Elementary. David Ritvo, a Yale-trained psychiatrist in private practice in Walnut Creek, works with parents and kids in our community, and sees these issues unfold in his office every day. He’ll hold a question and answer session with parents at the event, hosted by Murwood Elementary’s PTA.
These questions become especially pressing when you’re talking about kids in elementary and middle schools. If you really start looking at the literature on this topic, you’ll find that, contrary to what you’re often told, education experts do not agree on whether regular homework at these grade levels enhances learning.
Homework is definitely a “hot-button topic,” as another suburban blogger, Kerry Dickinson writes, in her latest post on her East Bay Homework Blog. This Danville mom is a parent activist on the homework issue, and her lobbying San Ramon Valley school leaders several years ago prompted that district to look at its policy. You can read about her Dickinson’s attempt, with other parents, to transform thinking around the topic in this 2008 Diablo magazine article.
Dickinson, trained as an elementary and middle school teacher herself, began to worry about how so much evening and weekend family time was taken up by homework, and saw that it made her sons, then in elementary and middle school, anxious and miserable. She had her homework epiphany when she read The Homework Myth by Alfie Kohn.
In this tome, Kohn argues that there are no definitive studies proving homework's overall learning benefits, especially at younger ages. Indeed, he says, homework can be detrimental to children 's development by robbing families of quality time together and not allowing a kid time simply to be a kid. He points out that America’s current get-tough approach about homework, as a way of building character, actually nurtures a culture of drudgery, and not just for kids, but for parents and teachers. Homework, especially in the form of “busywork,” kills intellectual and creative curiosity, he asserts.
What do you think? What is your experience with your kids’ homework? Or, if you’re a student yourself, do you find homework helpful and challenging in a good way? Do you get too much of it—or too little?
By the way, the Walnut Creek school district is currently reviewing its homework policy.
And, if you’re worried that homework and academic pressure is stressing your kids out, you’re welcome to attend David Ritvo’s Question and Answer session. “If a healthy balance of work, love, and play is the goal for your children, the time to create that balance is now,” says the invitation to this event.
This event, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Murwood’s library, is free, and childcare will be provided for school-age children. An RSVP is requested, but not required. Contact SMuhlenkort@aol.com