How much is too much homework in fourth grade? I don’t know. Maybe any homework is too much. But it does seem to me that school is the place to work in groups and receive instruction, but reading and actual writing and math drilling, and studying to take in the things you learned–those are things you really have to do at home. I’ve come around to homework. It’s fine.

What’s not fine is how long it takes Sam to DO his homework.

He had Nordic skiing after school today, so we got home right around five. He really did sit down with the book he needed to finish for a small writing assignment right away, and the reading didn’t take long. Then he sat down for “math journal” wherein he explains how he did a math word problem. He already did the problem. He took a small break for dinner and wandered over to me a few minutes ago with a question about the math journal. It was 7:50. He had written two sentences.


He is at the kitchen counter. I am right here. I can see him. He didn’t do anything during that time as far as I could see other than sit there with the paper and pencil.

It’s eight-thirty now, and he’s brought over what’s supposed to be his completed work. It’s not complete, not at all. He’s left out large chunks of his reasoning (and before you get too excited, this should involve sentences like “then I added twenty-five and two to get twenty-seven”). He isn’t anywhere near done. And now he is sleepy, because it is his bedtime, and he still hasn’t done his math, or the writing that has to be done for his reading. He will be up for at least another hour, and probably two, because he’s really too tired to work diligently, even if he were capable of that, which apparently he is not.

I am so discouraged. He’s going to have to quit Nordic skiing, I can see that. This is the third time this month we’ve had a night like this. It’s clear he can’t keep up with his work and do so many things after school. And he does do a lot after school. He skies three days a week and usually has hockey practice at least once. But none of these things is more than an hour, and he does them for fun, not because we are activity crazed parents. We live in the country, and it’s more fun to ski with buddies for an hour than just come home. Why wouldn’t it be?

He is nine years old, and tomorrow I have to make him choose which thing he loves to do after school he is going to give up.


7 Responses to “Homework”

  1. I remember taking hours on my homework, too. It was because I was afraid to get it wrong. I had very little confidence in my ability to figure out what the teacher wanted. And for good reason. I don’t know if that’s Sam’s problem, though.

  2. yancy says:

    No! Don’t make him quit an activity yet if he enjoys it. Is the homework too hard? Does he understand what to do? I am a secondary teacher and although I give homework, it is overrated. Please don’t make him stay up late to finish it, either. Like you said, it will take him twice as long b/c he’s tired, and then he’ll be tired at school tomorrow. If it’s not an issue of the HW being too difficult then let him deal with the school’s consequences for not having it done. I’m guessing that will be some combination of a lowered grade and no recess. And I’d also talk with him about each assignment and have him tell you how long it should take, put a timer on where he can see it, and have him move on to the next assignment when the time is up. And tell him that in addition to the school consequences, there will be a home consequence of giving up a sport. But let him try first.

  3. bad mummy says:

    My kid will start grade 1 in September and I’m terrified about the idea of homework. We don’t walk in the door until 6 pm (daycare pick up at 5:30, then get ourselves home in traffic) and she needs to be in bed, asleep, by 8:30. In that time we’ve got to catch up on our day, I’ve got to make dinner, I’ve got to convince her to eat the dinner I’ve made, and then it seems it’s time for bed. Which means a bath (twice or thrice a week, depending on level of filth), picking out clothes for the next day, application of pjs, book reading and snuggling.

    I don’t know how the hell homework fits in. My only hope is that I’ll get her into the (public) alternative school I’m hoping for and will have some involvement in putting a serious cap in the homework.

  4. WriterReader says:

    I also took forever to finish my homework when I was nine. And, though I didn’t end up getting diagnosed until I was a senior in college, it turns out it was because of ADD. I wouldn’t dream of offering a diagnosis from a blog post. All I am saying is, is it just exhaustion that slows him down so much, or is it something else?

  5. Meaghan says:

    I pull the plug on homework for my 2nd grader at 8:00-8:30 and get her up 1 hour earlier the next morning (6:30) to finish things up. I know you aren’t a morning person, but they work so much better in the morning and at least they are well rested. If you keep them up late to finish homework, they are tired again the next day and the cycle perpetuates.

    I like that you don’t jump in there and do it for him. Enabling just means he’ll struggle more in the long run so good for you in that regard. Maybe your husband can be the morning homework person?

  6. Jenn P says:

    You are NOT alone…
    Having been exactly where you are, (and still in the same neighborhood this year,) I think you’re doing the right thing.

    Focus is a really hard but important thing to teach.

  7. Kirsty says:

    Wow! Maybe you need to have a chat with his teacher. That sounds like a lot of homework. My daughter is 9, she gets homework once a week – usually it is just a few sentences to write. She also gets spellings and times tables to learn. She does the sentences in about 15 – 20 minutes and we spend 5 minutes every day on the spellings/times tables.