Homework: Most Parents Want More

It’s 2:45pm. The bell rings and kids burst out of classroom
doors. They run to bus stop lines or waiting cars. They chat,
scream and shout, playfully push each other.
Gilroy – It’s 2:45pm. The bell rings and kids burst out of classroom doors. They run to bus stop lines or waiting cars. They chat, scream and shout, playfully push each other.

It appears that the Ascencion Solorsano Middle School students finally have an outlet for the energy they kept pent up for six hours.

But the end of the school day doesn’t necessarily mean the work’s done. Most middle school students still have one to two hours of homework to complete.

Susie Douglas thinks that’s just the right amount of time. The mother of two Solarsano students is happy with the one to one and a half hours her seventh-grade son spends on homework before football practice.

But Douglas isn’t satisfied with the 35 to 40 minutes her daughter labors over homework. The Gilroy mom wants her sixth-grader to spend at least an hour.

Anna-Maria Daulton, another Solorsano parent, thinks teachers assign her son, Kelly, the right amount.

Kelly, 13, agrees. The eighth-grader said he spends between 45 minutes to an hour on work outside the classroom. Daulton said she thinks it’s more like one to two hours.

Teachers at El Roble Elementary School said they assign 20 to 30 minutes of homework a night.

So how much is too much? Is there such a thing as too much?

“We have to be careful,” said Sheryl Aupuchon. “We don’t want them doing too much. We want them to play.”

Aupuchon, who has taught first grade for 14 years, said when children are really young, homework is just a learning experience, a way to teach them responsibility. The El Roble teacher sends home a homework-filled manilla envelope every Tuesday. The work, which takes about 20 minutes a night to complete, is due on Monday.

Many teachers said they rarely field concerns about too much homework.

“Usually I hear that parents want more,” said the Kim Krejodovsky, an El Roble first grade teacher.

Molly Leach has heard so many complaints about not enough homework that she has a permanent spiel ready for back to school night.

The first grade teacher reminds parents that their children have already spent six hours in the classroom. With all of the state standards and testing pressures the time children spend out of their desk is very short, said Leach.

There’s a simple explanation as to why reactions vary: the workload varies from classroom to classroom, school to school. The state has no restrictions or requirements pertaining to after-school work but the Gilroy Unified School District does have a policy.

The policy, adopted by the GUSD board in April 2004, states that “the superintendent or designee shall ensure that administrators and teachers develop and implement an effective homework plan at each school site. Teachers shall make homework assignments only as they supplement planned and purposeful classroom instruction. The emphasis should be on quality rather than quantity in homework assignments.”

The policy also states that although it’s a student’s responsibility to do homework, the GUSD board expects parents/guardians to help.

For Nancy Murphy, the two hours-plus she spends helping her son with homework is too much.

Murphy said she’s not against homework, it’s just that for some students it consumes the whole evening and morning. The mother of three would like homework to be optional.

“I have a really close friend who is an elementary school teacher, but she said she realizes that there’s two camps: those who don’t want it and those who want more” she said.

Ryan Bay said the homework load increased when he entered Solorsano Middle School.

“I think for some classes one teacher should know what our other teachers are giving,” said the sixth-grader.

Whatever Bay is doing is working. The 11-year-old took home a progress report on Friday filled with As and Bs.

Whereas GUSD’s homework policy is wide-open, Mt. Madonna School has a strict formula on the books.

Teachers assign homework by multiplying 10 minutes and the grade. For example first-graders do 10 minutes of homework, second-graders 20 minutes, third, 30 minutes and so on, said Mary Supriya McDonald, Mt. Madonna’s elementary director.

In middle school students spend an average of 30 to 40 minutes per class on homework. By the time they reach high school, Mt. Madonna students spend an average of one hour for every hour of class time.

“Most of our students go on to college,” said McDonald. “I think most of them think they have more homework than their friends in public school.”

The private school, which serves preschool through 12th grade, no longer calls homework, homework. Instead, they call it “home study,” said McDonald.

The new name is less negative and makes homework “more of a partnership that what you’re learning actually expands beyond the classroom walls,” she said.

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