Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Out of the Inbox - Too much homework

Sent in by a Chaptzem reader

To Chaptzem, please post this as I am beyond frustrated already,

I am a mother of BI"H five children, four girls and one boy, all under the age of ten. I am very proud to be a stay-at-home mother, which doesn't mean that I don't work, it just means that I don't get paid - at least not monetarily. I have no qualms. I get up early, have a coffee with my husband before he goes to learn and then to work. Then I wake my kids, feed them, clothe them, send them off, shop for them, cook for them, feed them again and then - here it comes - spend over two hours doing homework with them.

Yes, that's right, after my long day of housework and their very long day of school work, there is still over two solid hours of homework between the five of them.

I happily help them with every kriah sheet, math example and reading page that they have, but I just can't understand why all this extra work is necessary. I agree, homework is an important part of the learning process. There are only that many school hours in the day. But is it really necessary for each child to have two math pages, two spelling pages, a science page, a history page, a book to read and one more page to review what was done in class? Is it really necessary for each child to have to do all this work every single night of the week? If each child had one or two nights homework-free every week, that would mean about five to ten homeworks less for me - a savings of about four hours a week.

Yeshivah of Prospect Park has already instituted such an idea, why can't the Bais Yakov's do so as well?

If there is anyone from the heimishe schools reading this, please take the plea of an exhausted mother and her overworked children into consideration and tone down the homework a bit.

Thank you,
A real devoted mom

I certainly commend DevotedMom for her dedication to her children, but as a loving mother, I am sure that she only has the best interest of the children at heart.

Every teacher will tell you that as good as you teach a child in school, it is only through homework that the material is actually "absorbed" by the student. Homework is absolutely essential to your children's education. If you find it too difficult to manage then there are other ideas you can implement that might ease the burden.

1) Perhaps you should let your children do most of it themselves. This way they get a lesson in responsibility to boot.

2) You could have your older children help the younger ones.

3) Get a local high-school girl to come over to help out. Some are eager to earn some pocket money, while others will do it free as part of their school's chesed programs.

4) Many schools offer after school programs that allow children to stay longer where they do extracarricular activities and they also provide the children with homework help.

If you are blessed with so many children you have the responsibility to do the best for them. Don't blame the schools for trying to fulfill their obligations.


I'm an ex-teacher . You're a 1000% correct. There's far, far much too much homework assigned wnd it's not necessary. It's up to you parents to collectively plan a massive complaint campaign and be done with it.


Yes you are 100% right! I feel the same as a mother of 6 KE"H
and wait till the kids are in High school where they come home & lock themselves in a room for 4 hours doing homework, mabey they should help us do homework with the little ones!?!
p.s. have you ever tried calling a teacher in those hours? Sorry comes the answer on the phone "She's busy serving supper NOW!! HUH!! what are we!?! mash potatoes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Devoted Mom,
Being a housewife is a lot of work. But studies show that consistent homework every night helps develop the child more than any in-school work. How about cutting out a manicure or two for the sake of your child's development to get in the extra four hours a week? Keep up the great work!
Wait. Don't respond yet and get angry. I'm just kidding... Completely agree with you. One or two nights a week of homework free will be something the kids can look forward to and is a great idea.
-Hard Working Father


To the "hard working mom"
If you can't handle the stuff your kids need them don't have them....Don't tell the school how to operate.
You don't want them telling you how to operate your life ie to maybe cut out a few days of shopping how many hours would that save you?

Leave the schools to the pros that run it and you work your life around them. If you can't deal with the work maybe don't have so many kids.


I agree 100% there is absolutely no reason for homework altogether.99% of the time parents are doing it for the children, if ateacher wants students to REVIEW something at home fine but not a new class.


All I can say, as a teacher Principals really come down hard on teachers who don't give HW.


I agree, there is too much HW.

However, why doesn't your husband help as well?


She is 100% right! feel sorry for so many mothers who are victims of the Mrs.Shorr's Bais Yakov on 14th Avenue in Boro Park. She has taught us that English studies are superior to Hebrew. her goal is to give mothers a nerves-break-down,,, so why are we all keeping quiet while she is tearing apart Yiddishe homes?


May I suggest: odd numbered classes get homework on odd # days only and even number on even days. (i.e. 1st, 3rd,5th grades on Sun.Tue. & Thur.only)


Now for the more major problem, what do you do when a child refuses to do homework? I've had both kinds, and doing Homework w a child that refuses to do it, is a WAY more difficult experience than actually doing it. Any advice? Halvei I'd only have the problem of the time spent on Homework every night! Count your blessings.


You are absolutely right. My suggestion is to have school for six hours a day and homework for two hours. Good luck with everything.


I agree with you 100%, but it's very difficult to change the system, poor as it may be. I have found it invaluable to pay a high school girl (moderately) to do homework with my children. There is way less tension in the house that way since homework time is invariable supper and bath time as well. End result is calmer child and calmer parent. Try it.


I have been an educator for over 30 years. Any homework that the child cannot do by themselves should never be assigned. (Unless the child neeeds tutoring, in which case the school should have made the recommendation and modified the homework load accordingly.)
The parents' job is to provide a quiet place, paper and pens/ pencils--and that's it.
BTW--I am also the father of eleven children ka"h--and all but two have finished high school / mesivta.


I've taught in the public school system as well as at yeshivos.
Mandates for homework come from the bureaucrats who aren't even involved in hands-on classroom teaching.
The yeshiva student in particular , is inundated with such an insane amount of homework as to make a high powered workaholic corporate executive who brings his work home, look lazy .
.. It's wrong and it's criminal..!!
There's a puny 15 minute recess break , a luch break ... and that's it.
A yeshiva boy today works harder than anybody else.
Where's some time for play , hobbies or rest?

It's up to parents to stop this madness..!!! A little homework is fine... but these excess assignments are inhuman and brutal.
Nobody is going to stop this assault on your child unless you band together and once and for all demand a halt to this sadism .


I am a present teacher, frum, with several degrees, and I also have children at home. Children need to do their homework by themselves, otherwise, their teachers will never know what they are actually capable of doing. Enabling your children, is essentially teaching them that they never have to rely on their own abilities, because someone else will always come along and help. Your children are in school for a reason. Teachers are not babysitters (although I have heard the term "glorified babysitter), we do not get paid nearly the same amount as babysitters, and we have to put up with significantly more, mores the pity. We are treated shamefully, we get zero respect from either the parents or the children, we are treated as though we are second class citizens because we are "english" teachers rather than "Hebrew teachers" (Notice the use of capitalization please, that was done on purpose), and we get considerably less time to teach our students what they need to know in order to pass standardized tests (so that the schools get government funding), but if they don't pass, it's the teacher's fault. Homework is not given as busy work, teachers have to give homework as a review for their students. In addition, think about it this way, you may have to assist your five, or six, or twelve children with their homework, but we have to grade the homework of over twenty students in many cases. Do you think that I get paid for the time that I am not spending with my children because I am on the telephone with parents who think that it's all right to call me up at home, or yell at me in shul, or in the grocery store, or anywhere else? Of course not, it's considered part of my job, well you HAD them, now raise them. As teachers, we do everything else. It's commendable that you are dedicated, but so are we.




I think this is a job for none other than Simcha Felder!!!!


If your child needs you to do the homework with her then something is wrong with how she is being taught or in her ability to learn properly. You should be able to make supper while supervising your kids doing their homework at the kitchen table(that's what works for me). And about Bais Yaakov giving too much homework - the girls have no homework on Thursday and no school on Sundays that leaves 3 nights of homework. How much less do you want? Can we get a mechanech/es professional opinion on this and not just comments that won't help the issue?


I tell my kids to do it on their own.
If they can't, I write a letter to the teacher explaining my child could not do it and the material needs to be explained.
If the child doesn't have enough time, I write a letter saying their was to much homework and I did not let my child do it. If there is a problem, call me at home.
No, they never call me.


To anan 6:33

What does a "present teacher" teach?
Do you teach children to wrap gifts?


the teachers just throw homework at my children, it is new stuff they never learned!! i spen my whole evening learning 10th grade studies that i myself do not know! why do i send my kids to school? they supposed to learn in school - not at home.

I only have 3 kids that have homework now and that is overbearing!!!

The teacher feels that it will be easiear to teach the next day if the kids learnt some of it the night b4! what a chutzpah.

And one teacher kam theaches and my kid has to learn it from new every night cuz the teacher views her job as an unimportant subject - so why kid spends the most time on that unimportant subject because SHE NEVER TEACHES PROPERLY!!!

all home work should be banned, if the schools want they can make time in school after each class for review.


Dear Anonymous : January 02, 2008 7:15 PM What do you want me to do?


As a former teacher and principal I can tell you that any homework that the child cannot do on his/her own (which is most homework assigned in frum schools) is just the teacher's silly posturing to show how much they are "teaching" and NOT for the benefit of the child. In fact, enhancement classes would do more for the child -- if your child had time for music classes, that would be a bigger boost educationally. Having taught in Kiruv schools, in non-Jewish settings and in frum settings, I can attest that it is only because the frum oylam can be given a good guilt complex that teachers get away with assigning these crazy amounts of homework. Fun review sheets that a child will WANT to use to review would be helpful. Everything else is usually harmful.


enjoy this time, as IY"H when the occasion arrives to marry them off. the time you spend now will seem minuscule compared to the time you may have to spend on them for shidduchim in our crazy velt, brought on in part by our educators.


reviewing your reader's comments, spelling and grammar, dachs it mir, that many of your readers parents should have spent more time helping them with their school work.


this whole homework business is ridiculouse when we were growing up we never had so much homework and the little we had we didnt need our parents help.
many teachers today teach subjects very quickly expecting the kids parents to review it with them at night.besides the mothers (and some fathers)how about the children when do they have time to be kids. during there 15 minutes recess break.when my wife complained to one teacher she told my wife why dosnt your daughter spend her sundays doing homework?
its gotten way out of hand what are we paying these high tuitions for if we end up home schooling are kids


i hardly ever post, however you've hit upon a passionate nerve of mine so here's my two cents. i am an educator by profession, with many college degrees and lots of experience. i firmly agree that homework is completely overdone in the yeshivas. IF A CHILD CAN'T DO IT THEMSELVES, THEY HAVE OBVIOUSLY NOT MASTERED THE SKILL IN CLASS. HOME IS NOT WHERE THEY ARE TO LEARN IT!!! if children can't complete the homework independently, there is no point in doing it. and if they CAN do it independently - they've pretty much mastered the skill so why waste their time?? my kids come home from school after a very intense day and the last thing they want to do is MORE of the same stuff they've been doing all day. i make them do their homework so they don't get into trouble but i WISH there would be some moderation as well....


To Anon (note the correct spelling please), being a present teacher, in other words, I am presently teaching, however, should I teach children to wrap gifts, you can be sure that none of them would be for me, given that I am the lowly "english" teacher, and therefore (as one student eloquently put it), mom and dad feel that "I do not deserve Chanukah presents" (or Pesach bonuses, or anything else that as a frum teacher I should get regardless of whether or not I am a rebbe or a morah, or a TEACHER.


I totally agree with the posters who say that homework should be done by the child. If your child cannot do the homework unassisted, find out if the work is too hard or the child is too lazy. Oftentimes it's laziness. Don't let your child whine about how hard his workload is; he's manipulating you, 9 times out of 10. Yes, there will be children who have trouble academically, for a variety of reasons--but if you are the parent, you know what your child is capable of doing. Most children are capable of doing their homework. It's a matter of creating the correct attitude in the home. Don't make yourself into a shmatta! Review sheets are for REVIEW. Math homework is to PRACTICE something they learned in class. Their notes and the textbook can reteach the material, if need be. PLEASE, you need to start valuing independence, responsibility, and diligence. If you are consistent about not allowing your children to moan "I don't understand what I'm supposed to dooooo," (followed by you walking them through the assignment), then very soon (after a couple of poor quiz grades, usually) the child will shape up.

(A side note: one poster complained about teachers not being available to take calls during supper hours. HUH???? Terrible chutzpah to expect the teacher to interrupt her family time to tell you what the homework is. Your child should write it down daily. Let him mess up a little and fail a couple of quizzes; he will quickly learn to be more responsible.)


SIMPLE MATH. 5 kids, over two hours of homework, is approximately 25 min per kid. That is not a lot. Your kids should be able to complete homework on their own- its generally a review of classwork- its not new material. You shouldnt have to spend more than a few min with each child..... unless your kids are goofing off in class and dont pay any attention.


by the sheer volume of responses it
is clear that this lady devotedMom
has touched upon something that concerns all of us.I am a father who after a full days work comes home and does homework right at

supper with 4 boys bla"h in HEBREW and English.Perhaps I should be embarresed that I dont know a fair amount of material myself.Just yesterday I received a portion from my son for not helping him with the bookreport.He claimed that most of the children who received good grades had the reports done by their parents.Now this is really insane. Your comments please and thank you for bringing up a normal topic for a change. new to chapzem


homework reinforces what kids are learning all day in school. They should be able to handle most of it "on their own." sure, an occasional "what does this mean" "how is this spelled," or "can you help me write this" or "read this over" do come up, and if that is taking too much of your time, you probably have to get your priorities straight. if you cant handle completing homework with your kids, dont have so many. schools are doing what shcools are supposed to do.


As a parent of 9 children KA'H - everytime I'm bogged down by homework given by the teachers, I think to myself: If it would up to me I would arrange a firing squad for those teachers who make my nightly life misareble by giving ME (the parent) homework!


This is an excellent and important topic. I say that twice a week each teacher should take the last hour of the day at school and have the kids do the homework right then and there. that way if any of the children have questions she can be there to answer. it will also eliminate the need to do homework at home at least twice a week. what do you guys think?


As a student in a nearby Bais Yaakov school, I totally agree with the crazy amount of homework. After 7 long hours at school, there is no reason why each teacher should give more than about 20 minutes of H.W. each night. After school and after a ton of homework, I sometimes don't have any time for myself. Once in a blue moon when we are not allowed to have H.W., the teachers just pile on two nights of homework the night before, and then we really feel swamped, so what good does it do us?


Here's a thought. Does the teacher actually READ the homework assignments, and mark them, or does the teacher only assign them?

I find this very peculiar. Most teachers have very long days, and the last thing they want to be doing at night is marking homework assignments. So, again, are they just assigning them, or do they also read and mark them?

If they don't do the latter, insist that they do. Insist on the teacher checking each and every answer, and critiquing wrong answers, IN WRITING.

I'll bet the volume will go down significantly.


I am writing this as a Father.
1, Where is the Father in the above story. Rather than the comment about not having the kids-get the father involved! I am not a Posek but skip the shiur and help your family.
2, I have found my daughter tearing her hair out over things that were not taught in school but assigned. I understand the goal of having the kids prepared but teachers should not use homework as a substitute for teaching.
3, As a boy I was educated in Yeshiva by professional public school teachers working after hours in Yeshivas. Today we have many less experienced teachers, especially in Girl's Schools. The main qualification seems to be proper head covering. I believe this is the real problem.


I am teaching for over 20 years. I have taught all grades, 1-12. My take on this is-it all depends on what school your child is in. I have taught both boys and girls, chasidish,livish..and I can tell you that the SCHOOL must be held responsible,NOT the teacher, for this test/hw issue.Let me explain..
In order to shift the blame , many schools will tell you as a parent, that the teacher/school is very high-level...(hard),and you should have expected this when you chose the school.
What the school does, and I know this from the inside, is to create an atmosphere of pressure for parent, teacher and child. The teacher is expected to give X amount of homework,and X amount of tests per week. The parent is expected to reteach it, if the child did not absorb the material..and since the clases are 30+ and the teacher has to teach most of the kids,..it's not possible for all those present in class to 'get it'.. Meanwhile, the kid is miserable, the parent is miserable, and I, the teacher, is misreable because both parent and child blame ME for this...
The school enjoys a reputation of being 'highly academic', 'hard', or whatever it desires..this way, people are fighting to get their child into the 'good' school...


the real question that you have to ask yourself is, is the homework too much for you're chirldren, or is it too much for you? if you're kid's come home and you have to sit there evry night for ''2 hour's'', maby you're kid's aren't doing as well as they should be, to the extent that they can't do there homework properly, people have to understand that we can't all way's blame the system, and that there are all way's two side's to evry story,
we all way's have to look at both side's of the coin...


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