By Dr. Jan Hittelman
In a recent Pathways to Parenting Success televised presentation entitled “Race to Somewhere: What We’re Doing Right,” students, community members and school staff discussed the many challenges our children face. Specific issues included homework and later start times, particularly at the high school level. Everyone seemed to agree that students are experiencing significant stress and that moving high school start times later, as well as monitoring the amount of homework given, are two ways to help reduce student stress. There were even discussions of offering classes in stress reduction (e.g. yoga) in some of the high schools. Educational research continues to document the poor correlation between homework and achievement. For example, there is absolutely no correlation between homework and achievement in elementary school. Yet even kindergarten students are assigned homework these days, requiring time that could be better spent socializing with peers and interacting with family members. Similarly, we know that adolescents need on average nine hours of sleep, cannot fall asleep until on average 11:00 p.m., and need to be in school way too early.
Given all this data and knowledge, you may wonder why we haven’t seen more changes in our educational institutions. We are fortunate that locally, both Fairview and Boulder High Schools are piloting a later start. While sports and busing are often a challenge, many schools across the country have adopted 8:30 or later start times and consistently show evidence of improved academic, social, and physical functioning. And homework continues to be piled onto our weary, stressed children despite our knowing better. What gives? As our televised panel demonstrated, the problem is not with our school system. Educators seemed quite open to exploring these issues. Believe it or not WE, the parents, are the problem. A school district is at the service of its community members and in our community the vocal parents are often the ones who are pushing for more schooling on every level to increase their child’s chances of getting into a top college, even though fueling student stress will ultimately sabotage that very goal. If you have concerns about these issues for your child, it is imperative that you voice your concerns to your child’s teacher, as BVSD is currently evaluating homework requirements and practices.
We are the voice of our children. If we don’t speak-up, who will?
To view the recent “Race to Somewhere: What We’re Doing Right” show or any of our previous Channel 22 programs, go to: http://bvsd.org/BV22/Pages/Pathways_to_Parenting_Success.aspx