As I write this, I’m waiting for my youngest daughter’s Toronto school to return my call. My ‘little one,’ now almost 14 and in a program for gifted students, has more homework every day than I ever had. As a result, I’ve been asking myself of late: whatever happened to childhood?
Alas, this is a topic I’ve written about at length – for ParticipACTION, at Tennis Canada, and for Dr. Dina Kulik’s site. I’m not about to fuss over a little homework, or the occasional project that takes up an evening or two – but 3 to 5 hours most days of the week this school year? Something has to give.
True enough, my daughter is perhaps in part to blame – she is a perfectionist and has incredibly high expectations of herself. We’re working on this. But when it comes to how much homework our children are being assigned, I’m not alone in my concern.
Parent after parent, I’ve spoken with of late, seems to have a child giving up skating lessons, music classes, after school get-togethers with friends, and even whatever time they once had to just relax, all in the name of homework. Child after child I’ve spoken with seems more disenchanted with school than ever.
Although I was assured a placement in the gifted program would not mean more work, my daughter and I have discovered that teachers who instruct gifted children love to assign projects – lots of them. In my daughter’s own words: “they don’t know what to do with us, so they give us projects”. While these ‘projects’ often provide students with an opportunity to do extensive research, to be creative, and to delve into subject matter in a way they might not otherwise have a chance to, they typically require far more time than can be allotted in the classroom, and as such, they become homework.