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November 2012 / Bronx/​Riverdale Family / Brooklyn Family / Long Island Family / Manhattan Family / Queens Family / Staten Island Family / Columnists / Letter from the Publisher

The question of homework

Kids are now settled in their classes and the homework reality has begun again in earnest.

When my daughter entered elementary school I soon realized that times had drastically changed from my days in school. I never had homework in the lower grades of elementary school, and I mean never! Kindergarten wasn’t a time for rigorous work; it was a time for socialization and communal fun. We played, we ate, we finger-painted, we read books aloud, we had music and movement, recess and even a nap.

Now this is the typical behavior of a preschooler not a school child. Everything has been moved up and we have accelerated education, study, awareness and production throughout the life experience. It seems there is little time left to be innocent and without responsibilities.

Nowadays the tone is entirely different and nowhere outside of politics is the divide clearer than witnessing the opposing attitudes of parents on the subject of homework. Many parents want lots of homework, starting as early as Kindergarten. Those with this priority also seem to be largely in favor of discipline, structure and possibly even uniforms, even in a public school setting.

These academically focused parents are mindful that in this highly competitive global reality children need to have rigorous academic instruction and achievement as early as possible, and are expecting continuous assignments of homework as a routine. They are advocating for nightly work and aren’t satisfied that education is quality or complete without it.

Parents on the other side of this question want their kids to be free after school and on weekends. Free to participate in outside activities of all kinds, whether they are structured such as classes in art, music, gymnastics, or the like, or just free to “hang out” and be kids. Many of these parents state that visiting museums, watching public television, seeing live shows, are high priorities for them in the education process of their children and don’t want their children’s free time to be consistently mandated to homework assigned from classroom teachers.

These contrasting opinions are not always compatible and many parent association meetings are often spent in debate over the tone of the dialogue and the outcome of the curriculum as a result. The good news is the strong participation of the parents and their concern and interest over what happens in and out of their children’s classrooms. Better to have opposing opinions than none.

I’m wondering where you stand? What do you expect in terms of homework? How much it too much? How little is too little? We will print your letters in upcoming issues. Send your responses or thoughts to

Have a great Thanksgiving! Thanks for reading.

Susan Weiss-Voskidis, Publisher

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