Q: My son will be starting sixth grade at a new public charter school. This school uses a classical curriculum that does not draw from pop culture and sets high academic standards. The kids wear uniforms, are expected to demonstrate respect for one another and are punished if they misbehave. My only concern is that they assign two to three hours of homework nightly. That seems excessive. Do you agree, or should I stop worrying?
It is heartening to know that there are still public schools out there that are not in thrall to "progressive" educational methods; that understand how to properly train a child's mind. The classical paradigm is language-focused rather than image-focused and stresses the relationships between subjects like science and history. For more information, go to www.welltrainedmind.com.
To your question: I think that three hours of homework per night in the sixth grade is on the edge of being excessive. Two hours is not. In either case, I don't think this is an issue that merits worry.
The research strongly suggests that there is a point of diminishing returns where homework is concerned. At that point, learning becomes a negative experience for a child. On the other hand, that point varies from child to child. In the final analysis, the positives of this school experience far outweigh this one possible negative, so I'd accept that an absolutely perfect academic experience cannot be found anywhere and stop agonizing.
Game sparks squabbles
Q: Against our better judgment, my husband and I allowed our kids to spend their savings on a video game gadget. Shortly thereafter, they began bickering constantly with one another, not listening to us, and being generally surly. In addition, they stopped playing creatively with their toys and became obsessed with this thing. After several weeks, we took it away, permanently. Grandma thinks we are wrong. We're thinking of giving it to her. They spend the night over there a couple of times a month. What do you think?
First, I've been warning about the effects of video games on creativity and behavior since they first came on the market in the 1970s. Since then, more parents than I can count have told me horror stories similar to yours. Furthermore, researchers have found that video games can have an adverse effect on behavior, attention span, and certain problem-solving skills.
Having said that, I don't think exposure twice a month is going to have any significant negative impact on your children. So yes, give it to Grandma. Let her see for herself.