Complaints to teachers are common, as are bleary morning commuter-train conversations about homework-filled evenings and weekends.
PTA sessions for parents where advice is given on dealing with homework are often crowded.
Its only value is creating a habit for children to sit down and do homework. All of us are in this craziness together.'' Overall there has been no significant increase in homework, according to a study released by the Brown Center on Educational Policy, a research center on educational issues at the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit research organization in Washington.
The study, released as part of the 2003 annual Brown Center Report on American Education, said the exception was homework for children ages 6 to 8.
All of a sudden, they move to the middle school with 10 to 11 teachers and subjects, English social studies, math, science, and reading, art, technology, home and career, music, and physical education.'' It's more subject matter specific, and students feel responsible to four to five different people every night.
It's harder to track how much homework a child has in a given night. We have to wean them off it, just as we try to wean children from that kind of support.'' Some say that it's not so much the homework as the extracurricular activities that are to blame.'' We purposely don't do much after school because of homework,'' said Jamie Pearlman, a Mount Kisco resident whose two children attend Chappaqua schools.We work hard at it here, but teachers can't always address, ' How much are you giving? '' I didn't want her to go to bed at 10 or 11.'' The ways that teachers, schools, students and families choose to deal with homework are as varied as the players themselves.' Kids are trying to please a number of adults. Many parents who extol the virtues of their challenging public schools also complain that homework assignments, especially long-term projects, intrude on weekends, vacations, family meal times and children's sleep time, play time and down time. Karen Benedict, assistant superintendent for curriculum in Katonah-Lewisboro, said: '' People's lives are very busy.We're also dropping subject matter down a grade. In order to prepare for more interactive classes, kids have to do more at home.'' STUDENTS see several stages of homework, said Paul Folkemer, assistant superintendent for instruction and curriculum in Scarsdale.'' Because of the English language arts exam, and also because of math and science, fourth grade is seeing a significant change in the amount of work,'' he said in a telephone interview, but the big changes come in middle school.Yet homework is now an issue not just for parents, but also for those who care for the children of working parents.'' The first question parents ask when they come here is, ' Is your homework all done?''' said Pam Koner, who runs the Homework Club in Hastings-on-Hudson.Both said: '' The issue comes up every year.A lot of our middle school kids come from self-contained classrooms in fifth grade.Based on data from the Population Studies Center at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, the study reported that homework in that group increased to 2 hours and 8 minutes a week, from 52 minutes a week, between 19.Try telling Westchester parents, especially those in high-powered schools, that homework hasn't increased significantly if at all.'' Students are so much more active outside of school now -- with soccer, sports, dance -- that even if homework might be the same amount, it's more difficult to manage,'' said Anne Wallace, the director for guidance at the middle and high schools in Rye Neck.