We’ve all heard it. “I’ve got too much homework!”

A Manhattan father, Karl Taro Greenfeld, decided he had seen his 8th grade daughter work late into the night too many times. He had heard enough complaints. He set out to walk a week in her shoes. For five days last year, he worked side-by-side with his daughter, doing all the same homework she had been assigned at school.

One benefit of homework is how it presents an opportunity for parents to become more directly involved in a child’s schooling. For Greenfeld – it meant as much as three and a half hours a night of direct involvement, and a new empathy for some of the challenges his daughter faced.

I don’t recall having much homework at all in the elementary grades. Except for some major projects and studying for tests, much of my after school time was my own. Street hockey, running around with neighbourhood kids. Reading. Kids in grade school today seem to be facing a much different situation.

A well-written (he’s a writer) diary of Greenfeld’s experience was published recently in The Atlantic, a U.S. national magazine devoted current events, literature, technology, culture, and foreign affairs.  You can read it here (NOTE: some drug use references). He recounts anecdotes of his involvement in the homework issue at his child’s school. It’s liberally interspersed with commentary on the state of education and homework.

“My daughter has the misfortune of living through a period of peak homework,” Greenfeld says. He quotes several educators and researchers who have identified broad cycles in attitudes towards homework in school systems, and the resulting volumes of it handed out.

That explains some of my experience – I must have been in grade school during a lull in the great homework cycle.

A telling take-away for Greenfeld from the experience was his daughter’s advice: memorization, not rationalization. In other words, don’t try to understand the work, just commit it to memory.

Are you facing challenges around homework volume for your children? Have an opinion about the “homework wars?” Please comment below.

One thing for sure, if multiplication learning is part of your child’s homework routine – we’ve got you covered.