Homework and math around the globe

Here’s a small collection of stories and reports from the world of homework and math, and about parenting kids who live in that world.

A survey and subsequent follow-up done by a Parent-Teacher Association for a high school in California has led to the creation of a district homework taskforce to establish guidelines around homework. The focus is “quality, not quantity.”

Paper Management Dysfunction? I know what it looks like when your child’s backpack looks like the entire contents of a filing cabinet were dumped inside. It’s a recipe for stress for parent and student, and a potential drag on school and homework performance. Some great tips on how to work towards restoring order

The Great Canadian Math Debate continues. The Edmonton Journal is into part 6 in a series on how math is taught in Alberta grade schools. Lots of opinion from different perspectives on what is most beneficial for learning – a discovery method-based approach, or more traditional rote learning methods.

Our take – Nightlight Learning offers a great solution for balance. Learn the concepts and discover new approaches in class, but master multiplication memorization as you go to sleep.

 Intro to the series

Part 6 


Parent tries 8th grade homework load

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.