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Too Much Homework!

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: I am having a problem with my daughter's teacher. My daughter is in second grade and gets over two hours of homework a day -- so much that she ends up crying over it. Some of the time it is new material that she has no idea how to do. When I ask the teacher why this is homework, I'm told, "I didn't have time to teach it, but she should know it." I had a conference with the principal and she sided with the teacher. I've discussed the problem with several other parents in the same situation, but they're "afraid to cause problems." Last night when my daughter didn't know how to do part of her homework, I told her that she should ask the teacher and she started crying and said that the teacher yells at her. Can you give me some suggestions on what to do about this difficult teacher?

A: As a general rule, second graders should spend around 30-45 minutes each night on homework. Talk again with the principal, and try to talk some of the other parents into going with you to see her. Keep track of the time that your daughter spends on homework for several nights before you meet with the principal and take the homework and your log of time spent to show her. The principal may not be aware of exactly what is being assigned. Be sure that you show her the papers your daughter had not been taught how to do.

Talk also with the school counselor. He or she may be able to meet with you and the teacher to try to work out a solution to this problem. The counselor may also be able to give your daughter some individual time to help her feel better about her frustration with the work.

If things do not improve and your daughter is staying up late to finish her homework and crying every night over it, talk with your pediatrician. This may be seen as an issue that could affect her health. Ask your doctor to write a note to the school stating that your daughter is limited to 45 minutes (or an hour) of homework each night because of health reasons.

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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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