Written by Doctor G

Tests and Papers and Projects: Too Much Homework!

My 8th grader has a ridiculous amount of homework. Here it is one week before Christmas and she has midterms to study for, papers to finish, projects. It’s crazy and I’m mad. She needs help to keep working and I have so much of my own holiday stuff to do. She did not leave this last minute, it just is not effing reasonable! She wants to chuck it all and I want to let her. But I don’t want to see her hard work for the semester go down the drain. Help!

Anonymous in NY

You are in a tough situation, no question. I empathize profoundly with your frustration!

That said, this week your frustration doesn’t matter. What has to get done has to get done.

Your empathy and perseverance will teach your daughter that you respect her and that you value her work. You will teach her more than the school possibly can about valuing her feelings and still meeting her obligations. Then you can teach her about speaking up to make changes when something is unjust.

First question: Is there a project or paper that your daughter can blow off with an acceptable consequence? It may be worth taking a quick look at your school’s online grading book to figure out if she can let something go.

Second question: Has she prioritized? A small paper for library is not worth the same amount of time or stress as an English midterm. It’s a good idea to figure out how much time she has to work between now and the end of these deadlines and then choose an amount of time for each project. Tests, especially, can expand to fill up all your study time.

Third question: Is she at all balanced? Is she getting time to eat, sleep, and have a little bit of downtime? Certainly it won’t be the amount of downtime she might want or even need in the long term, but recharging will make her more effective and healthier.

For the next week or so, you can show empathy for her situation but also need to continue to keep her on track to do her best with each of these assignments.

When the deadlines pass and the holidays are over, you two should brainstorm about fixing the bigger problem. Here is a resource that might help at your daughter’s school: Race to Nowhere Homework Pledge

Chances are good you are not the only parent who feels this is out of control. Start networking and agitate for change! After this round of tests.

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5 thoughts on “Tests and Papers and Projects: Too Much Homework!”

  1. Man! I thought my 10yo (4th grade) having a science test today. The day before school lets out was bad. The kids are so distracted right now too! But it is the end of the grading period her, so the teachers have to get in everything before they leave for break.

    1. In truth I think having a couple of big projects or tests right before break makes the vacation even sweeter, don’t you?

  2. While I can totally sympathize with the suckfest that is “tests and projects right before the holiday break”… I think Dr G gave sound advice. Prioritize. It’s a good lesson for all of us. Do what’s most important and ditch what you can, for the sake of your sanity. This is one of those moments where it will have paid off to have worked hard earlier in the semester. Having wiggle room is a good thing. If your daughter has any homework “passes”… use them!
    Sometimes teachers don’t realize (esp. when kids are changing classes all day and are not with the same teach all day) that they ALL are assigning major projects at the same time. It’s worth asking about what big projects your child will have at the beginning of the semester so that you and your child can plan accordingly. I know that most junior high students don’t get a syllabus at the beginning of the year but, teachers usually DO have a plan for the year. Asking them to ballpark projects for you is a good idea and won’t make the teacher feel like you’re coming at them from an aggressive angle. In my experience, teachers are very happy to work with parents and students who are willing to work hard and plan ahead when it comes to stuff like that.

    1. Sarah, this is a fantastic idea! My only suggestion is this: instead of the parent asking for an outline of when major assignments will come up in the course of the semester, the student should ask and put it on a calendar or in an assignment notebook. Thanks for your thoughtful response!

  3. I have found that a dry erase board is an easy way that you can spend 10 minutes and help your teen prioritize and write down a list of what to do first and when. This is a great skill to learn for life….

    I also second Dr. G –> advocate for change! too much homework is a waste….

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