As a counselor for teens I hear about things that really drive teenagers crazy. One thing I hear repeatedly is that at the high school level they are given unbearable amounts of homework. I am told parents cannot understand because things were different when they were in high school.
In some cases this is true- teenagers are given an incredible amount of homework. However, usually the problem is more one of time management. The adolescents who truly have nearly unmanageable volumes of homework are the ones who sign up for as many AP classes as possible. These are kids with goals to attend really good universities, and probably with an academic scholarship. There’s nothing wrong with this if it’s the teenager who is driving it. However, if parents are the ones pushing until their teen is completely buried in work it’s worth taking a look at the whole situation. It’s worth evaluating whether this much work is at the expense of the teenager’s social and spiritual development. It’s worthwhile to ask how important pushing them this hard really is. Maybe the answer is a good one, and they should keep being pushed…but maybe not…
Now, for the rest of you teens. I have sat with many of you who have told me you have way too much homework. I do realize you don’t enjoy it, and it’s definitely not what you feel like doing after school or on your weekends. I don’t blame you one bit for feeling this way; it’s not fun!
The thing is, for a lot of you, it really doesn’t have to take that long. Are you doing your homework with your cell phone next to you? Do you have multiple internet tabs open while you’re working on your laptop? Is the TV on in the background? It’s really tempting to use electronics while you do your homework (In fact, for many of your assignments you need electronics). If you eliminate distractions you can definitely finish faster. A lot of you can finish a 40 problem math test in an hour in class, but at home those same 40 problems would take you 2 hours. You just might be losing time to texts, apps, the internet and the TV.
I encourage you to work on your homework distraction free. I think you could probably finish it in two hours most nights. If you came home and did it right away, you could be free by 5:30pm every night! You may not even have homework to do all Sunday afternoon. How amazing would that be?!?!
Teens, get your lives back! You already spend a lot of time at school every week. Don’t spend all your time at home with your textbooks open, while you halfheartedly get your work done. Work when you work and play when you play.
Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT