Is your family on the hamster wheel of school, endless homework, and sports, sport, sports? Are you having a hard time keeping up? Are your worried your kids aren’t getting enough sleep? Are you wondering if there could be such a thing as too much homework? But are you worried that if you don’t your kids won’t get into a “good” college without all the AP classes? Does your kid feel like the little hamster on the wheel, running and running and running – but getting no where but tired? Get some answers in this post!
When my kids were younger, I watched the older kids of friends and thought the amount of homework the top students were doing in high school was ridiculous.
Then my own kids entered middle school.
At first, we avoided the classes with heavy homework loads. But through various compromises, our kids started taking a mix of classes that crept closer and closer to what we had hoped to avoid. It started feeling like they were doing homework. All. The. Time. But there didn’t seem to be other options.
Then our youngest, at age 11, started regularly staying up until midnight to finish her homework.
We realized we had a problem.
An 11-year-old staying up until midnight to finish homework isn’t just ridiculous.
It might seem okay when everyone else is doing it. But it’s not.
So we decided to moderate their workload by experimenting with not allowing them to take all preAP and AP classes they wanted to take, mixing in “on-level” classes.
It’s been tough.
I was an over-achieving student when it was easier to be an over-achiever. Even so, I studied too much in college. I’ve edited, reviewed, and written for chemistry, biology, and physics textbooks. I have a BS in Chemistry and a PhD in biology; I’ve sent a plant biology experiment into space on the space shuttle. All of our kids were at the top of their classes in middle school. We are a family who believes in education.
Making our kids cut back made me really, really nervous. Most of the other parents I talked to, and even my kids’ friends, thought we were wrong to not have them take all the toughest classes.
But the amount of homework I saw my kids doing, and the stress I was starting to see develop, didn’t seem healthy.
So I started researching.
Is homework beneficial?
Should students have less homework?
What are the effects of too much homework?
How does homework affect family time?
Is too much homework bad for kids’ health?
What are the emotional effects of too much homework?
Sleep deprivation in students
How much sleep do 13 year olds need? 11 year olds? 17 year olds?
The effects of lack of sleep on development
The pros and cons of AP classes
How many AP classes should you take?
How important are AP classes for college admission?
I can research just about anything to the smallest detail, but I’m always skeptical of my findings when it’s all theoretical.
It’s only when research AND my first and second-hand experiences start lining up that I know that I’m close to finding the truth.
So I also started to talk to other parents, really talking, and listening. Listening hard. Listening between the lines. I was looking to any clue as to how some kids were able to “do it all with ease.” (Hint. None of them were when you get to know them well enough. There is always, always a cost. And it’s not just less social media time.)
I was also lucky enough to know some parents of older teens who were wiling to share their experiences. They filled us in on the real details about their kids’ experiences getting into college. They also gave us their actual numbers for real college costs.
I realized that not every parent has others that are willing to share their experiences so honestly. And it can be hard to do a lot of research. So I started a blog, High School, College, Success! to try to share with other parents what’s really required to get into a good college, what the lack of sleep and stress is doing to our children and teens, and most of all, researching what it really takes to be successful. (Hint: School doesn’t teach it to you.)
If your child and your family are on an endless treadmill chasing the perfect credentials to get into college, I hope you can find some information on my blog to help you get off the treadmill and on to a path for a more fulfilling education.