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more than 2,900 students that found multiple sports each season after
the time it takes kids to complete their school, then come home every day,
homework has increased 51 percent eat dinner and start in on homework
since 1981. at 8 or 9. We are asking them to put
In response, Pope, a mother of in longer days than most adults do,”
three, founded the Stressed Out Stu- Pope remarks.
dents Project (now called Challenge
Success) in 2007. The national orga-
let kids Be kids
nization teaches parents and teachers
Honoré, a London author who has
how to minimize academic stress.
made a living writing books about
The first step, she says, is for par-
how to slow down and lead a less
ents to clearly define their own vision of
frenzied life, says he too, found him-
“success” for their child. Is it really at-
self falling into the “hyper-parenting”
tendance at an Ivy League school? Or, is
trap. When his son’s art instructor
it participating in an enjoyable college
suggested his 7-year-old might have
environment that enriches their life?
a gift for art, he found himself sifting
“People have this vision that their
through catalogues, looking for just
child has to get straight As and involve
the right afterschool course or summer
themselves in every extracurricular
class to nurture his budding Picasso’s
activity in order to get into a good
special talent. When his son got the
college: Not true,” states Pope. “There
news, he looked at his father, dum-
is a college out there for every student
founded, and asked, “Why do grown-
who wants to go to college.”
ups have to take over everything?”
If a parent gets the sense that their
“I realized I had lost my bearings
child’s homework levels are excessive,
as a parent,” Honoré says. He backed
off and ended up writing a book about
it. He now takes care to ask himself
While some stress can
what his motives are before guiding
his son toward an activity: Is it for me,
be beneficial, adults or is it for him?
need to be vigilant
Meanwhile, this grassroots re-
searcher is optimistic that “The pendu-
about looking for signs lum is beginning to swing back,” and
Trees like to
that a child is experi-
that a backlash against hyper-parents
and stressed-out kids is upon us.
encing too much stress, In 2008, Toronto became one of
have kids climb on
particularly if the child
the first jurisdictions in North America
to crack down on excess homework,
is too young to verbal- all but eliminating it in elementary
them, but trees are
ize his or her feelings.
grades and banning it during week-
ends and holidays. Meanwhile, com-
munities across the United States have
much bigger than
they need to be proactive and call begun to host “Ready, Set, Relax”
the teacher, says Pope. As a general days, where all homework and extra-
rule, kids should have no more than curricular activities are canceled.
we are, and much
10 minutes of homework per grade On a smaller scale, experts say
level (10 minutes for first-graders, 30 the revolution toward less stressed-out
for third-graders, two hours for high kids can begin when parents look at
more forgiving.
school seniors, etc.). Pope asks her their kids in a new light. As Pope puts
child’s teachers to send work home in it: “We need to love the kid before us,
advance in weekly packets, so they not the kid we want them to be.” - diane frolov
can distribute it over the week around & Andrew schneider
other commitments. Lisa Marshall is a freelance writer and
“I know kids who do different, mother of four in Colorado.
Pr i n t e d o n re c y c l e d Pa P e r t o Pr o t e c t t h e en v i r o n m e n t
August 2009 29
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