Sunday, January 17, 2016
First of all, I need to tell you: I am not a student. But I am the parent of two high school kids. Maybe it's because one of my kids is struggling and one of them is very conscientious, but it seems the stress teens have with finals is at an all time high!
When I was a student (a million years ago, to be sure), the week before finals was considered "Dead Week". Teachers were not allowed to give homework or teach anything new. It was supposed to be a week of study and review. Fast forward to now and it is a whirlwind of group projects, last minute tests, and teachers trying to make up for lost time.
This past week, my Freshman student had three group projects and two major tests. This kid did NOT wait until the last minute to do their assignments, these were projects that were just assigned. Trying to work with three sets of groups and studying for two tests meant my kid got, at most, 4 hours of sleep per night. This is too much for a teen.
Talking to other parents today, we are all saying the same thing: Enough!!! Schools say they want to reduce student stress. But when push comes to shove, letting teachers load students up with major assignments at the end of the semester shows that they just don't get it.
Bring back "Dead Week"!!! If high schools really want to help reduce student stress, they will not just "talk the talk", but will "walk the walk". It's time for parents to demand an end to this madness.
There is a fantastic book by author Kim Culbertson called The Possibility of Now about a student who has a meltdown during Finals. It is entertaining and thought-provoking. My review of this book is here. I think it resonated with me so much because of seeing what my sweet kid is going through at their high-performing high school. Is is worth it?
Why are we so obsessed with getting perfect grades? When did the teen years become this demanding? I know that some of the traditional rites of passage for teens are gone. There simply isn't time for students to have part-time jobs, or even to learn to drive.
The typical homework load of high school students is over 3 hours per night. Researchers at Duke University say that the maximum amount of homework per night should be topped off at 2 hours. Excessive homework leads to not only stress, but also physical problems. You can read a great article from the New York Times about the negative effects of heavy homework loads here.
What do you think? Are you a stressed out student? I would love to hear what students and parents are thinking about this.