Expert: It May Be Dog-Eat-Dog World, But Kids Are Running Themselves Ragged

KATONAH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — To all those tiger moms and dads out there who push their children to excel in a competitive world, some of New York’s top private schools have a message for you:

Sometimes less is more.

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CBS 2’s John Metaxas reports on an effort to cut down on all that homework kids seem to be getting these days.

Katonah mom and teacher Pauline Schneider said she thinks she has the perfect educational choice for her daughter, Anastasia, who is 14 and is home schooled because of the volume of homework at her public school.

“I thought it was way too much. It was practically mountains of homework,” Anastasia said.

“They don’t have that time to reflect,” Pauline added.

It’s a lament of many parents and students these days: with the pressure to take part in sports, activities and Advanced Placement courses to get into top colleges, adding in five or six hours of homework does nothing but run kids ragged.

But now some elite New York City private schools are saying enough is enough. Dalton is staggering tests and papers to avoid overwhelming students. Trinity is examining its workload. Horace Mann opened a tutoring center to help students manage their work. And Hunter College High offers homework holidays, the next one this week on Halloween.

The moves by the private schools are an effort to reconsider the role of homework — to make school more humane. To not, in the words of one parent, rob our children of their childhoods.

“I think they are really trying to balance the kids’ lives,” Victoria Goldman said.

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Goldman, an author who has written about elite private schools, said some moderation in homework is okay.

But not everyone is so sure.

“Life is tough. Life is hard. Life is competitive. So is school. And you better get used to it,” Hunter College High parent Allan Dodds Frank said.

Goldman said it’s a question of balance.

“I think high school homework should never be less than two and never more than four hours a night,” Goldman said.

“These kids are smart. They are capable of learning. They don’t need all the tons of homework,” Pauline Schneider added.

Most important is to recognize what’s best for your child.

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