Too Much Homework, Or Poor Time Management?

sleep cycle irregular sleep pattern appI got a press release from the makers of the Sleep Cycle app that boldly stated that children have too darn much homework – “Teens and Parents Agree School Is Exhausting” – and that it adversely impacts their sleep. Never one to let something go unchallenged, I pushed back on the company because, as the parent of three, I believe that the real issue isn’t that kids have too much homework, but that they lack time management skills. I’ve seen with my children over and over again that they spend hours playing, reading, on their devices or just zoning out, then an hour or two before bedtime suddenly start doing their homework. Not much later I hear the lament “I have soooo much homework” or “almost done” as it stretches later into the night.

My Dadly mantra in response is one my kids have heard a million times: Do what you have to do, then you can do what you want to do.

Back to Sleep Cycle, though. Their press release stated that:

“American students are burning the candle at both ends — staying up late to do homework and waking up early to be back in class. It’s a vicious cycle,” said Carl Johan Hederoth, CEO of Sleep Cycle. “Parents can help by trying to establish a regular bedtime and by using Sleep Cycle to wake kids in their lightest phase of sleep so they can start each day feeling refreshed — even for those early classes.

To which I responded:

As a parent of teens, surely teens staying up late to do homework is more a function of their poor time management skills?

With what is perhaps a dry sense of humor, or just a tight focus on the sleep perspective, Hederoth replied:

It can be difficult for students to find the time to get all of their homework done before bedtime. It is important for students and parents to prioritize homework earlier in the day to allow children to go to bed at an appropriate time, allowing them to receive the recommended 8-10 hours of sleep per night.

First off, I don’t know of any teenagers who get 10 hours of sleep a night. If they wake up at the usual 7am, that means they’re in bed and asleep by 9pm every night. Do you know any teens who have that sleep cycle? Heck, my 14yo wakes up at 6am for school (which I concede is too darn early) so she’d need to be in bed, asleep, by 8pm nightly. Definitely not happening.

So she ends up doing homework even as her body is starting to yearn for sleep…

girl chewing pencil, studying on laptop

Of course, the too much homework mob has been complaining for years about post-school-day work that their children are assigned. I’ve watched this with my kids for many years and am convinced that, with a few exceptions, teaching our children to smartly manage their time can solve most all of these problems.

Getting them to sleep at a rational hour so they can wake up rested and ready to jump into academics each morning? Well, that’s a different challenge and I do think that a later start would be beneficial for their physical and mental health, but that’s for another post!

What’s your thinking, fellow parents? And just as a by-the-way, do check out the Sleep Cycle app. It’s a pretty cool idea if you or your children have to wake up to an alarm clock…

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