Reducing Student's Workload

Question: My 9-year-old son is a very hard worker, yet he struggles a lot with reading comprehension, decoding of words and putting his thoughts down on paper. We spend anywhere from one to three hours a night on homework. He is also being tutored for three hours a week at a learning center, takes karate and sings in a choir. At the end of the day, he is very slow and drained. This last grading period, his grades dropped down to C's in English, reading and social studies. Also, spelling went down to a B. I suspect that he might have a learning problem. How can I make school easier for him? - Too Stressed

Answer: Stop having your son spend up to three hours a night on homework as well as going to a learning center three hours a week. It is definitely too much. He should not have to spend more than an hour a night on homework - 45 minutes would be more appropriate. Discuss the homework issue with his teacher in order to reduce the amount of time he is spending on it.

Your son might be a hard worker, but be realistic - he is only 9 years old. He will definitely burn out and become disinterested in having to do so much work if he never has any free time to spend with his friends, simply having fun. Actually, doing less homework, even dropping one of his activities and spending less time at the learning center could work to his advantage. Children his age can be overscheduled.

You know that your son has problems with both reading and writing. Have you had these problems carefully evaluated by the school or learning center? If not, this must be done as soon as possible, so that he can get the help he really needs. Also, are you, his teacher and those at the learning center all working closely together to help him? This is very important.