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Are We Expecting Too Much from Kids Today?

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At the risk of sounding like the a curmudgeon starting sentences with, “back in my day…” I still can’t help but reflect on how different my girls’ seem, than when I was a kid over 30 years ago at the same age.

Technology aside, which I do think is a major factor and much different from my days in the 70s and 80s (no computers, primitive video games and five major network TV channels), it appears much more is expected of kids today than was expected of me.

I only attended kindergarten for a half day, while my oldest daughter attends full day. I wasn’t learning to read, to write, or yet perform simple math with addition/subtraction. And I most definitely didn’t get homework.

Conversely, my Kindergartener can write her full name and all her letters in upper and lowercase. She is very much reading, does math with simple addition/subtraction, and has homework all week long. I’m proud of her capabilities, but what has been the price for all this advancement?

As a former teacher, I am aware that homework has its merits helping to foster and practice what kids have learned in school. But sadly, I feel the overall amount, and the expection of young children in general to learn at much earlier ages is overwhelming them… and parents, too! Don’t even get me started on Common Core.  

Recently, I read an article about an elementary school in NYC that pretty much put a stop on giving young kids homework. The school was cited as saying, “there is no link between elementary school homework and success in school” and goes on to say that homework for young children leads to_"frustration and exhaustion, lack of time for other activities and family time and, sadly for many, loss of interest in learning."_  

Furthermore, they have concluded that it was much more important for elementary school students to perform activities that, “have been proven to have a positive impact on student academic performance and social/emotional development, such as reading at their own pace and playing.”

Yet, the parents of these kids were outraged and even pulling their kids from this school. Again this former teacher and now parent, am really flabbergasted by these parents’ reaction, and I am mostly in opposition to their sentiments. I feel this elementary school may just be onto something since I am indeed aware of the pros and cons of homework.

As it stands in most households now, both parents have to work to make ends meet; our home isn’t the exception to this rule.  Yet when I was a similar age to my school-aged daughter, my father was the bread winner, while my mother was able to stay home with us.

Currently, I don’t work outside the home, I work full-time at home as a freelance writer/designer, while my husband works full-time for a major fortune 500 company.

And yet I still take care of my family, while my husband does his best to do his part, too.

But somedays, sadly, it may just not be enough. In my youth not only was family time more of a daily norm, but so too was playing outdoors with neighborhood friends where you first learned to socialize with your peers. When I was younger extracurriculars such as soccer clubs, gymnastics, dance etc. weren’t at all the norm.

Meanwhile, my daughter is in soccer, took dance and has been begging me to try gymnastics while her outdoor playing is almost non-existent. Part of the reason is that her peers are also involved in all sorts of extracurriculars which leaves no one with free time to socialize outside of these settings.

In todays world of raising a family, the time allotted for kids to just enjoy themselves or even for actual family fun time, away from the above societal pressures, is at a minimum.

While, I applaud this one school for their unpopular decision – hope more schools join suit – it isn’t only schools that need to stand up against this culture of high expectations… but parents, as well.

We all need to advocate to let our kids just be kids for as long as they can.

  • What do you think? Do today’s kids have a fighting chance to be just kids?
  • How do you think parents can help their kids to not grow up faster then they have to?

Janine was a certified professional middle school math teacher who became a stay at home mom after having her second daughter. She was born and raised in NYC, but is now residing with her family in the NY suburbs while being a WAHM. She blogs at Confessions of A Mommyaholic, as well as runs her own graphic design company at J9 Designs. You can also find Janine on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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