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How do teens do it?

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I was reading a post below about teens having extra curricular activities to put on their college application. I'm wondering how teens do it all and it is really starting to worry me.


Last year as a freshman at the public high school my dd had a ton of homework 1st semester. A lot of it was senseless busywork but timeconsuming nonetheless (many nights 5+ hours).


This year she is a sophomore at a private school. She doesn't usually have busywork but some nights has an extreme amount of homework. She has a hard time finishing her schoolwork without staying up until midnight. Many weeks she has to miss dance class, which she cut down to two times a week this year. She needs to do 8 hours of community service for a school requirement per quarter. Beyond that I have no idea how she would fit anything else in.


This past weekend she was up very late on Friday and Saturday night (I believe it was midnight and almost 1:00) doing her homework. Last night she was swamped again. She had a migraine after school so she wasn't able to start until 5:00 but she had work to do in 7 classes. She finally went to bed at 11:00 and got up at 5:30 so that she could finish it.


She is a straight A student and I believe that she manages her time well but I am starting to think that I should talk to someone at the school to see if most of the other students have this load. I don't want to be a hellicopter parent yet the pace is unrelenting and my dd's health is starting to suffer again. She is also very thin and struggles to keep weight on anyway.


My dd has brought up the fact that she doesn't know how other kids do it. Many kids are in sports or other activities many times a week yet seem to get their homework done.


I'm also wondering if many kids at her school don't give 100% on each assignment. DD wants to give 110% on everything and has always turned in every single assignment. I'm wondering if some kids finish their homework quickly because they are doing it haphazardly or don't finish all of it. I wonder if there are some times when other students may pick and choose what they complete for the night and don't turn anything in.


Bottom line is that with dd's current workload I can't imagine adding on anything like a part time job, more volunteer work, etc without damaging her grades and her health.

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well, one is an almost teen, don't have that much homework at their private school nor did they have that much at their public school they attended before.


At most my oldest is at about 1.5 hours per night (9th grade), not including irregular projects, maybe two hours at most. He's involved in a variety of church activities several nights per week. (He's not interested in sports). He is on the honor roll although not straight A's and puts effort into his work.


Now, my younger is probably (7th grade) is at around an hour per night at the same private school although that's probably more what it should take him then the amount of time he actually spends on it <sigh>. I'm not sure he made honor roll but that's mostly because he doesn't put any effort into it. He is involved in football in the fall (around 2.5 hours per night 4 days per week) and still manages to get everything done. He's probably not a good one to compare against though :).


That being said, I would think that 5 hours per night would be ridiculous and if it is affecting her health I would definitely at least make the call or find some other parents to talk to.


Do you/can you look at her assignments each night and estimate about how long it should take her to do her homework?

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For example this is what she had to complete last night. Of course she was recovering from a migraine so I'm sure she wasn't at full mental capacity but to me it was still quite a workload.


Geometry-4 worksheets some of them with proofs.


Science-read chapter and answer questions.


World history-read and answer questions. One of the questions was quite involved and her answer was over a page long.


Spanish-complete a worksheet and write a one page paper in response to a movie that they watched in class.


Bible-a worksheet (very deep questions)


Foods-study for a test


English-read 10 pages from Macbeth and find 5 passages or quotes that she can discuss with her group tomorrow. She had to copy the passage or quote and then give feedback on it (what kind of literary device it used or whether it was foretelling, etc.) The feedback had to be a paragraph long not just a sentence or two.

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My kids aren't in high school yet, but thinking back to when I was in high school, I think you have already identified the main issue here.


Your daughter is putting too much effort into each assignment.


Theoretically, it is nice to give 100% to each assignment, but as you have pointed out, that crowds out other, valuable activities in life, such as dance and community service, and sleep. I say this as a recovering perfectionist myself. Life is just not structured to allow a person to devote 100% effort to every task. The sooner she learns to evaluate which tasks are worth the time and which ones should be done quickly, the better off she will be. Things aren't going to be any better in college. I don't know how many times I heard, "This class should be your academic focus for the semester" from multiple professors on the same day.


The other thing that jumps out is that I would make sure your daughter knows how to skim textbooks. Often the material in the textbook reading just reinforces or doubles up what the lectures in class are covering, so you don't have to *read* every single word.


Finally, I would work with her on trimming her answers down to essentials. Over time, she will learn to keep her answers short.


Given the list you shared, I can tell you what I would have done:


Geometry--no real way around this one, but if my teacher allowed late work I would have done most of it for the day it was due (to make sure I understood) and finished one up later.


Science--skim chapter. Answer questions as briefly as possible.


World History--read/skim (I liked history, so if I had time to read, I would). Again, keep answers succinct.


Spanish--do worksheet. Keep response short.


Bible--see above. Do just enough to get credit.


Foods--skip it or spend 10 minutes reviewing. (How hard are the tests?)


English--identify passages quickly as you are reading. Don't worry about finding the perfect passage. Again, keep answers short. 4-5 sentences is a paragragh.


I also did work in class whenever possible. Things like the Spanish worksheet or the Bible worksheet could often be done while listening to the teacher. Even skimming the science text and answering the questions.


Good luck! I hope you find a good balance soon.

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Thank you. It is especially helpful since you say that you are a perfectionist yourself. My dd gets upset when she isn't getting in the high 90's for all of her classes. I think she needs to let go a little bit. It's great to get A's but they don't need to be high and in fact a B or two wouldn't be the end of the world.


I will tell her your suggestions for the reading/answering questions. I'm not sure if she is reading word for word or skimming but I think she could cut back on some of the answers.


One of her worries about the english assignment is that each student in her group had a different job for their discussion tomorrow. My dd was worried that if her questions weren't "deep" enough that it wouldn't take up enough time in the class period. Each group had to keep their discussion going for 45 minutes. I figure if she found the 5 quotes and wrote a paragraph on each that she did the job and shouldn't worry about the discussion part.


Yes, believe it or not she is even worried about Foods class. She didn't want to take this class but got stuck in it because we registered so late. She is currently getting a 100% in the class but still worries about tests.


As far as the Bible worksheet he asks questions that I can't even answer. It's not as easy as reading a passage and answering a question. This class is more like my college philosophy class. My dh and I both agree that if she doesn't get an A in this class it's not going to be the end of the world. Of course it will count toward her GPA but the colleges she is looking at won't care about a Bible class.


She was able to write her Spanish paper this morning after breakfast, although she had to wake up at 5:30 to do it.

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Our two oldest went to high school and they learned to prioritize homework this way:

Do first and with the most effort: Any subject in which the homework was actually helpful or was actually graded ( not just checked to see if it was completed). Often, math and foreign languages fell into this category.

Second priority: Any subject where homework counted toward a grade and yet wasn't actually graded...just checked to see if it was completed. Read and answer questions usually fell into this category.

Lowest priority: Anything that didn't count gradewise. We were surprised to see how much time oldest dd was spending on things that were never turned in.


Our oldest was (and still is, in grad school) a perfectionist and she struggled to lower her standards. But she simply couldn't put in the time to do things perfectly, and once she found her groove, she's been a much happier student.

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Can you get a hold of How to Be a Superstar Student from the Teaching Company? I think there are many time saving suggestions in there. I agree that she is probably putting in too much effort. This is one area where school is like life. Prioritizing is a learned skill (one that I am still working on since I am reading message here instead of doing other important things, LOL!)

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