The H-word

It starts early in life, causes many a parent and child to cry, and ends up being eaten by all sorts of creatures.

Sometimes, homework actually helps kids master math skills or rouse their creative muse. But achieving that perfect combination - assignments that aren't just busywork, a motivated student, and parents equipped to help out - isn't exactly a cakewalk.

In fact, a perusal of the 100-plus book titles on this topic suggests that the homework-laden have a hard time just keeping their cake down. Case in point: "How to do Homework Without Throwing Up."

According to some of the children's tales out there, the homework load has gotten so bad that the excuses have expanded. These days, papers don't just taste good to dogs, but to aliens, guinea pigs, and even grandma's wildebeest.

And families start gearing kids up for it as early as preschool with books like "The Berenstain Bears and the Homework Hassle."

A number of help books do offer a positive take on the nightly study chores. But some educators who think the burden on families is now too much have a radical proposal: the end of homework (see story, page 17).

Until that catches on, though, new creative excuses will keep surfacing. I'm sorry, Ms. Maxwell, the Matrix ate my homework.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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