Is It Tougher Being a Kid Today?
It isn’t exactly scientific, but a trove of letters and emails written by children each year reveals important information about their concerns. Kids worry about everything, especially tests and homework, but don’t want to tell their parents about it.
“Highlights for Children” magazine--yes, the one you used to read in the doctor’s office--receivesmore than 60,000 of the messages every year and uses them to detect trends in the lives of America’s kids.
The magazine's editors actually have been answering each one for 63 years! (Last year was the first time that the number of e-mails surpassed the numbe of written letters.)
You may think you know what's on your child’s mind, but you might be surprised if he or she really opened up.
The letters and e-mails from children ages 5 to 12 show that kids worry about everything--finishing homework late, struggling with particular subjects, pets, success, bullies, friends, even lunch.
Tests, too, are a prime concern. Magazine editor Chris Clark said recent letters are more focused on the high stakes of standardized tests.
“They understand there is so much more to them than just measuring their own personal progress,” she said. “You hear kids say they understand that the test will see if their teacher is doing the right thing and that the results are important to the teacher’s future.
"And they understand that kids who don’t perform, well, that that is bad news for the school. And that adds pressure,” she said. “They seem more stressed about it.... The good news is that they seem to be taking school very seriously.”
Highlights also did a survey of kids, asking them to answer 10 questions about their concerns. The magazine crunched the results on 845 completed responses and here are some of the results:
* Kids named schoolwork and tests as their biggest problem (23.4%).
-- Four percent more boys than girls listed school as their biggest problem.
--Kids age 9-12 cited schoolwork 7.4% more than kids 5-8.
*If granted an extra hour each day, 36.3 percent said they would spend it playing outside, on the computer or with friends or parents.
--23.2% of respondents said they would study, do homework, read or write.
--About 7 percent said they would sleep, which has in the past been a usual response from teenagers but not from preteens.
*Asked about their biggest problem, kids' most common complaint was related to schoolwork, 23.4 percent. This included concerns about getting homework done on time, finishing projects and studying for tests.
--But only 5.8% of boys wanted to tell grown-ups about school problems, compared to 9.3% of girls who did.
--Eight percent of all respondents cited problems with both parents, 9 percent with their siblings, and 7 percent with their friends.
*Asked what they wanted adults to know about their lives, 29 percent said they wanted them to know that being a kid is hard--but 21 percent said they wanted them to know that being a kid is fun.
*Thirty-three percent of respondents said they think it is harder being a kid today than it was when their parents were kids.
The Answer Sheet, actually, thinks it IS tougher to be a kid today than when she was, several decades ago. Do you agree or disagree?
| October 7, 2009; 1:05 PM ET
Categories: Homework, Parents, Standardized Tests | Tags: Highlights magazine, homework, standardized tests, what children worry about
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