October 2006

Hey tweens, you there? Calling all teen writers and reporters. If you enjoy discussing current teen issues, this could be for you. Chicago Parent is looking for kids ages 12 to 14 to join the Teen Issue Panel, a group of kids from different parts of Illinois who will interview peers on various subjects. The panel will meet monthly at Chicago Parent headquarters in Oak Park to discuss topics. Information gathered will be used in a quarterly Chicago Parent column. Applicants should send their name, age, city and a short essay demonstrating reporting and writing skills on a current issue to editors@chicagoparent. com and shailigum @aol.com.


Is homework helpful? I'd like to comment on your "Homework Help" article (August 2006), one of many articles parents will be reading as students go back to school this fall. It might be true that "most educators agree homework reinforces skills and builds responsibility," but it is disappointing that your article did not include any educators who are questioning the sacred cow­-homework.

Recent books include: The Case Against Homework: How Homework is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It by Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish; The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning by Etta Kralovec and John Buell; and The Homework Myth by Alfie Kohn.

Kohn's book includes a closer look at the Duke study your article referred to, and raises numerous questions. He concludes that there is no evidence that homework provides any academic benefit for elementary students, and little evidence of any benefits for older students. In study after study, results that are inconclusive at best have been presented as evidence of a nonexistent connection between homework and academic achievement. The research also does not support the idea that homework improves responsibility or self-discipline.

As a social worker and a parent, I am concerned about the stress-related issues that I believe are directly and/or indirectly related to homework, including family conflict and physical and emotional problems such as obesity, depression and anxiety disorders. I would love to see Chicago Parent explore these issues related to the physical and emotional well-being of our children.


C-section not that bad In response to your C-section article (June 2006) and the reader responses to it in the July issue, I would also like to add that there appears to be a lot of negativity toward C-sections, which doesn't help women who may have no choice but to have one. I labored for several hours, but it was determined that a C-section would be necessary. Although I was worried, I knew it was for the best. I was disappointed, but as long as I had a healthy baby, it didn't matter.

I felt the recovery from my C-section was very easy, despite already being somewhat overweight and not in the best of shape. I was up and moving around the next day, and the nurse even jokingly said she wished I could show others how to do it. I had no problems with my incision and the scar is barely noticeable.

I think the key to this was not being overly negative because I didn't have a vaginal delivery. I also asked the nurse to wake me as soon as I could have the next course of pain relief. After the initial IV medication was no longer being delivered into my system, not waiting for the pain to start helped.

At home I did well too, and had no problems moving around and caring for my baby. Three months after my first child, I had emergency gall bladder surgery. I felt the recovery from that was worse than the labor itself, and 10 times worse than the recovery.

I am now expecting another child and am considering VBAC. However, a C-section is still an option, especially with how well it went the first time. It will all depend on what is best for the baby at the time, not that I'm dreaming of the picture-perfect vaginal birth. I realize vaginal birth is the ideal, but I think that there is so much negativity surrounding C-sections that isn't fair to women who need one or who have chosen to purposely have one.

With any illness, they always say attitude is everything. This spans to C-section childbirth, too. I have mostly heard stories on how horrible it was. Perhaps if people didn't dwell on the fact that they didn't get to deliver vaginally, recovery wouldn't be so bad.

KELLY KLEIN Plainfield

Kids Eat Chicago

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