How many minutes of homework should your child have?

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One question on the minds of many parents and students is “How many minutes of homework should my child have?”   Parents generally support the schools their children attend, and that support is vital. Students whose parents offer support of education and teachers generally perform better than in schools that lack such support. 

That doesn’t mean that we don’t sometimes have questions… as the parent, the student or the teacher.   

How Much Homework is Too Much for a Child?

The issue of how much homework is enough or too much is difficult to answer with precision. However, there are some facts that offer clarification.

First, it is important to know that research has not determined if homework is useful with very young children.  While it is as a tool for learning and developing responsibility, it may not be beneficial for young children.

How Much Homework does the average U.S. student get? 

According to the National Public Radio: “The best answer comes from something called the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP. In 2012, students in three different age groups — 9, 13 and 17 — were asked, “How much time did you spend on homework yesterday?” The vast majority of 9-year-olds (79 percent) and 13-year-olds (65 percent) and still a majority of 17-year-olds (53 percent) all reported doing an hour or less of homework the day before.

Another study from the National Center for Education Statistics found that high school students who reported doing homework outside of school did, on average, about seven hours a week.”

How Much Minutes of Homework Per Night is Acceptable? 

Studies have found that the value of homework increases with age. High school students seem to benefit the most. The most widely accepted “rule of thumb” for homework is simple: A total of 10 minutes of homework per night per grade.

That means, for example, that 3rd-grade students should not have more than 30 minutes of homework per night.

Many experts do not agree with weekend homework for students.   The reason for this is that children need a break to enjoy family and friends.  Too much homework can interfere with necessary social activities that also are valuable.

How to help your child with homework

Which kind of homework is the most effective? 

Cory Turner has a suggestion on this:  “Let’s start with something called the spacing effect. Say a child has to do a vocabulary worksheet. The next week, it’s a new worksheet with different words and so on.

Well, research shows that the brain is better at remembering when we repeat with consistency, not when we study in long, isolated chunks of time. Do a little bit of vocabulary each night, repeating the same words night after night.

Can Homework Cause Stress in Children? 

“Homework that cannot be done without help is not good homework.” – National PTA:

While some children handle homework well, others are easily overwhelmed when homework begins to interfere with their after-school lives.  Some children are staying up until 10:00 at night trying to finish their work.  An 8-hour school day, followed by hours of homework easily adds up to a stressful environment for a child. 

If children begin to show signs of stress because of too much homework, a conference with the teacher is suggested.  If grades begin to suffer because of missing homework or low homework grades, it may be due to the overwhelm that the child is feeling.

Should Parents Step In?  

The push for more homework over the past two or three decades was partially the result of concern over American students not measuring up to some foreign nations.  There was a collective assumption that more homework would generate better test scores, but it has not.

Parents are encouraged to step in if the assigned work is excessively time-consuming, has the appearance of “busy work,” or does not relate clearly to learning standards.   My friend, a teacher, said that if her students are doing well, she will let the parents know that they do not need to complete the assignment – it is meant for the children who need a little extra work in that particular subject.   If a parent comes to her with a complaint of “busy work,” she will look at the student’s grade to make a decision about the homework. 

Homework is not Universally Accepted by All Educators

Parents who peruse the Internet for information about homework might be surprised to find that homework has many detractors. 

The sensible stance for parents is to turn to reliable resources and become educated about the use of homework. 

On the same note, it is not a good idea to talk about disliking homework in front of your child, as it will show your child that you may lack respect for his/her teacher.  That is not helpful to parents, teachers, or children. 

Yes, homework policies are inconsistent across the nation.

The Homework vs. No-Homework conclusion is… 

 Homework and its effectiveness as a teaching tool are not well-understood and the options are always changing.   Helpful, right?  It’s the truth.  Some like it for the way that it helps to re-enforce what the child learned, while others question its interference with socialization and family plans.

My opinion?  I think that a little bit is helpful and it lets the parents in on what the child is learning at school.  I think it should be something that they have already learned and I love when homework is fun (unlike ‘busy work”)

The ten-minute-per-grade level “rule” (per night) is a good way to assess whether or not too much homework is being assigned. Parents have a right to politely question homework policies and should do so if they understand the issues well enough. The Internet is a good place to begin parental enlightenment.    The exception to the 10-minute rule is reading.  I always encourage my children to read for at least 20 minutes a night. 

I hope that was helpful!  Check out more ideas about homework, school & raising children on our Facebook page. 

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