Help! Does My Kid Have Too Much Homework?
Get your no. 2 pencils out – it's time for a pop quiz. Homework is a) an effective tool that helps kids learn, b) a complete waste of time, or c) a worsening problem for kids and their families.
Answer: it depends on how old they are.
So when your kids come home with backpacks loaded up with at least 25 pounds of books and hours of assignments, do you say something? And at what point do you tell your kid to go to bed rather than pulling long hours to finish the work?
Researchers have mixed opinions, but one thing's for sure: students with more hours of daily homework tend to have higher stress levels and sleep less — which isn't ideal when it comes to both learning and test performance.
For a clearer picture of what you should expect, here's how much homework kids tend to have at each grade level and what it really means for their overall development.
When it comes to kindergarten-age tots, the rule is pretty straightforward: there should be no homework sent home ever.
Both the National Education Association and the National Parent Teacher Association agree on this recommendation.
And even though we're seeing it assigned even earlier, like in preschool, researchers say that it can make your kids have negative feelings toward schoolwork when they get older, according to a comprehensive review of 180 studies at Duke University.
In the last decade or so, the amount of homework assigned to kids who are making their way through grade school has increased significantly. While we’re pretty sure all the extra work is assigned with the best intentions (hey, it’s not like teachers love grading thousands of worksheets, either, right?), it might not be paying off as much as we initially thought.
Research from the National Assessment of Education Progress, which assesses student learning through the US, showed no correlation between how much homework elementary school students were assigned and test results in reading and math — even compared with students who didn’t do any homework at all.
If your little one is in grade school, experts recommend sticking to the “10-Minute Rule,” which means they should be completing 10 minutes of daily homework per grade level. So if your kid is in third grade, expect a half hour of after-school work each evening.
Once your child hits middle school the function of homework changes because homework actually starts to benefit kids when they're a little older.
Harris Cooper, the author of The Battle Over Homework, says that students’ grades and test scores actually do improve the more homework they do.
But there’s a catch, or rather, a threshold. While it’s certainly true that children in middle school benefit academically from after-school assignments, experts stop seeing any more improvement after about 45 minutes for kids in grades six through eight.
Another thing to consider is how the homework is assigned and completed. Turns out, tech-based learning formats have a vital role in education. A study by the American Educational Research Association found that introducing an online homework tool to seventh graders in Maine benefited student performance, especially in the math department.
Although Cooper acknowledges that homework is a crucial part of the learning process for kids, studies also suggest that too much homework can be counterproductive for students across the board, especially at the high-school level.
Teenagers are particularly prone to side effects from high stress levels, given the early start times in the morning compounded by extracurricular activities and late-night study sessions. Those factors combined with the pressure to load up on advance-placement classes and applying to colleges can have some seriously negative consequences.
“[Kids with too much homework] will miss out on active playtime, essential for learning social skills, proper brain development, and warding off childhood obesity,” said Cooper in an interview with the Huffington Post.
It might seem impossible to find the time for your older kids stick to the 10-minute rule (which equates to 90 minutes for freshman and two hours for seniors), but experts stand behind the recommendation.
The No-Homework Movement
If you've heard about the no-homework movement that's gaining traction throughout the US, you aren't alone.
The parents involved in the movement agree that the amount of homework their kids have been getting is unreasonable, and school administrators have definitely started taking notice.
One teacher from Texas, for example, decided to implement a strict no-homework policy in her own class, and many schools around the country followed suit.
Advocates believe that excessive amounts of homework, especially at a young age, can hinder kids socially and mentally, as well as cause them to lose out on spending time with family. And the kicker? There's no evidence that saddling young children with homework actually make them perform better when it comes to taking tests.