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How Much Homework?
Q: Another parent and I have been discussing the "right amount" of homework. While we believe in the value of some homework, we don't want our children overloaded with it. I thought I read an article in the last few years that suggested how many minutes per night or week were appropriate. For instance, 15 minutes per night for second graders, etc. Our children are in first, third, and seventh grades. Are there any specific guidelines we can use in our discussions with teachers?
A: The most popular guideline for the right amount of homework is 10 minutes each night for each grade. Therefore, your first-grader should have 10 minutes of homework; it would be 30 minutes for the third-grader and 70 minutes for the seventh-grader. While guidelines are a good idea, teachers will assign work at different rates depending on what they're doing in the classrooms.
Giving students an excessive amount of homework in the early grades can turn them away from learning. It also robs young children of a chance to do other activities after doing six or more hours of academic work in the classroom. It is only when children reach sixth grade that the amount of homework that they do is directly related to how well they achieve in school. Before then, the effect of homework on achievement is almost nonexistent.
Rather than discussing with individual teachers how much homework your children should have, a better approach would be to work through the parent-teacher organization to have the school establish a homework policy. Otherwise, there may be little consistency between how much homework Ms. A and Mr. B assign in third grade. This leads to some students being overburdened by assignments while others rarely do any homework. Also, as students get older and learn different subjects taught by different teachers, it's extremely important to have a school policy that spells out which days of the week individual teachers have to make homework assignments and how much daily homework is appropriate.
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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.