December 13, 2016

Homework: How Much is Too Much?

Students and homework-a dilemmaevery teacher faces. Have you ever asked yourself or a colleague any of the following questions?

  • I’ve got a nagging sense that some of the homework I assign is busy work. Is that a good thing?
  • What exactly does the research show on the effects of homework?
  • Is the battle over homework really one I should be fighting with students, parents and other teachers?
  • What are the best ways to integrate homework into the mix?
  • Should students have homework?
  • How much homework is too much?
  • How do I get my students to do their homework?

You are not alone. These are questions that each and every teacher asks themselves and depending on who you ask, the answers to these questions varies. At Learners Edge, we will try to make sense of it all and provide you with some solid take-a ways that you can bring back to your classroom to implement with your students in terms of homework.

1.How Much Homework is Too Much?

Homework overload is now considered the norm rather than the exception these days. The American Journal of Family Therapy found that students in elementary school years are getting significantly more homework that recommended by education leaders. The study, filled out by more than 1,100 English and Spanish speaking parents of children in kindergarten through grade 12, found that children in first grade had up to three times the homework recommended by the NEA and National PTA.

The recommendations endorsed by the National Education Association and the National Parent-Teacher Association is the so- called “10 minute rule” – 10 minutes of homework per grade level per night. Meaning 10 minutes of homework for the first grade, 20 minutes in the second grade, all the way up to 120 minutes for senior year of high school. The NEA and National PTA do not endorse homework for kindergarten.

2.What Are the Downfalls of Too Much Homework?

Too much homework can lead to student’s frustration and exhaustion, lack of time for other activities and possible loss of interest in learning. The impact of excessive homework on high schoolers included high stress levels, a lack of balance in children’s lives and physical health problems – such as ulcers, migraines, sleep deprivation and weight loss.

There is also little correlation to prove that more homework improves student’s GPAs. In fact, for kids in elementary school , there was hardly any relationship between how much homework young children did and how well they were doing in school. There is a positive relationship between homework and school success at the secondary levels, but only until the kids are doing between an hour to two house a night, which is right where the 10-minute rule says its going to be optimal. After that, it didn’t increase. Kids that reported doing more than 2 hours of homework a night in middle school weren’t doing any better in school than kids who were doing between an hour to two hours.

3.What are the Benefits of Homework?

Homework usually falls into one of three categories: practice, preparation, or extension. The purpose usually varies by grade. Homework can help students develop study skills and can keep families informed about their child’s learning. At the secondary level, student homework is associated with greater academic achievement (Review of Educational Research, 2006).

Homework is meant to help children and you, the teacher, know which skills are missing and what needs improvement. Secondly, is the importance of letting our kids learn how to make mistakes, letting them fail and motivation for their own success.

4. What Is A Good Homework Policy?

Any homework policy you set should be clearly laid out at the beginning of the school year with your students and parents. Policies should address the purposes of homework; amount and frequency; school and teacher responsibilities; student responsibilities; and, the role of parents or others who assist students with homework. Ms. Garfield, a San Francisco fifth-grade teacher implements the following policy with her students, “I give one subject a night. It’s what we are studying in class or preparation for the next day. It should take no longer than 30 minutes. I believe that children have many outside activities now and they also need to live fully as children. To have them work for six hours a day at school and then go home and work for hours at night does not seem right. It doesn’t allow them to have a childhood.”

Countless teachers, students and parents across the country are frustrated over homework. Parents lament the impact of homework on their relationship with their children and many resent having to play the role of enforcer and worry that they will be criticized either for not being involved enough with the homework or for becoming too involved. Teachers feel pressured by those parents who mistakenly believe that a lack of afterschool assignments reflects an insufficient commitment to academic achievement. It seems to be the belief that as long as kids have stuff to do every night, no matter what the homework is, that they must be learning.

Dive deeper into the homework issue and discover the best practices to integrate homework into your classroom and teaching by registering for Course 5045: Assignment Homework: Where, When & Why? This course takes a fresh look at one of the traditional pillars of American schooling: homework. It will examine the role homework has played in the culture of schooling over the years, and explore what research and educators’ common sense tells us about its impact on student learning. Course 5045 illustrate multiple perspectives on the topic and will ask you to do some deep thinking about how you approach homework.


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