Do our kids have too much homework?

This is a great article about homework over at the Great Schools site.

No two kids are a like and you might think the answer depends on how much they can handle, their motivation, and how much time they have.  And isn’t it true that the more practice they have the better?  Well  in a word NO.   Everyone should read this article. Here are some excerpts:

“How many people take home an average of two hours or more of work that must be completed for the next day?” asks Tonya Noonan Herring, a New Mexico mother of three, an attorney and a former high school English teacher. “Most of us, even attorneys, do not do this. Bottom line: students have too much homework and most of it is not productive or necessary.”

“Cooper sees the trend toward more homework as symptomatic of high-achieving parents who want the best for their children. “Part of it, I think, is pressure from the parents with regard to their desire to have their kids be competitive for the best universities in the country. The communities in which homework is being piled on are generally affluent communities.”

Cooper points to “The 10-Minute Rule” formulated by the National PTA and the National Education Association, which suggests that kids should be doing about 10 minutes of homework per night per grade level. In other words, 10 minutes for first-graders, 20 for second-graders and so on.

Garfield has a very clear homework policy that she distributes to her parents at the beginning of each school year. “I give one subject a night. It’s what we were studying in class or preparation for the next day. It should be done within half an hour at most. 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.”

To be effective, homework must be used in a certain way, he says. “Let me give you an example. Most homework in the fourth grade in the U.S. is worksheets. Fill them out, turn them in, maybe the teacher will check them, maybe not. That is a very ineffective use of homework. An effective use of homework would be the teacher sitting down and thinking ‘Elizabeth has trouble with number placement, so I’m going to give her seven problems on number placement.’ Then the next day the teacher sits down with Elizabeth and she says, ‘Was this hard for you? Where did you have difficulty?’ Then she gives Elizabeth either more or less material. As you can imagine, that kind of homework rarely happens.”

“What typically happens is people give what we call ‘shotgun homework’: blanket drills, questions and problems from the book. On a national level that’s associated with less well-functioning school systems,” he says. “In a sense, you could sort of think of it as a sign of weaker teachers or less well-prepared teachers. Over time, we see that in elementary and middle schools more and more homework is being given, and that countries around the world are doing this in an attempt to increase their test scores, and that is basically a failing strategy.”

What do you think?  Is the amount of homework your student receives too little? too much? or just about right?   Leave a comment below!

8 Replies to “Do our kids have too much homework?”

  1. As a past teacher and a parent, I afford a view from both perspectives. As a parent, I saw major lacks of communication between teachers when it came to scheduling tests. Middle school was particularly difficult. Now the problem is this; the system is driven, regardless of how it is spun, by the TAKS test. The whole point of the year is to get that exemplary rating. THIS is where the homework problem really bares its teeth. A child with a median IQ is bombarded with pullouts, worksheets, remediation…Now this is a normal part of the educational process, but that test isn’t. The teachers will never tell you, but that test was created by people in a multi-million dollar business and is no more an indication as to a child’s strengths as would be swingin’ a chicken over a cauldron. Some drink the koolaide, but anything that causes a child that much anguish at such an early age is flat wrong.
    Yes, there is too much homework…period. As parents, you have the voice to make this known. AND, it’s not necessarily the teachers. I say without any reservation that I believe LT teachers are the state’s finest and teach in spite of the system that constantly works against them.

  2. Thanks for that bigdawg. As you said, as parents we have a voice. We elect the school board, the board hires the top administrators and the administrators implement what they feel the district wants. If we don’t express what we want, then the vocal minority will determine priorities and the agenda.

  3. Last night at Open House for the high school, one of my son’s teachers confessed that he wasn’t a “big homework” giver. His philosophy was to be as efficient as possible with class time – basically his students are expected to work hard (and non-stop) during the time they are in class. Having said that, he also stated that student behavior in class often dictates their use of time. Big encouragement and challenge to me to raise good kids!

  4. Some classes are know to take a lot of time at home. Freshman Pre-AP Language Arts is one of them. All Mathematics, in my experience thus far. I’ve found the homework in math classes to be unnecessarily excessive with too many repetitive problems on the same concept and multiple “Critical Thinking” problems that can take 10-15 minutes each!

  5. Both of my children are in college but I bucked the system ( in RRISD) within my own home and advice for my children. Some classes did have a huge amount of homework and taking as many AP classes as possible was pushed and pushed with counselors saying “if you want your child to go to a good college” pre-AP and AP classes are a must. Drove me nuts. With my children I emphasized they pick 2 or at the most 3 AP tracks. When my daughter had AP World History she had as much homework in that class as she did all of her other classes combined. I think the trend with more homework goes along with more accessible technology. I could go on and on but the gist of my experience is that high school has been turned into a college in some subjects and while I want my kids to succeed I also want them to have a healthy childhood (through their teen years in HS) and go to college when they actually go to a university.

Leave a Reply