Although research suggests a positive correlation between home- work and student achievement, it’s negligible in lower grades. Parents may want to use research on homework as impetus for a broader conversation with teachers and administrators to set clear goals and institute more effective policies.
The standard has been 10 minutes of homework per night, per grade level, so 30 minutes for third graders—but many schools exceed this. High-performing schools often give homework because their community equates it with a rigorous, quality education. Parents want their kids to have an academic advantage in an era of global competitiveness and high-stakes college admissions.
Some believe homework promotes good study habits and self-discipline, but there is little evidence to support this in early grades. Sometimes students receive too much work; completing 10 math problems will demonstrate understanding as well as doing 30. Homework should be also relevant; children are more motivated if asked to apply concepts to their own interests.
Joe: Students should be given minimal (30 minutes) homework to demonstrate they understand skills and can complete activities independently.
Katie: Children need to know that sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to, like a 10-minute worksheet. Give cursive writing homework!
Julie: I’d love to see 15 minutes tops. It’s nice to see what kids are working on.
Some studies have shown that, with homework, students may experience sleep deprivation, stress, and anxiety, and may develop a negative attitude toward learning. Some teachers skip homework and instead encourage family time and outdoor play.
Karen: I feel like I’m in prison. Get home late, eat dinner, do homework, then go to bed. The next day is more of the same. Where’s the family time?
Kathy: Heaven forbid if they have extracurriculars, then start homework after that. The stress starts way too young!
Sheryl: Encourage fun investigations, experiments, or crafts!
Sharon: Our elementary school has a “Fit & Lit”program. Kids keep track of 20-minute blocks of reading or physical activity and receive small incentives.