A common educational myth is that all children need to do homework every weeknight. Research tells us that for elementary school children, homework has little or no effect on academic achievement. A head start on establishing good study habits is probably the most positive outcome from elementary homework – that, and an opportunity for parents to keep track of their child’s progress in the curriculum. Homework in middle school has a moderate effect on achievement, but it’s really not until high school that homework becomes an important factor for academic progress.
Parents are often concerned about the amount of time their children spend on homework – either too much or too little. Many school systems have a “rule of thumb” about how much homework is appropriate: ten minutes per grade level is the most common. So your first grader should have 10 minutes of homework, your fifth grader should have 50 minutes of homework, and so forth. By the time students are in high school, a general expectation is 1 to 2 hours of homework every weekday evening.
Another policy issue is the effect of homework on the final grade. Many students get poor grades because they don’t do homework and get zeroes in the grade book. In my school system, the homework policy recommends that homework be no more than 15% of the grade in elementary and middle school, and no more than 20% in high school.
We all know that homework can make evenings a living hell. When children have piles of homework every night in elementary and middle school, it’s often because they aren’t finishing their work at school. In other words, they’re doing a day’s worth of work, plus homework, every evening. I’d cry too! Your child may be struggling with the school work or he may need to develop organized study habits. In any case, if homework seems excessive or if your child gets upset every night, it’s time to take four steps:
Next week we’ll discuss steps one and two, and then the following week we’ll talk about steps three and four. Stay tuned!