For decades, the National PTA and the National Education Association have supported the ten minute homework rule which states a daily recommended maximum of ten minutes of homework per grade level. For example, first graders receive ten minutes of homework per night, second graders should be assigned twenty minutes of homework each night, and so on. So, using those guidelines, high school seniors should complete about two hours of homework each night.
But with kids just starting back to school, some parents may wonder why their child has so much homework. Why can’t the teacher accomplish what is necessary during the normal school day?
The answer varies. For younger kids, the time spent on each subject is brief and somewhat superficial. But as children grow, the range of material to be taught, as well as the depth to which a student must penetrate new material, increases considerably. In order to develop a solid foundation, teachers often need more time than the typical classroom allows.
Homework can be a vital tool for enhancing a child’s grasp of the coursework. It’s an opportunity to review, assimilate and prepare for upcoming material. Homework also helps kids learn valuable skills such as:
- Taking initiative
- Developing time management skills
- Learning to love learning
- Improving a grasp on subjects
- Understanding the importance of planning and organization
Parents can offer emotional and practical, support. As much as possible, the home learning environment should be an extension of the classroom.
How much homework is too much?
Although there are significant benefits to homework, teachers sometimes assign too much. So, how can parents tell how much is too much? The ten minute homework rule may be a little too simple a formula.
First, the amount of homework and difficulty level should match the age and ability of the students.
Next, homework is only beneficial if it does not put the students under too much stress or pressure. Challenge is healthy, but stress, worry, and all-nighters are not.
Finally, “Homework should not be used to extend class time to cover more material. If your child is constantly coming home having to learn the material before doing the assignments, then it’s time to contact the teacher and set up a conference,” says author Raychelle Cassada Lohmann in How Much Homework Is Too Much for Our Teens? In US News and World Report.
Giving students too much homework can lead to fatigue, stress, and a loss of interest in academics. In fact, a recent study found that when middle school students were assigned more than 90-100 minutes of homework per day, their math and science scores began to decline.
Want to head off homework battles?
When children return for a new school year, many parents dread the homework battles. But parents can do a lot to head off those conflicts by setting and committing to some ground rules, as well as creating a suitable work environment, and communicating with teachers.
Dance party first. Some parents want their children to hit the books as soon as they walk in the door. After spending all day sitting, though, many children need to give their minds a break and burn off some physical energy first!
Use a timer. If your child is a dawdler or daydreamer, help to keep them on track by setting time limits. For a young child, for example, you might allow 15 minutes to complete a language arts work sheet or a half hour for a set of math problems. Use an actual household timer that will buzz when time is up.
Set the tone. The proper environment can go a long way toward keeping your child focused and productive. Being off in a bedroom alone—where there are games, toys and comic books—can be just as distracting as working in the hub of household activity. Find a quiet but centrally located place where you can easily pop in your head to check on your child’s progress. Or consider saving some of your own paperwork or reading to do right alongside your child to help set the tone.
Take a break. Periodic breaks will help your child to remain focused and productive when he is working. Lower elementary school students, for example, might work on homework for 20 minutes and then take a 10- minute break. For high school students, 50 minutes of homework followed by a 10-minute break is appropriate.
Paper, pens, and pencils. Furnish the area with all the school supplies your child might need: pencils, sharpener, pens, colored pencils or markers, rulers, glue sticks, scissors, stapler, protractor and compass, dictionary and thesaurus. To avoid the 8 p.m. emergency runs to the store, go out now and buy poster board, construction paper, string and other supplies. Save shoeboxes, milk cartons, Styrofoam food trays, and other items that can be used to create projects. A little preparation now can save hours of frustration down the road.
Communicate with teachers. What if your child is working diligently in an appropriate environment, but seems to require too much direction from you or is struggling to complete homework in a reasonable amount of time? A teacher needs—and wants—to know if a child is having difficulty with material so that he or she can help that child.
Different students will take different amounts of time to complete a homework task, but the range of times should be appropriate to the grade level. The ten minute homework rule is only an approximate guide. If your child’s homework load seems to be too much, or too little, the teacher needs to know.
When school and home are linked closely, students are more likely to succeed!
Back to Basics Learning Dynamics provides exceptional 1-on-1 tutoring in over 60 subjects, from first grade reading help to AP Calculus and everything in between. When your child needs help with homework, essays, test preparation or customized private tutoring including credit recovery, Back to Basics can help. Call us at 302-594-0754 or use the link below to get started today!
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TUTOR & STAFF REVIEWS
“For more than ten years, I have had the privilege of working in an educational institution which embraces high academic standards and lovingly tells every student who walks through the door that success is within their grasp. I have witnessed countless student transformations focused not just on academic achievement, but self-esteem and awareness that learning is a lifelong process. The compassionate and dedicated staff led by a tireless and respected leader has come to be synonymous with excellence and success. I am honored to be part of the Back to Basics Learning Dynamics family.”
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