Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How Much Homework Is Too Much?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How Much Homework Is Too Much?

Article excerpt

If kids had less homework, would they spend more time with family or in front of the television? Would they suffer on standardized tests because they lack practice, or would they thrive because they haven't gotten burned out?

In the debate over the merits of sending kids home for a "second shift" of school, these are the questions that plague parents and school officials.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Family Therapy found that early elementary school students are doing far more homework than they should be. "It was unsettling to find that in our study population, first and second grade children had three times the homework load recommended," the study said.

Even kindergarteners - who should not have any homework, according to the National Education Association's recommendations - worked an average of 25 minutes a night.

This barrage of work at such a young age contributed to family stress, the researchers found, and might not even help students learn.

"Although homework studies that compare achievement vs homework load have been equivocal," the authors wrote, "the general consensus is that excessive homework not only shows no benefit, but may be detrimental."

Several studies showing that homework offers diminishing returns have led to the NEA's adoption of the "10 Minute Rule," which says homework should start at 10 minutes a night for first graders, and increase in increments of 10 minutes per grade, culminating in two hours of homework for 12th-graders.

"Although the 10 Minute Rule has been apparently endorsed by the NEA since 2006, we did not find evidence that this standard was being uniformly applied," the study said.

The 10 Minute Rule is only one of several new approaches to controlling the homework boom. Earlier this year, a Manhattan public school abolished homework entirely, blaming it for students' "frustration and exhaustion, lack of time for other activities and family time and, sadly for many, loss of interest in learning. …

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