Rebecca Jackson

School of Thought

Is Too Much Homework Unhealthy?

A grassroots movement led by parents is backed by science.

Posted Oct 10, 2014

The Learning Habit separates fact from fiction about homework and has started a grassroots movement led by parents.  Instead of encouraging a homework revolt, it asks for parents to institute a regular, balanced homework routine.   This includes having children stop doing academic homework after a reasonable amount of time. When children can’t understand the assignment, parents will not make the children sit for extended time and try to help them figure it out; they will write a note on the paper asking the teacher for extra help. 

At the root of the movement is science.  It’s not developmentally appropriate to ask a third grader to sit for 120 minutes and complete an academic assignment.  It’s also not psychologically healthy to have a fourth grader in tears every night over homework.  The focus on a "the whole child" approach is resonating with parents and administrators in school districts such as Barrington, Rhode Island.  

So how much academic homework should a child have? 

10 minutes per grade in school, and then children can move onto other activities.  If they don’t understand the assignment or get frustrated, they should stop and read a book for the remaining time. 

The facts are clear when it comes to academic homework.  There is a point of diminishing returns, and it is anything over 10 minutes per grade.  We now understand that the concept of “homework” involves balancing many opportunities that provide our kids with healthy learning experiences..  Activities such as neighborhood play, sports, dancing, family time, chores, and sleeping are equally important for whole-child enrichment.  Additionally, children who participate in extra-curricular activities such as sports, dance, and clubs score higher on academic, social and emotional scales. 

Remember:  

  • All students work at a different pace.
  • Think big picture. Forcing a child to complete a homework assignment, after they have spent a reasonable amount of time on it (10 minutes per grade), is not promoting balance.
  • Keep academic homework time balanced and consistent. On nights children don’t have schoolwork, they will read.   Reading is important for both ELA and Mathematics.
  • No tears policy: When kids feel frustrated or don’t understand an academic assignment, they can choose to read a book instead and ask the teacher for extra help the next day.

GET THE FACTS ON HOMEWORK:  Fact Sheet Balanced Homework Habit 

For more information on The Learning Habit (Perigee) click HERE