How Much Time Should Be Spent on Homework?

Student doing homework with clockTime spent on homework should be appropriate to the child’s grade level.

At the elementary level homework should be brief, at your child’s ability level and involve frequent, voluntary and high interest activities. Young students require high levels of feedback and/or supervision to help them complete assignments correctly. Accurate homework completion is influenced by your child’s ability, the difficulty of the task, and the amount of feedback your child receives. When assigning homework, your child’s teachers may struggle to create a balance at this age between ability, task difficulty and feedback. Unfortunately, there are no simple guiding principles.

We can assure you, however, that your input and feedback on a nightly basis is an essential component in helping your child benefit from the homework experience.

What is the recommended time in elementary school?

In first through third grade, students should receive one to three assignments per week, taking them no more than fifteen to twenty minutes. In fourth through sixth grade, students should receive two to four assignments per week, lasting between fifteen and forty-five minutes. At this age, the primarily goal of homework is to help your child develop the independent work and learning skills that will become critical in the higher grades. In the upper grades, the more time spent on homework the greater the achievement gains.

What is the recommended time in middle and high school?

For students in middle and high school grades there are greater overall benefits from time engaged in practicing and thinking about school work. These benefits do not appear to depend as much upon immediate supervision or feedback as they do for elementary students. In seventh through ninth grade we recommend students receive three to five sets of assignments per week, lasting between forty-five and seventy-five minutes per set. In high school students will receive four to five sets of homework per week, taking them between seventy-five and 150 minutes per set to complete.

As children progress through school, homework and the amount of time engaged in homework increases in importance. Due to the significance of homework at the older age levels, it is not surprising that there is more homework assigned. Furthermore, homework is always assigned in college preparatory classes and assigned at least three quarters of the time in special education and vocational training classes. Thus at any age, homework may indicate our academic expectations of children.

Regardless of the amount of homework assigned, many students unsuccessful or struggling in school spend less rather than more time engaged in homework. It is not surprising that students spending less time completing homework may eventually not achieve as consistently as those who complete their homework.

Does this mean that time devoted to homework is the key component necessary for achievement?

We are not completely certain. Some American educators have concluded that if students in America spent as much time doing homework as students in Asian countries they might perform academically as well. It is tempting to assume such a cause and effect relationship.

However, this relationship appears to be an overly simple conclusion. We know that homework is important as one of several influential factors in school success. However, other variables, including student ability, achievement, motivation and teaching quality influence the time students spend with homework tasks. Many students and their parents have told us they experience less difficulty being motivated and completing homework in classes in which they enjoyed the subject, the instruction, the assignments and the teachers.

The benefits from homework are the greatest for students completing the most homework and doing so correctly. Thus, students who devote time to homework are probably on a path to improved achievement. This path also includes higher quality instruction, greater achievement motivation and better skill levels.

Authors: Dr. Sam Goldstein and Dr. Sydney Zentall

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Comments

  1. Linda Wurzbach says:

    In my experience homework does not readmidmate children’s learning. If the student did not understand the concept, its too difficult for some parents to help them. I have seen homework issues destroy relationships with their family. No amt of homework is worth destroying your relationship with your children . often the way we learned is much different than how our children are learning, so we don’t know how to help them.

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  3. I Hate Homework says:

    On my first day of six grade, there was a presentation to get us ready for six grade. It was like, students worry about homework being too long to finish, then it said “If you do your homework before playing it will only take you a hour”. I’m like “An hour!!!”. It literally takes me 2.5 to 3 hours to do my homework. I spend all night doing it , and don’t enough sleep. I’m stressed out, not finishing my homework, not getting enough sleep, and I’m only in sixth grade, so it gets worse through my life. We spend like 14 years of our life being stress, getting little sleep, and to be completely honest most of the stuff we learn we don’t use in our future, except for the years we have in school.

    • When i was in middle school.. I didn’t have this problem because I never actually did my homework and those were the years I just wanted to live “young, wild and free” but in high school I do all of my work now, because it actually matters and I feel you.
      But if you are in 6th grade.. you need time to have fun and i really think you should make time for that. because a lot of my BEST memories are from middle school so you should enjoy while you can and dont take it too seriously- wait until high school to do that.

      Also.. TIP FOR FASTER HOMEWORK: what I have found REALLY helps me complete my homework faster, is setting a stopwatch and timing myself how long I take to finish ALL of my homework. It kind of makes you stay focused and want to be able to stop the timer so you work faster and are more productive. (:

    • Wow! I’m in 6th grade and hardly have any homework. If I have any at all, it takes about a minute, and gets done in the morning a few minutes before leaving for school. In the occasion that I have more than that much homework, which happens once every few months, I do it during my online class.

  4. Evelyn W. Minnick says:

    Actually, There is no established “right” amount of homework, although some boards and schools have homework policies that limit the amount of time depending on the grade. It is important to remember some other factors:

    1. Students work at different speeds, so the amount of time spent on homework will vary.
    2. Students should be able to do their homework and have time to participate in other activities, including sports, music lessons, religious activities, language classes, volunteer work and free play.
    3. If you are concerned that your child is getting too much or too little homework, you should speak to the classroom teacher.

    Thanks
    Evelyn W. Minnick

  5. Im in 10th grade, and I have dyslexia and adhd. I take about 5 hours to finish my homework EACH night. A teacher of mine told me recently that homework should only take at the maximum 2.5 hours each night.
    Teachers I think give us homework thinking it will not take very long when in reality it does.
    I think spending a couple hours on homework is a GOOD thing. but are brains can only take so much and after that are branes are just doing the work, but not actually taking the time to learn it.
    So, 2.5 hours max a night seems to be a good thing. but when it reaches a point to where it’s 3 hours or more, you’re just getting burnt out and probably won’t remember a thing which is a bad thing.

  6. As a parent and a student, I am so frustrated by homework. I’m dyslexic and ADHD, so that 1 hour of chemistry reading homework takes me 10 hours. Literally. I timed it. Fortunately, I understand things very well after I’ve read through them thoroughly and catch on quickly. It still means I’m not sleeping and that I don’t have any time for life outside of studying.

    We are finding my son has a similar issue. He’s behind in school and doesn’t catch on quickly to things like math or spelling. I have to sit with him to help explain every single little problem and assignment and walk him through the thought process. It takes us 3 hours a night to do what should be 1 hour of homework. He has 4 things he’s supposed to do daily. 20 minutes of math, 20 minutes of reading (which, for him is 1-2 paragraphs), read and answer questions about current events (this takes the bulk of an hour), and a life activity.

    As the only parent available to help him, I spend all of my evenings after work doing 4th grade homework with him. I can’t get anything else done and everything and everyone else gets the short end of the stick. It’s driving me crazy. I have NO time to myself EVER to decompress. From the time I get home from work until my son goes to bed it’s all homework.

    It’s too much.

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