Is homework really necessary? That's a question that teachers not only hear from parents year after year, but also debate amongst themselves. Though there is research to support both sides of the argument, the fact remains that your child will most likely have homework to do. Here's a few things you should know about why homework is assigned and how long your child should be spending on it so that you can be your child's best advocate if you think his teacher is piling on too much work.
1. Homework should not be assigned just for the sake of having homework. According to the National Education Association, (NEA) homework should typically serve one of three purposes: practice, preparation or extension. This means your child should be:
- Practicing a newly acquired skill in an attempt to master it.
- Preparing for a future lesson, such as reading the next chapter in his science book or researching a topic soon to be covered in class.
- Extending a classroom-covered topic by doing parallel work by perhaps writing a report or creating a science fair project.
2. Both the NEA and the National PTA recommend that students should only be spending about 10 minutes per grade level on homework assignments each night. Known as the 10-minute rule,this means that your first-grader should, on average, only need 10 minutes to thoroughly complete his assignment, but your fifth-grader is more likely to need 50 minutes. This recommendation is based on a review of research conducted by Dr. Harris Cooper presented in his book The Battle Over Homework: Common Ground for Administrators, Teachers, and Parents