How much homework is too much? Some believe that a heavy workload will boost a child’s academic achievement and opportunities for college. Others believe that the time away from school is meant to be focused on extra curricular and family activities. Some schools adjust their homework policies depending on grade level, while others adjust their homework policies yearly, depending on everything from test scores to parent feedback. So, how much is too much homework? At what grade level should homework officially be required? 

According to a 2019 Pew Research study, teens in the mid 1990’s spent an average of 30 minutes a day on homework. Currently, teens spend about an hour a night  – a number that has doubled in just a few decades. There is a wide body of research on the topic, with many arguing that less homework is best. Some studies show that less homework does not negatively impact student test scores, and in countries like Japan and Denmark, where students outperform American kids, less homework is often assigned. Some districts are even banning homework all together. 

With an increased focus on student test scores, assigning homework is often one of the most efficient ways schools can make sure the required content is reviewed. Standardized testing means that when homework is assigned, it can often be considered rote, or unengaging. One bright spot in the homework debate are those schools across the country that are only assigning homework when it will further the creative objectives from the classroom. For example, asking students to design or brainstorm ideas for a project, and then bringing those ideas back into the classroom the next day. 

Some argue that abandoning homework is not the solution, but encouraging “quality” homework is really the key. In her article, The Case for Quality Homework” Janine Bempechat, clinical professor of human development at the Boston University Wheelock College of Education and Human Development, argues that homework improves learning and that parents can help. She writes,

“What constitutes high-quality homework? Assignments that are developmentally appropriate and meaningful and that promote self-efficacy and self-regulation. Meaningful homework is authentic, allowing students to engage in solving problems with real-world relevance. More specifically, homework tasks should make efficient use of student time and have a clear purpose connected to what they are learning.”

What is the homework policy at your child’s school? Is homework policy a factor that influences your family’s schooling decisions? We’d love to hear more from you – send us an email at hello@loveyourschool.org !