Homework: Amount, Effects, Help for Students and Parents
Nancy McEntire
2001

How much time should a student spend on homework?

Many teachers follow these homework guidelines:

  • Grades 1-3: 20 minutes of homework per day
  • Grades 4-6: 20 to 40 minutes per day
  • Grades 7-9: 2 hours per day

Some schools set policies while, in other schools, teachers may set homework limits for their classes. Some students can handle more homework than others (Office of Educational Research and Improvement [OERI], 1995).

"For children in grades K through 2, homework is most effective when it does not exceed 10 to 20 minutes each day. Most children in grades three through six can handle 30 to 60 minutes a day" (Chaika, 2000).

Should children have daily homework?

Little research specifically addresses whether daily homework is beneficial to children. Snyder (1998) suggests that most elementary students do some homework daily.

What role should parents play in helping their children with homework?

A publication from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI, 1996) suggests four ways for parents to help a child with homework:

  1. Show that you think homework is important by providing a consistent time and place for it. Help your student concentrate by turning off the television, banning personal telephone calls, and setting a good example by reading and writing yourself. Make sure your student has any needed supplies and access to reference materials.
  2. Check over the work your child is doing, offering help or monitoring when needed. Know what the teacher expects and monitor more closely if a child is having problems with completing work.
  3. Provide guidance and encouragement. Your job is not to do the work but to help in ways your child needs. Talking about an assignment may help the student work through it. Teach ways for a child to divide a large assignment into manageable parts. Look for work that you can praise.
  4. Discuss your child's homework difficulties with the teacher. Work together with the teacher to resolve problems and work out a plan to improve homework completion. Check to see if the plan is helping.

Why do teachers assign homework and does it improve academic achievement?

Some studies indicate that teachers in the lower grades assign homework to help children develop time management skills and to review class material. According to an analysis of more than 100 studies, in the lower grades the effect of homework on achievement is minimal. Moreover, too much homework can be detrimental to family life and student achievement. However, homework completion frequency does predict the student's grades and may have an impact on later achievement. It may also help forge a connection between school and home (O'Rourke-Ferrara, 1998).

What policies do school districts have on homework?

Not all districts have homework policies and not all schools and teachers follow the policies their districts may have. A survey in 1994 found that most districts do not have policies. Most allowed for modifications for students with disabilities, and most informed parents about policies they did have (O'Rourke-Ferrara, 1998).

School districts setting policies usually consider the following questions (Eddy, 1984):

  • What kind of homework is most effective?
  • How much homework is appropriate?
  • At what age level is homework a useful learning tool?
  • Who is responsible for deciding how much homework to assign?
  • Who is responsible for monitoring homework?

What are some online resources for children to use when doing homework?

  • Ask Jeeves for Kids
    Allows users to ask a question in plain English, confirms the question, then takes them to one web site that is related to the question.
    http://www.ajkids.com/
  • Schoolwork Ugh! includes pages of links to resources in a variety of subjects.
    http://www.schoolwork.org/
  • BJ Pinchbeck's Homework Helper
    Compiled by a middle school student for middle school students.
    http://school.discoveryeducation.com/homeworkhelp/bjpinchbeck/index.html
  • Factmonster
    This web site for children includes subject resources as well as resources on study skills.
  • KidSource Online Education Homework Helper is a list of homework helper net sites.
  • HomeworkSpot.com includes homework resources for elementary, middle, and secondary students in most subject areas, as well as a reference center with pointers to quick reference materials, current events information, and "ask-an-expert" services.
  • KidsClick! is a Web search for children by librarians. KidsClick! was created by a group of librarians at the Ramapo Catskill Library System.

References

Chaika, Gloria. (2000). Help! Homework is wrecking my home life! Education World [Online].

Eddy, Yvonne. (1984). Developing homework policies. ERIC Digest [Online]. (ERIC Document No. ED256473)

Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI). (1995). Helping your child with homework [Online].

Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI). (1996). Let's do homework! Learning partners. Washington, DC: Author. (ERIC Document No. ED400122)

O'Rourke-Ferrara, Catherine. (1998). "Did you complete all your homework tonight, dear?". Unpublished manuscript. (ERIC Document No. ED425862)

Snyder, Thomas D. (1998). Trends in Education. Principal, 78(1, September): 40, 42, 44, 46-48. (ERIC Journal No. EJ570142)

Resources

  • The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, 2007: The Homework Experience
    The Survey examines the perspectives of teachers, students and parents regarding the quantity of homework assigned and completed, how and when homework is accomplished, the impact of
    homework, perceived goals and value of homework, the level of student engagement in learning,
    and the amount of time teachers spend on homework.
  • Homework
    Explore a web page of links related to homework policies and practices.
  • How Does Your School Handle the Homework Dilemma?
    Does your school have a homework policy? How much homework is the right amount for each grade level?
  • Homework Takes a Hit!
    Homework, an entrenched tradition in education, is taking a hit from the authors of a controversial new book that proposes ending the practice.
  • Help for Homework Hassles!
    How can teachers motivate students to do their homework?
  • Let's Do Homework!
  • Students' Use of Time: Percentage of 9-, 13-, and 17-year-olds who were watching 3 or more hours of television, assigned homework, and reading for fun daily: 1984 and 1999. Click on Charts: Students' Use of Time.
  • Helping Your Child with Homework
    This publication helps answer the questions that parents and others who care for children in elementary and junior high school often ask about homework. Included are practical ideas for helping children complete homework assignments successfully. Some of the ideas in this book may also be helpful for high school students. Available in English and Spanish. Updated August 2002.
  • Helping Your Student Get the Most Out of Homework
    This brochure from the National PTA answers many questions parents may have about homework and the best ways to help their children with homework.
  • Helping Your Students with Homework: A Guide for Teachers
    This 40-page booklet from the U.S. Dept. of Education is filled with ideas from teachers for helping to make homework effective and is organized around 18 tips for getting homework done.
  • Homework Survival Guide for Parents
    Published by the National Association of School Psychologists.
  • Homework Tips
  • How Important Is Homework?
    Assigning homework serves various educational needs. It serves as an intellectual discipline, establishes study habits, eases time constraints on the amount of curricular material that can be covered in class, and supplements and reinforces work done in school. In addition, it fosters student initiative, independence, and responsibility and brings home and school closer together.
  • Helping students with homework in science and math. ERIC Digest
  • Table 114.—Student proficiency in reading, by age, amount of time spent on homework and reading habits: 1984, 1994, 1996 and 1999
  • Table 118. —Percentage distribution of 4th-graders, by time spent on homework and television viewing each day: 1992 to 2000
  • A Teacher's Guide to Homework Tips for Parents
    http://www2.ed.gov/teachers/how/parents/homework-tips/edlite-slide001.html
  • Homework Strategies from Education World
    Homework strategies for teachers, including how to get students to do it.
  • Cooper, Harris M. (2001). The battle over homework: Common ground for administrators, teachers, and parents. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
  • Cooper, Harris; Lindsay, James J; & Nye, Barbara. (2000). Homework in the home: How student, family, and parenting-style differences relate to the homework process. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 464-487.
  • Corno, Lyn. (1996). Homework is a complicated thing. Educational Researcher, 25(8), 27-30.
  • Begley, Sharon. (1998, March 30). Homework Doesn't Help. Newsweek, 50.
  • Muhlenbruck, Laura; Cooper, Harris; Nye, Barbara; & Lindsay, James J. (2000). Homework and achievement: Explaining the different strengths of relation at the elementary and secondary school levels. Social Psychology of Education, 3, 295-317.
How to Obtain ERIC Documents and Journal Articles:

References identified with an ED (ERIC document)or EJ (ERIC journal) are cited in the ERIC database. ERIC Documents (citations identified by an ED number) may be available in full text from ERIC at no cost at the ERIC Web site: http://eric.ed.gov. Journal articles are available from the original journal, interlibrary loan services, or article reproduction clearinghouses.

If you would like to conduct your own free ERIC database searches via the Internet, go directly to http://eric.ed.gov/

ERIC database search through 12/2005 on Homework

  • Parent and Family Involvement in Education: 2002/03. ED485638
  • Mothers' Affect in the Homework Context: The Importance of Staying Positive EJ684974
  • Developing a Comprehensive Homework Policy EJ693935
  • Putting an End to the Battle over Homework. EJ698725
  • Parental Involvement in Homework: A Review of Current Research and Its Implications for Teachers, After School Program Staff, and Parent Leaders ED484761
  • Family Help and Homework Management in Urban and Rural Secondary Schools EJ687691
  • Homework as the Job of Childhood EJ683352
  • Reflecting on the Homework Ritual: Assignments and Designs EJ683349
  • Improving Homework Completion and Academic Performance: Lessons from Special Education EJ683350
  • Homework Motivation and Preference: A Learner-Centered Homework Approach EJ683348
  • Meanings of Homework and Implications for Practice EJ683346
  • Villain or Savior? The American Discourse on Homework, 1850-2003 EJ683345
  • The Motivational Benefits of Homework: A Social-Cognitive Perspective EJ683347
  • Low-Income Parents' Beliefs About their Role in Children's Academic Learning EJ695969
  • Homework Tips for Parents = Consejos para los padres sobre la tarea escola. ED477945
  • Self- and Parental Monitoring of Homework in Adolescents: Comparative Effects on Parents' EJ672554
  • Family Help and Homework Management Reported by Middle School Students. EJ672013
  • Family Help and Homework Management Reported by Middle School Students. EJ672013
  • Schools, Families, and Math. EJ668707
  • The Impact of Background Radio and Television on High School Students' Homework Performance. EJ662534
  • Weekend Study Buddies: Using Portable Learning Centers. EJ657392
  • Homework Tips for Parents: Talking Points for Presenters To Use with Transparencies. ED461439
  • Teachers' Use of Interactive Homework and Its Effects on Family Involvement and Science Achievement of Middle Grade Students. ED454049
  • Homework Problems: How Much Is Too Much? EJ627827
  • A Model of Homework's Influence on the Performance Evaluations of Elementary School Students. EJ627399
  • Averting the Homework Crisis. EJ626294
  • Homework for All--in Moderation. EJ626292
  • Empowering Intrinsic Learners. ED445776
  • Improving Academic Achievement through Creative Alternatives to Traditional Homework Strategies. ED444702
  • A Panel Analysis of Student Mathematics Achievement in the US in the 1990s: Does Increasing the Amount of Time in Learning Activities Affect Math Achievement? EJ607903
  • Looking at Homework Differently. EJ610305
  • "Can You Help Me with My Homework?" Elementary School Children's Invitations and Perspectives on Parental Involvement. ED443581
  • The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning. ED450930
  • Homework and Attainment in Primary Schools. EJ622242
  • Parents' Reports on Homework Amount and Problems in Academically Talented Elementary Students. EJ587795
  • Homework Horror? Relax! EJ608898
  • Strategies To Improve Student Motivation To Complete Homework Assignments. ED435956
  • The Homework Ate My Family. EJ582477
  • Relationships among Attitudes about Homework, Amount of Homework Assigned and Completed, and Student Achievement. EJ571171
  • Helping with Homework: A Parent's Guide to Information Problem-Solving. EJ565458
  • Creating Success. EJ576389
  • Changing Homework Habits: Rethinking Attitudes. EJ595094
  • Teacher-Selected Strategies for Improving Homework Completion. EJ575283
  • "Did You Complete All Your Homework Tonight, Dear?" ED425862
  • When Mom and Dad Help: Student Reflections on Parent Involvement with Homework. EJ568132
  • Homework Doesn't Help. EJ566648
  • Helping with Homework. EJ562882
  • Helping with Homework: A Parent's Guide to Information Problem-Solving. ED418699
  • Homework: A Survey of Primary Students in Regular, Resource, and Self- Contained Special Education Classrooms. EJ505129
  • Helping Your Child with Homework: For Parents of Elementary and Junior High School-Aged Children. ED388436
  • Doing Homework: Perspectives of Elementary and Junior High School Students. EJ491147
  • Homework: A Survey of Policies in the United States. EJ491146
  • Using Student-Managed Interventions to Increase Homework Completion and Accuracy. EJ483450