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Homework – When is Enough, Enough?

March 29th, 2011 by Dr. Martha Angulo

According to a national survey, kids are spending twice as much time on homework as they did in 1981. And elementary school children account for the brunt of that jump. It is controversial as to whether this is good or bad and whether there is such a thing as an ideal amount of homework.

Alfie Kohn, author of “The Homework Myth,” thinks giving homework is a tradition based in folk wisdom and that, in reality, it does more harm than good. “The amount of homework is increasing, at least for younger children at precisely the same time that more research is failing to show any benefit whatsoever.” He believes there is no evidence showing that homework is beneficial academically, but it may be the single greatest extinguisher of children’s curiosity yet invented. “It’s all pain, no gain,” he says.

On the other hand, Harris Cooper of Duke University defends the worth of homework in measured doses and for certain grade levels. He used available research showing the success of homework to frame what is called “The 10 Minute Rule.” It stipulates 10 minutes of homework per night, per grade level beginning in 1st grade. So 1st graders should get no more than 10 minutes of homework each night, 2nd graders 20 minutes, etc.

For parents who see homework eroding their child’s sleep, affecting their health or eliminating their free time, experts encourage them to take the issue back to the school or pulling in like-minded parents. The idea is to help parents and educators advocate for saner homework practices.

Adapted from Chicago Tribune

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