2 Hours of Homework in First Grade? How Much Is Too Much?

My son came home from the first day of Grade 1 at a new school yesterday and, as I expected, there was no homework.

In fact, in his school info sheet there is to be zero homework through Grade 3.

Grade 4 will have up to 20 mins. It’s right there in black and white.

homework for kids

I was excited not to be burdened with a formal nightly homework routine, because while placed on the kids, it almost always falls to the parents to nag to get it done and help with comprehension.

But I still thought nothing through Grade 3 was a little light.

Then I saw this post on CafeMom, where a mother detailed her daughter’s nightly Grade 1 homework routine:

30 min adult reading to be recorded in her reading log daily

15 min child-led reading to be recorded daily

20 min of sight word review (she has 80 sight words)

10 min of spelling work (she has 10 spelling words and gets tested every Friday)

5 min of handwriting practice a night (usually one page front and back)

10 min math (one page front and back usually about 10- 15 problems, less the week they were working on word problems)

20 min reading comp work sheet (Read a short 1-2 paragraph assigned story and answer about 5 questions about the story, comes out to be about one to two sentences per question). I think this could go faster, but this is where we struggle.
[via CafeMom]

Now, I understand that with redshirting, Grade 1 has become like Grade 2 with 7-year-olds dominating the classroom, but this much homework in first grade still seems waaaay over the top.

I’m wondering what the happy medium is, so I asked Amy Murray, a director of Early Childhood Education (and my son’s old Kindergarten teacher).

“Research consistently shows that, in the elementary years, the only homework that carries benefits for children is a regular home reading routine,” she said. “Children work hard all day at school, their time at home should be for relaxing and reconnecting with their families. Piles of homework in the early years just seems like a good way to kill a child’s love of learning and enthusiasm for school.”

In 2011, the NYT published a piece where 10 minutes a day per grade was advocated.

The article quoted Dr. Harris Cooper of Duke University, saying the 10 minute rule was effective and “there is a minimal relationship between how much homework young kids do and how well they test.”

Which side of the line do you take?

While you’re thinking about it, click through these articles Babblers have written to help early readers and find ways to get some fun worksheets in to the evening routine — if your kid isn’t already piled with homework and you’re into a little enrichment on the home front.

  • Resources for Homework Help 1 of 9
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    Click through for some ideas to kick-start your kids through the start of school.

  • 30 Recommended Books for Early and Independent Readers 2 of 9
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    Jen runs down a great list of 30 books an independent reader can tackle or you can read aloud to your kids. Moving from simple kids books to ones with more words and less pictures is an important step for readers and these 30 books will help you tackle it together.

    Get them at Amazon.

  • 25 Best Educational Boards on Pinterest 3 of 9
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    Mommyfriend digs deep into Pinterest to find great resources for parents and teachers alike. It's a veritable goldmine of educational awesomeness for those who want to offer extra help at home, or kick-start a kid to success.

  • The Best iPhone and iPad Apps for Early Readers 4 of 9
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    If you have kids that are more comfortable with a touchscreen than paper, Sarah James gives a list of apps you can toss on your phone or tablet to have them continue to learn while they play games.

    Image via iTunes

  • A Reading List for Young Girls Featuring Strong Female Role Models 5 of 9
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    When you've got the kids right on the reading path, you want them reading inspiring stories. If you've got girls who love to read, check out this list of books featuring strong female role models.

  • School Books Move Over for Comic Books 6 of 9
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    Jeanne Sager offers this post defending the use of comic books as a tool to get kids interested in reading. In it she quotes children's literature expert Carol Tilley, a professor at the University of Illinois:

    "If reading is to lead to any meaningful knowledge or comprehension, readers must approach a text with an understanding of the relevant social, linguistic, and cultural conventions. And if you really consider how the pictures and words work together in consonance to tell a story, you can make the case that comics are just as complex as any other kind of literature." 

  • 20 Children’s Books You Should Read Aloud to Your Kids This Week 7 of 9
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    With the return of school comes a renewed focus in hitting the library each week for a reload of 'night night books.' I have some favorites but am always looking forward to new ones to add to the rotation. Jen has a wonderful list of 20 books you can read aloud to your kids (or they can read to themselves).

    Image via Babble

  • Should Homework Be Banned? 8 of 9
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    This debate has been going on since the beginning of time. Dig through this post from Carolyn to find out why some think homework should just be banned. Period.

    Image via Babble

  • The 54 Hour Workweek 9 of 9
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    According to a UK study, the average kid "works" 54 hours every week. But let's put "work" in quotes. The average kid has 32-and-a-half hours of school, seven-and-a-half hours of homework, two-and-a-half hours of extracurricular activities or lessons, and 12 hours of reading with or learning from their parents. They're busy.

    Image via iStockPhoto

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