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Should Schools Limit Your Children's Nightly Homework?

homework limitsHow much homework is too much?  Many school districts are asking that question and looking into passing limits on the amount of homework students are required to do each evening.

Most are basing their new guidelines on what is known as the “10-minute rule”: children should do no more than 10 minutes of work each evening for each year of school, such as 20 minutes for second graders and 30 minutes for third graders.  PARADE magazine reports that school districts in New Jersey and California have already passed such regulations. Yet, the limitations are controversial.

Many educators believe that successful children must study more, not less. Still others, including the president of the American Federation of Teachers, believe that it should be up to each teacher, rather than school district leaders, to decide how much homework his or her students need.

Those who support homework limits, however, think homework doesn’t do much to improve a child’s performance in school or on tests.   Some say homework may even be partially responsible for widening the achievement gap.  Dr. Etta Kralovec, author of The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children & Limits Learning, explained in an interview with Take Part that some children “… have parents who don’t speak English, work long hours or are simply unable to provide [homework] assistance.  These children are put at a disadvantage compared to wealthier classmates …”

My children’s school limits their homework.  The principal told me she believes that her students should learn what they need to in the classroom, and that time at home should be spent on conversation, play, relaxation and extra-curricular activities like sports or music.  I have to admit I was quite surprised by this at first, because I had always believed in “the more work, the better”.  So far, I’ve been wrong.  Last year my children excelled, despite having very little homework required of them.

What do you think?  Are your kids overburdened with too many worksheets, math problems and writing assignments, or do you think we are coddling our children when we should be working harder to compete with emerging nations like China, where students are known to have two or more hours of homework each night?

Photo credit: StockXchng

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