Do kids have a lot more homework now than 20 years ago?

I have friends on facebook with kids a couple years older than mine or so, who are complaining that their kids have to spend hours every night on homework. These are academically inclined people. Their kids are in life fifth and sixth grade and thereabouts.

It’s several different families in different areas.

Is this a thing? When I was that age, I could almost always get away with just doing my brief bits of homework during class, or just before the next day’s class. Are things a lot different now? Do kids at this age really have multiple hours of homework to do every night? What are some examples you see?

It’s crazy, as far as I’m concerned. I was in elementary school in the 1970s and we never had homework. Also, I believe my education was better too. Kids aren’t taught the basics anymore: things like times tables and handwriting, for example.

I went to middle school in the 80s, and a couple hours of homework a night was the norm (about 20-30 minutes per subject).

Yes. I’ve one a freshman in college and one a sophomore in high school and I can tell you they’ve had more schoolwork K-12 than I ever did, and I was in honors/advanced etc classes.

A lot of the work is good, but the quantity, if even good stuff, is rediculous.

Like many other things in America, the disparity has gone up. Kids in upper middle class schools face colleges that are harder to get into so standards have risen.

Did you have any spelling bees though?

No kidding. I rite gud Inglish.


When I went to Catholic school I had a lot of homework. It was supposed to be a half hour of homework per grade, 1 hour for second grade, and hour and a half for third, etc. I had more than that.
Public elementary school I’d have some, maybe a half hour a night.

In high school, all college prep classes, I did most of my homework between classes and studied for tests right before class. Unless it was a big project, like a term paper for an English class, I did very school work at home.
I wasn’t prepared for college, where i actually had to work to get good grades.

The homework I gave as a seventh -grade teacher is nothing like the homework I had to do in the fifties. I gave much less.

The kids had time in class to start, and in a lot of cases, to finish. I’d say 1/3 finished in school, 1/2 took about 30 minutes, and 1/6 whined and cried and messed around at home until their parents called me or the principal and complained about the demands on their kids.

I live in a college town so I have some parents who are academically inclined, and some who aren’t. I retired about two years ago, but my old school has quit giving homework grades at all. It’s assigned, but doesn’t count for any part of a grade.

How many kids do you have in school?

Mine are learning those things, in ordinary public school.

I was in elementary school in the 70s and we had homework more days than not.

When my kids were in high school 15 years ago I was astonished by the amount of homework they had compared to what I had back in the day. I don’t know how much homework students get today, but I can’t believe it’s any less than my kids got.

I have a daughter in grade 11, who never had to learn the times tables, but writes beautifully.

I have a son in grade 9 who can’t write, or print legibly to save his life, but grasps math quite well, although he was never taught the times tables.

Yeah, I know I bear some responsibility in this.

My college students complain vociferously about far less homework than I had as a student.

My son is in 5th grade and averages about 2 hours of homework per night. He’s not struggling with it, but the sheer volume is crazy. Every night he’s required to read for 30 minutes and write a journal entry on what he’s read, which usually takes him about 15 minutes. He then has some combination of math, reading, writing, science, or social studies. This is way more than I had at that age - probably closer to the volume I had in high school. I think part of it is Common Core, which require a lot of writing (which I really like - I think it’s great that they’re doing so much). Another thing is that he switches classes for science, math, and reading, so he has four different teachers. I’m not sure they do a great job communicating with each other about what they’re sending home.

He manages and seems to have enough time to play sports and get some relaxation time, but my husband and I are constantly shocked at how much he’s expected to do compared to what we did.

How do high school kids these days work part-time jobs and find time to do home work?

My third grader has WAY too much homework, and she did last year too. It’s not just the homework, it’s the projects, the “think links” the “math tasks” and the constant push for parents to teach new concepts. I do not know why every week we have math tasks to complete at home that involve the use of algebra and fractions when the kids aren’t even doing it yet in class. I KNOW it’s all about trying to push them to score higher on the TCAPS, but it only makes my little girl more confused and she won an award last year for having the highest math grades for the year in her grade level. I even struggle with some of the convoluted multi-step, mishmash trick “story problems” they give them. We spend at least an hour every night on math alone, and then there’s vocabulary and spelling for the week (with separate word lists) plus science, social studies, and a reading assignment. Then the silly projects. I know she gets at least twice as much homework as her sister did 15 years ago, and definitely way more than I ever got in elementary school.

Handwriting is meshed into other subjects now. Spelling and vocabulary homework often involves writing out sentences and they’re learning how to write them in cursive now. Times tables were never pushed at all, but my daughter has been drilled on multiplication facts (not in order, to be learned individually) in school since second grade. They focus more on the concepts and applications than memorizing “facts” but they have had a quiz every week since school started on the facts too.
Regular ol’ public school stuff.

Okay, I’m a huge advocate of project-based and non-rote learning, especially in science. I’ve been accused many times of going overboard. But how do they not teach times tables? If there was a single math thing I’d recommend teaching by rote it’s multiplication tables (well, and the numbers themselves I guess).

What do they do? Do they actually teach it as repeated addition and leave it at that?

Use your calculator.