Elementary School Homework - Yay or Nay?

According to this article an elementary school in NYC has opted to do away with homework for their students, stating that there is no evidence that elementary school kids do any better academically with homework as a requirement and are encouraging them to have family time together and read at their own pace in lieu of homework. Apparently multiple parents are furious, stating that they are going to pull their children out of the school because they don’t think they will learn enough without homework.

Personally, I am of two minds about this. I think kids can benefit from a little homework. I have fond memories of going over spelling words with my dad and stuff as a child and I think that I probably learned a lot from sitting down and working with my parents on projects and worksheets. On the other hand, I know there were times I had quite a lot of homework as a kid and I’ve heard horror stories from others about their third and fourth graders coming home with three or four hours of homework a night, leaving them no time to even stop for dinner if they want to get everything finished.

The principal of the school in question has said that she and her staff have done research and analyzed studies for the last year and found that homework doesn’t seem to help kids much and causes many students to become frustrated and no longer show an interest in learning. I think she has a fair point, especially in NYC, where history and culture basically throw themselves at your feet, it would be remarkably easy for a parent to take that 90 minutes of homework time and turn it into a trip to see the Metropolitan Museum of Art or Grant’s tomb or something that could be equally as educational and promote family bonding at the same time. But I also get that parents aren’t necessarily seeing it that way and are instead gearing up for the fight over TV and computer time taking up that 90 minutes instead of something educational in nature.

So what do you think, is no homework in elementary school a fantastic idea that will lead to multiple benefits for the children or is this principal setting up her students to fall behind the rest of their peers?

For that age 5-9 I believe homework should be rare, flexible and fun. I don’t see why the parents are getting upset with the children burdened by stuff that does not and can not help them at their age.

I don’t know if it’s technically homework, but I believe the 5 to 9 group should read or be read to for 30 to 45 minutes a night. Their choice of reading material.

I’m fine with doing away with homework for younger kids. But I do have some trepidation, because I think that for all its downsides, at least homework ensures that kids won’t totally veg outside of school hours. It’s not the kids of the protesting parents that I’m worried about. It’s the kids of the parents who are so checked out that they can’t or won’t read to their kids, limit their TV-watching, or take them to a museum.

Also, while I didn’t care for memorizing lists of vocab words or crying over fractions at the dinner table, I did enjoy the special projects we were assigned. Like the history dioramas and the science fair projects. Maybe some kids will take the initiative to do stuff like this on their own, but the majority will not.

I like a moderate amount of homework, because it helps me to stay better informed about what my kids are doing in school. I mean, how often can one have the “What did you do in school today?” “Nothing.” conversation? Homework lets me in on that without cross-examining my kid.

I also think it helps kids learn how to plan and manage their time. They don’t get that at all in school, where everything is regimented for them. Homework, particularly a project over a week or two, helps them learn how to break down a large project into daily tasks (or how to stay up in a panic the night before it’s due). That’s a valuable life skill for most of us, whether we do projects for our work or we’re planning a wedding.

But I’m talking an hour, tops, until fifth or sixth grade. And I’m only very vaguely in favor of it. I certainly wouldn’t pull my kid out if the school stopped doing homework, although I’d probably invent some projects to do at home to teach the time management thing.

I do wonder what’s going to hit these kids in junior high or high school, though. Are they going to suddenly get 4-5 hours of homework a night dropped in their lap all at once? That seems like a terrible idea.

Well why do we accept homework at higher levels of schooling? To some degree we are trying to mimic learning that is driven by real interest. A person who loves a subject reads it in his spare time. So, since they are minors, let’s just force them to read in their spare time! Doesn’t have the same effect, except on those students specifically wanting to be high achievers or coincidentally actually proved nterested.

And are we training them for the real world? Maybe. People who continue to educate themselves outside of work hours, will succeed more. But how long can the average human keep that up? Telling kids that they are going to “work after school” for their entire life might be a little disheartening. I think a move towards periodic homework would reflect the real world and encourage extra work a lot better than constant homework.

4-5 hours of homework a night sounds terrible regardless of how they work them up to it. I don’t think I ever did that even in college.

I wish they would cut out the “projects.” I can’t tell you how much we hated making tiny Indian villages or sugar cube castles.

I think a small amount of homeworks is okay in each grade, but low stress and related to class work.

I think the amount of homework should be based on the results of scientific research on the benefits of homework. I don’t know where those studies are.

Quite possibly the nature of homework would have to change. Extra work or credit for students who request/require , that sort of thing. But possibly primary overtime (homework) should be social or civic in nature. Learn to cook meals, join scouts or guides, give reports on what ever political shenanigans are going on.

Seems to me that we are putting too much emphasis on the three R’s and giving the rest of life lessons a pass. Its always been mentioned that they get almost no financial lessons, so make it a gradeable “homework” lesson.


I see no reason to make social/civic learning homework anymore than any other subject. It should certainly be part of the normal program but why should a kid have to do 2-3 hours of civic learning after every 7 hour school day?

I feel like parents who have a knee-jerk reaction to no homework are the parents who don’t really make an effort to inform themselves about what the kids learn at school on a day-to-day basis. I used to get complaints from parents about the kids not having enough homework. The reality was that the kid would do a slapdash job and finish everything in 10 minutes. And then get a C on it the next day.

I’d defer to the experts who have actually studied the issue. My gut feeling is that, in the elementary grades, a little bit of homework at least occasionally is better than either a lot or none at all.

I also think the issue shouldn’t be argued in terms of whether or how much, but what. If you’re going to assign homework, make the case for why the specific work you’re assigning has educational value.

I was using civics as an example, but say one hour learning how to cook a basic meal, final test to cook that exact meal in school.

One hour on the major news story of the day, who, what , when and why, pop quiz next day.

I dont see a reason why that cant be split over 4 days, assuming that weekends are free.


An hour per what … day? Because I’d be pitching a fit if my up-to-grade-four kids had an hour of homework to do every single day. Way too much for little kids. Hell, I topped out at about 2 or 3 hours, max, in my final year of school, and I’m sure I didn’t get homework till Year 7, and in a hothouse private school, at that.

I can’t even conceive of 5 hours of homework per night in junior high … that’s years 9 and 10, isn’t it? They’re at school for 6 hours … that’s an eleven hour day. Fifty-five hour week! Or do US kids have shorter school hours?

After getting that off my chest, I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise when I say that our school has exactly the same policy - no homework till grade 5, except for readers - and for exactly the same reasons - because research has shown it’s useless. And I like it like that.

At college I seem to remember 15 hours of class time per week was reasonable course load. That leaves 25 hours left over for homework to make a 40 hour work week. That is 5 hours of home work per day. Grade school however had about 6 hours a day of class work instead of 3 and also I would expect the load to be lower for grade school 1 hour a day seems plenty for grade school.

Ugh. I don’t really want to argue this point much but I have to disagree with you. If an extra hour of work per day would be good, then make school an hour longer. As I said above, I think occasional after school projects are a good idea but every night is bad. When they are out of school they should “learn” whatever they feel like.

I didn’t have homework at all in the first grade. In the second grade, I had special projects only, nd sometimes make-up work if I’d been sick (if I was out a long time, may parents could pick up assignments for me).

By the third grade, we were expected to get daily assignments done and turned in in a timely manner, but we had time in class to work. If you got everything done in class, you had no homework, but most people didn’t, and has 45 min. to and hour of work at home, plus studying for spelling tests. When we learned division and multiplication, almost everyone bought flashcards (or, their parents did), and spent twenty minutes or so a night on them. And, or course, there were reports and special projects.

I understand that since I went to school there, NYC has had an explosion in homework, with teachers deliberately making assignments for which there was no class time, and there might be two or three hours for kids who had an 8pm bedtime.

I would support a return to daily assignments with in-class time to work, that needed to be completed at home if the student didn’t finish them in class, plus the traditional studying for spelling tests, and that occasional project.

I’m the opposite - I think craft-type projects are great (my kid’s just made a backbone!) but the other stuff should be completed in school IMO.

Finland’s education system stresses minimal homework and lots of hands-on stuff.

But the real takeaway there is small class sizes and highly educated, motivated teachers. Neither of which is an easy fix for other places to do.

The question becomes - are heavy homework loads a substitute for better, more attentive in-class teaching? I think not.

Well, that’s how much time many of my friends were spending on homework in high school and college. (I was in honors and AP classes, though, which skews the sample a bit.) Not me. I was the 10 minute slap and dasher in the passing period before class. :cool:

“45 percent of students in grades three to 12 spend more than an hour a night doing homework, including the six percent of students who report spending more than three hours a night on their homework.” My fourth grader (10 years old), using decent time management, takes about 2 hours to do her homework. If she tightened ship a bit, she could probably get it down to an hour and a quarter. She usually gets homework 4 days a week (not on Fridays), plus most often has at least one long range project she’s working on.

But I agree, that’s too much. Last I knew, the NEA (National Education Association) was recommending 10 minutes of daily homework for each grade level; a fourth grader should be getting homework that can realistically be completed in 40 minutes. That why I said, “tops”. As in, maximum.

While I’m willing to trust the research that homework doesn’t produce better academic success (at least until the next study comes out which contradicts it), my child’s academic success is not my only, or even my primary concern. Which is why I’d give her things to work on if her teacher didn’t. Not because I’m worried about her as a student, but because I’m concerned with her developing into an adult who can delay gratification and manage her own time. (Unlike her mother…) And that may not look like homework. If she doesn’t need to review her math, we can learn the same lessons by learning how to plan, budget, shop and cook for a dinner party or something. That’s fine. But I don’t see most parents doing that kind of work after they’re exhausted from a whole workday themselves.

“Junior high” is 12 to 14ish.