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What’s the Right Amount of Homework?
Decades of research show that homework has some benefits, especially for students in middle and high school—but there are risks to assigning too much.
Many teachers and parents believe that homework helps students build study skills and review concepts learned in class. Others see homework as disruptive and unnecessary, leading to burnout and turning kids off to school. Decades of research show that the issue is more nuanced and complex than most people think: Homework is beneficial, but only to a degree. Students in high school gain the most, while younger kids benefit much less.
The National PTA and the National Education Association support the “ 10-minute homework guideline ”—a nightly 10 minutes of homework per grade level. But many teachers and parents are quick to point out that what matters is the quality of the homework assigned and how well it meets students’ needs, not the amount of time spent on it.
The guideline doesn’t account for students who may need to spend more—or less—time on assignments. In class, teachers can make adjustments to support struggling students, but at home, an assignment that takes one student 30 minutes to complete may take another twice as much time—often for reasons beyond their control. And homework can widen the achievement gap, putting students from low-income households and students with learning disabilities at a disadvantage.
However, the 10-minute guideline is useful in setting a limit: When kids spend too much time on homework, there are real consequences to consider.
Small Benefits for Elementary Students
As young children begin school, the focus should be on cultivating a love of learning, and assigning too much homework can undermine that goal. And young students often don’t have the study skills to benefit fully from homework, so it may be a poor use of time (Cooper, 1989 ; Cooper et al., 2006 ; Marzano & Pickering, 2007 ). A more effective activity may be nightly reading, especially if parents are involved. The benefits of reading are clear: If students aren’t proficient readers by the end of third grade, they’re less likely to succeed academically and graduate from high school (Fiester, 2013 ).
For second-grade teacher Jacqueline Fiorentino, the minor benefits of homework did not outweigh the potential drawback of turning young children against school at an early age, so she experimented with dropping mandatory homework. “Something surprising happened: They started doing more work at home,” Fiorentino writes . “This inspiring group of 8-year-olds used their newfound free time to explore subjects and topics of interest to them.” She encouraged her students to read at home and offered optional homework to extend classroom lessons and help them review material.
Moderate Benefits for Middle School Students
As students mature and develop the study skills necessary to delve deeply into a topic—and to retain what they learn—they also benefit more from homework. Nightly assignments can help prepare them for scholarly work, and research shows that homework can have moderate benefits for middle school students (Cooper et al., 2006 ). Recent research also shows that online math homework, which can be designed to adapt to students’ levels of understanding, can significantly boost test scores (Roschelle et al., 2016 ).
There are risks to assigning too much, however: A 2015 study found that when middle school students were assigned more than 90 to 100 minutes of daily homework, their math and science test scores began to decline (Fernández-Alonso, Suárez-Álvarez, & Muñiz, 2015 ). Crossing that upper limit can drain student motivation and focus. The researchers recommend that “homework should present a certain level of challenge or difficulty, without being so challenging that it discourages effort.” Teachers should avoid low-effort, repetitive assignments, and assign homework “with the aim of instilling work habits and promoting autonomous, self-directed learning.”
In other words, it’s the quality of homework that matters, not the quantity. Brian Sztabnik, a veteran middle and high school English teacher, suggests that teachers take a step back and ask themselves these five questions :
- How long will it take to complete?
- Have all learners been considered?
- Will an assignment encourage future success?
- Will an assignment place material in a context the classroom cannot?
- Does an assignment offer support when a teacher is not there?
More Benefits for High School Students, but Risks as Well
By the time they reach high school, students should be well on their way to becoming independent learners, so homework does provide a boost to learning at this age, as long as it isn’t overwhelming (Cooper et al., 2006 ; Marzano & Pickering, 2007 ). When students spend too much time on homework—more than two hours each night—it takes up valuable time to rest and spend time with family and friends. A 2013 study found that high school students can experience serious mental and physical health problems, from higher stress levels to sleep deprivation, when assigned too much homework (Galloway, Conner, & Pope, 2013 ).
Homework in high school should always relate to the lesson and be doable without any assistance, and feedback should be clear and explicit.
Teachers should also keep in mind that not all students have equal opportunities to finish their homework at home, so incomplete homework may not be a true reflection of their learning—it may be more a result of issues they face outside of school. They may be hindered by issues such as lack of a quiet space at home, resources such as a computer or broadband connectivity, or parental support (OECD, 2014 ). In such cases, giving low homework scores may be unfair.
Since the quantities of time discussed here are totals, teachers in middle and high school should be aware of how much homework other teachers are assigning. It may seem reasonable to assign 30 minutes of daily homework, but across six subjects, that’s three hours—far above a reasonable amount even for a high school senior. Psychologist Maurice Elias sees this as a common mistake: Individual teachers create homework policies that in aggregate can overwhelm students. He suggests that teachers work together to develop a school-wide homework policy and make it a key topic of back-to-school night and the first parent-teacher conferences of the school year.
Parents Play a Key Role
Homework can be a powerful tool to help parents become more involved in their child’s learning (Walker et al., 2004 ). It can provide insights into a child’s strengths and interests, and can also encourage conversations about a child’s life at school. If a parent has positive attitudes toward homework, their children are more likely to share those same values, promoting academic success.
But it’s also possible for parents to be overbearing, putting too much emphasis on test scores or grades, which can be disruptive for children (Madjar, Shklar, & Moshe, 2015 ). Parents should avoid being overly intrusive or controlling—students report feeling less motivated to learn when they don’t have enough space and autonomy to do their homework (Orkin, May, & Wolf, 2017 ; Patall, Cooper, & Robinson, 2008 ; Silinskas & Kikas, 2017 ). So while homework can encourage parents to be more involved with their kids, it’s important to not make it a source of conflict.
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Definition of homework
Examples of homework in a sentence.
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'homework.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
1662, in the meaning defined at sense 1
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“Homework.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/homework. Accessed 20 Nov. 2023.
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synonyms for homework
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Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.
How to use homework in a sentence
Now, they log on to Zoom from their bedrooms, surrounded by unfinished homework assignments and tattered stuffed animals, waiting to be assigned calls, texts and emails by the trained therapists who oversee the program.
Yow started her homework and saw Frese had gone 35-22 with two winning seasons at Ball State, which hadn’t had a winning record in its previous nine seasons.
Do some homework before investing in a diamond, and that lifelong commitment.
Another poster included an image of their losses over what appeared to be online math homework .
As we countdown to Inauguration Day, I've been doing my homework —and looking to the past for inspiration.
“I can help my children with their homework and sometimes we text in English at my job,” Santos says.
Scheunemann, meanwhile, had no idea who Spencer was, and did some homework .
She jumped at the chance to watch RT, or jumped at the chance to skip calculus homework .
And we encourage parent-student “contracts,” for class attendance, homework submission and even extra-curriculum activities.
Adicéam did his homework , spending 50 days collecting pieces, many with unexpected stories behind them.
Much of this homework is done by a very bad light and the boy's eyes suffer much.
For homework we have prepared alphabets where the letters are printed in type-writing order.
His parents were always getting angry with him for losing his clothes, or his toys, or his homework .
Only at the time when he was going to Beauregard School, with his homework .
And once a week or twice a week she was sending her homework or something to him.
Choose the synonym for draft
Words Related To homework
- daily dozen
- learning by doing
- run through
- getting ready
- making ready
- putting in order
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May – Grade 3 Daily Homework
The online daily homework course is designed to help students improve their academic skills through daily reading, vocabulary, and math quizzes. The course is structured to provide students with a consistent and manageable workload that helps them stay on track with their learning goals.
Each day, students will be given a set of reading passages to complete, along with accompanying vocabulary words to learn (link below). These readings and vocabulary words will be selected based on the student’s grade level and individual needs. The reading passages are designed to challenge and engage students, while also helping them develop their comprehension skills.
In addition to the reading component, students will also complete daily math quizzes that cover a range of topics, from basic arithmetic to more complex mathematical concepts. These quizzes will be tailored to each student’s grade level and will provide immediate feedback on their progress.
Daily Homework Vocabulary – Grade 3
Hi, my son will be attending 3rd grade in the fall and I noticed the course ends on June 8, 2023. Can it be extended so he can try it during the summer? Thanks! Daisy
I actually just began producing this material in May and am almost through with the May content. In the Course tab, you should notice sections divided by month. I should complete May by next week and will begin putting out June content. I will do this for each month of the year, so there should be plenty for summer and beyond. Please keep checking back, and thank you for using the site!
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