Kids, Parents and Teachers Disagree on How Much Homework Is Too Much

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Backpack bulging, worksheets galore, read this, study that . . . all after seven hours in school already.


If you think kids are the only ones who disagree with teachers about the need for homework, you may be surprised to learn that many parents don't like homework any more than their kids do.

A new survey shows that parents and teachers don't always agree on why homework is assigned -- or how involved parents should be in helping their kids get it done.

Ask kids about the dreaded "H" word and you'll hear something similar to what Sabrina Martin, a third-grader at Wood Acres Elementary School in Bethesda, told us.

"I'd rather not do it, but I know I have to," said Sabrina, 8.

Teachers say homework is important in the learning process and can help kids develop study and organizational skills. They say kids need to practice what they've learned in school so that the material sticks in their brain.

Some teachers say they give homework to get parents involved in the learning process. "My hope is that they will have a conversation with their kids about the homework so it is not just a drill," said Sue Ann Gleason, a first-grade teacher at Cedar Lane Elementary School in Loudoun County.

What Homework Works?

There is a big debate among educators about how much homework, and what kind of homework, really helps kids learn.

Harris Cooper is a professor of education and psychology at Duke University who is an expert on homework. He said there is very little evidence that most homework in elementary school helps kids learn.

Reading is important, he said. There are some studies showing that kids in grades 2 through 5 do better on tests when they complete short assignments that practice basic skills that will be on the test, he said.

Those skills can be in any subject, he said, including math and spelling. But young kids should not get homework in areas that haven't been completely explained in school.

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