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Homework Amount

My oldest son is in the 5th grade this year. He usually spends between 1 1/2 to 2 hours doing homework each night. He's also had weeks in which he'll have 4 or 5 tests, some days with more than one test and he'll still have homework in other subjects. My husband and I feel it's too much for a 10 year old. We've spoken with other parents who have similiar concerns. Has anyone else had the same experience? Were you able to speak to the teacher to lighten up the load? I've been told that the teachers are "preparing " the kids for middle school and high school where the homework will be more intense but it seems a bit too much for for 10 year olds. Can't we ease into it a bit more? In 4 years the will be much more able to handle a big load of homework. So Moms, any thoughts? Thanks!

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Here my thought, kids are way to lazy. They complain way to much and have no responsibilities. Nothing is handed to you in life, you have to WORK for what you want. If you feel that this is to much homework for a 5th grader, what are you going to do when he/she is in high school or college??? Are you going to baby him/her all through their life. I have a 5th grader and he has gets a lot of homework as well, but that's life. We all went through, I would rather have him doing homework or studying or even outside playing then sitting around eating, watching tv or playing video games. Get over it!

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Woa... I guess some people don't know the expression "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all." So, let me try to give you some supportive advice, not criticism. (And I just can't resist... Heidi's post has about 8 errors in it... apparently she didn't spend enough tie doing her HW when younger!)

I am a 4th grade teacher. Our school has homework guidelines by grade level. I am supposed to give, on average, 45-50 minutes. My kids can also earn 10 minutes of choice time at the end of the day, during which time they can work on homework if they so choose. 5th grade is supposed to give 55-60 minutes. Of course, every child works at a different pace, so this is just an estimate, but anything significantly more than this sounds like too much to me. Sometimes certain kids might have slightly more than other kids if they chose to fool around during class and not finish their classwork. You should make sure this is not your son's case. If not, you should talk to his teacher.

There are many recent studies that put homework into question, and, in fact, refute it. Homework can really make kids dread and dislike school. I don't think we're at the point in our society to abandon homework- we may never be- but, in my opinion, teachers should be careful that homework is not causing an undue amount of stress and time. And to say that a 5th grader should just "suck it up" and deal with it b/c he'll have to deal with it in HS and college is ridiculous. 10 year olds are not in college- they are in elementary school. What's next, should we start SAT prep in kindergarten?

I have only received one complaint about the quantity of homework I give, and it isn't so much about my assignments as it is about the work habits of the girl, who wastes time in class and puts up a fight at home, so it is often difficult to get it all done. Therefore, I am in frequent communication with her mom and we have set up a plan. If she spends 20 uninterrupted minutes on one assignment, she should take a short break then move on the the next, even if it is not all done. I am perfectly satisfied with that arrangement. Any time a parent writes a note attesting to the effort put in, I'm ok with it. I used to give projects to do over vacations, which I believe were justified and I did not hear complaints from parents, but I have even scaled back on those in the last couple of years.

When in doubt, I would suggest talking to the teacher. Explain your nightly routine. He/she might not realize how long it is taking kids to complete it. read the school handbook, if one exists, and see if there are established timeframes.


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We had a similar problem with our 10 yr. old daughter also in 5th grade. We spoke to her teacher who was fantastic. She told us that the homework shouldn't take more than 15 min. per subject. If it isn't done in 15 min., then we write her a note to let her know so that she can work more with the kids in the classroom. My daughter still has homework in up to 4 subjects per night, but we finish in an hour now. We have also noticed that my daughter is starting to finish it in that timeframe now so that we don't have to write a note for her. I don't know if that is because she has just gotten used to this system or if she is just performing better or what, but it is a relief for all of us.

A good rule of thumb for how much homework a child has is:
Take their grade level, and multiply it by 10. That is about how many minutes of homework your child should have per night. So a fifth grader should have about 50 minutes of homework per night, a 11th grader, should have almost two hours or more a night.
Since your child is doing a lot more, I think the first step is to talk to the teacher, and see how long she expects the homework to be taking. Is your child having to finish work at home that many other students are finishing in class? Are other subjects assigning homework that is taking a lot of time (foreign language, art, music)? Is there one subject that your child seems to be spending most of his time in--reading? math?
This might be an indication that your child is struggling with a subject, and maybe should be moved to a lower ability group.
If the teacher thinks that this level of work is reasonable, then I would ask for a meeting with the teacher and the principal. I'd come armed with research that shows that homework is really not that effective a teaching tool. Do some quick google searches on homework effectiveness. In the last year or two, there have been a number of academic studies done that show that lots of homework doesn't help. If you are having trouble finding them, contact the reference librarian at your local library.
The thing to emphasize with the teacher and principal is that you are not looking to not have your student do homework--you understand the importance. However, what is the educational benefit of doing 100 math problems, over 20?
Hope this helps,

Hi B., We had a teacher who loaded up on the homework a few years ago. After a little investigating we discovered a lot of the homework was unfinished class work. This is the sign of a poorly planned day by an unorganized teacher, it happens. We had a meeting with the teacher and talked specifically about scaling back homework the day before a test. She was very open to that but the rest we all suffered through. Occasionally I would put a post-it note on the homework and say "30 minutes to this point" and send it in. Then the teacher knew a good effort was put forth and parent-checked. This was also discussed before hand and acceptable to her.
When you have a high achieving child they are doing more than just going to school 7 hours a day. There are sports practices & games, music lessons and community service projects. Add a few hours of homework and there's a tired child! If your child is a good student during school hours, talk to his teacher during conferences about his other commitments. Getting to know each other a little better will make the teacher/student relationship better and most likely provide you with a little more flexibility.
Heidi: tone it down, you sound a little angry.

I would check the homework policy in your district. I am a fifth grade teacher and our students can get up to 75 minutes of homework a night. Thats fifteen minutes per subject. Check to make sure the homework your child is valuable(what they're actually studying during the day) and not just busy work. As a teacher, I find it important that my students practice at home what we have learned in the classroom each day, it gives them a chance to practice the skills they've been taught.

Hello B.,

I do not know if your child is in Public school or private. My Son has a ton of homework. At times I have seen him spend 3 hours a night doing work. He gets homework every weekend. It may not be much but there is always homework. During the recent Thanksgiving break...he had homework. The school that he attends is a college prep school so it is all about preparing them for college. He is a 5th grader. It is hard and sometimes I sympathize with him but I have seen how those who have moved onto college do. They are much better prepared for the demands that they will meet down the road. Just be supportive and encourage your Son. You may not see the need now but when he gets older these demands will not seem too great for him.

Good Luck

Wow - that's alot. My 5th grader spends about 1/2 hr - 45 min. doing homework and then another 1/2 hour reading every night. Her teacher told us that homework shouldn't take more than an hour to complete each night but every teacher's expectations are different. I would first ask her how long does she expect each assignment to take and then let her know how long it's taking to complete and then work with the teacher from that point. Power is in numbers so band together with other parents because maybe she isn't realizing how long it is taking her class to do all this work?

Hi B. - I am a grade 5 teacher and the rule here is no more than one hour of homework a night, most nights of the week. Most of us don't assign homework over the weekend unless it's a long-term project that is ongoing. We have a rule that if it takes a kid too long (more than an hour), the parent can sign off in the assignment notebook and the child can be allowed to make it up the next day. I hear from most parents that the kids don't tend to work longer than an hour anyway, and usually less time is needed for homework as it turns out. We definitely do prepare them for middle school in 5th grade, so I don't think it's unusual that students have a test AND other assignments all in one day/night, but I have found over the years that it really comes down to personal opinion. Some parents and teachers feel that 5th graders are too young for a lot of homework and others feel it is necessary... I feel that it is definitely important to give homework, but like anything else, balance is important too. The objective is for kids to retain and practice skills they learned in school that day, not just to have busy work to do at home. I hope this helps... good luck! One good thing is that it sounds like your son will be prepared for 6th grade! That will make the whole middle school transition easier, since it's all new to the kids at that point!

Talk to the teacher. My daughter in 6th grade was doing 2 hours on math alone and another hour on social studies/English language arts/Spanish. The math teacher said stop after 1/2 hour, English said do a half hour and then read another half hour before bed. Spanish is usually about 20 minutes. If there is so much and they "get" it, it seems like busy work. If the do not "get" it, it is torture. Do enough to get the concept but not busy work. For tests our teachers start a week before with the kids creating a study-guide as part of homework, so the night before tests is final review of 4 pages with the most important stuff they wrote down themselves. This teaches them to condense for college. I would talk with the teachers. Good luck.

I completely empathize! My son is in first grade and already has an hour a night of homework and additional projects sometimes on the weekends. I have talked with his teacher (who I like and she's been at this for 25 years) - and she said there is not much to be done - and it will only get worse - given the legislative and school district requirements about what kids need to cover and what they must be tested on each year.
This is one - among many reasons - my husband and I have been investigating a homeschooling approach. I've been reading Howard Gardner (Harvard Educ. expert) and John Holt (granddady of secular homeschooling approach) and am now convinced there is a much more humane and productive approach to learning out there. We are planning to start this with our own kids next year when I can cut down to part-time hours and work from home. There is a huge network of folks in New England doing the same thing and they provide a wonderful resource of expertise, curriculum ideas, and contacts (e.g. check out AHEM - Advocates for Homeschooling in Massachusetts). Sounds like your husband's work situation might allow for such flexibility (I know many successful homeschooling parents who work from home while guiding their children's education). It's worth looking into - the homeschooling families I've met all rave about the wonderful lifestyle they now enjoy. They become closer and less stressed as a family (including the siblings, who often start collaborating more once they are freed from the peer group pressures of their age-categorized classroom setting) as they are liberated from the day-to-day pressures, hassles, demands, and schedules of school life.
Good luck!

I have my oldest in an alternative school in Danvers called Plumfield Academy. There is no homework!!

As a grade 4 teacher, I totally understand your concerns. However, I'm willing to bet that the teacher doesn't have the authority to lighten the load at all. I teach in MA and because of testing demands and the pressure the schools are under, most schools are being run by administration, not the teachers and teachers are no longer left with the descretion to decide what to teach, or how much work to assign. We have mandatory testing each 5 weeks, and mandatory homework to give out.

Hi B.
My daughter is in the 6 grade and has been coming home for about the last 2 yrs. with that much home work. She still does. On top of that they made the schooldays longer. It went fron 8:15-2:30 to this 7:13-3:30 and stil gets homework that takes her 1 hr. -2.hrs. to do. Ifeel its to long and a lot on the kids so I know what your talking about. She dosn't get home until 4:00 and it's getting dark.
I hate it.

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