34 answers

Too Much Homework?

How much do you moms think is too much homework? My 5th grade daughter is doing an average of 1 hour/night of seatwork (some weekends, too), plus 20+minutes reading. She is very bright, and usually is independent in her work. I think it is too much at this age and the work is boring worksheet drills-this week she had 6 pages of math one night. She is active in one sport and Girl scouts, so she has committments after school 3 afternoons some weeks, which seems to me to be a lot less than other kids her age. The kids have almost no screen time during the week. I think that several afternoons should just be free time. I feel that we should say something to the teacher at conferences...she doesn't want me to.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks to everyone for their input. We had Parent-teacher conferences last night, and it went very well. Since I learned from you all that the 50 minutes per night was to be expected, I didn't argue that point. We did discuss options that would lessen the drill/busywork and allow my daughter to spend homework time doing some long range projects and more interesting assignments. The teacher was very receptive and my daughter is excited about the challenge.

Featured Answers

Being a teacher I come from a little bit of a different back ground too. Usually the homework is used to help them remember things they learned in class, otherwise they might forget it and it will have to be retaught. A lot of the time it is things that could have been done in class. I would say if she doesn't even want you to talk to her teacher don't. If she's fine, don't worry about it. If it is overwhelming for her, then approach the teacher in a not accusatory way and find out what you all can do to make it work better. Just remember chances are great the teacher is doing the best they can with what they have. They most likely are more than willing to talk to you and work things out. But it is so hard if you approach them in a way that makes them feel you are unwilling to really talk and listen to them.

I think having any homework is too much after being in school all day. When do the kids get to relax? I understand that because there a lot of kids it is hard for the teacher to get everything accomplished in class. On the other hand I hear a lot of parents complain because they can't do as much with their kids because of homework.
Stephanie L

I think her homework time is reasonable, since she is ok with it. Anything over that, though, I would object to. Also, her other activities seem reasonable to me. Just be greatful that she does it without having to be nagged, threatened cajoled,bribed etc.!

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I don't know much about whats "average" for a 5th grader, but as a teacher, I do know that toe "boring drills" seatwork is important. Trust me, teachers won't give homework that they don't think is important becuase we have to grade it, which takes time, usually outside of our paid contract hours. Repetition is important when learning new concepts... it helps to solidify the synapse and dendrite paths in the brain and help students remember how to do the work. 1 hours doesn't sound terrible, and you should probably be encouraging her to read at least 20 minutes a day even if it wasn't homework. In 2 years she'll be in junior high, so getting used to juggling school and activities and homework/study time is probably good for her. Homework load only gets worse when she has 6 or 8 teachers giving assignments rather than just one. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Can't remember for sure, but a general guidline is about 20 minutes per grade, or maybe 10. I may be way off... it's been a long time since I took education courses.

My concern is more over the busy work. If the teacher is just assigning worksheet after worksheet (or lots of pages in the textbook) it may not be benificial. I would talk to the teacher. Don't be accusatory, but find out what her goals are with the homework (I hope its more than just to keep them busy) and ask how your daughter is doing in class (I suggest this only because my 4th grader just came home crying that she was about the only one in her class who hadn't passed speed test for addition, and I had no clue she was even stuggling! Sometimes kids won't tell you!)

Ask the teacher..
Every program is different.
I just talked to a gal whos has twins in different classes and they both have 2 hours of homework a night for 1st grade. I asked if it took them 2 hours or if it was 2 hours of work, she said it was 2 hours of work, 5-6 worksheets that the teacher gives. At the begning of school the teacher said to plan 2 hours a night for homework.

An hour of homework in 5th grade is alot, is your daughter ok with doing it? I personally think our society has gone over the top with the school thing and I think the schools feel pressure to supply work for the kids. Particularly in the more affluent suburbs. DOn't get me wrong, I am an educated person myself and highly believe in education, but it is NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT thing in a child's life. Like you said, she does girl scouts, that is important, just playing and learning to get along with others is important, family time, and much more. It sounds like you do have a valid concern, maybe your daughter is embarrased about you saying something to her teacher with you there, maybe call the teacher before school starts in the morning or while your daughter is at school. I think most teachers want to work with parents to have successful students! You don't have to wait until conference time to bring this up. You are her guide, and her mom it is ok for you to at least question this! Good luck!

I think having any homework is too much after being in school all day. When do the kids get to relax? I understand that because there a lot of kids it is hard for the teacher to get everything accomplished in class. On the other hand I hear a lot of parents complain because they can't do as much with their kids because of homework.
Stephanie L

Hi K., I was a teacher before becoming a SAHM. The general rule for homework is that you should have as many minutes x10 as your grade. So, generally a fifth grader should have 50 minutes of homework. Our school also did 20 minutes or reading as well.
I would recommend you talk to the teacher with or without your daughter. Good teachers always appreciate open lines of communication with parents. You could at least ask the teacher what her expectations are for homework and why.
Now as a parent I can understand there just aren't enough hours in the day.
Good luck

Hi K.,
Take your child out of your teachers class while you can lol because last yr. when our youngest was in 1st grade, his teacher gave way to much homework for a 1st grader and we are kicking ourselves for not taking him out of that class and sticking him in another 1st grade class. Your daughter is doing way to much homework...you might as well be teaching your daughter at home...you are basically doing the teachers job.

That is pretty typical it seems for a 5th grader. I babysit fourth graders and a sixth grader and they are all right there.

My daughter is in 2nd and has 20 minutes of reading every night, then a sheet of either math or writing that takes another 15 to 20 minutes. At first it seemed like a lot but she is done and it is time to chill. She is in Girl scouts and that in no way even causes issue with homework, it is twice a month. Her teacher doesn't believe in weekend homework unless a special project.

She is done by 3:40ish and ready to relax. I certainly couldn't imagine having to rush around after school and worry about dinners and all that to accomodate more activities! Just nuts what we all do now these days. Soccer, music, ballet lessons, piano, or whatever, always in a hurry and never just letting kids relax!

I think three activities a week on top of having to do homework is a lot personally.

I wouldn't say anything to the teacher, really. It is their job to teach your child in a manner they think will do them justice heading into 6th grade, where the homework is even harder and more detailed! Middle school is tough and she has to be prepared.

I would cut back her activities.
My daughters teacher has a great philosophy that homework should never be a chore. She sends home a packet on Monday evenings and it is to be returned by Thursday morning. No homework on Fri, Sat and Sun other then reading on an honor system. That to me is more then reasonable.
I don't think your daughter has it bad, I mean an hour after school is really minor and if her activities on top of that are causing her to be overloaded then something has to give. Don't count on a teacher to change her method of teaching because your daughter has a lot going on!!!

Not to sound mean but I think kids should have ONE activity a week maybe two tops. Kids are overloaded and though they seem like they like it I am willing to bet most kids want to come home and chill out, not have to be somewhere again in the car, getting ready to leave again and all that stress. Family meals get cut short if even just eliminated. Not fair to them at all.

Without activities all over the place, they come home say 3:00, do their homework, done by 4:15 and get to relax at home like they should, not having to head out the door again!

If you are truly concerned go to a PTA meeting and speak up and talk to other parents, don't run directly to the teacher. I would evaluate why you really think it is too much. I don't agree with weekend homework but an hour a night isn't bad.

One hour of homework counting all of her subjects + reading is about average for 5th grade. Most likely your daughter has been given a planner in which she is to write down her homework every day before leaving, the teachers usually look it over to make sure they have written it down correctly-ask to see it and then you will be able to see exactly what was assigned. As for the 6 pages of math..that usually only happens if a kid has been messing around or talking in class and did not finish on time with the rest of the class and then has to take it home to finish, which would explain why she doesn't want you to talk to her teacher : ).

Being a teacher I come from a little bit of a different back ground too. Usually the homework is used to help them remember things they learned in class, otherwise they might forget it and it will have to be retaught. A lot of the time it is things that could have been done in class. I would say if she doesn't even want you to talk to her teacher don't. If she's fine, don't worry about it. If it is overwhelming for her, then approach the teacher in a not accusatory way and find out what you all can do to make it work better. Just remember chances are great the teacher is doing the best they can with what they have. They most likely are more than willing to talk to you and work things out. But it is so hard if you approach them in a way that makes them feel you are unwilling to really talk and listen to them.

I would bring it up with the teacher. The homework sounds like busy work. Are they doing anything in school? Do all the kids have this much homework? She may be just trying to challenge your bright girl and doesn't know how. Your daughter may be socializing during the day (most likely because she's bored) and doing her work later. I'm not trying to "ding" your child ... for bright kids it's faster to do the work at home and they can have fun during the day. She sounds too bright to be doing the rote work she's bringing home. The teacher should be able to challenge her during the day.

Best wishes,
L.

I completely agree that 1 hour is way too much homework for that age. After being in school for 7 hours, kids need a break from school work, whether it is to play with friends or do other activities. There are some kids who can handle it but many cannot and it proves to be counter-productive. There probably isn't anything you can say to the teacher that will change things because he/she is following a curriculum. Good luck.

This sounds about normal. My kids are both in high school now and in honors classes and they often have less homework now than they did in the lower grades. Part of that may be that they learned to use their time wisely. Do keep the outside activities limited to one or two at a time so they have time to just be kids!

I think her homework time is reasonable, since she is ok with it. Anything over that, though, I would object to. Also, her other activities seem reasonable to me. Just be greatful that she does it without having to be nagged, threatened cajoled,bribed etc.!

My daughter is also in the equivalent of 5th grade (I am in New Zealand) At my girls school they are given a homework 'sheet' which has the whole weeks homework assignments. On top of the list of tasks they are also to do spelling and reading. This works well for everyone who has afterschool activities. Generally the task would only take about half an hour each night if you did it everynight, the spelling about 10 mins and the reading can be done as a relaxing time in bed. My older daughter is year 8 and they have a similar set up although her homework would probably take closer to three quarters of an hour if spread out. They get the assignments on a monday and have to have them done by Friday morning. Most of the kids have no problem with this set up. Many go all out on a Monday and do the lot all on one day.
It sounds like your daughter is being given a lot of homework for her age, I would certainly ask her teacher and perhaps ask other parents in the same class how they feel about it.
Kids need time out from homework and even activities just to clear there brains and refresh their bodies and they need 'me' time just like us adults, without having to stress about doing something or having to be anywhere. In our house Friday is their 'me' time. No homework and no activities, they look forward to it.

If you think it's too much, feel free to ask about it. Don't be aggressive...any teacher should be happy to talk with you about course work at home. It could be a situation where your daughter is maybe not doing all of her work during alloted times in class, so she has to bring it home. If she is, she probably doesn't want you to know that she's not doing what she's supposed to in school, and that might be why she's reluctant to have you talk to her teacher. That doesn't mean she's not a good kid, and if it is the case, she obviously cares what you think and can change it! Good luck!

You know I agree!!! I only have a 4 month old, but I have nephews that are just now in 1st grade and they have TONS of homework- at least 1-2 hours a night!? Even last year they did, but at least that was half day... now that they are full day this level of homework seems insane. My sister says it seems to be the norm and no other moms think it is odd?!
I mean what are we paying teachers and schools for with our taxes? Aren't they supposed to be teaching our kids.
We all have hardly enough time to spend with them as it is, with getting dinner together and just other things around the house, not to mention activities outside of the house. When do they have a chance to be kids and play after school or enjoy family time??
I would certainly say something, but I don't think it will do much good. I guess we are just in a different time and I am thinking that perhaps I should look into home school options over the next few years before I have to send mine off??? I just don't know if I want my little ones having so much on their plate so soon in life.
They have their whole lives to deal with deadlines, workloads and pressure to preform... when do they get to be kids???
Good luck in whatever you decide to do... but know that you aren't alone in feeling how you do.

I hear you but they are trying to get your child ready for Middle school. My son had homework every nigt, except Fridays in fourth grade and at least three nights in a row in fifth grade. It's par for the course. I noticed my younger son actually gets his work done in school. Is she working in class to finish her assignments? I'd ask the teacher. I bet you could email her. Good luck!!!

Unfortunately, I believe this is true at most schools now. Much different than when we grew up! They say,(whoever they are)that they should be doing 10-15min/night per grade including Kindergarten. So, for a 5th grader, 60-90 min per night is normal. Just know that we are all in the same boat!

I am now on my second 5th grader, and that seems like a pretty normal amount to me. I guess the more important question is content. To you it might seem like busy work (because your child is so bright." But for others in the class it might be review that they desperately need. Unfortunately, with a class of 20+ kids, some will struggle, and others will have "busy work."

I would feel free to mention it to the teacher, as they usually appreciate feedback--emphasize the content issue. But I don't really think it's too out of line and wouldn't expect much to change. Especially if your daughter is not worried about it, I wouldn't be. If nothing else, it's helping her learn to prioritize and have time management skills and also develop good habits for later on.

You may decide, like we did, that the extra-curricular activities have to get reduced in order for the kids to have free time.

Being a previous teacher I will speak from that perspective first. A good teacher gives the students time to finish their work in school. However, if your daughter is in public school they have implemented a lot of changes since I taught school, and they were just starting those changes when I quit. I hate politics in school, teachers should be able to teach and not deal with politics (my soapbox), anyway the new changes in most of the schools are that teachers in the same grade need to teach the exact same thing at the exact same time. Some principals have even made it to were if they walk in and out of the teachers classroom in the same grade they hear a complete sentence. That does not give the teacher the ability to "teach", so expect a lot of homework, teachers really can't do much about it. And, an hour of homework every night, really isn't that much homework.

Now from the mom perspective, I want my kids to be kids too. I want them to be able to play and enjoy life. They have made school into a really hard job. If you feel that you need to talk to your daughter's teacher, then just on a day that you are dropping her off, or picking her up just ask the teacher how your daughter is doing, she may just say good, she may say she doesn't focus all her time on her schoolwork, if she says good, ask her what her requirements for homework are each night. That will give you an idea if you need to talk about it at the PT conference or not. Good luck, I know it is very difficult. We just started our son in private school, and their homework is more demanding than public school.

Hi,

I'm a teacher (high school),but I have a 5th grader as well. A good rule of thumb is 10 minutes for each grade level, so a 5th grader would have about 50 minutes per night.

Reading really shouldn't count towards that as that really isn't homework, but rather something she should enjoy doing as well as preparing her to become a lifetime learner and reader.

If it's overwhelming and she never looks up from her books, talk to the teacher. Find out if your daughter is using class time well, getting right to work, etc. I try with my son to let him come home from school, give him about 40 minutes or so of "down"time and then we hit the books. Reading is done about 30 minutes before bed and it works for us.

Hope this helps!

To tell if the homework amount time is too much you need to look at the grade that she is in. The recommended homework guideline is 15 minutes per day multiplied by how many years she has been in school. Since this is her sixth year, including kindergarten, she should have 15 minutes times six which is one and a half hours of homework per day. The amount of homework with her reading appears to be appropriate. I believe as the kids move into schools where they have multiple teachers, the rule goes to twenty minutes per class. So in middle school the homework would be aproximately 2 hours and 20 minutes each evening for 7 classes. I hope this inormation helps.

I know how difficult the struggle is but they are requiring so much more from our children today. As parents we need to keep a sense of balance in their lives. They do need some personal time as well to be kids.

Good luck,
M.

You should be able to find out at conferences, (or before with and email or drop in) if what your daughter is bringing home is all homework, or if she's not finishing her work in class.

It's good for kids of all ages to get accustomed to homework. I'll use myself as an example. I was very bright, like your daughter. I got all of my work done in class and never had homework. I didn't get my first B until the 9th grade when I got a couple of C's and even a D. Why, because I hadn't learned study skills. I was so used to breezing through everything that when the classes got harder and required studying, I had no idea how to go about doing that.

I wish that I had learned the study skills and self discipline of having to do homework before my grades plunged in the 9th grade, messing up my transcript for college applications.

Take the opportunity to teach her the importance of education. Being a kid doesn't mean having no responsibilities. Keep the activities as long as they are things your daughter enjoys. You are giving her the opportunity to learn to prioritize. Let her decide which activities are the most important to her. If she has stuff going on three nights a week, then several afternoons are free time, after her homework.

Don't give her the idea that her homework is boring and question her teachers actions. It undermines your daughters respect for the teacher and her ability to get the most out of her class. Maybe the homework is part of a plan to make students in this country competitive with kids in other parts of the world that are consistently outranking us.

I too have heard the '10 minutes per grade' rule of thumb. What I would talk to the teach about at conference is the 'quality' of the homework. Is what the teacher assigning really helping your daughter learn or extending the learning or helping her learn in another way? If you feel the teacher is just giving the kids 'homework for homework's sake," I would talk with her about it.

A rule of thumb that was given to me when my son first started bringing homework home in first grade was "10 minutes per grade." So if you have a fifth grader it is reasonable to expect that individual to spend 50 minutes per school night and then reading for 10-20 minutes per night was on your honor over the weekend. FWIW, Our kids attend school in the Douglas County School District.

Best wishes.

K.,

My boys now in 6th and 8th grade have had about an hour of homework or more depending on projects, reports and end of the month reading logs since they were in 5th grade. They both have to read for 20-30 minutes each night as well. They play sports (flag-football season now). They divide homework, a little after school and then finish after dinner, practice or their games (depending on how late the game is played). If you feel your girl is struggling or overwhelmed I would mention it. We were told at the beginning of the year to expect at least 1 hour of homework each night. This is preparing them for high school. It is rare for them to not have homework during the week. Occassionally my 8th grader has homework he does on the weekend. It takes alot of time management which I am still working on with all three of mine in sports and helping with homework. It only gets worse as they all get older and go to different schools and play different sports not to mention band and hunting seasons. =)
Have fun. M.

When my daughter was in fifth grade at Cherry Hills Christian, she had 3 hours per night and lots on weekends (sometimes more on weekdays). It was a nightmare. She hasn't experienced anything close to that since fifth grade.

Just wanted to give you perspective on homework at other schools.

This is grade school. If it can't be done in 1/2 hour + 20 min of reading. Then it doesn't get done. I would bring it up with the teacher. Then ask other mom's who have different teachers. It they are all the same, then sorry...move!

My oldest is in 6th grade. Her worst year was 4th grade. The teacher has no kids of her own and she was ruthless. 5th grade was a guy and by far the best we had. She went from the bottom of the class to the top of the class. Homework was max of 15-20 min. and then reading. This year at 6th grade, if she has homework, it is stuff left over from school that she didn't finish, plus a max of 10 math problems. And they have, as a general rule of the whole school, no homework period on Fridays. My 3rd grader gets is sent home a work packet to be done throughout the week. She gets it all done on Monday in about 1 hour and then she reads her 20 min everyday with no more homework.

During my oldest daughters 3rd grade, she was coming home with 1-2 hours worth of homework, I talked to the teacher about it and was told to spread it out and let it only take a max of 1/2 hour for homework...everything else, I was to send back to school unfinished. And with notes of anything she didn't understand (there was lots of it).

Talk to the teacher and let her know it is unacceptable. They have them for how long during the day? A little is one thing to allow me to know what they are doing at school, but 1 hour is over board this is grade school...not Middle or High school.

An hour of homework is normal for this age. If she uses her time at school wisely it could cut the time down. My hated to bring homework home and did most of it in school. That is a normal amount. At least she is doing it.

Colorado has among the worst education in the nation and all these other mom are complaining it is too much! I wonder what the countries with outstanding education do with homework. US is ranked around 20th in education and we are complaining about an hour. I would be concerned if she couldn't keep up and did not do it at all.
C. B

According to numerous studies, homework is not beneficial until jr high and high school.

I can give you the reference if needed.

M.

I would 1st check with other moms to see if they are feeling the same stress with the homework. In our school several of the 5th grade teachers send home any work that wasn't completed in class plus a homework assignment. So if she isn't completing her classwork she may have extra assingnments to finish. You may also want to see if it is just this teacher that has so much work. Each teacher in our school has slightly different homework some with more homework than others.

Although 6 worksheets in one night seems a little excessive. My son's teacher sends home a weekly packet with only 2 or 3 worksheets of math, a spelling list to copy 2 times and 20 min. of reading each night the entire packet is then turned in on Friday so if we have scouts or soccer we can decide which nights to work on it. He also brings home classwork that he doesn't finish which he hardly ever has but I know other students who get distracted in class would have more.

Good Luck, I would definetly talk to her teacher at parent conferences if it continues to be a problem.

K.,

Sometimes "homework" is actually classwork that the student has not completed during class time. Maybe at parent teacher conferences, you can ask the teacher how well your daughter is using class time and if she is able to focus. I have also heard the 10 minutes times the grade. My daughter is in 4th grade and her homework time varies between 30 and 60 minutes depending on the night plus reading. There have been a few nights this year (particularly Thursdays for some reason) when it has taken her an hour and a half to finish everything. We do homework following our after school snack and then she reads before she goes to bed. With three kids, we have something almost every night, so we have to be very disciplined in the use of our time. And we love our Saturdays!

I have one other comment I hesitate to make. You mentioned she is doing "boring worksheet drills." Are these her words or yours? Your child will value her education only as much as you do. That includes what she is learning, who she is learning it from and how she is learning. If you are calling her homework boring or are showing nonverbal clues that her homework does not have great value, that attitude will reflect on her entire view of education. Even when our daughter had a teacher that we didn't like, we never let her know it. We go out of our way to impress on our children how lucky they are to get an education and how wonderful it is that they have the best teachers around. Any questioning or critical words should be behind closed doors.

Our family sponsors a child through Compassion International. She is now 14 and lives in Haiti. In one of her letters, she thanked us for her birthday gift. (We just sent $20 for her birthday and the staff there purchased the gift, so we didn't know what it was. It was school clothes.) Her letter explained that without the school uniform, she could not attend school. This made a huge impression on my then eight-year-old and we often talk about the blessings of living in this country and how lucky it is that our kids have the education they have. We've really had to watch our attitudes and words as parents to gaurd against our children growing up with a sense of entitlement.

I apologize if I'm off base.

Theresa
Mom of three and wife to an amazing Dad

some of the work may be work that she hasnt been doing during time given in class. But one hour a night for a 5th grader is the norm...along with reading and that is a given .

We as parents need to be supportive..and encourage good thoughts about homework because believe me once they get into higher grades the homework standard will be alot higher!

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