How Much Homework for a First Grader?

Updated on September 17, 2013
L.R. asks from Georgetown, MA
31 answers

School has only been in session for 3 weeks. However, I just don't think my first grader is getting enough home work. He actually got more in Kindergarten, even during the first couple of weeks. He struggled when he first began Kindergarten and then with his teacher's help and mine, by the middle of the year, he was ahead of his peers in some areas. I've asked him how school has been so far and he says he's bored. Then, he told me the other day that all the other first grades have home work except for his class. I told him they were only reviewing and that it would get harder. Today was his first day receiving homework. I looked at the assignment and it seemed very simple. He had only one math problem to do and she asked us to pick a book from home and read it to the child for 10 minutes. We usually read for at least 10 minutes a day anyway and he usually reads himself for about that length of time and then I take over. Maybe, I'm judging too much, but I'm hoping his class picks up the pace this year. He keeps telling me it's too easy.

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answers from Chicago on

None. there is no evidence supporting homework. In fact, the evidence shows that is hinders real education and learning.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

Homework doesn't equate to a good education, in my opinion. My two daughters who are in first grade get one worksheet a night for homework. It's simple stuff (subtraction or addition so far) and takes just a few minutes.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

so if he's in 1st grade he is most likely around 6 (like my son) and kids that age should not be doing any homework! I really don't understand why you would want him to get any at all? Kids this age should be playing and learning through that. Not sitting and doing homework after being in school all day too. I am so thankful that I work at a good montessori school and that I am able to put my kids in their elementary program that has no homework. There will be plenty of times when he will get homework when he is older. Kids need to be kids

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Grand Forks on

In my experience the best teachers are the ones who do not give any homework.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

Education research supports no more than an average of 10 minutes of homework per grade level per day. At his age, much of his learning will take place through playing and exploring and getting his hands on things. Home is the perfect place for this type of learning.

I think the greater concern here is that your son is finding the classwork too easy, and is getting bored. Bored kids tend to either switch off or find ways to amuse themselves (usually not in ways that are helpful). In his current classroom environment, your son's time may not be being put to productive use.

It is still early in the school year, but if you can, it might be useful to go observe in his class. Talk to the teacher about coming in. Sit in the back, and stay there long enough to "disappear" from your child's awareness. Then watch. What you learn from observing will help you decide what to do next.

If he's bored, but the teacher is running a tight ship and the other kids seem engaged, then it would be time to investigate other school options. Does your district have an accelerated program? If so, get him tested. Do you have options such as language immersion? Such options give a bored student something challenging to get involved with.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Two separate issues here: homework and if your child needs enrichment

IMO, a lot of first-grade homework can be busywork, so be glad your child has a teacher that doesn't waste time with that. The amount of homework has little relationship to how much your child is learning in school.

If you think your child needs enrichment because he's not learning anything new, then set up a meeting and talk to the teacher about how she differentiates among children at different levels in her class. She might give you some insight into how she runs her class, and what she can incorporate into the class to make sure he's not bored.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Be careful what you wish for. I think kids spend enough time in school and HM should be limited to studying for a test. Perhaps the teacher feels the same way. Count your blessings.
Also, if school work is too easy, more of it will just be irritating and a complete waste of your son's time. I really dislike busy work.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Oh heavens, be grateful for it right now. If he wants homework, give him some yourself. Sit down with beans or other small manipulatives and have him do "word problems". It will help him with how he thinks about math.

Homework isn't what picks up the pace. Right now the teacher is getting everyone up to snuff (no, that doesn't help with the kids who are ahead), and then things should start moving forward pretty fast. Sight words, writing assignments, reading.

It sounds like he is a good reader. Start asking him questions about what he reads. Get him a "Concentration" game where you turn cards over and have to remember where they are so that you can pair them off. That's really good for kids (and everyone else, actually! You can use 2 decks of cards, but it's easier for kids to get picture cards...) Work on everything that helps make a kid smarter AROUND the classroom. It gives your son a break from the school work and still offers him a lot of learning that will serve him well.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Ditto Geneva's post.

Our first grade teacher is taking things slow and the first three weeks of school have been homework-free in his class. I'm glad; another class got homework the first day and those kids (and their parents) seemed a bit wiped-out about it. I've been having my son do other necessary writing tasks (letters, lists) reading and math games, etc. to fill in that time, just so he's used to using his brain after school as well. My guess is that his teacher is letting the kids just learn the new class, new classmates and new routines-- we have parent night this week and I'll learn more then. After that, I'm expecting about 20 minutes a night or so, but we'll see.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

The school year is still fairly new. I substitute a lot mostly in the first grade.

We have 1 math worksheet that goes home on Wednesday for homework.

On Mondays, we introduce the spelling pattern for the week and bonus words. We spend a good amount of time brainstorming words. Then the students take home the list of spelling words to review at home and the spelling test of 10 words and 1 dictation sentence is done on Friday.

On Mondays, we also pass out a weekly book for reading. The student is asked to practice reading the book (appx 6-8 short pages) and there is a stamp for parent signature each day. When they come back to school with the parent signatures, they get what we call "Bobcat Bucks" to spend a the store on Fridays. This book is due back on Thursdays.

Vocabulary words are introduced on Monday as well. It is NOT a requirement but children get bobcat bucks for bringing in any article, etc that has the vocabulary words used. Some children bring in daily papers, others bring in NONE.

We are still working on sight words and fluency for most of the children. We send home sheets with sight words and parents check fluency.

Again, the only thing that is required and will count off is the math and daily book homework.

Some children have parents who are involved and they are very active with the extra work. Others, not so much. When we noticeably have a student who is routinely finished with work, they have an opportunity to do extra work OR be a buddy for another student in the class who needs a little extra help.

During the 9 weeks, students are pulled and individually tested. Those who test pretty high and above grade level have information sent home so the parents can decide if they would like their child tested for the PACE program. The PACE program is an accelerated learning class where children are pulled out of homeroom once a week for special instruction.

If you have any concern, just ask the teacher. Most teachers are glad to help.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Homework does not equal education or learning or anything. It shows me the teacher is unable to get the kids to do all their work during the day.

Homework isn't necessary. Reading in the evening should be fun and enjoyable, having mom or dad or sibling sit with us and reading. That's about the only thing kids in 1st grade need to be doing every night. They should be doing all their work in the classroom. There is no need at all for them to do homework. It does nothing.

They already go to school 8 hours per day, if they were employed their employer could be brought up on charges for making them work more. Kids need time to play, use their imagination, build stuff, ride their bikes, go do cartwheels, run amok.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Each school and Teacher will vary and the school curriculum.
However, "homework" itself, does NOT denote a good Teacher or bad Teacher.
Some give homework.
Some do not.
I know many private schools, in which they do not give homework much. Most school work is done, in school.
I also know many Teachers that give TONS of homework. It does not make that Teacher better than others.

In 1st Grade, the beginning is review. Typically and assessing each child's abilities.
In 1st Grade, my son would get reading for 15 minutes, some math or reading & writing type worksheets, little projects or creative projects. This is per home, work. Not in-class work.
And they also had the Dolch sight words, too. And "sharing" days in which each week it was a different topic and thus is mini "research" type assignments.

If things are "too easy" for your son, then does the school have a gifted and talented program? Or, have you talked to the Teacher?
AND, does the Teacher have a class website?
If so then look at it and the Teacher typically has on it, what they will be learning.

I would just talk to the Teacher and see what the curriculum is so that you don't have to guess at it.
And tell her of any concerns.

But again, homework quantity, does not denote a bad Teacher or good Teacher.

Then, your son says the work is too easy.
But have you actually SEEN him do it, and seen what his classwork/homework is... and seen him do it, as it being too easy?
Teachers typically send home a kid's in-class classwork, too. At the end of the week or so.
So, look at your son's in-class work, and see... how he is actually doing and if it is, "too easy" for him.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Talk to the teacher. Things may pick up soon. Some teachers don't believe in homework, which is fine, but he should be challenged in class, and I imagine she can give him extra work to do IF he really wants it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Rule of thumb--10 min per grade.
Homework does not result in learning "more."
I'm sure if he asks for challenge work, his teacher will give him a packet to do at his own pace--ours always did.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I am all for a parent being a child's advocate, but in this arena, I am not so sure. The trouble with seeking more/ more advanced work for a child who is bored, is that, if they are clever enough to handle it, you've just widened the gap between them and their peers ensuring they will only continue to be bored with the curriculum down the line.

I was fortunate to be a quick learner, eager to please and had the benefit of private pre-school before entering first grade. While the class was still learning their letters, I had been writing sentences. I got tested and placed in TAG, and put in classrooms which allowed for individual supplemental learning if you finished the required classwork ahead of the others. Extra curriculars included violin, band, speech and debate, math club, key club, science club, the bowling team, gymnastics, orchestra, choir, and theater, among others.

Never did a lick of study until law school, and at that point I had to teach myself how, because I had no experience with it.

Bored to tears throughout, and probably had a bit of a chip on my shoulder because I thought I was so clever. Would have done me some good to have been in some extra curriculars I didn't accel in so as to really be challenged and humbled.

Best to you and yours,
F. B.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Studies show that homework has no influence on classroomsuccess for elementary and middle school kids. Most homework at this age is busy work or work the teacher didn't have the time to get to in class. As others have said, he should be getting 10 minutes per night. The reading is the most important thing to focus on. Worksheets are mostly busy work.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Iowa City on

My daughter hasn't had much homework thus far. She brings home an accelerated reader book each afternoon, reads it, and then takes a little 5 question quiz on it the following day. Every now and then there is some extra item of homework (like, we are studying rocks, please bring a rock to school).

ETA: I forgot about spelling. A list of words is sent home every Friday. Then there is a pretest Wednesday and a test Friday. I think there are 10 to 15 words total that the kids need to learn each week.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Honestly, we didn't get homework when I was kid until around 5th grade and I had a great education. It really isn't essential, IMHO.

We've had years where our kids had a lot of homework (1 hour+) and it was agony. We'd be trying to cram in homework before activities and it was like the kids were in a race. This year, at Back to School Night, both teachers said they aren't big fans of homework and try to cover almost everything at school. So, homework hasn't been as painful this year. We lucked out.

The school year tends to start off pretty easy and then works up to where kids are challenged. If you feel your child isn't challenged enough, talk to the teacher directly. I'm sure he/she'd be happy to give supplemental work ideas for your child.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Yeah I feel like we are having a lighter load this year too, compared to the grueling kindergarten packets we got last year. We are 5 weeks in, our teacher told us she needed some time to figure out where the kids are at, what they can/can't do (she taught 3rd grade science/math last year so I guess its new for her) and it does seem like its starting to pick up now.

I'm not complaining. I think important for 2 reasons only at this age: 1) it is a way for kids to show parents what they are working on in their class; 2) it is a way for parents to show support of what they are learning and instill good work ethic. Educational research shows that homework in elementary school actually does very little to support their learning. Its pretty much unnecessary in that regard until High School, when they are actually doing more independent self-teaching types of assignments on their own.

Not that I'm against homework, just nice to know that most of the important learnin' is taking place within the 4 walls and the pressure is off at home.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

There are lots of workbooks and internet sites that you could give him to do.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

At the beginning of the week, the teacher sends home a plan for the week's homework. So far, every night we have 1 page in his math book, a story and questions for HIM to read in his reading book - OR - free read for 20 mins, a list of words from the week's word family (call, ball, small, ball) and sight words. Additionally, our kids get a bible verse to memorize and a spelling test of about 20 words.
Our son goes to private school, but follows the California state curriculum. At the rate we're going, we'll finish his reading textbook by next month. Not sure what's after that. At Open House last year, we got a preview of the 1st graders work, and by mid year, kids were writing paragraphs!
I'm trying to look into ways to introduce a new more accellerated math concept once a week, or he'll get bored with the math work. On reading, I think the more you can go to the library, keep him busy practicing his reading skills, maybe have him write stories, that will keep him interested and challenged.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

My son and step daughter are both in 1st grade, at the same school, but different classes. They have the same homework packet every week. On Monday's they get a packet of homework for the week. There are 9 choices on the front cover (3 math, 3 reading, 3 writing). They are supposed to pick atleast one category each day, making sure to do atleast 1 choice in each category for the week. So in theory, on Friday when they turn it in, they should have 4 of the 9 choices completed. Usually, I have them do more than 4 for the week because I also feel their homework is a little easy. They also have spelling words that they practice every day and they are supposed to read for 10 minutes each night.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

My first grade daughter is expected to read to us for 30 minutes every night. That is a district wide expectation for all students K-6). She so far has only had one math assignment which took about 10 minutes to do. As the year goes on she will probably have short math assignments almost every day. But they will usually be some kind of 10 minute activity related to what they are doing in class and not a worksheet full of problems. Once in awhile they will have a science activity to do (like collecting examples of living and non-living things). She will also occasionally have word sort activities to do for her word study lessons. (We don't have traditional spelling lists.). However, none of this has started yet. Give it a few more weeks, but don't expect to see a lot of homework.

A lot of school districts are moving away from doing homework other than to read at home. Research doesn't necessarily show that homework helps learning.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Last year my son was in first grade.
They had a math packet that was sent home every week having one worksheet a day. My son would do it all on the first day.
Then he needed to read or be read to 15 minutes a day.
That was it!
He is only 6 or 7 mom! I say let him do the little homework he has and play. He's not going to get to do that much longer.
However, if you are really worried about it I would sit down with the teacher and let her know that your kid is bored and needs to be challenged a bit more.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Our school says 10-15 mins of homework plus 15-20 mins of reading

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

For our school you get one worksheet a day and you had to read 15 minutes each night (or your parents read to you). Honestly, I don't think it's a problem that your son gets very little homework. I would not worry about it if I were you. If he desires more you can give him some of his own homework. We had our son do an extra math worksheet or two each week last year in 3rd grade bc we didn't think he was getting enough multiplication/division practice. In 1st grade was when our son got tested for the gifted program and got in. Maybe your son will want to do this testing? The teacher is the one who recommends it based on how advanced your child is in academics.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We do a supplemental math and reading program called Kumon...they really fill in where the schools slack off...they give plenty of homework.

Actually, if I were you, I'd be more concerned about what they're doing in school. You can always get work books to do at home.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

When my daughter was in first grade (she's now in third grade) her nightly homework was to read for 20 minutes, every Monday she'd get a homework packet with about five to six different worksheets (math and vocabulary) that were due back on Friday, and she also had weekly spelling test. I thought this was a great starting point for first graders to ease them into doing homework each night!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Our school requires 20 min of work along with 20 min of reading.

I understand the point of homework, but I am not 100% fond of it.


answers from New York on

When did school start? some have been in school for a month and things are well underway. some of us just started and are not in full homework swing yet....



answers from Colorado Springs on

What a nice problem to have!

If it were me, I'd give the teacher a call or an e-mail. I'd ask what the homework policy for her class is. I'd mention that your boy wishes he had more to do.

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