The truth about homework in America

by: Carol Lloyd | Updated: February 9, 2023

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Homework-in-America

Not excited about homework? We can hardly blame you. But how families handle homework in America can have a huge impact on their child’s short-term and long-term academic success. Here’s a glimpse at how American families approach homework, and some tips that may help you decide how to handle homework in your home.

Model how much you value your child’s education

Think of your child’s nightly homework as a time to model how much you value your child’s learning and education. Get in the habit of asking your child what homework they have each evening, looking over their homework when they’re done each night, praising their hard work, and marveling at all that they are learning. Your admiration and love is the best magic learning potion available.

Set up a homework routine American parents who want their children to graduate from high school and go to college take learning at home seriously. They turn off the TV and radio at homework time. They take away access to video games and smartphones. They make sure the child gets some exercise and has a healthy snack before starting homework because both are shown to help kids focus. When it’s time for homework, they (try to) ensure their child has a quiet place where they can focus and have access to the grade-appropriate homework basics, like paper, pencils, erasers, crayons, and tape for kids in younger grades and calculators and writing materials for kids in older grades.

Helping with homework when you don’t read/speak English

So how can you help with homework if you can’t read your child’s homework because it’s in English — or because the math is being presented in a way you’ve never seen? If you can’t understand your child’s homework, you can still do a lot to help them. Your physical presence (and your authority to turn off the TV) can help them take homework time seriously. Your encouragement that they take their time and not rush through the work also will help. Finally, your ability to ask questions can do two important things: you can show your interest in their work (and thus reinforce the importance you place on learning and education) and you can help your child slow down and figure things out when they’re lost or frustrated. A lot of learning happens when children have a chance to talk through problems and ideas. Sometimes, just describing the assignment or problem to you can help the solution click for your child.

What’s the right amount of homework?

It’s often in first grade that kids start receiving regular homework and feel stressed and lost if they don’t complete it. If your child is having trouble adjusting to their new routines, know that it’s not just your child. Families all across America are having the same issues in terms of figuring out how to create quiet, focussed time for a young child to read, write, and do math inside a bustling home. In first grade, your child will likely be asked to do somewhere between 10 and 30 minutes of homework a night, sometimes in addition to 20 minutes of bedtime reading. ( The National PTA’s research-based recommendation is 10 to 20 minutes of homework a night in first grade and an additional 10 minutes per grade level thereafter.) If your child is getting a lot more than that, talk to your child’s teacher about how long your child should be spending on homework and what you can do to help.

Comparing U.S. homework time to other countries

If you’ve come from another country and recall your childhood homework taking less time, you may think it’s because you’re foreign. The truth is, most parents who grew up in the U.S. are feeling the same way. In the past few decades homework for younger grades has intensified in many schools. “The amount of homework that younger kids — ages 6 to 9 — have to do has gone up astronomically since the late ’80s,” says Alfie Kohn, author of the 2006 book The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing. So if you feel surprised about the quantity of homework your child is bringing home, you’re not alone.

According to an international study of homework, 15-year-olds in Shanghai do 13.8 hours of homework per week compared to 6.1 hours in the U.S. and 5.3 hours in Mexico and 3.4 hours in Costa Rica. But here’s the thing: academic expectations in the U.S. vary widely from school to school. Some American elementary schools have banned homework. Others pile on hours a night — even in the younger grades. By high school, though, most American students who are seriously preparing for four-year college are doing multiple hours of homework most nights.

Not into homework? Try this.

Homework detractors point to research that shows homework has no demonstrated benefits for students in the early elementary grades. “The research clearly shows that there is no correlation between academic achievement and homework, especially in the lower grades,” says Denise Pope, senior lecturer at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education and the author of the 2015 book, Overloaded and Underprepared: Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthy Successful Kids .

On the other hand, nightly reading is hugely important.

“One thing we know does have a correlation with academic achievement is free reading time,” says Pope. “We know that that is something we want schools to encourage.” Since the scientific evidence shows the most impact comes from reading for pleasure, don’t skip bedtime reading. If your child is not being given any homework, make sure to spend some of that extra time reading books in either English or Spanish.

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Meaning of homework in English

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  • The kids are busy with their homework.
  • My science teacher always sets a lot of homework.
  • "Have you got any homework tonight ?" "No."
  • I got A minus for my English homework.
  • For homework I want you to write a paper on an endangered species .
  • academic year
  • access course
  • Advanced Placement
  • asynchronous
  • foundation course
  • immersion course
  • on a course
  • open admissions
  • the national curriculum
  • work placement

homework | Intermediate English

Homework | business english, examples of homework, translations of homework.

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Rethinking Homework for This Year—and Beyond

A schoolwide effort to reduce homework has led to a renewed focus on ensuring that all work assigned really aids students’ learning.

Teacher leading a virtual lesson in her empty classroom

I used to pride myself on my high expectations, including my firm commitment to accountability for regular homework completion among my students. But the trauma of Covid-19 has prompted me to both reflect and adapt. Now when I think about the purpose and practice of homework, two key concepts guide me: depth over breadth, and student well-being.

Homework has long been the subject of intense debate, and there’s no easy answer with respect to its value. Teachers assign homework for any number of reasons: It’s traditional to do so, it makes students practice their skills and solidify learning, it offers the opportunity for formative assessment, and it creates good study habits and discipline. Then there’s the issue of pace. Throughout my career, I’ve assigned homework largely because there just isn’t enough time to get everything done in class.

A Different Approach

Since classes have gone online, the school where I teach has made a conscious effort as a teaching community to reduce, refine, and distill our curriculum. We have applied guiding questions like: What is most important? What is most transferable? What is most relevant? Refocusing on what matters most has inevitably made us rethink homework.

We have approached both asking and answering these questions through a science of learning lens. In Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning , the authors maintain that deep learning is slow learning. Deep learning requires time for retrieval, practice, feedback, reflection, and revisiting content; ultimately it requires struggle, and there is no struggle without time.

As someone who has mastered the curriculum mapping style of “get it done to move on to get that next thing done,” using an approach of “slow down and reduce” has been quite a shift for me. However, the shift has been necessary: What matters most is what’s best for my students, as opposed to my own plans or mandates imposed by others.

Listening to Students

To implement this shift, my high school English department has reduced content and texts both in terms of the amount of units and the content within each unit. We’re more flexible with dates and deadlines. We spend our energy planning the current unit instead of the year’s units. In true partnership with my students, I’m constantly checking in with them via Google forms, Zoom chats, conferences, and Padlet activities. In these check-ins, I specifically ask students how they’re managing the workload for my class and their other classes. I ask them how much homework they’re doing. And I adjust what I do and expect based on what they tell me. For example, when I find out a week is heavy with work in other classes, I make sure to allot more time during class for my tasks. At times I have even delayed or altered one of my assignments.

To be completely transparent, the “old” me is sheepish in admitting that I’ve so dramatically changed my thinking with respect to homework. However, both my students and I have reaped numerous benefits. I’m now laser-focused when designing every minute of my lessons to maximize teaching and learning. Every decision I make is now scrutinized through the lens of absolute worth for my students’ growth: If it doesn’t make the cut, it’s cut. I also take into account what is most relevant to my students.

For example, our 10th-grade English team has redesigned a unit that explores current manifestations of systemic oppression. This unit is new in approach and longer in duration than it was pre-Covid, and it has resulted in some of the deepest and hardest learning, as well as the richest conversations, that I have seen among students in my career. Part of this improved quality comes from the frequent and intentional pauses that I instruct students to take in order to reflect on the content and on the arc of their own learning. The reduction in content that we need to get through in online learning has given me more time to assign reflective prompts, and to let students process their thoughts, whether that’s at the end of a lesson as an exit slip or as an assignment.

Joining Forces to Be Consistent

There’s no doubt this reduction in homework has been a team effort. Within the English department, we have all agreed to allot reading time during class; across each grade level, we’re monitoring the amount of homework our students have collectively; and across the whole high school, we have adopted a framework to help us think through assigning homework.

Within that framework, teachers at the school agree that the best option is for students to complete all work during class. The next best option is for students to finish uncompleted class work at home as a homework assignment of less than 30 minutes. The last option—the one we try to avoid as much as possible—is for students to be assigned and complete new work at home (still less than 30 minutes). I set a maximum time limit for students’ homework tasks (e.g., 30 minutes) and make that clear at the top of every assignment.

This schoolwide approach has increased my humility as a teacher. In the past, I tended to think my subject was more important than everyone else’s, which gave me license to assign more homework. But now I view my students’ experience more holistically: All of their classes and the associated work must be considered, and respected.

As always, I ground this new pedagogical approach not just in what’s best for students’ academic learning, but also what’s best for them socially and emotionally. 2020 has been traumatic for educators, parents, and students. There is no doubt the level of trauma varies greatly ; however, one can’t argue with the fact that homework typically means more screen time when students are already spending most of the day on their devices. They need to rest their eyes. They need to not be sitting at their desks. They need physical activity. They need time to do nothing at all.

Eliminating or reducing homework is a social and emotional intervention, which brings me to the greatest benefit of reducing the homework load: Students are more invested in their relationship with me now that they have less homework. When students trust me to take their time seriously, when they trust me to listen to them and adjust accordingly, when they trust me to care for them... they trust more in general.

And what a beautiful world of learning can be built on trust.

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COMMENTS

  1. The 5 Best Homework Help Websites (Free and Paid!) - PrepScholar

    Best Paid Homework Help Site: Chegg. Price: $14.95 to $19.95 per month. Best for: 24/7 homework assistance. This service has three main parts. The first is Chegg Study, which includes textbook solutions, Q&A with subject experts, flashcards, video explanations, a math solver, and writing help.

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    Brainly is the knowledge-sharing community where hundreds of millions of students and experts put their heads together to crack their toughest homework questions. Brainly - Learning, Your Way. - Homework Help, AI Tutor & Test Prep

  3. How to Do Homework: 15 Expert Tips and Tricks - PrepScholar

    You finish one episode, then decide to watch another even though you’ve got SAT studying to do. It’s just more fun to watch people make scones. D. Start the episode, but only catch bits and pieces of it because you’re reading Twitter, cleaning out your backpack, and eating a snack at the same time. 5.

  4. The truth about homework in America - GreatSchools

    According to an international study of homework, 15-year-olds in Shanghai do 13.8 hours of homework per week compared to 6.1 hours in the U.S. and 5.3 hours in Mexico and 3.4 hours in Costa Rica. But here’s the thing: academic expectations in the U.S. vary widely from school to school. Some American elementary schools have banned homework.

  5. The pros and cons of homework for English language learners

    Why students should have homework. Homework can provide an opportunity for English learners to practise and consolidate what they have learned in class. This can help them improve their understanding and memory of the material. If you are confident that your learners have understood the materials, it can be useful to give them extra independent ...

  6. Homework Help: Everything You Need to Know - Oxford Learning

    The Toronto District School Board offers a simple guideline to help determine how much homework is appropriate at each grade level. Following the guideline of 10 minutes per grade level, each grade should have this amount of homework: 30 minutes in Grade 3. 40 minutes in Grade 4. 50 minutes in Grade 5.

  7. 10 entertaining homework ideas for online English Language ...

    Here are 10 fun and entertaining homework ideas for your ESL students: Cafe hopper. Tiktok star. Let’s go to the movies. Hello Mr. Teacher. Interview a stranger. Shine like a Karaoke star. Expert on the loose. 24 hour challenge.

  8. Key Lessons: What Research Says About the Value of Homework

    Too much homework may diminish its effectiveness. While research on the optimum amount of time students should spend on homework is limited, there are indications that for high school students, 1½ to 2½ hours per night is optimum. Middle school students appear to benefit from smaller amounts (less than 1 hour per night).

  9. HOMEWORK | definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary

    HOMEWORK meaning: 1. work that teachers give their students to do at home: 2. work that teachers give their students…. Learn more.

  10. How to Improve Homework for This Year—and Beyond | Edutopia

    A schoolwide effort to reduce homework has led to a renewed focus on ensuring that all work assigned really aids students’ learning. I used to pride myself on my high expectations, including my firm commitment to accountability for regular homework completion among my students. But the trauma of Covid-19 has prompted me to both reflect and adapt.