Two Hours of Homework in First Grade!? How Much is Too Much?

My son came home from the first day of Grade 1 at a new school yesterday and, as I expected, there was no homework.

In fact, in his school info sheet there is to be zero homework through Grade 3.

Grade 4 will have up to 20 mins. It's right there in black and white.

I was excited not to be burdened with a formal nightly homework routine, because while placed on the kids, it almost always falls to the parents to nag to get it done and help with comprehension.

But I still thought nothing through Grade 3 was a little light.

Then I saw this post on CafeMom, where a mother detailed her daughter's nightly Grade 1 homework routine:

30 min adult reading to be recorded in her reading log daily

15 min child-led reading to be recorded daily

20 min of sight word review (she has 80 sight words)

10 min of spelling work (she has 10 spelling words and gets tested every Friday)

5 min of handwriting practice a night (usually one page front and back)

10 min math (one page front and back usually about 10- 15 problems, less the week they were working on word problems)

20 min reading comp work sheet (Read a short 1-2 paragraph assigned story and answer about 5 questions about the story, comes out to be about one to two sentences per question). I think this could go faster, but this is where we struggle.
[via CafeMom]

Related: The 10 worst things about going back to school

Now, I understand that with redshirting, Grade 1 has become like Grade 2 with 7-year-olds dominating the classroom, but this much homework in first grade still seems waaaay over the top.

I'm wondering what the happy medium is, so I asked Amy Murray, a director of Early Childhood Education (and my son's old Kindergarten teacher).

"Research consistently shows that, in the elementary years, the only homework that carries benefits for children is a regular home reading routine," she said. "Children work hard all day at school, their time at home should be for relaxing and reconnecting with their families. Piles of homework in the early years just seems like a good way to kill a child's love of learning and enthusiasm for school."

In 2011, the NYT published a piece where 10 minutes a day per grade was advocated.

The article quoted Dr. Harris Cooper of Duke University, saying the 10 minute rule was effective and "there is a minimal relationship between how much homework young kids do and how well they test."

Which side of the line do you take?

-By Buzz Bishop

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