Enough with the homework. I want my kid to play and be a kid.

I’m going to get some flack for this, I’m sure. But I think our elementary-school kids have too much homework and not enough fun. And it makes me MAD.

Yesterday while Annie was at gymnastics, I was talking to another mom, Sarah, about our kids’ school. Sarah was freaking out because of her daughter, Ava, and her upcoming schedule. She couldn’t figure out how they were going to make it work.

Sarah told me that Ava, who is in second grade, gets a homework packet on Monday that’s due on Friday. It’s filled with math problems, spelling words and related worksheets, and a writing assignment. (Sarah showed me the packet. It wasn’t easy stuff.)

Ava also has to log 20 minutes of reading every night. And there’s a spelling test and math test each week to review for. Plus a couple of special projects a month.

Little Ava does two activities right now: gymnastics each Thursday and Brownies every weekend. That’s it.

I listened as Sarah told me how she and Ava figured out a schedule for getting her homework done. It just barely works out – if nothing unexpected happens and there are no special weeknight events like a birthday party.

But if an assignment is particularly difficult, or if Sarah is running late from work, or if Ava has a playdate – there are meltdowns. Big ones. From Ava and her mom.

And now soccer is starting in March, which is going to throw a monkey wrench in the whole situation. Because there is a practice on Tuesdays at 5:00 p.m.

Sarah can’t figure out how they’re going to make it work. Ava doesn’t have the stamina to do more than 40 minutes of homework plus the 20 minutes of reading each night. But how could she give up soccer when she loves it, the exercise is good for her, and learning teamwork is so important?

So in essence, Ava wants to do two activities a week and it may be too much because of her homework load.

The kid is in SECOND GRADE, people.

And she may not get to play soccer because of homework.

I think this is insane.

And it’s what Annie is in for next year.

I’m really struggling with this. So, being me, I did some research to see what the experts have to say.

There is something called the “10-minute rule,” formulated by the National PTA and the National Education Association. It suggests that kids should be doing about 10 minutes of homework per night per grade level. In other words, 10 minutes for first-graders, 20 for second-graders, and so on.

This means Ava should have 20 minutes of homework a night. She has at least 40. Plus her reading (but according to Sarah, Ava would do that anyway since she loves to read).

A Google search I did turned up several references to studies that have found no link between how much homework elementary school children did and how well they did in school – or how high their test scores were.*

So, do our little kids have too much homework?

Are we depriving our young kids of their childhood?

I think the answer to both questions is YES.

I believe that kids should be able to come home from school every day and play.

Whether that play is gymnastics or soccer or playing in the backyard, children need to play. It’s important for their development. And their happiness.

I’m all for reviewing spelling words or math skills for 10 minutes a night with my first grader. That sounds reasonable.

But not being able to play soccer and do gymnastics two days after school because of second-grade homework does NOT sound reasonable to me.

So if Gracie comes home with 40 minutes of homework each night in second grade? You’d better believe we’re stopping after 20 minutes. And I’m going to have a discussion with her teacher.

For the love of all that is holy, schools. Let my elementary-school kid be a kid and PLAY and don’t pile on the homework when she’s 7 years old, mmmkay?

Does your young child have too much homework? What do you think is appropriate?

* See here and here and here.


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37 Replies to “Enough with the homework. I want my kid to play and be a kid.”

  1. I’m with you. I think the kids get too much homework, particularly when you factor in the 20 min per night of reading. I look so forward to Friday because there’s no homework. Actually, strike that… my 4th grader gets weekend homework. But we usually save that for Sunday. Really? Homework on the weekend? Is that REALLY necessary?

  2. I found this post on Pinterest 🙂 My daughter is also in 2nd grade. Her teacher claims to follow the 10 minute rule (but that is counting kindergarten. So really a 2nd grader at our school should have 30 min) by assigning math and language/handwriting each night. However, her teacher does not consider spelling practice, math fact drills, weekly current event report, studying for weekly tests, and nightly reading as “homework”. Say WHAT? If she’s doing it at home, it’s homework. We probably spend almost an hour a night doing everything that’s required. My daughter is in dance and cheerleading, plus I teach her piano. She regularly breaks down and cries about how she never has time to play. But she doesn’t want to give up the activities she loves. So I am 100 percent with you on this. Sorry for the rant….. and I’m enjoying reading through your posts by the way 🙂

  3. I am a former teacher and I got in trouble all the time for not assigning enough homework…..to my second graders! I don’t believe in homework for most of the reasons you state. My son is now in the school district in the special ed preschool program. He is 3. Keep that in mind.

    He comes home with a homework packet every Monday and due on Thursday and it’s 10-15 pages long every week. Are you freaking kidding me? I finally went in and complained to the teacher about how I’m not going to do that much homework and stuff that is develpomentally inappropriate. He had connect the dots 1-30 and color by color word. Um he’s 3 he can’t read yet. She nows send me 5 pages a week and I basically do it for him every week since he can’t read and write and all. I worry about how bad it will get later on.

  4. And quadruple that time if you have a child with learning disabilities. (Like I do.) What takes a typical student 45 minutes to do takes my dyslexic, dysgraphic son 3 hours. And reading… forgetaboutit. I have to read aloud to him for him to comprehend it. He’s in 7th grade, and I am worn out. Just worn out.

  5. I am completely on your side. Aggressive homework expectations do more to make learning a chore rather than feeding the naturally curious and growing mind. In my opinion, it hurts the student in the long run. There’s value in some repetition and practice (spelling words, for example), daily reading expectations for young children, or simply a little extra attention for things that they struggled to finish in class, but 40 minutes of extra assigned work is excessive. Life—not study—is where the things we learn are put into practice; it’s so much more than frivolous “play”. The only caution I would offer is to talk with other class parents about how long their homework is taking. More than average and it may be a sign that your child is struggling and could use some extra help.

  6. Could not agree more. I’ve got a fourth grader and it’s RIDICULOUS. She’s got religious school two afternoons a week, and girl scouts every other Thursday. I don’t consider that to be overscheduled, but she literally does NOT have time to do the homework. She does it, but misses out on any kind of free time, afternoons daydreaming or playing or coloring or just being a kid. She’s a KID – and after a full day at school, she’s not going to sit and do her homework without a lot of nagging and procrastinating and frequently tears and frustration. It’s too much, just way too much.

  7. I had this same rant earlier this week. My 7 year old brother is in first grade. I pick him up from school and keep him in the afternoons, so I help with his homework. He spent over an hour on homework one day this week. And about 30 minutes on the other 3 nights.
    It’s ridiculous.
    And part of it was that I make him do spelling words 5x’s each on Tuesdays, but before we started doing that he wasn’t doing well on the tests on Fridays.
    There’s not usually quite this much homework, so I’m hoping it was just an overload from getting back into school after winter break.

  8. Hear, hear. This won’t be an issue for us for a few more years (my little is 2), but I already worry about it. Kids that young should be able to experience a little fun time after spending all day at school, for Pete’s sake! Self-study is important, but it doesn’t need to be that rigorous that young.

  9. I have 5 and 7 year olds and I totally agree with you that they have far too much homework for their ages. There is one thing I disagree with though. I think young children are far too over scheduled with sports and other activities. I agree that kids need time to play, however I think they need more play that doesn’t involve a coach, leader or teacher telling them what they need to work on or improve on constantly. I also think families would be better off having dinner at home together most nights, instead of running from one activity to another.

    1. I agree about the over scheduling. My kids come home and play outside/with friends and we have dinner every night together and that is the way I like it. 🙂 Maybe it is just my generation though. haha I am an older mom.

  10. Wow, that is a lot of homework. We had even more when I was a kid, but we didn’t do as many extracurriculars as kids these days I guess. I like where we live because the schools are good and the kids have maybe 20 minutes of homework a night in elementary school. In high school, my kids went days without any but I believe they are still getting a good education.

  11. I don’t believe mountains of homework are necessary in order for children to do well in school. For a while my son had to catch up as he joined his kindergarten 2 months late. He has trouble with writing and most of the catchup work is all writing – both print and cursive. While I want him to write on his own, he’s only 5 and I know it is not urgent. I still haven’t returned the cursive workbook his teacher sent at Christmas and asked that we complete. He can’t do it alone at all.

  12. I’m with you! I teach first grade (about to move up to third) and hate setting homework (as well as marking it – dreading 3rd grade for this reason).
    Unfortunately it’s something I (and in turn my students) can’t escape. I honestly believe that practising spelling, number facts and reading is ENOUGH. Kids need time to BE kids and have had this conversation many times with parents of my firsties who have come in requesting MORE homework for their kids or asking about tutoring!

  13. Hi – found you on Pinterest and I absolutely agree with you! My oldest daughter is in 2nd grade and I just don’t understand why she needs to have so much homework. At the beginning of 2nd grade it was taking up to 2 hours a night to get through it all, but now we’re down to about an hour Monday/Tuesday and about 30-40 minutes Wednesday and Thursday. At first there was a lot of shouting to get it all done, but after a few weeks I got fed up and set a timer for an hour and told my daughter that she could have my help for one hour and anything that was not done was going back in the folder with a note for the teacher. Things went better/faster after that, but it still takes too long in my opinion.
    We don’t do any weeknight extra curriculars, but in K and 1st we used to go to the playground most days after school. We can’t do that now because there isn’t time in the evenings. All of the other 2nd grade families have stopped going too.
    I talked to her teacher about it and she claims it should only take 20 minutes…but that’s not counting spelling/dictation practice and the reading assignments.
    I’ve heard it only gets worse from here on in, so I’m not looking forward to next year when I’ll have a 3rd grader and a Kindergartner.
    Sorry for ranting, this subject is a hot button for me! I’m usually quite optimistic, but I’m finding it hard to look on the bright side of this since there seems to be no benefit.

  14. Reading daily is great. I’m always behind that. But 40 min in second grade? What happens in 5th? Sounds like this packet idea (which the school I taught at did use) isn’t being used right by the teacher.

  15. My mom is a retired 3rd grade teacher. She is staying with us while my husband is out of country. I teach nights, so that means she has been taking on some of the work in getting my 1st grader to get his homework done. It has been an eye opener to her. She said she wants to apologize to all the parents that she told to have their kid do their homework while they fixed dinner (it doesn’t work… too distracting!). I think she also is realizing that what a girl that likes homework (like I was.. and was an only child) does in 2 min might take 10-15 min for another kid. She declared every teacher needs to have a boy so they can see the difference. I’m facing the decision of adding soccer (2 days a week commitment) on top of tae kwon do (also 2 days)

  16. I so agree. I have a fourth and second grader and the amount of homework is amazing — between the two we spend a lot of time every evening (and weekends) doing homework!

  17. I’m a 7th grade teacher and I never, ever give more than 10 problems in math as homework and almost never give homework on the weekends. I’ve been told that I don’t give enough homework, but I don’t care. I’m not going to give them busy work just so I can say I gave it. My oldest starts kindergarten in the fall, so it will be interesting to see the other side of this!

  18. I have no issue telling a teacher NO MORE. It's insane and frankly too much HW is a sign of of a week teacher or one trying to impress someone.

  19. My son is in third grade and this is the year that the homework load majorly increased. We were worried because he has ADHD and everything takes him twice as long. It’s been a struggle, but it has gotten better as the year has gone on. I saw someone on another post say that she has gotten into the habit of drawing a line on her son’s homework indicating that it was all they had time to do. My son’s IEP says that his assignments should be modified. Why make him struggle through 30 problems when the teacher can see if he understands the concept in 15? I think that should be a rule of thumb for all kids. And then, if kids really WANT to do more homework, make it extra credit.

  20. I really agree. The key to having a child engaged and successful in school is having engaged parents, but it doesn’t take a ton of homework to help parents engage. Homework has a good purpose to show the parents what the child is learning in school and give them a chance to be involved in the process, but just 1-2 assignments a week can accomplish that if it is the right type of assignments. Sending home a ton of worksheets does nothing in my opinion (for the child or the parents).

  21. boy am I a teacher that you would love! I teach second grade and my homework is this: using a timer, see how many sight words you can read in one minute. Now do it again and see if you are faster. Write down how many words you read. Next, using a timer, see how many addition (or subtraction) problems you can answer in one minute. Now do it again and see if you are faster. Write down how many you did. Study your spelling words for 5 minutes with a parent or friend. Now go read a book. Whatever book you want, until you are bored or want to stop.
    Homework is about teaching routine and responsibility, not about fighting with your kids.

    1. Second grade, yes. There is nothing more motivating to kids than to try and beat their own records. The timer is serious motivation. Imagine this – you are the smart kid and you compete with your classmates. You always win, so why bother trying harder? Or you are the struggling kid – you always lose, so why try harder? With this system, they are competing against themselves only. Once every week or two I test them in class, and I give them "improvement stars" if they beat their own record. Every child is working at his level, doing his or her best, and every child only has to improve from his or her score the prior week. It's really a beautiful game. (It's from Whole Brain Teaching, and there are lots of great ideas there.)
      BTW – I also use timers for transitions – cleaning up after workshops, getting math materials put away, packing up at the end of the day, and reward them for class records. Love my timer!

  22. Reading daily is great. I’m always behind that. But 40 min of homework in second grade? What happens in 5th? Two activities is not overload and kids need playtime too. Sounds like this packet idea (which the school I taught at did use) isn’t being used right by the teacher.

    1. This is nothing compared to Korea, I'm afraid. My 2nd grade niece wakes up at 5 am to study, goes to school and then tutoring until 11 pm. Yes, 11 p.m.

  23. That is way too much homework! We would not be able to fit that into our nightly schedule. I agree, a little work, but mostly play. Kids need to learn more than the three Rs.

  24. Yes. Too much homework. Too little free time. And nothing, I mean nothing to show for it. The kids are not coming out smarter, more well adjusted, or more successful. I never thought I would consider homeschooling, but I’m looking at it right now. My daughter is still a year and a half away from school, but with the options we have, such as one local public school, “the best one”, giving only a 10 minute “brain break” in lieu of recess..yea…homeschooling is a serious contender.

  25. Sorry to tell you but it doesn’t get any better. My middle schooler gets a minimum of 4 hours of daily homework. In addition to that, he has a reading log and band practice log. He works on his long term projects on the weekends to keep from getting too overwhelmed during the week. This insane schedule has taught us to cheat – I am now signing fake reading and band logs. I don’t have a problem doing homework that I feel is busy work (for instance, coloring). I have even written papers for him rather than keeping him up past midnight. Teachers should realize an 11 year old still needs time to be a child.

  26. I am a teacher and completely agree! Kids are spending too much time at school and too much time doing school work away from school! I have been teaching for 15 years and it gets worse every year. I am also the mother of 3 kids ages 12, 9, and 11/2 and our time together as a family is dwindling. The only fix for this is parents. We have to team up and demand less homework and more time for kids to just play! 99% of teachers k-12 would agree, but the level of pressure they're put under to complete to compete is unbelievers. Let me know where to sign!

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