Everyone agrees that students need homework. However, too much after school studying and homework can burn students out – and the last thing any teacher wants to face in the morning is a classroom full of zombies.
According to a poll conducted by the Associated Press and AOL, 57% of parents feel their children are receiving the right amount of homework, 23% feel their children receive too little homework, and 19% believe their children receive too much work. You may remember having little to no homework as a young child. However, it is now common for kindergartners and first graders to be given complicated take-home assignments. This is a problem because it is not just children who can become overly stressed. Too much homework can also cause friction between students and the parents who must help their kids do it. Additionally, precious family time can be cut into by heavy homework demands.
Amount of homework in U.S. vs. the rest of the world
Regardless of whether you think our students have too much or too little homework, you may wonder how U.S. students stack up against the rest of the world. As it turns out, we score pretty well!
Studies show that American students aged 15 and under have an average of about 6.1 hours of homework per week. This number may seem rather high, until you take into account that students in China in the same age range average 13.8 hours per week. On the other hand, Finland and Korea report an average of 2.8 hours of homework per week.
Recommended amount of homework vs. actual homework assigned
Homework varies greatly depending on the grade and subject. The National PTA recommends teachers to follow the 10-minute rule when it comes to assigning homework, which means there should be 10 minutes of homework per grade. For example, 1st graders should receive 10 minutes per night, 2nd graders receive 20 minutes, and so on. Increasingly, parents and teachers favor systems like this because they reduce stress on the student, teacher, and parent, while simultaneously improving the student’s test scores.
But how much time do students actually spend studying at home? The National Education Association found that regardless of grade, the average amount of time spent on homework is less than an hour per day. In fact, this number hasn’t changed much in the past 50 years.
Traditional schools vs. Montessori schools
Montessori schools are not necessarily better or worse than other schools, public or private. They just rely on a different teaching approach. The Montessori approach to education and homework works differently:
Active learning: Montessori schools stress an active approach to learning. Rather than having a teacher stand and orate lessons, students are encouraged to use a hands-on approach and discover new information for themselves.
Time: Children are given as much time as they need to understand new information, so they can learn at their own pace.
Teachers: In Montessori schools, teachers act like Sherpas, guiding students through lessons and homework to help them grasp concepts.
Different ages: In a traditional school, all students in a grade are close to the same age. In Montessori schools, students range in age within 3 years. For example, a Montessori teaching session may involve children ages 3-6.
A balanced approach to homework
As parents and teachers, we want to educate our children to the best of our ability. This includes utilizing homework as a supplement to schoolwork. Yet, overloading students with too much homework can be counterproductive, and even harmful. A balanced homework plan can help students learn, while easing stress on parents and teachers alike.