The homework debate: How much is too much? - KCTV5

The homework debate: How much is too much?

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How much homework is too much? It's a question that educators, students, and parents have been asking for years. Many of them are split down the middle. (Graphicstock) How much homework is too much? It's a question that educators, students, and parents have been asking for years. Many of them are split down the middle. (Graphicstock)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

How much homework is too much? It's a question that educators, students, and parents have been asking for years. Many of them are split down the middle.

KCTV5 News took the issue to an education expert who has a method that may surprise you. The University of Missouri-Kansas City education professor said homework serves no purpose for elementary level students. 

"Sometimes. Because sometimes it makes me really stressed," said fifth-grade student Reese Baker when asked if she felt like she had too much homework.

Baker attends school at Our Lady of Presentation in Lee's Summit. 

It's not often you hear about a fifth-grader being stressed, but there's an increasing trend of stress in elementary schools across the nation. Much of it is attributed to balancing the amount of homework being assigned. 

"A couple of the guys in my class complain a lot about homework," Reese said.

It's a common grievance according to UMKC assistant teaching professor of education Gus Jacob. 

"Homework for elementary students? There's no value to it," Jacob explained.

Jacob spent the first half of his career as principal at elementary and middle schools in the Kansas City, KS Public School District and Blue Valley District.

"When they spend six or seven hours of the day in school, why are we also taking school home with us? Probably one of the best things parents can do with young children is read with them," he said. 

Homework focused strictly on reading, and no other subjects, is the approach we’re beginning to see implemented in the Kansas City and surrounding areas.

Crossroads Charter Schools in Kansas City, MO will only assign reading homework to students in grades K-5 this year. On rare occasions, assignments to finish classroom activities will be assigned, but there will be no additional exercises given as homework.

This goes against a common homework rule that has been considered the “golden rule” for decades: The 10-minute Rule.

Research has suggested 10 minutes of various homework exercises multiplied by your grade.

For example, first-graders do 10 minutes, second-graders 20 minutes, third-graders do 30 minutes, all the way to hours-long assignments in high school.

“There’s not much value to that. I think it’s a simple way to explain it – 120 minutes for a 12th grader? Not needed. Not if we’re doing the job in school of delivering really good instruction," Jacob said.

A study from the American Journal of Family Therapy conducted on 1,200 elementary students found they are receiving three times the recommended amount of work.

Take Sydne Jackson’s nightly homework routine, for example, is about 3-4 hours every night. She’s now a sophomore at UMKC and said her college workload doesn’t even compare to what she did in high school. To her surprise, the workload has been easier.

But not all people are on board to totally rid the kids of homework.

“...Time management and organization skills,” Kimberly Clark said when asked what benefits she has noticed of her children’s homework.

Clark is a former teacher in Olathe.

While she said she doesn’t think hours of work are necessary, she believes a structured amount of homework each night does help the student.

“It needs to increase a little every year because once they get into college it’s going to be every night for hours. So to prepare them for what’s next it’s got to be rigorous,” she said. 

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