Homework or no homework?

Homework: one word that makes the heart of many a parent sink and is guaranteed, at any given time, to be causing rows in homes around the world.

The homework debate has raged for decades. How much homework should kids get? How involved should parents be? And does it really matter if it doesn't get done?

Recent years have seen a swell of support for ditching homework altogether; more than one teacher has gone semi-viral for sharing a no-homework policy that prioritizes family time, outdoor play, and early bedtimes. And some schools have adopted no-homework programs, encouraging students to enjoy their evening free time and in some cases lengthening the school day to provide more classroom instruction.

Unbeknownst to many, there is an unofficial homework standard — the "10-minute rule" that was first proposed by Duke University psychology professor Harris Cooper and is supported by the National PTA and the National Education Association. It's simple: a daily maximum of 10 minutes of homework per grade level. (First graders do 10 minutes of homework each night; second graders do 20 minutes; third graders do 30 minutes, and so on.)

Cooper is responsible for the most comprehensive research on homework to date. His 2006 meta-analysis, published in the Review of Educational Research, found evidence that students who did homework performed better in school. However, the correlation was stronger for students in seventh through 12th grade. In earlier grades, the relationship between homework and performance was weak.

But Cooper's analysis shows correlation, not causation. It begs the question: Does homework lead to achievement, or do high achievers simply do more homework? Undoubtedly, some kids are less likely to kick up a stink about doing homework than others. Others actually want to do homework. The point being, they're all different.

(c) CNN 02/10/2020

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