How Much Homework Should Students Have (Ask the Experts)

The debate over homework wages on as test scores decline, parent frustration increases, and the ability to cheat eases with new apps and smartphones. We ask the experts, ‘How Much Homework Should Students Have?”

The NEA says that students should have 10 minutes of homework per night, times the grade that they are in (so 3rd graders should have 30 minutes a night, 7th graders should have 70 minutes per night, etc.)

Our experts weigh in:

We want Children to Understand that they are always Learners

– Maurice J. Elias of

“We want children to understand that they are always learners. In school, we refer to them as “students” but outside of school, as children, they are still learners. So it makes no sense to even advertise a “no homework” policy in a school. It sends the wrong message.”

“Children should be encouraged to read, write, perform arithmetic, better understand the world around them in terms of civics, science, and the arts, and, of course, develop their people skills — their emotional intelligence. This encouragement should be part of everyday family interactions outside of school, and the school should provide developmental guidance to all parents, in the appropriate languages, to help them do this.”


Homework can be Damaging

– Shana Mckay of

My answer to this question has changed over the years. Now as a mom, the thought of someday fighting with my daughter over homework during the precious few hours I will see her each week makes my heart ache. I also recently read in Jo Boaler’s book Mathematical Mindsets that homework widens the achievement gap. If 30% of a kid’s grade is participation in homework, and that kid has a job to support her family, her grade will never be as high– making it impossible for her to compete for the top colleges. The feeling that “I’m not good enough despite my effort” is also damaging, especially when a kid starts having the choice to take more math or not. So I am really torn. I hope this is an OK answer! It’s something I struggle with. Jo Boaler suggests reflection homework as a way to give homework that is not rote practice. I like this idea.

Way Less

– Linda Kardamis of

More work doesn’t necessitate more learning. It can be overwhelming, especially your to lower skilled students. Less work can lead to greater quality of work, and promote more family time.  I recommend assigning less problems, giving time in class to complete, and having students write on their paper how long it took them to complete.


Some, with Peer Help Time in Class

– Jamie Riggs of

After working in a district where homework was a HUGE issue, based on their home circumstances, I started taking a different stance on homework.  I still wanted my students to practice, we just started doing it in different ways.  I devoted 15 minutes of my class every day to enrichment and remediation. During this 15 minutes of time students had multiple options – 1) get homework help from a peer, 2) help a peer, 3) work on an extension activity alone or with a peer, 4) get help from the teacher at the roundtable, 5) create your own math project to work on.  Students were empowered to make their own choice.  Because of the culture that I had set in my classroom, students had no problem asking each other for help or being the peer helper.  Those who wanted to work alone could, those who wanted help got it, the only rule in the classroom was that everyone had to be working on something mathematical, either on the list or approved by me.  It took a little while to get it rolling, but eventually, those 15 minutes of time were my favorite 15 minutes of the day.

Enough to be Meaningful and to Reinforce the Skill

– Kathy Ngo Martin of

I think students should receive enough homework to review the skills being worked on. I don’t believe students should have “busy work.” I can’t say a set amount of minutes or problems, but I will say I usually assign between 10-20 problems per night, and we usually do 5 together in class.

Ditch that Homework

– Matt Miller and Alice Keeler, authors of “Ditch that Homework”

“Research can’t prove it’s a best practice. It causes family conflict and stress. Plus, it widens the gap between the haves and the have nots.”


Done Right, It Can Be Awesome

– Matt Foster of

When done right, homework can be a time for shared reading with parents. It can build healthy work habits and inspire students to complete passion projects normally not allowed in a school day.

My take is simple. There are some horrible types of homework. And there some types of homework that are simply awesome.

Here are my top 5 things to avoid and 4 must-haves in homework.

  1. Never assign homework that requires adult assistance for a student to figure out.
  2. Never assign homework that surpasses the Rule of 10. Ten minutes multiplied by the grade level equals maximum homework time.
  3. Never assign homework without choice.
  4. Never grade homework for accuracy.
  5. Never assume all students have equal access to parental support and resources.

To gain benefits from homework, here are 4 must-haves.

  1. Provide choice in homework tasks and topics to tap into a variety of skills and interests.
  2. Provide homework that builds fluency with already mastered skills or concepts.
  3. Provide passion projects that students want to do.
  4. Provide options for recording homework.

Homework in Primary School has an Effect of Around Zero

– John Hattie, author of Visible Learning for Teachers

“Homework in primary school has an effect of around zero. In high school it’s larger. (…) Which is why we need to get it right. Not why we need to get rid of it (…) Five to ten minutes has the same effect of one hour to two hours (…) The best thing you can do is to reinforce something you’ve already learnt.”


Work for Home

– John Bennett of

I’d rather think in terms of ‘Work for Home’ (W4H) than homework (HW). It’s not the HW that the teacher assigns for grading that has any value. It’s the W4H that’s aligned with what the student (with teacher input) believes needs needs further work for better learning – not for grading – that’s important. This emphasizes the learning, not the assumed needs from the teacher for grading!!!




Meet the Experts

Maurice J. Elias is a Professor of Psychology, Director, Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab (, Director, the Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research and Service ( and writer for @SELinSchools



Shana McKay is a Massachusetts public school special education math teacher. Her passion is teaching math to kids who are afraid of it, and every one of her lessons and activities is especially designed for students who struggle with self-confidence. She blogs at, follow on Facebook @ScaffoldedMath



Linda Kardamis is creator and author of, a website dedicating to helping teachers rekindle their passion for students and teaching, with special attention to classroom management. She also hosts a podcast, a Christian teachers Facebook group, and her website contains free courses on ‘regaining control of your class.’

Learn more at, or follow on Facebook @Teach4theHeart


Jaimie Riggs spent the last 14 years in the classroom as a teacher and most recently as a math-specialist. She currently works for an educational non-profit that believes in equity for all students. Her belief is that mathematics should be interactive, meaningful, and most of all FUN!  For 4 years she has hosted a link up each month, on the first Wednesday, called #mathISreallife where people write a blog post about how they use mathematics in their daily, non-teacher life, there are currently over 50 #mIrl posts. She blogs at, has a TpT store, and a Facebook page.


Kathy Ngo Martin is creator and host of, a community for PreAlgebra teachers to save time and be more efficient. The site provides daily lesson plans, support for PreAlgebra teachers, and helps them save countless hours.

Join at, follow on Facebook, or join her Facebook group



Matt Miller and Alice Keeler are authors of “Ditch that Homework.” Matt Miller is a High School Spanish Teacher. He speaks at conferences about intentional technology use in the classroom. Alice Keeler is an author of multiple books for teachers. Excerpts for this post were taken from



Matt Foster of is a learner, teacher, administrator, author and business owner. You can connect with him on Twitter @mafost or on




Professor John Hattie is a researcher in education. His two most famous books are ‘Visible Learning’ and ‘Visible Learning for Teachers.’ These books analyze 15 years of research, 800 meta studies, and over 80 million students. Excerpts for this post were taken from an interview of Professor Hattie on BBC radio, published at



John Bennett took Emeritus Status in 2009 and continued to focus on Effective Learning. While always working wi

th K-12 teachers and students, his retirement has enabled him to write a blog, “Considerations” at He and his wife live in Virginia.






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