How Much Homework is Healthy: a Pediatrician’s Perspective

Girl Doing HomeworkHome work for children is considered a benefit by some and an albatross to bear by others with no good studies showing that it is beneficial to children or their grades. The amount of homework children get now appears to be excessive by parents and children alike, and is often the source of interpersonal problems and stress within an individual family unit.

Some studies have indeed found that the amount of homework that children receive is excessive and unrelated to a child’s age or abilities. A National Educational Association has established what they refer to as “the rule of 10s”, wherein the length of time that a child spends on homework should be no more than 10 minutes per night for each grade level of school, and none for Kindergarten. Therefore a first grader should get about 10 minutes a night, second grader 20 minutes a night all the way up to a 12th grader at 120 minutes per night. When the same group studied the amount of homework that children actually receive today, they found that it was two to three times that amount. If any of you have tried to keep a 5 or 6 year old sitting in one place for 20 to 30 minutes it becomes obvious that the standards need to be looked at very closely and probably revised.

It has also been found that the younger the child the less impact homework had on their grades or school performance. Conversely, the older child showed the amount of homework was definitely related to an improvement in the parameters mentioned above (within reason).

Life has become very active and full for children of all school ages to the point that there is practically no time for being a child: running around outdoors, keeping busy getting exercise, relating to other children and doing things that we all did and enjoyed when we were younger. Both children and their parents are responsible for this behavior as parents are pushing and children are striving for higher and higher goals. This is not to specifically to point a guilty finger at anyone but merely a reminder about what really is important in life and grades will not necessarily make a lasting difference in the future of your child.

So try to objectively evaluate your own child in terms of abilities, needs and the need and importance of non-scholastic activities for your child. Also evaluate the health of your family to determine if mood is related to the homework experience- if so find a way to decrease the stress, and understand your child does have limits.

About the Author

Dr. Joseph Skoloff received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his medical degree from The Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He is a past Vice Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics, a past Chairman of the Infection Control Committee at the Loudoun Hospital Center and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In his 41 years as a practicing pediatrician he has kept hundreds of kids and families healthy and safe and plans to continue to do so for years to come. Dr. Joe believes strongly in the combined power of parent and physician working together for the health of their children. He is an advocate for children everywhere and and adheres strongly to the principles of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr Joe is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


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