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Elementary Homework Policy

Goals for Homework

• To reinforce classroom instruction
• To develop good work habits, responsibility, self-direction, and organizational skills
• To extend and enrich curricula
• To assess independent work
• To provide parents with an opportunity to become informed about and involved in the child's learning


Time Allotments

The time allotted to homework should increase gradually from grade to grade. The time limits are guidelines that should remain flexible. Individual differences among children may be taken into consideration by parents and teachers.

Grade Level Suggested Average Per Day
K Varies based on weekly assignments
1 10-15 minutes
2-3 30-45 minutes
4-5 60-90 minutes

*Teachers require up to 30 minutes of reading time for kindergarten and first grade and a minimum of 30 minutes of reading for second through fifth grades. Reading together with or by an adult may be included in the time.


Types of Homework Assignments

Homework assignments will be consistent in most things, such as mathematics, spelling and reading. Other assignments will vary. There are several types of homework assignments you may expect to see over the course of a year:

Practice Homework
Practice homework helps students master skills and reinforce in-class learning. Learning spelling words and completing math worksheets are examples of this type of homework.



Preparation Homework
Preparation assignments prepare students for an upcoming lesson or quiz. Reading a chapter in preparation for discussion, pretests, and surveys are examples of preparation homework.



Extension Homework

Extension homework helps students take what they learn in class and connect it with real life. It requires students to transfer specific skills and concepts to new situations. Journal writing and conducting experiments at home are examples of extension homework.



Creative Homework

Creative homework helps students integrate multiple concepts and promotes the development of critical thinking and problem solving skills. This type of homework often takes the form of open-ended questions and long term projects that allow students a choice.



Vacation Homework Guidelines

If your child will miss school for a significant amount of time, please let the teacher know before you leave. However, please be aware that teachers cannot accommodate requests for homework in advance. Missed homework will need to be made up upon return.



Responsibilities of Parents

• Provide a study area that is quiet, comfortable and free from disturbances.
• Set rules (when, where, how) for your child.
• Make available resource materials such as reference books, magazines, newspapers, and a dictionary.
• Assist the student with drill, such as learning how to spell.
• Check the finished product for neatness and legibility.
• Consider homework as non-negotiable (extracurricular activities should not interfere with timely completion of homework).
• Encourage reading for pleasure.
• Show confidence in your child’s ability; never do your child’s homework for him/her.
• Hold your child accountable for getting homework to and from school.
• Let the teacher know if your child is experiencing difficulty with the homework.


Responsibilities of Students

• Know homework assignments before leaving school.
• Take homework assignments and all necessary supplies home.
• Jot down a homework buddy's phone number to use if a day is missed or if there are questions.
• Spend the necessary time on homework each evening.
• Know that a best effort is demonstrating pride in homework.
• Seek help from parents only when needed.
• Submit finished homework to the teacher, neatly done and on time.

Responsibilities of Teachers
• Ensure homework assignments leave school with clear expectations.
• Share individual classroom homework expectations at Curriculum Night and in the first or second newsletter that is sent home.
• Plan homework that is meaningful and relates to specific instructional purposes.
• Make homework as interesting as possible.
• Plan homework tasks that are appropriate to studentsº ability levels.
• Give parents specific suggestions on how to help their children with homework.
• Give children a sufficient amount of homework as to meet the time guidelines for your grade.
• Check homework daily or as often as appropriate (for example, a long-term project would be checked on or around its due date).
• Provide students with feedback on their progress, or with comments that are specific to the assignments. This can occur as direct written comments on the assignments, as part of in-class discussions or through connections made with in-class assignments.

I picked my boys up after school yesterday and surprised them with a day at a farm I used to frequent as a kid. They climbed haystacks piled high for their enjoyment, and took turns pretending they were kings. They pulled each other on rustic wagons through grass, dirt, and pavement, comparing the speed, velocity, and physical exertion required for each route. They fed the animals, drank wholesome, farm-fresh smoothies, and handpicked pumpkins to carve for Halloween.

After hours of uninterrupted play, they decided they were hungry for dinner. They chose one of their favorites; a restaurant I have been going to for 30 years. The owner gives them responsibilities that make them feel good about themselves while they wait for dinner. She lets them greet customers and visit tables to inquire about food quality. They were so carefree they imitated their parents, much to customers’ amusement, with a kiss on the cheek.

When we got home, they took their showers without argument. They dived into books of their choosing, devouring the pages readily, beyond the 20 minute teacher recommendation. They threw their arms around their dad/bonus dad in exuberation when he got home from work, eager to fill him in on every aspect of their day.

Yesterday was a memory maker; one for the vault. It was a day made possible because the kids’ school is rethinking its homework policy.

I have long been a critic of the demands on elementary school children. My boys, aged 7 and 9, get a scant 20 minutes for recess, leaving little time to expel energy, move their bodies, or play games. They have to scarf down their mid-day meals in a 25 minute lunch period. Most days one or both of them come home with half-eaten lunches; they choose socializing with friends over snacking on apples, missing out on nutrients that would help them during their 6-hour school day. (I am pleased they’re clearly not chewing with their mouths open—my Master’s in Nagging pays off at times—but when special treats are left uneaten, it is indicative of a serious time crunch issue.)

They used to get off the bus and immediately start an hour plus of homework, completely burnt out, overworked, and cranky. And I’d beg, bribe, or threaten to take things away if they didn’t comply with my time sensitive, stressed out homework requests before I had to start dinner.

It was ugly.

The daily struggle drove me especially batty because there’s no scientific evidence that homework improves the academic performance of elementary students. Homework research czar Harris Cooper, of Duke University, compiled 120 studies in 1989 and another 60 studies in 2006 that prove this fact. All it does is negatively impact kids’ attitudes towards school, learning, and their parents (the homework enforcers).

We’re two months into the school year, and the homework vacation has delivered so many unexpected gifts:

Neighborhood reminiscent of the 80s. Kids in our community are coming out in droves. There’s impromptu flag football games; bike rides to “the circle,” an area rich with rocks to climb, woods to explore, and room to run; and skateboarding and/or scootering on small inclines to sharpen their skills. There’s boys and girls coming in and out of our house, asking for snacks and drinks to keep going, and eating together outdoors. There’s kids playing outside until the sun sets instead of asking for electronics after homework is completed.

Better grades. Both of my kids came home with hundreds on their tests this past week. My little one aced his math exam, and my older one crushed his states and capitals test. They weren’t bogged down with busy work after school and chose to practice on their own.

I did not have a week like that—two perfect scores!—despite hours of daily homework and preparation last year.

Reading rocks. Reading used to be such a chore for my kids, sandwiched between homework assignments and showers. It was something to endure, not enjoy. They take their time now…because they have the time.

Ample opportunity to be who they want to be. Both of my kids play sports that have practices and/or games at least three days per week. No homework gives them time to decompress before their extra-curricular activities, or to daydream, or to play with their musical instruments or Legos or air hockey table…whatever gives them joy.

Improved relationships with teachers and administrators. My kids used to complain that teachers gave them so much homework, and now they see them in an entirely different light. They try harder during the school day, giving it their all…knowing they will have free time when the last bell rings.

More confidence in the school. The underlying message of testing a ‘no homework’ policy is trust. It shows me, as a parent, that administrators believe in the chosen curriculum. They believe in teachers’ ability to connect with students. They believe kids will learn what they need to learn during the day. And they believe in us, as a community, to embrace change.

The homework reprieve has created a seismic shift in my house. The boys are happier. I am happier. They have more time to be kids, and I have more time to be a mom/bonus mom…a perfect score in my book.

Do you think elementary school kids should have daily homework?

This post originally appeared on Jodi Meltzer Darter’s website. You can also follow her on Facebook , Twitter, and Mommy Dish.