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How to Write the Perfect Homework Policy

Author: Naimish Gohil

Posted: 10 May 2017

Estimated time to read: 4 mins

Homework is an integral part to the learning process and as such, each school should have a clear homework policy readily available to teachers, students and parents that sets out your expectations when it comes to home-learning .

how to write the perfect homework policy

A clear and effective homework policy will mean that quality and quantity of homework can be easily tracked and all stakeholders are on the same page. We've created our own Homework Policy that you can adapt for use in your school or use as an outline when creating your own policy:

1‭. ‬Introduction

This is the school’s policy for the provision of homework to pupils and has been drawn up in accordance with guidance from the DFE and Sutton Education Trust‭.‬ It must be recognised that parents play a vital role in the education of their child‭, ‬therefore it is important and valuable to‭ ‬have a good home-school partnership‭, ‬of which a homework policy must address‭.‬

2‭. ‬Homework‭ - ‬A definition

Homework is defined as any work or activity that students are asked to undertake outside of lesson time‭, ‬either on their own or‭ ‬with the aid of parents and carers‭. ‬Homework doesn’t necessarily have to be completed at home but can be completed in free periods and after-school homework clubs‭. ‬We see work completed outside of lesson time as a valuable part of a student’s learning‭.‬

3‭. ‬The purpose of homework‭ ‬

The school regards the purpose of homework as being to‭:‬

  • ‭ Provide learners with the opportunity to work on an activity that is relevant to learning outcomes‭, ‬or that contributes to gaining qualifications/accreditations‭.‬
  • Develop an effective partnership between the school‭, ‬parents and carers in pursuing the academic aims of the school and the development of their child‭.‬
  • Consolidate and reinforce skills and understanding prior to the following lesson‭, ‬particularly in English and Mathematics‭.‬
  • Extend learning across the curriculum‭, ‬for example through additional reading‭.‬
  • Encourage pupils as they get older to develop the confidence‭, ‬self-discipline and independence to develop organisational skills‭.‬

As a school‭, ‬we encourage children to pursue out-of-school activities‭. ‬Homework should be used to effectively reinforce and/or extend what is learned in school‭. ‬We hope that children will feel a sense of personal satisfaction in a task completed well and that their efforts will be recognised and praised both at home and at school‭. ‬

Homework tasks should be undertaken to the best of‭ ‬their ability‭. ‬We hope that parents and carers will be willing and able to give their active support to ensure that work completed at home is done so conscientiously and in the best possible conditions‭.‬

4‭. ‬Current practice‭ ‬

At the beginning of the academic year‭, ‬each year group will be informed about what is expected of them with regards to homework‭.‬

5‭. ‬Time to be spent completing homework

Based on current good practice‭, ‬we ask pupils to spend the following amount of time on homework‭:‬

Years 7‭ ‬to 9‭:                   ‬1‭ - ‬2‭ ‬hours per day

Years 10‭ ‬&‭ ‬11‭:                ‬1‭ - ‬3‭ ‬hours per day‭ ‬

Pupils may be expected to undertake a variety of homework activities‭. ‬These activities will differ depending on the teacher and‭ ‬subject‭. ‬Examples include‭: ‬Reading tasks‭, ‬numeracy tests‭, ‬spelling tests‭, ‬quizzes‭, ‬project work‭, ‬classwork extensions‭, ‬coursework‭, ‬essays and research activities‭.‬ As a general rule‭, ‬teachers will not usually set substantial homework tasks to be completed for the next day‭, ‬pupils will have at least two days to complete any work set‭.‬

6‭. ‬Pupil feedback

The school recognises the importance of providing prompt and actionable feedback to pupils‭, ‬parents and carers‭. ‬Feedback will include how well homework tasks have been tackled‭, ‬and the knowledge‭, ‬skills and understanding developed‭.

‬A variety of methods will be used to provide feedback‭, ‬such as an appropriate comment of praise‭, ‬appreciation or area for improvement‭. ‬Any given feedback will vary according to the age of the pupil‭.‬

7‭. ‬Where to access the school homework policy

The school will use newsletters to inform parents and carers about the school’s homework policy and secure their involvement‭. ‬The homework policy‭, ‬as well as useful information for parents in supporting their child’s learning‭, ‬is displayed on the school website‭. ‬

Parents’‭ ‬Evenings and New Intake Evenings will be used to promote this partnership and obtain feedback‭ (‬e.g‭. ‬English and Mathematics workshops‭). ‬Homework questionnaires will be used where appropriate to ascertain parent views‭. ‬Parents will be consulted about any significant changes to the policy that are being considered by the governing body‭.‬

8‭. ‬Reviewing the policy

The homework policy will be reviewed every year‭. ‬Where significant changes to the policy are felt to be required‭, ‬proposals will‭ ‬be presented to the governing body and parents consulted‭.‬

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Advice on Creating Homework Policies

Getting students to work on their homework assignments is not always a simple task. Teachers need to take the initiative to create homework policies that encourage students to work hard to improve their achievement in the classroom setting. Educational leadership starts with making a policy that helps students learn and achieve while competing with extracurricular activities and the interests of students.

Set high standards

Homework policies need to have high standards to encourage students to work hard on achieving the best possible results. Student achievement in school improves when teachers set high standards and tell students that they are expected to meet the standards set in the classroom.

By setting high standards for the homework policy, teachers are ensuring that the students will be more willing to work on getting assignments done. The policies for homework that teachers and parents create can help improve student understanding of materials and result in better grades and scores on standardized tests.

Focus on study skills

Teaching students in their early education is a complicated task. Teachers need to balance the age of the students with the expected school, state and federal educational standards. Although the temptation to create a homework policy that focuses on repetition and traditional assignments can make the policy easy to create, it also removes the focus from establishing strong study skills and habits to engage students in education.

Creating a homework policy for younger students in the elementary grades should avoid traditional assignments and focus on building study skills and encouraging learning. Older students after elementary school are ready to take on written assignments rather than using technology and other tools.

Putting more focus on study skills will set a stronger foundation for homework in the future. As students get into higher grades, the type of assignments will focus on writing with a pen or pencil. The age of the student must be considered and the goal is to create a strong foundation for the future.

Involve the parents

Getting parents involved in the homework policy will encourage students to study and complete the assigned tasks. Asking parents to get involved to facilitate assignments will ensure students are learning without the parents completing the assignment for their child.

The goal of involving the parents in the homework policy is getting the family to take an interest in ensuring the assignments are completed. The best assignments will allow the student to manage the work without seeking answers from a parent. That allows parents to supervise and encourage their child without giving the answers.

Give consequences for incomplete assignments

Homework is an important part of providing educational leadership in the classroom. Although parental involvement and high standards can help encourage students to study, it is also important to clearly state the consequences if assignments are incomplete or not turned in on time.

A clear homework policy will lay out the possible consequences of avoiding assignments or turning in incomplete work. Consequences can vary based on the student grade level and age, but can include lowering the grades on a report card or taking away classroom privileges.

Although it is important to provide details about the consequences of avoiding the assignments, teachers can also use a reward system to motivate students to complete their work. Rewards can focus on the entire class or on individual rewards, depending on the situation. For example, teachers can give a small candy when students complete five assignments in a row.

Consequences and rewards can serve as a motivating factor when it comes to the homework policy. By clearly stating the potential downsides and the benefits to the student, it is easier for students to focus on the work.

Creating homework policies is part of educational leadership in the classroom. Although homework must focus on helping students achieve, it also needs to clearly state the expectations and give details about the benefits and consequences of different actions. By giving a clear policy from the first day of school, the students will know what to expect and can gain motivation to work on achieving the best results.

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Homework Policy Still Going Strong

  • Posted January 15, 2014
  • By Lory Hough

Illustration by Jessica Esch

It's become one of those stories that has legs. Two years after we ran a feature story on whether schools should assign homework, we're still receiving letters to the editor and new tweets. On the Ed. site, the story has consistently been one of the most shared.

" Are You Down With or Done With Homework ?" featured Stephanie Brant, principal of Gaithersburg Elementary School in Gaithersburg, Md., who got rid of nightly homework in exchange for nightly reading and longer projects. At the time, Brant was just a few months into the homework change. Since the story in Ed. continues to spark so much interest among readers, we asked Brant if the policy was still in place, how it was going, and whether she had been approached by other media.

"Absolutely," she says, noting that The Washington Post , Family magazine, msn living, and The Huffington Post contacted her, as did several principals and school boards, asking if they could visit the school.

And the policy continues. "What's changed is the culture and community that we created," she says. "We've really built a culture of reading, at school and at home." Of course, some parents, especially new parents, still ask questions. "They ask, 'My child isn't doing math homework?' And I get it. I'm a parent, too."

But now, instead of reassuring them with talk of what she hopes will happen, she can tell them what has happened — students are making progress.

"The majority of our kids don't go to preschool. Now, since the policy, the majority of them leave kindergarten reading," she says. "At the end of the last school year, we looked at every student who started reading below grade level. Every one of them has risen at least 1.2 levels in growth. We've also had kids who grew 10 and 11 grade levels in one year."

Brant has made it easy for kids to embrace the new reading culture. Not only does she give them the time at home to read by not assigning other homework, but she also makes books readily available: Around school, there are book baskets in the halls. During the summer, in her gray Acura RDX, she becomes a one-woman bookmobile, driving around the city twice a week, giving out free books to kids — some donated, many that she paid for herself.

It's exactly what Brant wanted when she changed the homework policy. "Reading here has become the norm," she says. "My hope when I started this was to make reading a habit. Students who read become adults who read."

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homework policy meaning

The power of a good homework policy

Published 18th March 2019 by Frog Education

With the homework debate continuing to rage and be fuelled by all parties involved, could publishing a robust homework policy help take some of the headache out of home learning?

What is a homework policy.

The idea of a homework policy is for the school to officially document and communicate their process for homework. The policy should outline what is expected of teachers when setting homework and from students in completing home learning tasks. It is a constructive document through which the school can communicate to parents, teachers, governors and students the learning objectives for homework.

Do schools have to have a homework policy?

It is a common misconception that schools are required by the government to set homework. Historically the government provided guidelines on the amount of time students should spend on home learning. This was withdrawn in 2012 and autonomy was handed to headteachers and school leaders to determine what and how much homework is set. Therefore, schools are not required by Ofsted or the DfE to have a homework policy in place.

The removal of official guidelines, however, does not give pupils the freedom to decide if they complete homework or not. Damian Hinds , Education Secretary, clarified that although schools are not obliged to set homework, when they do, children need to complete it in line with their school’s homework policy; “we trust individual school head teachers to decide what their policy on homework will be, and what happens if pupils don’t do what’s set.”

The majority of primary and secondary schools do set homework. Regardless of the different views on the topic, the schools that do incorporate homework into their learning processes, must see value in it.

Clearly communicating that value will demonstrate clarity and create alliance for everyone involved – both in and outside of school. This is where the publication of a good homework policy can help. 5 Benefits of publishing a good homework policy

#1 Manages students' workload

Studies have shown a correlation between student anxiety and demanding amounts of homework. One study found that in more affluent areas, school children are spending three hours per evening on homework. This is excessive. Secondary school students’ study between eight and ten subjects, which means they will have day-to-day contact with a number of teachers. If there is no clear homework policy to provide a guide, it would be feasible for an excessive amount of homework to be set.

A homework policy that sets out the expected amount of time students should spend on homework will help prevent an overload. This makes it more realistic for children to complete homework tasks and minimise the detrimental effect it could have on family time, out-of-school activities or students’ overall health and well-being.

#2 Creates opportunity for feedback and review

The simple act of having an official document in place will instigate opportunities for regular reviews. We often consider the impact of homework on students but teachers are also working out-of-hours and often work overtime . One reason is the need to set quality homework tasks, mark them and provide valuable feedback. No-one, therefore, wants home learning to become about setting homework for homework’s sake.

A regular review of the policy will invite feedback which the school can use to make appropriate changes and ensure the policy is working for both teachers and students, and serves the school’s homework learning objectives.

#3 Connects parents with education

Parents’ engagement in children’s education has a beneficial impact on a child’s success in school. Homework provides a great way for parents to become involved and have visibility of learning topics, offer support where needed and understand their child’s progress.

A good homework policy creates transparency for parents. It helps them to understand the value the school places on homework and what the learning objectives are. If parents understand this, it will help set a foundation for them to be engaged in their child’s education.

#4 Gives students a routine and creates good habits

Whether children are going into the workplace or furthering their education at university, many aspects of a student’s future life will require, at times, work to be completed outside of traditional 9-5 hours as well as independently. This is expected at university (students do not research and write essays in the lecture theatre or their seminars) and will perhaps become more important in the future workplace with the growth of the gig economy (freelancing) and the rise of remote working .

A homework policy encourages a consistency for out-of-school learning and helps students develop productive working practices and habits for continued learning and independent working.

#5 Helps students retain information they have learned

A carefully considered and well-constructed home learning policy will help teachers set homework that is most effective for reinforcing what has been taught.

A good homework policy will indicate how to set productive homework tasks and should limit the risk of less effective homework being set, such as just finishing-off work from a lesson and repetition or memorisation tasks. What makes a good homework policy?

A good homework policy will determine how much homework is appropriate and what type is most effective for achieving a school’s learning objectives. Publishing the homework policy – although it might not unify everyone’s views on the matter – fosters good communication across the school, sets out expectations for teachers and pupils, and makes that significant connection between parents and their children’s education. But most importantly, if the policy is regularly reviewed and evaluated, it can ensure home learning remains beneficial to pupils’ progress, is of value to teachers and, ultimately, is worth the time and effort that everyone puts into it.

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How to use homework to support student success.

  • by: Sandra Chafouleas
  • January 13, 2022
  • Community Engagement

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Editor’s Note: Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor Sandra Chafouleas shares insights on supporting students’ homework during the pandemic in the following piece, which originally appeared  in Psychology Today , where she publishes a blog.

COVID has brought many changes in education. What does it mean for homework?

School assignments that a student is expected to do outside of the regular school day—that’s homework. The general guideline is 10 minutes of nightly homework per grade level beginning after kindergarten. This amounts to just a few minutes for younger elementary students to up to 2 hours for high school students.

The guidance seems straightforward enough, so why is homework such a controversial topic? School disruptions, including extended periods of remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, have magnified the controversies yet also have provided an opportunity to rethink the purpose and value of homework.

Debates about the value of homework center around two primary issues: amount and inequity.

First, the amount of assigned homework may be much more than the recommended guidelines. Families report their children are stressed out over the time spent doing homework. Too much homework can challenge well-being given the restricted time available for sleep, exercise, and social connection. In a 2015 study , for example, parents reported their early elementary children received almost three times the recommended guidelines. In high school, researchers found an average of three hours of homework per night for students living in economically privileged communities.

“ Debates about the value of homework center around two primary issues: amount and inequity.”

Second, homework can perpetuate inequities. Students attending school in less economically privileged communities may receive little to no homework, or have difficulty completing it due to limited access to needed technology. This can translate into fewer opportunities to learn and may contribute to gaps in achievement.

There isn’t a ton of research on the effects of homework, and available studies certainly do not provide a simple answer. For example, a 2006 synthesis of studies suggested a positive influence between homework completion and academic achievement for middle and high school students. Supporters also point out that homework offers additional opportunities to engage in learning and that it can foster independent learning habits such as planning and a sense of responsibility. A more recent study involving 13-year-old students in Spain found higher test scores for those who were regularly assigned homework in math and science, with an optimal time around one hour—which is roughly aligned with recommendations. However, the researchers noted that ability to independently do the work, student effort, and prior achievement were more important contributors than time spent.

Opponents of homework maintain that the academic benefit does not outweigh the toll on well-being. Researchers have observed student stress, physical health problems, and lack of life balance, especially when the time spent goes over the recommended guidelines. In a survey of adolescents , over half reported the amount and type of homework they received to be a primary source of stress in their lives. In addition, vast differences exist in access and availability of supports, such as internet connection, adult assistance, or even a place to call home, as 1.5 million children experience homelessness in the United States

The COVID-19 pandemic has re-energized discussion about homework practices, with the goal to advance recommendations about how, when, and with whom it can be best used. Here’s a summary of key strategies:

Strategies for Educators

Make sure the tasks are meaningful and matched..

First, the motto “ quality over quantity ” can guide decisions about homework. Homework is not busy-work, and instead should get students excited about learning. Emphasize activities that facilitate choice and interest to extend learning, like choose your own reading adventure or math games. Second, each student should be able to complete homework independently with success. Think about Goldilocks: To be effective, assignments should be just right for each learner. One example of how do this efficiently is through online learning platforms that can efficiently adjust to skill level and can be completed in a reasonable amount of time.

Ensure access to resources for task completion.

One step toward equity is to ensure access to necessary resources such as time, space, and materials. Teach students about preparing for homework success, allocating classroom time to model and practice good study habits such as setting up their physical environment, time management, and chunking tasks. Engage in conversations with students and families to problem-solve challenges When needed, connect students with homework supports available through after-school clubs, other community supports, or even within a dedicated block during the school day.

Be open to revisiting homework policies and practices.

The days of penalizing students for not completing homework should be long gone. Homework is a tool for practicing content and learning self-management. With that in mind, provide opportunities for students to communicate needs, and respond by revising assignments or allowing them to turn in on alternative dates. Engage in adult professional learning about high-quality homework , from value (Should I assign this task?) to evaluation (How should this be graded? Did that homework assignment result in expected outcomes?). Monitor how things are going by looking at completion rates and by asking students for their feedback. Be willing to adapt the homework schedule or expectations based on what is learned.

Strategies for Families

Understand how to be a good helper..

When designed appropriately, students should be able to complete homework with independence. Limit homework wars by working to be a good helper. Hovering, micromanaging, or doing homework for them may be easiest in the moment but does not help build their independence. Be a good helper by asking guiding questions, providing hints, or checking for understanding. Focus your assistance on setting up structures for homework success, like space and time.

Use homework as a tool for communication.

Use homework as a vehicle to foster family-school communication. Families can use homework as an opportunity to open conversations about specific assignments or classes, peer relationships, or even sleep quality that may be impacting student success. For younger students, using a daily or weekly home-school notebook or planner can be one way to share information. For older students, help them practice communicating their needs and provide support as needed.

Make sure to balance wellness.

Like adults, children need a healthy work-life balance. Positive social connection and engagement in pleasurable activities are important core principles to foster well-being . Monitor the load of homework and other structured activities to make sure there is time in the daily routine for play. Play can mean different things to different children: getting outside, reading for pleasure, and yes, even gaming. Just try to ensure that activities include a mix of health-focused activities such as physical movement or mindfulness downtime.

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Is Homework Good for Kids? Here’s What the Research Says

A s kids return to school, debate is heating up once again over how they should spend their time after they leave the classroom for the day.

The no-homework policy of a second-grade teacher in Texas went viral last week , earning praise from parents across the country who lament the heavy workload often assigned to young students. Brandy Young told parents she would not formally assign any homework this year, asking students instead to eat dinner with their families, play outside and go to bed early.

But the question of how much work children should be doing outside of school remains controversial, and plenty of parents take issue with no-homework policies, worried their kids are losing a potential academic advantage. Here’s what you need to know:

For decades, the homework standard has been a “10-minute rule,” which recommends a daily maximum of 10 minutes of homework per grade level. Second graders, for example, should do about 20 minutes of homework each night. High school seniors should complete about two hours of homework each night. The National PTA and the National Education Association both support that guideline.

But some schools have begun to give their youngest students a break. A Massachusetts elementary school has announced a no-homework pilot program for the coming school year, lengthening the school day by two hours to provide more in-class instruction. “We really want kids to go home at 4 o’clock, tired. We want their brain to be tired,” Kelly Elementary School Principal Jackie Glasheen said in an interview with a local TV station . “We want them to enjoy their families. We want them to go to soccer practice or football practice, and we want them to go to bed. And that’s it.”

A New York City public elementary school implemented a similar policy last year, eliminating traditional homework assignments in favor of family time. The change was quickly met with outrage from some parents, though it earned support from other education leaders.

New solutions and approaches to homework differ by community, and these local debates are complicated by the fact that even education experts disagree about what’s best for kids.

The research

The most comprehensive research on homework to date comes from a 2006 meta-analysis by Duke University psychology professor Harris Cooper, who found evidence of a positive correlation between homework and student achievement, meaning students who did homework performed better in school. The correlation was stronger for older students—in seventh through 12th grade—than for those in younger grades, for whom there was a weak relationship between homework and performance.

Cooper’s analysis focused on how homework impacts academic achievement—test scores, for example. His report noted that homework is also thought to improve study habits, attitudes toward school, self-discipline, inquisitiveness and independent problem solving skills. On the other hand, some studies he examined showed that homework can cause physical and emotional fatigue, fuel negative attitudes about learning and limit leisure time for children. At the end of his analysis, Cooper recommended further study of such potential effects of homework.

Despite the weak correlation between homework and performance for young children, Cooper argues that a small amount of homework is useful for all students. Second-graders should not be doing two hours of homework each night, he said, but they also shouldn’t be doing no homework.

Not all education experts agree entirely with Cooper’s assessment.

Cathy Vatterott, an education professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, supports the “10-minute rule” as a maximum, but she thinks there is not sufficient proof that homework is helpful for students in elementary school.

“Correlation is not causation,” she said. “Does homework cause achievement, or do high achievers do more homework?”

Vatterott, the author of Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs , thinks there should be more emphasis on improving the quality of homework tasks, and she supports efforts to eliminate homework for younger kids.

“I have no concerns about students not starting homework until fourth grade or fifth grade,” she said, noting that while the debate over homework will undoubtedly continue, she has noticed a trend toward limiting, if not eliminating, homework in elementary school.

The issue has been debated for decades. A TIME cover in 1999 read: “Too much homework! How it’s hurting our kids, and what parents should do about it.” The accompanying story noted that the launch of Sputnik in 1957 led to a push for better math and science education in the U.S. The ensuing pressure to be competitive on a global scale, plus the increasingly demanding college admissions process, fueled the practice of assigning homework.

“The complaints are cyclical, and we’re in the part of the cycle now where the concern is for too much,” Cooper said. “You can go back to the 1970s, when you’ll find there were concerns that there was too little, when we were concerned about our global competitiveness.”

Cooper acknowledged that some students really are bringing home too much homework, and their parents are right to be concerned.

“A good way to think about homework is the way you think about medications or dietary supplements,” he said. “If you take too little, they’ll have no effect. If you take too much, they can kill you. If you take the right amount, you’ll get better.”

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Homework vs. No Homework Is the Wrong Question

Does your school have a homework policy? How does your school ensure that teachers don’t overload students with busy work?

Two young boys wearing backpacks rushing down the front steps of school

The real question we should be asking is, "What do we believe should happen after the end of the school day to help ensure that students retain what they have learned and are primed to learn more?" Any answer with the word, "work" in its name, as in "homework," is not typically going to be met with eagerness or enthusiasm by students.

Ideally, 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. The policy should be, "No time-wasting, rote, repetitive tasks will be assigned that lack clear instructional or learning purposes."

A realistic homework strategy should be a key topic of back-to-school night and the first parent-teacher conferences of the school year. But it should also reflect a considered school policy and not simply be up to each individual teacher to carry out according to his or own theory of student learning. Another advantage of this approach is to ensure that individual children are not inadvertently overloaded with demands from teachers who may not know what other teachers are asking of the same student. This is a particular concern in secondary schools.

Home Activities That Matter the Most

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. For some children, specialized guidance will be needed, and this, too, should be provided proactively to parents.

Some parents will select focused programs or after-school experiences to help foster their children's learning in one or more of the aforementioned areas. To promote equity within and across schools, communities should think about how to make these kinds of experiences available to all children in high-quality ways -- without undue or unrealistic expense to families.

Of course, some teachers will have specific, creative ideas about how learning can be enhanced at home, in the context of particular units of study in school. Maybe what we need is a new word for all this. Instead of "homework," how about "continued learning" or "ongoing growth activities?"

Parents Playing Their Part

Finally, students' learning would be greatly enhanced by schools taking a clear stance about supporting good parenting. My colleague Yoni Schwab and I have written about the importance of parents focusing on parenting as a priority, and secondarily working on assisting schools with educational issues (Elias, M. J., and Schwab, Y., 2004).

Aspects of good parenting that could be encouraged by schools include workshops, family nights, and discussion series on ways to promote:

  • Children's social-emotional and character development
  • Parents spending more time directly interacting with their kids in enjoyable ways
  • Parents visibly showing how much they value the importance of education and effort
  • Parents monitoring their children's use of and exposure to electronic media
  • Children's "continued learning" in as many possible opportunities during everyday household routines
  • Above all, schools should remind parents to never lose sight of modeling for their children the value of close relationships, support, caring, and fun. That is the most important home work of all.

Elias, M. J., and Schwab, Y. (2004). What About Parental Involvement in Parenting? The Case for Home-Focused School-Parent Partnerships. Education Week, 24 (8), 39,41.

Should Kids Get Homework?

Homework gives elementary students a way to practice concepts, but too much can be harmful, experts say.

Mother helping son with homework at home

Getty Images

Effective homework reinforces math, reading, writing or spelling skills, but in a way that's meaningful.

How much homework students should get has long been a source of debate among parents and educators. In recent years, some districts have even implemented no-homework policies, as students juggle sports, music and other activities after school.

Parents of elementary school students, in particular, have argued that after-school hours should be spent with family or playing outside rather than completing assignments. And there is little research to show that homework improves academic achievement for elementary students.

But some experts say there's value in homework, even for younger students. When done well, it can help students practice core concepts and develop study habits and time management skills. The key to effective homework, they say, is keeping assignments related to classroom learning, and tailoring the amount by age: Many experts suggest no homework for kindergartners, and little to none in first and second grade.

Value of Homework

Homework provides a chance to solidify what is being taught in the classroom that day, week or unit. Practice matters, says Janine Bempechat, clinical professor at Boston University 's Wheelock College of Education & Human Development.

"There really is no other domain of human ability where anybody would say you don't need to practice," she adds. "We have children practicing piano and we have children going to sports practice several days a week after school. You name the domain of ability and practice is in there."

Homework is also the place where schools and families most frequently intersect.

"The children are bringing things from the school into the home," says Paula S. Fass, professor emerita of history at the University of California—Berkeley and the author of "The End of American Childhood." "Before the pandemic, (homework) was the only real sense that parents had to what was going on in schools."

Harris Cooper, professor emeritus of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University and author of "The Battle Over Homework," examined more than 60 research studies on homework between 1987 and 2003 and found that — when designed properly — homework can lead to greater student success. Too much, however, is harmful. And homework has a greater positive effect on students in secondary school (grades 7-12) than those in elementary.

"Every child should be doing homework, but the amount and type that they're doing should be appropriate for their developmental level," he says. "For teachers, it's a balancing act. Doing away with homework completely is not in the best interest of children and families. But overburdening families with homework is also not in the child's or a family's best interest."

Negative Homework Assignments

Not all homework for elementary students involves completing a worksheet. Assignments can be fun, says Cooper, like having students visit educational locations, keep statistics on their favorite sports teams, read for pleasure or even help their parents grocery shop. The point is to show students that activities done outside of school can relate to subjects learned in the classroom.

But assignments that are just busy work, that force students to learn new concepts at home, or that are overly time-consuming can be counterproductive, experts say.

Homework that's just busy work.

Effective homework reinforces math, reading, writing or spelling skills, but in a way that's meaningful, experts say. Assignments that look more like busy work – projects or worksheets that don't require teacher feedback and aren't related to topics learned in the classroom – can be frustrating for students and create burdens for families.

"The mental health piece has definitely played a role here over the last couple of years during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the last thing we want to do is frustrate students with busy work or homework that makes no sense," says Dave Steckler, principal of Red Trail Elementary School in Mandan, North Dakota.

Homework on material that kids haven't learned yet.

With the pressure to cover all topics on standardized tests and limited time during the school day, some teachers assign homework that has not yet been taught in the classroom.

Not only does this create stress, but it also causes equity challenges. Some parents speak languages other than English or work several jobs, and they aren't able to help teach their children new concepts.

" It just becomes agony for both parents and the kids to get through this worksheet, and the goal becomes getting to the bottom of (the) worksheet with answers filled in without any understanding of what any of it matters for," says professor Susan R. Goldman, co-director of the Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Illinois—Chicago .

Homework that's overly time-consuming.

The standard homework guideline recommended by the National Parent Teacher Association and the National Education Association is the "10-minute rule" – 10 minutes of nightly homework per grade level. A fourth grader, for instance, would receive a total of 40 minutes of homework per night.

But this does not always happen, especially since not every student learns the same. A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Family Therapy found that primary school children actually received three times the recommended amount of homework — and that family stress increased along with the homework load.

Young children can only remain attentive for short periods, so large amounts of homework, especially lengthy projects, can negatively affect students' views on school. Some individual long-term projects – like having to build a replica city, for example – typically become an assignment for parents rather than students, Fass says.

"It's one thing to assign a project like that in which several kids are working on it together," she adds. "In (that) case, the kids do normally work on it. It's another to send it home to the families, where it becomes a burden and doesn't really accomplish very much."

Private vs. Public Schools

Do private schools assign more homework than public schools? There's little research on the issue, but experts say private school parents may be more accepting of homework, seeing it as a sign of academic rigor.

Of course, not all private schools are the same – some focus on college preparation and traditional academics, while others stress alternative approaches to education.

"I think in the academically oriented private schools, there's more support for homework from parents," says Gerald K. LeTendre, chair of educational administration at Pennsylvania State University—University Park . "I don't know if there's any research to show there's more homework, but it's less of a contentious issue."

How to Address Homework Overload

First, assess if the workload takes as long as it appears. Sometimes children may start working on a homework assignment, wander away and come back later, Cooper says.

"Parents don't see it, but they know that their child has started doing their homework four hours ago and still not done it," he adds. "They don't see that there are those four hours where their child was doing lots of other things. So the homework assignment itself actually is not four hours long. It's the way the child is approaching it."

But if homework is becoming stressful or workload is excessive, experts suggest parents first approach the teacher, followed by a school administrator.

"Many times, we can solve a lot of issues by having conversations," Steckler says, including by "sitting down, talking about the amount of homework, and what's appropriate and not appropriate."

Study Tips for High School Students

High angle view of young woman sitting at desk and studying at home during coronavirus lockdown

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  • Homework Guidelines

Homework refers to assignments that students are expected to complete outside of the class period. This does not include long-term projects or assignments. This includes reading assignments, problem sets, papers, or studying for tests, quizzes, and other assessments.

The Howard County Public School System supports students in maintaining and extending their learning. The appropriate design, use, and evaluation of homework assignments, used to inform progress and provide opportunities for independent practice, are part of achieving that goal. Some courses or instructors may choose not to assign homework.

Features of Homework

  • Purposeful: Students understand why they are completing homework. Homework is grounded in and expands upon skills and knowledge students have learned in the classroom.
  • Appropriate: Homework should be designed so that all students can experience success in independent completion of assignments. Accommodations will be provided as outlined in students’ IEPs and Section 504 Plans.
  • Informational: Homework is one tool schools have available to them that allows parents to be included in their child’s day-to-day school experiences.
  • Flexible: Assignments can be successfully completed with resources that are readily available within timeframes that have flexible deadlines when possible.

Homework will incorporate the following criteria:

  • Each school year, schools will communicate the school’s homework procedures with all stakeholders.
  • Students, parents, and teachers should communicate about scheduled and actual homework completion times to ensure realistic expectations for the completion of assignments.
  • Homework will be planned so students see the relationship of their homework to intended learning targets, see meaning in their assignments, have a clear understanding of the procedures and due dates, understand how their homework is evaluated, and understand how they can use feedback on homework to improve understanding. Teaching staff will ensure that students understand the purpose of assignments and how they connect to classroom learning.
  • Teachers are legally required to ensure that homework is accommodated/modified as necessary in accordance with students’ IEPs and Section 504 Plans. Classwork and homework accommodations must be provided per students’ IEPs and Section 504 Plans. Students should not be penalized for failure to complete classwork or homework when accommodations are not provided. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) best practices should be used when assigning homework.
  • Teachers will provide feedback on homework assignments.
  • Students may have more than one teacher. Therefore, teams of teachers will discuss homework activities and projects in order to follow grade level homework duration guidelines. Canvas tools will be made available as one option to help teachers coordinate major projects and exams. Teachers will be understanding of student circumstances and should tailor homework assignments with flexible due dates when possible so that students can complete homework tasks throughout the week based on their individual schedules.
  • Students must be given a non-electronic option for homework completion and submission. Assignments cannot be due beyond regular school hours or be required to be submitted electronically. While electronic submission can be utilized it cannot be required.
  • Homework assignments may not be assigned or due on a day schools are closed due to inclement weather or unplanned closures.
  • Homework may not be assigned over the summer for any courses, nor winter or spring breaks for middle or high school courses.
  • A student may make up and receive a recorded grade for homework not completed due to the observance of a religious holiday. Students returning from a religious holiday observance will have an equal number of school days to complete make-up work.
  • Reading lists and additional resources will be available during the breaks, as well as throughout the school year, as a service to students who want an opportunity to improve reading and mathematics skills. Families will be provided with access to resources to supplement reading and mathematics instruction for students.

Grades Pre-K – 2

  • Amount of Homework: No more than 20 minutes of homework per night will be assigned. In Pre-K and Kindergarten there will be no assignments that must be submitted to the teacher.
  • Purpose of Homework: Homework provides practice opportunities for skill development.
  • Families are encouraged to read to or with their children nightly.
  • Families are encouraged to practice grade appropriate math facts or related activities on a nightly basis.
  • Teaching staff will be provided with opportunities to meet as teams to schedule assignments so that students do not regularly have more than 20 minutes of homework each night

Grades 3 – 5

  • Amount of Homework: No more than 30 minutes required per night in grade 3; 40 minutes in grade 4; and 50 minutes in grade 5.
  • Purpose of Homework: Homework reflects daily instruction, reinforces previously taught skills, prepares students for future lessons, and/or promotes creativity.
  • Teaching staff will be provided with opportunities to meet as teams to schedule assignments so that students do not regularly have more than 30 minutes of homework required per night in grade 3; 40 minutes in grade 4; and 50 minutes in grade.

Grades 6 – 8

  • Amount of Homework: For the purposes of determining number of hours of homework per week or day, teachers should include reading of course material, studying of course material, and practicing skills taught in course (e.g., rehearsing a musical instrument). Time spent on long-term projects should also be included when determining number of hours of homework; however, these projects do not constitute homework for grading purposes. Each instructor may assign an average of, at most, one hour of homework per week. Not all classes will require homework. Some classes might require students to spend more or less time on homework than is typical.
  • Purpose of Homework: Homework assignments will reinforce curriculum through tasks that contribute to learning and understanding. These may reinforce previously taught skills, prepare students for future lessons, extend learning, promote creativity, and/or be a reflection on the student’s day at school.
  • Teaching staff will be provided with opportunities to meet as teams to schedule assignments so that students do not regularly have more than one hour of homework each week per instructor. It is recommended that the school principal or designee work with teaching staff to facilitate this collaboration.

Grades 9 – 12

  • Amount of Homework: For the purposes of determining number of hours of homework per week or day, teachers should include reading of course material, studying of course material, and practicing skills taught in course (e.g., rehearsing a musical instrument). Time spent on long-term projects should also be included when determining number of hours of homework; however, these projects do not constitute homework for grading purposes. Each instructor may assign an average of, at most, one and a half hours of homework per week. Not all classes will require homework. Some classes might require students to spend more or less time on homework than is typical.
  • An upper limit of seven to fourteen hours of homework a week is suggested for each high school student. Some classes might require students to spend more or less time on homework than is typical.
  • Expectations of Homework: The goals and expectations for homework will be clear and include opportunities for student input. As appropriate, flexibility and student choice will be considered in the assignment of homework duration, rigor, product, and weight in grading. A syllabus is recommended for distribution at the beginning of every semester outlining each course’s requirements, including regular assignments, projects, possible due dates, and procedures for requesting feedback on assignments.
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How to Deal With Late Work and Makeup Work

Late Work and Make Up Work Policies

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Late work is a teacher housekeeping task that often causes a classroom management nightmare for teachers. Late work can be especially difficult for new educators who do not have a set policy in place or even for a veteran teacher who has created a policy that just is not working.

There are many reasons why makeup or late work should be allowed, but the best reason to consider is that any work that was deemed important enough by a teacher to be assigned, deserves to be completed. If homework or classwork is not important, or are assigned as "busy work," students will notice, and they will not be motivated to complete the assignments. Any homework and/or classwork a teacher assigns and collects should support a student's academic growth.

There may be students returning from excused or unexcused absences who will need to complete makeup work. There also may be students who have not worked responsibly. There may be assignment completed on paper, and now there may be assignments submitted digitally. There are multiple software programs where students may submit homework or classwork. However, there may be students who lack the resources or support they need at home.

Therefore, it is important that teachers create late work and make-up work policies for hard copies and for digital submissions that they can follow consistently and with a minimum of effort. Anything less will result in confusion and further problems.

Questions to Consider When Creating a Late Work and Makeup Work Policy

  • Does my school have a set policy for teachers concerning late work? For example, there might be a schoolwide policy that all teachers are to take off a letter grade for each day late.
  • What is my school's policy concerning time for makeup work? Many school districts allow students two days to complete late work for each day they were out.
  • What is my school's policy for making up work when a student has an excused absence? Does that policy differ for an unexcused absence? Some schools do not allow students to make up work after unexcused absences.
  • Collecting homework (hard copies) at the door as they enter the class.
  • Digital submissions to a classroom software platform or app (ex: Edmodo, Google Classroom). These will have a digital time stamp on each document.
  • Ask students have to turn homework/classwork into a specific location (homework/classwork box) by the bell to be considered on time.
  • Use a timestamp to put on homework /classwork to mark when it was submitted. 
  • Determine if you will accept partially-completed homework or classwork. If so, then students can be considered on time even if they have not completed their work. If not, this needs to be clearly explained to students.
  • Have students write the date they turn in the homework on the top. This saves you time but could also lead to cheating .
  • You write the date the homework was turned in on the top as it is turned in. This will only work if you have a mechanism for students to turn in work directly to you each day.
  • If you wish to use a homework collection box, then you can mark the day each assignment was turned in on the paper when you grade each day. However, this requires daily maintenance on your part so that you don't get confused.
  • Have an assignment book where you write down all classwork and homework along with a folder for copies of any worksheets/handouts. Students are responsible for checking the assignment book when they return and collecting the assignments. This requires you to be organized and to update the assignment book each day.
  • Create a "buddy" system. Have students be responsible for writing down assignments to share with someone who was out of class. If you gave notes in class, either provide a copy for the students who missed or you can have them copy notes for a friend. Be aware that students have to on their own time copy notes and they might not get all the information depending on the quality of the notes copied.
  • Only give makeup work before or after school. Students have to come to see you when you are not teaching so that they can get the work. This can be hard for some students who do not have the time to come before or after depending on bus/ride schedules.
  • Have a separate makeup assignment that uses the same skills, but different questions or criteria.
  • Prepare how will you have students makeup tests and/or quizzes that they missed when they were absent. Many teachers require students to meet with them either before or after school. However, if there is an issue or concern with that, you might be able to have them come to your room during your planning period or lunch to try and complete the work. For students who need to make up assessments, you may want to design an alternate assessment, with different questions.
  • Anticipate that long-term assignments (ones where students have two or more weeks to work on) will take much more supervision. Break the project up into chunks, staggering the workload when possible. Breaking up one assignment into smaller deadlines will mean that you are not chasing a large assignment with a high percentage grade that is late.
  • Decide how you will address late projects or large percentage assignments. Will you allow late submissions? Make sure that you address this issue at the beginning of the year, especially if you are going to have a research paper or other long-term assignment in your class. Most teachers make it a policy that if students are absent on the day a long-term assignment is due that it must be submitted the day that student returns to school. Without this policy, you might find students who are trying to gain extra days by being absent.

If you do not have a consistent late work or makeup policy, your students will notice. Students who turn their work in on time will be upset, and those who are consistently late will take advantage of you. The key to an effective late work and makeup work policy is good recordkeeping and daily enforcement.

Once you decide what you want for your late work and makeup policy, then stick to that policy. Share your policy with other teachers because there is strength in consistency. Only by your consistent actions will this become one less worry in your school day. 

  • Late Work Policy for Teachers Example
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  • Creating a Homework Policy With Meaning and Purpose
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  • How Much Homework Should Students Have?
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  1. Creating a Homework Policy With Meaning and Purpose

    Homework is defined as the time students spend outside the classroom in assigned learning activities. Anywhere Schools believes the purpose of homework should be to practice, reinforce, or apply acquired skills and knowledge. We also believe as research supports that moderate assignments completed and done well are more effective than lengthy ...

  2. The four planks of an effective homework policy

    Homework that is linked to classroom work tends to be more effective. In particular, studies that included feedback on homework had higher impacts on learning. Telling students that doing homework is important is one thing, but showing them is quite another. The more you can feed the work students do at home into the work they do in class the ...

  3. How to Write the Perfect Homework Policy

    3‭. ‬The purpose of homework‭ ‬. The school regards the purpose of homework as being to‭:‬. As a school‭, ‬we encourage children to pursue out-of-school activities‭. ‬Homework should be used to effectively reinforce and/or extend what is learned in school‭. ‬We hope that children will feel a sense of personal ...

  4. Advice on Creating Homework Policies

    Creating a homework policy for younger students in the elementary grades should avoid traditional assignments and focus on building study skills and encouraging learning. Older students after elementary school are ready to take on written assignments rather than using technology and other tools. Putting more focus on study skills will set a ...

  5. Homework Policy Still Going Strong

    Homework Policy Still Going Strong. Posted January 15, 2014. By Lory Hough. It's become one of those stories that has legs. Two years after we ran a feature story on whether schools should assign homework, we're still receiving letters to the editor and new tweets. On the Ed. site, the story has consistently been one of the most shared.

  6. PDF Homework Policy Guidelines

    The school's Homework Policy should be made available to the school community, particularly at the time of enrolment. Parents/caregivers of students experiencing difficulties completing homework need to be confident that these concerns can be discussed with the teacher, and that guidance and assistance will be provided. ...

  7. Homework policy: examples

    Primary school. Shadwell Primary School in Leeds has a homework policy that covers: When pupils take books home for reading. How long they should spend reading at home. English and maths homework. Spelling and times tables expectations. Additional half-termly homework tasks, such as a learning log and key instant recall facts.

  8. The power of a good homework policy

    A good homework policy creates transparency for parents. It helps them to understand the value the school places on homework and what the learning objectives are. If parents understand this, it will help set a foundation for them to be engaged in their child's education. #4 Gives students a routine and creates good habits.

  9. Key Lessons: What Research Says About the Value of Homework

    Homework has been in the headlines again recently and continues to be a topic of controversy, with claims that students and families are suffering under the burden of huge amounts of homework. School board members, educators, and parents may wish to turn to the research for answers to their questions about the benefits and drawbacks of homework.

  10. How to Use Homework to Support Student Success

    Use homework as a tool for communication. Use homework as a vehicle to foster family-school communication. Families can use homework as an opportunity to open conversations about specific assignments or classes, peer relationships, or even sleep quality that may be impacting student success. For younger students, using a daily or weekly home ...

  11. What's the Right Amount of Homework?

    The National PTA and the National Education Association support the " 10-minute homework guideline "—a nightly 10 minutes of homework per grade level. But many teachers and parents are quick to point out that what matters is the quality of the homework assigned and how well it meets students' needs, not the amount of time spent on it.

  12. Creating a Meaningful Homework Policy For Secondary Schools

    Effective signment. Make sure every student of the policy and the scheduling of use of homework can be a factor in can do the work before they leave such assignments. learning new information. As a result, for home. homework should count for 15-25% of 3) Avoid "worksheet" assignments. the grade. whenever possible.

  13. Is Homework Good for Kids? Here's What the Research Says

    The no-homework policy of a second-grade teacher in Texas went viral last week, ... meaning students who did homework performed better in school. The correlation was stronger for older students ...

  14. Homework and Higher Standards

    Homework and Higher Standards How Homework Stacks Up to the Common Core. CAP analysis found that homework is generally aligned to Common Core State Standards, but additional policy changes would ...

  15. Thinking About a No Homework Policy? Here's What You Should Know

    The teacher decides the amount of homework to be given and should do so based on the classroom's and school's needs. After all, all schools are different because no one school serves the same ...

  16. Homework vs. No Homework Is the Wrong Question

    The policy should be, "No time-wasting, rote, repetitive tasks will be assigned that lack clear instructional or learning purposes." A realistic homework strategy should be a key topic of back-to-school night and the first parent-teacher conferences of the school year.

  17. PDF Homework

    Homework may serve to tie the school more closely to the home. It is a demonstration of teacher expectations to both pupil and parent. By definition, homework is a task initiated and/or motivated in the classroom related to the objective of the course studied which is normally completed during out-of-class time.

  18. Should Kids Get Homework?

    Too much, however, is harmful. And homework has a greater positive effect on students in secondary school (grades 7-12) than those in elementary. "Every child should be doing homework, but the ...

  19. PDF Homework Research and Policy

    mean correlation between time spent on homework and achievement was almost zero; for students in middle grades it was r = +.07, and for high school students it was r = +.25.

  20. Homework Guidelines

    Homework will be planned so students see the relationship of their homework to intended learning targets, see meaning in their assignments, have a clear understanding of the procedures and due dates, understand how their homework is evaluated, and understand how they can use feedback on homework to improve understanding.

  21. Homework

    Homework is a set of tasks assigned to students by their teachers to be completed at ... fulfilling school/district policies; demonstrating a rigorous school program to others; punishing a student or a class; ... noting that active learning promotes engagement and "a deeper approach to learning that enables students to develop meaning from ...

  22. Determining Late Work and Makeup Work Policies

    Late Work and Make Up Work Policies. Late work is a teacher housekeeping task that often causes a classroom management nightmare for teachers. Late work can be especially difficult for new educators who do not have a set policy in place or even for a veteran teacher who has created a policy that just is not working.