By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s a topic that’s constantly up for debate, and not just among academics — but also parents, students and teachers.

How much homework is too much? Good Question.

“That’s a hard question,” said Normandale Hills Elementary School teacher Jamie Dreyling. “I would say the definition of homework is different for different teachers.”

Each class, grade and school differs in the amount of homework students are assigned. In 2016, the National Center for Education Statistics found 95% of kids did schoolwork outside of school. Among those, the average was 4.7 hours per week for K-8, and 7.5 hours per week for high schoolers.

Dreyling assigns homework on a monthly basis, where she asks her fourth grade students to read the equivalent of 30 minutes each night and go through 10 minutes of math facts. They can choose when they want to complete the homework.

“Parents … come say, “Well, what’s their homework? They say that they don’t have homework?’” Dreyling said. “So it’s hard to explain to kids, like, ‘Well, you do have homework, but it’s reading your fun book or practicing your math facts wherever you’re at.'”

(credit: CBS)

Normandale Hills third grade teacher Ellie Maloney says she takes into consideration the age of the child when determining homework. She asks students to read 90 minutes over the week, as well as complete 10 minutes of math homework each night.

“It’s really important that students are able to complete the homework at home without lots of tears,” Maloney said. “I don’t want, like, the tears at the table, you know, hours in the evening.”

She says she’s reduced the amount of homework she gives since her first teaching days eight years ago.

“One of the reasons, I think it’s important to help teach them responsibility,” Maloney said.

The National PTA recommends no more than 10 minutes per night in the first grade and an additional 10 minutes per grade level after that.

“I think it should be a reasonable amount,” said Normandale Hills reading specialist Talina Molzahn. “I think maybe 10 to 15 minutes is very appropriate for early elementary. Maybe up to 30 minutes when you’re in fourth and fifth grade.”

Each teacher told WCCO homework is different than a generation ago. Rather than simple worksheets or memorization, teachers now think about how it can apply to everyday life. That can look like math on a Google spreadsheet or reading on an iPad.

“I think teachers have really started to think about how students use their time,” Molzahn said. “We want their time to be used in a valuable way.”

Heather Brown