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Since school has started, my inbox has been flooded with questions about homework from my non-educator friends. Homework should have an actual purpose and there are developmentally appropriate amounts of times for their grade level. That also means that not every single child is ready for that developmental stage.

According to the National Education Association, over the last 50 years, most US students spend less than an hour a night on homework. But in the last 20 years, that time has increased in the lower grades. Researcher Harris Cooper set guidelines for homework of 10-20 minutes of homework for first grade and adding 10 minutes each year all the way through high school with the exception being high school students taking advanced courses. I thought most schools followed these guidelines, but according to my inbox, that is not the case.

What is the point of homework? Homework should be a form of practice or enrichment of what was taught during the school day. It should be short and purposeful. There is absolutely no reason for a student to have 90 math problems for homework or any other time, for that matter.

Elementary children should reading every single night. The U. S. Department of Education America Reads Challenge states that students who read 20 minutes a day get exposed to 1.8 million words and will score better on achievement tests.

If homework is a problem in your home and is taking you two hours to complete, it is important to start trying to get to the root of the issue. Start with what is happening at home. Try a few of these steps:

If you have tried to change things at home and homework is still a struggle, then it is time to meet with the teacher. When you meet with the teacher here are some suggestions of questions to discuss:

Homework should not be ruling your child’s life. Staying up late to finish homework leads to sleepy children that are not paying attention in class when new material is taught, and they are caught in a vicious cycle. Stay in communication with the teacher to protect your child’s stress level and your family time.