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Too Much Homework for First Graders

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Guest blogger Margaret: My daughter, who is 6, has two hours of homework per night. We usually start at around 3:00 PM and she is done by around 5:00. This seems like a lot of homework for a first grader to me, but it's usually manageable.

girl with stack of books

Last Thursday night, it took her THREE hours -- and she still didn't finish! She broke down in tears and told me she was tired, so I let her finish it the next morning.

As I listened to her sob and saw how HARD she was working, I wondered if there was something wrong with the system.

Why is it taking a smart first grader three hours to finish homework? Won't this make her HATE school later in life? It certainly doesn't instill a love for learning.

She frequently tells me that Fridays are her favorite day of school, because she doesn't have homework on Fridays.


Isn't there a better way?

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11 comments so far | Post a comment now
Black Iris March 15, 2010, 6:02 AM

Our school system has time limits for homework at each grade level. I don’t remember how much it was for first grade, but it was less than 1/2 an hour per day, not 2 hours! That didn’t include reading every day, but reading is more fun.

I have found that you can often talk to your teacher you are having problems with the homework. Most teachers don’t want the homework to take that long. They may let you change the homework assignment for your child or cut it short after a certain amount of time.

Is your daughter taking lots of breaks or resisting doing the homework and making it take longer? Would she do it faster if she took a break after school first and had fun?

Is the homework teaching her anything? Is it unpleasant for her in any way? (Too much drill or having to write by hand, etc.) Is there something about the homework that makes it take too long - like having to glue down a lot of macaroni or something?

If talking to the teacher doesn’t work, I suggest you talk to principal. If that doesn’ work, try the other parents. You may be able to do something about the situation together.

Sara March 15, 2010, 6:44 AM

That homework is probably all busywork.

Kids should have no more than ten minutes of homework per grade (ten minutes in first grade, twenty in second grade, for average students) not including reading, special projects or work sent home because the child didn’t get it done in class (when the majority of the kids did finish it). If your child has more than that then you need to complain to the teacher and the administration (with other parents if you can).

Anonymous March 15, 2010, 8:23 AM

I taught first grade for four years and I think anything more than 15 minutes of homework is not acceptable! Most children are exhausted after a day of school and they need to go home relax and enjoy being a kid for the rest of the time. Homework is important to just refresh the kids memory on what they are learning and for the parents to clue into what the kids are learning. No more than 15 minutes!

michelle March 15, 2010, 8:39 AM

This is insanity and just another reason American public schools are so terrible. Quantity does not equal quality.

littlemetg March 15, 2010, 8:52 AM

I think there are more things that need to be looked at. I have 3 kids. My 2 older kids have learning disabilities and the homework given at 1st grade took twice as long as it does for my youngest in 1st grade. My youngest can complete it quicker and has a better understanding because she has a higher level of comprehension.

Now I’m not saying this article is based on a child who may have some learning disabilities. I just want to point out that every child have different needs and learn differently. Maybe talking to the child’s teacher about this child’s ability. Teachers are more than happy to find a better solution where the child can learn without feeling frustrated.

KK March 15, 2010, 9:16 AM

My son, now in the fourth grade, has been getting homework packets since he started in kindergarten. The packets go home on Monday and are due the following Monday, enabling the kids to work at their speed, maybe hold off to the weekend on some particularly nasty problem they need help with, and allowing some flexibility for parents that, say, want to take the kids out for dinner on a Thursday. We’ve found this to be the perfect solution for us and for our son. Maybe you can suggest it to your teacher groups.

Anonymous March 15, 2010, 9:38 AM

I have had the exact same experience with my son. My question to you is? Is your daughter in a private school? My son has been since the 1st grade and like your daughters- brings home hours of homework a night. He is in 5th grade now and the although the work has not lessoned, he is quicker at finishing up the long list of items each night.

Sara Bennett March 15, 2010, 6:23 PM

Did you know there’s no correlation between homework and academic achievement in elementary school? Take a look at my book, The Case Against Homework, to learn why homework for elementary school kids in particular, but most kids in general, is a waste of time or take a look at my website,, where you’ll find all kinds of resources that can help you stop the homework madness.

Christine  March 29, 2010, 10:11 PM

wait until high school. it gets so much worse! there are times that when my daughter has multiple projects in a week with additional homework that she doesn’t get to bed until 4:30a.m. even if she works from the time she gets home at 2:45 in the afternoon. she has to be at the bus stop at 6:30 in the morning. 2 hours of sleep is hardly enough for any person to be able to wake up and be expected to function the next day!

CC March 31, 2010, 11:30 AM

2 hours for first grade is nuts!

Becky September 15, 2010, 8:31 AM

My 1st grade son is having 1-3 hours of homework EVERY night, including weekends! If this keeps up, will he learn to hate school? Probably! This is rediculous!

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