I work with students who struggle during the school day. They work extremely hard to hold it together in class, to learn what they can, to follow rules and directions all day long. Homework after school can often be a nightmare. It takes many of my students 2-3 times as long as other students to complete their homework. Luckily, many of these students have supportive teachers and educational plans in place to limit the time they spend on homework. But what about the rest of the students? Does a first grader need homework? The 7- or 8-hour school day seems like a long period of structured learning. Some would argue that an effective school day is sufficient and homework is overload. Others would point to the structured education in countries like Singapore, where lengthy school days and many hours of homework result in high scores on achievement tests. But what about free play? Time for family? For extracurriculars like sports and art classes which are "teaching" other skills?
I come from the "quality, not quantity" framework for assigning homework. It is nice for parents to see some review of what is being taught during the school day. It allows the child to practice their skills in an environment outside of the classroom, possibly allowing for parents to help expand the learning experience (assuming, of course that parents have the time and ability to be invested in the experience.) To do at home: If you notice that your child is on overload during homework time, talk to their teacher. I often recommend that students complete the first couple of problems for each assignment, to show an understanding of the material.
Check out the latest news on the topic from California:
Los Angeles Gives Students a Break on Homework - TIME NewsFeed http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/06/28/los-angeles-gives-students-a-break-on-homework/?artId=?contType=?chn=