Teachers create homework assignments in order to reinforce the skills and lessons learned in class. Ideally, homework will also allow students to explore the class curriculum more deeply. In the middle school classroom, homework allows students to practice and review skills as well as teaching them to be independent, organized and prepared for high school. Whereas many parents are concerned that their children are not receiving enough homework, others feel their children are being assigned too much.
Sixty to 90 Minutes of Homework
Depending on the rigor of a district or private school, the time students are expected to spend on homework will vary. However, educational researcher Harris Cooper asserts that each child should spend 10 to 20 minutes every night on homework in the first grade. As that child moves up in school, 10 more minutes of homework a night should be expected. Therefore, based on Cooper’s model, middle school students should spend between 60 to 90 minutes on homework.
Quality Over Quantity
The quality of homework assignments is much more important than the quantity of assignments. Teachers that assign repetitious exercises that serve as busy work are simply doing their students a disservice. All homework assignments should serve a specific purpose. In middle school, students need to learn good study habits so that they will be prepared for high school. Allowing students to create their own test questions in order to review for a test is a positive way to extend learning and review outside of the classroom. Another example is allowing students to practice grammar and writing skills by writing in a journal for homework.
Additional Assignments for Enrichment Seekers
Some middle school students seek enrichment both in school and at home. If your child has mastered his or her courses, is organized and has good study habits, do not hesitate to ask your child’s teachers for additional activities and resources. Many schools have suggested reading lists for a variety of subjects and grade levels. Local libraries and museums also often offer workshops, suggested reading and activities for middle school students.
Communicate With Teachers and Administrators
Whether you are concerned that your child has too much or too little homework at night, the best way to support your child is to communicate with the school’s administrators and teachers. Often schools have a homework policy for middle school students. Due to after-school sports and clubs, school administrators are mindful of their students’ time and workload. Similarly, when planning, many teachers try to create appropriate assignments that will allow students to practice skills without monopolizing the entire evening. Help support learning gaps, organization issues and time management concerns by communicating with teachers and administrators.
Kelly Chester is an educator and writer who has worked in both public and private schools for almost a decade. Her areas of expertise include literature, writing, history and art for adolescents. In addition to writing reports for NYSAIS, she has also written a biography on artist Frank Covino, which was published in the anthology “Teaching Lives.”