Jump-starting kids’ academic careers seems to work, but at what cost? Research shows that kids who go to preschool do significantly better (about 21%) on math and reading tests in kindergarten than peers who do not attend. However, a new study has found that young students are perhaps being overworked.
The new study, which was published in the American Journal of Family Therapy, found that students in the early elementary school years are getting far more homework than education leaders recommend. In some cases, they’re getting twice as much, in fact.
The National Education Association and the National Parent-Teacher Association endorse the “10-minute rule” standard, which basically means 10 minutes’ worth of homework per grade level per night. First graders get 10 minutes, second graders get 20 minutes, and so on and so forth. The NEA and the National PTA do not endorse homework for kindergarten.
Researchers asked 1,100 English- and Spanish-speaking parents of children in a grade level between kindergarten and grade 12 to fill out questionnaires, and found that kids in the first grade had about half an hour’s worth of homework — thrice what the NEA and National PTA recommend. Second-graders had about 29 minutes’ worth of homework, as opposed to the recommended 20 minutes’ worth.
Worse, the study found that kindergartners were spending 25 minutes a night on after-school assignments.
“It is absolutely shocking to me to find out that particularly kindergarten students (who) are not supposed to have any homework at all … are getting as much homework as a third-grader is supposed to get,” said Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman, one of the study’s researchers and the clinical director of the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology.
Researchers also looked at the relationship between homework and family stress, and found that the more homework children had, the more family stress there was. The higher the education level of the parents, the less stress there was over homework, but families with parents who didn’t have college degrees were twice as likely to fight about homework.
“Anybody who’s tried to keep a 5-year-old at a table doing homework for 25 minutes after school knows what that’s like,” said Donaldson-Pressman. “I mean children don’t want to be doing, they want to be out playing, they want to be interacting and that’s what they should be doing. That’s what’s really important.”