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Child doing homework

A parent's view of homework: I waver between tolerance and outright hatred

From new mathematical methods to the appropriate level of help, mother-of-three Toni Hargis shares her pet peeves about homework

L ike many parents, I have a complicated relationship with homework. One day I’m reminding my children to get to work – vocabulary doesn’t happen by osmosis – and the next I’m struggling to understand the work myself, let alone find the time to help.

I’ve had nearly two decades of helping my children (now aged 22, 19 and 12) with everything from simple addition to Spanish verb endings. Homework has covered the gamut of straightforward memorization or comprehension, to detailed research of family matters, complete with photographs and tales supplied by me.

There are some things I accept about homework: teachers can’t spend the entire lesson making sure all children keep up and most students need time for new topics to sink in. Unfortunately, however, there are a few items on my dislike list too.

Parental involvement

First there’s the dreaded instruction to “Ask a parent to help”. Many of us also work full-time, have other children needing homework help, dinner or a lift somewhere. While we love helping our children learn, we don’t always have the time to build a small scale ark at the end of a long day.

Inviting parental involvement can also be a slippery slope. My approach is usually to brainstorm ideas then see how much the child can do on their own. But I’m well aware of parents who roll their sleeves up and do 99% of it themselves. Therein lies the dilemma – I don’t want to do my child’s homework for them, but I also don’t want their lovingly created ark to get laughed off the playground just because it looks like a child made it.

An introductory email at the beginning of the school year, spelling out exactly how you’d like us to help our children, would be extremely useful. Do you want to see all their mistakes or should we go over homework, catch mistakes and have them try again? How much of their homework should we help with? Is it okay to write a note on the homework pointing out the exact place where the penny didn’t drop?

New information

My pet peeve is the extra questions or challenges thrown in at the end of a homework sheet. This can range from an extra set of brackets suddenly appearing in the order of operations maths homework, to a newer verb added to the “Use this verb in a sentence” assignment.

It may seem harmless – a good exercise in independent learning, even – but parents have a one in three chance of this ending well. Some children rise to the challenge and give it a go, others are frustrated they can’t do the work, and the last third simply say “Why do optional homework?” and resist all persuasion. Most of us aren’t teachers and simply don’t know how to introduce new concepts or topics without tears – theirs and ours. What’s more, while many children are quite happy to take instruction in the classroom, bristle when their parent tries it around the kitchen table. I get that sometimes it’s a race against the syllabus, but if parents are expected to cover new material, please give us tips on how to teach.

New methods

It appears I can no longer do long division and multiplication. Or at least, I can’t do it the way my children are taught. If I’m going over their homework, I can tell them whether their answers are right or wrong, but for the life of me I can’t tell them why in terms they understand. (The phrase “Carry the one” is like a foreign language to them.) For me to help them, they first have to teach me their method so that I can see where they’ve gone wrong. If they don’t fully understand that method, it all falls apart very quickly.

Cheat sheets – where teachers share their method with parents – would be really useful. There are now excellent internet tutorials on many academic subjects; sending us links to these if they use the same methods would be extremely helpful. Last year, when my youngest was studying operations of arithmetic (Brackets, Operation, Divide, Multiply, Add, Subtract, or BODMAS to me), his terminology was so different to mine, I had to email his teacher to confirm that I had remembered the method correctly. Her availability to me was much appreciated – I know teachers have a life outside of school.

Too many subjects per night

The kids may have five or more lessons a day but problems arise when subject-specific teachers all give homework on the same night. Even if students don’t have after-school activities, life (in the form of a sibling trip to A&E or a panic shop for new gym shoes) can get in the way, making hours of homework a challenge.

Teachers can help by allowing students a day or two extra to hand the work in work so that they can plan when they’ll do each assignment. After all, time management is a life skill we all need. Alternatively, collaborate with colleagues to ensure that pupils aren’t being given every single subject for homework on the same night.

As I said, it’s complicated. Most parents want what’s best for their children; we want to help them do well, but we vacillate between tolerance and outright hatred of homework, depending on what else we have to juggle. Teachers can’t win either as there are usually complaints when there’s no homework at all. We need a middle ground, where teachers teach and parents support the learning at home, both parties respect each other’s’ roles and communicate regularly about the how best to help the individual child.

Toni Hargis is a British author and blogger, currently living in Chicago, US.

Follow us on Twitter via @GuardianTeach . Join the Guardian Teacher Network for lesson resources, comment and job opportunities , direct to your inbox.

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Should Kids Get Homework?

Homework gives elementary students a way to practice concepts, but too much can be harmful, experts say.

Mother helping son with homework at home

Effective homework reinforces math, reading, writing or spelling skills, but in a way that's meaningful. (Getty Images)

How much homework students should get has long been a source of debate among parents and educators. In recent years, some districts have even implemented no-homework policies, as students juggle sports, music and other activities after school.

Parents of elementary school students, in particular, have argued that after-school hours should be spent with family or playing outside rather than completing assignments. And there is little research to show that homework improves academic achievement for elementary students.

But some experts say there's value in homework, even for younger students. When done well, it can help students practice core concepts and develop study habits and time management skills. The key to effective homework, they say, is keeping assignments related to classroom learning, and tailoring the amount by age: Many experts suggest no homework for kindergartners, and little to none in first and second grade.

Value of Homework

Homework provides a chance to solidify what is being taught in the classroom that day, week or unit. Practice matters, says Janine Bempechat, clinical professor at Boston University 's Wheelock College of Education & Human Development.

"There really is no other domain of human ability where anybody would say you don't need to practice," she adds. "We have children practicing piano and we have children going to sports practice several days a week after school. You name the domain of ability and practice is in there."

Homework is also the place where schools and families most frequently intersect.

"The children are bringing things from the school into the home," says Paula S. Fass, professor emerita of history at the University of California—Berkeley and the author of "The End of American Childhood." "Before the pandemic, (homework) was the only real sense that parents had to what was going on in schools."

Harris Cooper, professor emeritus of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University and author of "The Battle Over Homework," examined more than 60 research studies on homework between 1987 and 2003 and found that — when designed properly — homework can lead to greater student success. Too much, however, is harmful. And homework has a greater positive effect on students in secondary school (grades 7-12) than those in elementary.

"Every child should be doing homework, but the amount and type that they're doing should be appropriate for their developmental level," he says. "For teachers, it's a balancing act. Doing away with homework completely is not in the best interest of children and families. But overburdening families with homework is also not in the child's or a family's best interest."

Negative Homework Assignments

Not all homework for elementary students involves completing a worksheet. Assignments can be fun, says Cooper, like having students visit educational locations, keep statistics on their favorite sports teams, read for pleasure or even help their parents grocery shop. The point is to show students that activities done outside of school can relate to subjects learned in the classroom.

But assignments that are just busy work, that force students to learn new concepts at home, or that are overly time-consuming can be counterproductive, experts say.

Homework that's just busy work.

Effective homework reinforces math, reading, writing or spelling skills, but in a way that's meaningful, experts say. Assignments that look more like busy work – projects or worksheets that don't require teacher feedback and aren't related to topics learned in the classroom – can be frustrating for students and create burdens for families.

"The mental health piece has definitely played a role here over the last couple of years during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the last thing we want to do is frustrate students with busy work or homework that makes no sense," says Dave Steckler, principal of Red Trail Elementary School in Mandan, North Dakota.

Homework on material that kids haven't learned yet.

With the pressure to cover all topics on standardized tests and limited time during the school day, some teachers assign homework that has not yet been taught in the classroom.

Not only does this create stress, but it also causes equity challenges. Some parents speak languages other than English or work several jobs, and they aren't able to help teach their children new concepts.

" It just becomes agony for both parents and the kids to get through this worksheet, and the goal becomes getting to the bottom of (the) worksheet with answers filled in without any understanding of what any of it matters for," says professor Susan R. Goldman, co-director of the Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Illinois—Chicago .

Homework that's overly time-consuming.

The standard homework guideline recommended by the National Parent Teacher Association and the National Education Association is the "10-minute rule" – 10 minutes of nightly homework per grade level. A fourth grader, for instance, would receive a total of 40 minutes of homework per night.

But this does not always happen, especially since not every student learns the same. A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Family Therapy found that primary school children actually received three times the recommended amount of homework — and that family stress increased along with the homework load.

Young children can only remain attentive for short periods, so large amounts of homework, especially lengthy projects, can negatively affect students' views on school. Some individual long-term projects – like having to build a replica city, for example – typically become an assignment for parents rather than students, Fass says.

"It's one thing to assign a project like that in which several kids are working on it together," she adds. "In (that) case, the kids do normally work on it. It's another to send it home to the families, where it becomes a burden and doesn't really accomplish very much."

Private vs. Public Schools

Do private schools assign more homework than public schools? There's little research on the issue, but experts say private school parents may be more accepting of homework, seeing it as a sign of academic rigor.

Of course, not all private schools are the same – some focus on college preparation and traditional academics, while others stress alternative approaches to education.

"I think in the academically oriented private schools, there's more support for homework from parents," says Gerald K. LeTendre, chair of educational administration at Pennsylvania State University—University Park . "I don't know if there's any research to show there's more homework, but it's less of a contentious issue."

How to Address Homework Overload

First, assess if the workload takes as long as it appears. Sometimes children may start working on a homework assignment, wander away and come back later, Cooper says.

"Parents don't see it, but they know that their child has started doing their homework four hours ago and still not done it," he adds. "They don't see that there are those four hours where their child was doing lots of other things. So the homework assignment itself actually is not four hours long. It's the way the child is approaching it."

But if homework is becoming stressful or workload is excessive, experts suggest parents first approach the teacher, followed by a school administrator.

"Many times, we can solve a lot of issues by having conversations," Steckler says, including by "sitting down, talking about the amount of homework, and what's appropriate and not appropriate."

Study Tips for High School Students

High angle view of young woman sitting at desk and studying at home during coronavirus lockdown

Tags: K-12 education , students , elementary school , children

parents views on homework

Homework in America

part two cover

Part II of the 2014 Brown Center Report on American Education

part two cover

The Journal was an influential magazine, especially with parents.  An anti-homework campaign burst forth that grew into a national crusade. [i]   School districts across the land passed restrictions on homework, culminating in a 1901 statewide prohibition of homework in California for any student under the age of 15.  The crusade would remain powerful through 1913, before a world war and other concerns bumped it from the spotlight.  Nevertheless, anti-homework sentiment would remain a touchstone of progressive education throughout the twentieth century.  As a political force, it would lie dormant for years before bubbling up to mobilize proponents of free play and “the whole child.” Advocates would, if educators did not comply, seek to impose homework restrictions through policy making.

Our own century dawned during a surge of anti-homework sentiment. From 1998 to 2003, Newsweek , TIME , and People , all major national publications at the time, ran cover stories on the evils of homework.  TIME ’s 1999 story had the most provocative title, “The Homework Ate My Family: Kids Are Dazed, Parents Are Stressed, Why Piling On Is Hurting Students.” People ’s 2003 article offered a call to arms: “Overbooked: Four Hours of Homework for a Third Grader? Exhausted Kids (and Parents) Fight Back.” Feature stories about students laboring under an onerous homework burden ran in newspapers from coast to coast. Photos of angst ridden children became a journalistic staple.

The 2003 Brown Center Report on American Education included a study investigating the homework controversy.  Examining the most reliable empirical evidence at the time, the study concluded that the dramatic claims about homework were unfounded.  An overwhelming majority of students, at least two-thirds, depending on age, had an hour or less of homework each night.  Surprisingly, even the homework burden of college-bound high school seniors was discovered to be rather light, less than an hour per night or six hours per week. Public opinion polls also contradicted the prevailing story.  Parents were not up in arms about homework.  Most said their children’s homework load was about right.  Parents wanting more homework out-numbered those who wanted less. 

Now homework is in the news again.  Several popular anti-homework books fill store shelves (whether virtual or brick and mortar). [ii]   The documentary Race to Nowhere depicts homework as one aspect of an overwrought, pressure-cooker school system that constantly pushes students to perform and destroys their love of learning.  The film’s website claims over 6,000 screenings in more than 30 countries.  In 2011, the New York Times ran a front page article about the homework restrictions adopted by schools in Galloway, NJ, describing “a wave of districts across the nation trying to remake homework amid concerns that high stakes testing and competition for college have fueled a nightly grind that is stressing out children and depriving them of play and rest, yet doing little to raise achievement, especially in elementary grades.”   In the article, Vicki Abeles, the director of Race to Nowhere , invokes the indictment of homework lodged a century ago, declaring, “The presence of homework is negatively affecting the health of our young people and the quality of family time.” [iii]  

A petition for the National PTA to adopt “healthy homework guidelines” on change.org currently has 19,000 signatures.  In September 2013, Atlantic featured an article, “My Daughter’s Homework is Killing Me,” by a Manhattan writer who joined his middle school daughter in doing her homework for a week.  Most nights the homework took more than three hours to complete.      

The Current Study

A decade has passed since the last Brown Center Report study of homework, and it’s time for an update.  How much homework do American students have today?  Has the homework burden increased, gone down, or remained about the same?  What do parents think about the homework load?     

A word on why such a study is important.  It’s not because the popular press is creating a fiction.  The press accounts are built on the testimony of real students and real parents, people who are very unhappy with the amount of homework coming home from school.  These unhappy people are real—but they also may be atypical.  Their experiences, as dramatic as they are, may not represent the common experience of American households with school-age children.  In the analysis below, data are analyzed from surveys that are methodologically designed to produce reliable information about the experiences of all Americans.  Some of the surveys have existed long enough to illustrate meaningful trends.  The question is whether strong empirical evidence confirms the anecdotes about overworked kids and outraged parents. 

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Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) provide a good look at trends in homework for nearly the past three decades.  Table 2-1 displays NAEP data from 1984-2012.  The data are from the long-term trend NAEP assessment’s student questionnaire, a survey of homework practices featuring both consistently-worded questions and stable response categories.  The question asks: “How much time did you spend on homework yesterday?”  Responses are shown for NAEP’s three age groups: 9, 13, and 17. [iv]

Table 21

Today’s youngest students seem to have more homework than in the past.  The first three rows of data for age 9 reveal a shift away from students having no homework, declining from 35% in 1984 to 22% in 2012.  A slight uptick occurred from the low of 18% in 2008, however, so the trend may be abating.  The decline of the “no homework” group is matched by growth in the percentage of students with less than an hour’s worth, from 41% in 1984 to 57% in 2012. The share of students with one to two hours of homework changed very little over the entire 28 years, comprising 12% of students in 2012.  The group with the heaviest load, more than two hours of homework, registered at 5% in 2012.  It was 6% in 1984.

The amount of homework for 13-year-olds appears to have lightened slightly. Students with one to two hours of homework declined from 29% to 23%.  The next category down (in terms of homework load), students with less than an hour, increased from 36% to 44%.  One can see, by combining the bottom two rows, that students with an hour or more of homework declined steadily from 1984 to 2008 (falling from 38% to 27%) and then ticked up to 30% in 2012.  The proportion of students with the heaviest load, more than two hours, slipped from 9% in 1984 to 7% in 2012 and ranged between 7-10% for the entire period.

For 17-year-olds, the homework burden has not varied much.  The percentage of students with no homework has increased from 22% to 27%.  Most of that gain occurred in the 1990s. Also note that the percentage of 17-year-olds who had homework but did not do it was 11% in 2012, the highest for the three NAEP age groups.  Adding that number in with the students who didn’t have homework in the first place means that more than one-third of seventeen year olds (38%) did no homework on the night in question in 2012.  That compares with 33% in 1984.  The segment of the 17-year-old population with more than two hours of homework, from which legitimate complaints of being overworked might arise, has been stuck in the 10%-13% range.

A headshot of Tom Loveless.

Tom Loveless

Former brookings expert.

The NAEP data point to four main conclusions:

Note that the item asks students how much time they spent on homework “yesterday.”  That phrasing has the benefit of immediacy, asking for an estimate of precise, recent behavior rather than an estimate of general behavior for an extended, unspecified period.  But misleading responses could be generated if teachers lighten the homework of NAEP participants on the night before the NAEP test is given.  That’s possible. [v] Such skewing would not affect trends if it stayed about the same over time and in the same direction (teachers assigning less homework than usual on the day before NAEP).  Put another way, it would affect estimates of the amount of homework at any single point in time but not changes in the amount of homework between two points in time.

A check for possible skewing is to compare the responses above with those to another homework question on the NAEP questionnaire from 1986-2004 but no longer in use. [vi]   It asked students, “How much time do you usually spend on homework each day?” Most of the response categories have different boundaries from the “last night” question, making the data incomparable.  But the categories asking about no homework are comparable.  Responses indicating no homework on the “usual” question in 2004 were: 2% for age 9-year-olds, 5% for 13 year olds, and 12% for 17-year-olds.  These figures are much less than the ones reported in Table 2-1 above.  The “yesterday” data appear to overstate the proportion of students typically receiving no homework.

The story is different for the “heavy homework load” response categories.  The “usual” question reported similar percentages as the “yesterday” question.  The categories representing the most amount of homework were “more than one hour” for age 9 and “more than two hours” for ages 13 and 17.   In 2004, 12% of 9-year-olds said they had more than one hour of daily homework, while 8% of 13-year-olds and 12% of 17-year-olds said they had more than two hours.  For all three age groups, those figures declined from1986 to 2004. The decline for age 17 was quite large, falling from 17% in 1986 to 12% in 2004.  

The bottom line: regardless of how the question is posed, NAEP data do not support the view that the homework burden is growing, nor do they support the belief that the proportion of students with a lot of homework has increased in recent years.  The proportion of students with no homework is probably under-reported on the long-term trend NAEP.  But the upper bound of students with more than two hours of daily homework appears to be about 15%–and that is for students in their final years of high school.

College Freshmen Look Back  

There is another good source of information on high school students’ homework over several decades.  The Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA conducts an annual survey of college freshmen that began in 1966.  In 1986, the survey started asking a series of questions regarding how students spent time in the final year of high school.  Figure 2-1 shows the 2012 percentages for the dominant activities.  More than half of college freshmen say they spent at least six hours per week socializing with friends (66.2%) and exercising/sports (53.0%).  About 40% devoted that much weekly time to paid employment. 

Figure 21

Homework comes in fourth pace. Only 38.4% of students said they spent at least six hours per week studying or doing homework. When these students were high school seniors, it was not an activity central to their out of school lives.  That is quite surprising.  Think about it.  The survey is confined to the nation’s best students, those attending college.  Gone are high school dropouts.  Also not included are students who go into the military or attain full time employment immediately after high school.  And yet only a little more than one-third of the sampled students, devoted more than six hours per week to homework and studying when they were on the verge of attending college.

Another notable finding from the UCLA survey is how the statistic is trending (see Figure 2-2).  In 1986, 49.5% reported spending six or more hours per week studying and doing homework.  By 2002, the proportion had dropped to 33.4%.  In 2012, as noted in Figure 2-1, the statistic had bounced off the historical lows to reach 38.4%.  It is slowly rising but still sits sharply below where it was in 1987.

Figure 22

What Do Parents Think?

Met Life has published an annual survey of teachers since 1984.  In 1987 and 2007, the survey included questions focusing on homework and expanded to sample both parents and students on the topic. Data are broken out for secondary and elementary parents and for students in grades 3-6 and grades 7-12 (the latter not being an exact match with secondary parents because of K-8 schools).

Table 2-2 shows estimates of homework from the 2007 survey.  Respondents were asked to estimate the amount of homework on a typical school day (Monday-Friday).  The median estimate of each group of respondents is shaded.  As displayed in the first column, the median estimate for parents of an elementary student is that their child devotes about 30 minutes to homework on the typical weekday.  Slightly more than half (52%) estimate 30 minutes or less; 48% estimate 45 minutes or more.  Students in grades 3-6 (third column) give a median estimate that is a bit higher than their parents’ (45 minutes), with almost two-thirds (63%) saying 45 minutes or less is the typical weekday homework load.

Table 22

One hour of homework is the median estimate for both secondary parents and students in grade 7-12, with 55% of parents reporting an hour or less and about two-thirds (67%) of students reporting the same.  As for the prevalence of the heaviest homework loads, 11% of secondary parents say their children spend more than two hours on weekday homework, and 12% is the corresponding figure for students in grades 7-12.

The Met Life surveys in 1987 and 2007 asked parents to evaluate the amount and quality of homework.  Table 2-3 displays the results.  There was little change over the two decades separating the two surveys.  More than 60% of parents rate the amount of homework as good or excellent, and about two-thirds give such high ratings to the quality of the homework their children are receiving.  The proportion giving poor ratings to either the quantity or quality of homework did not exceed 10% on either survey.


Parental dissatisfaction with homework comes in two forms: those who feel schools give too much homework and those who feel schools do not give enough.  The current wave of journalism about unhappy parents is dominated by those who feel schools give too much homework.  How big is this group?  Not very big (see Figure 2-3). On the Met Life survey, 60% of parents felt schools were giving the right amount of homework, 25% wanted more homework, and only 15% wanted less.    

Figure 23

National surveys on homework are infrequent, but the 2006-2007 period had more than one.  A poll conducted by Public Agenda in 2006 reported similar numbers as the Met Life survey: 68% of parents describing the homework load as “about right,” 20% saying there is “too little homework,” and 11% saying there is “too much homework.”  A 2006 AP-AOL poll found the highest percentage of parents reporting too much homework, 19%.  But even in that poll, they were outnumbered by parents believing there is too little homework (23%), and a clear majority (57%) described the load as “about right.”  A 2010 local survey of Chicago parents conducted by the Chicago Tribune reported figures similar to those reported above: approximately two-thirds of parents saying their children’s homework load is “about right,” 21% saying it’s not enough, and 12% responding that the homework load is too much.   

Summary and Discussion

In recent years, the press has been filled with reports of kids over-burdened with homework and parents rebelling against their children’s oppressive workload. The data assembled above call into question whether that portrait is accurate for the typical American family.  Homework typically takes an hour per night.  The homework burden of students rarely exceeds two hours a night.  The upper limit of students with two or more hours per night is about 15% nationally—and that is for juniors or seniors in high school.  For younger children, the upper boundary is about 10% who have such a heavy load.  Polls show that parents who want less homework range from 10%-20%, and that they are outnumbered—in every national poll on the homework question—by parents who want more homework, not less.  The majority of parents describe their children’s homework burden as about right.

So what’s going on?  Where are the homework horror stories coming from?

The Met Life survey of parents is able to give a few hints, mainly because of several questions that extend beyond homework to other aspects of schooling.  The belief that homework is burdensome is more likely held by parents with a larger set of complaints and concerns.  They are alienated from their child’s school.  About two in five parents (19%) don’t believe homework is important.  Compared to other parents, these parents are more likely to say too much homework is assigned (39% vs. 9%), that what is assigned is just busywork (57% vs. 36%), and that homework gets in the way of their family spending time together (51% vs. 15%).  They are less likely to rate the quality of homework as excellent (3% vs. 23%) or to rate the availability and responsiveness of teachers as excellent (18% vs. 38%). [vii]

They can also convince themselves that their numbers are larger than they really are.  Karl Taro Greenfeld, the author of the Atlantic article mentioned above, seems to fit that description.  “Every parent I know in New York City comments on how much homework their children have,” Mr. Greenfeld writes.  As for those parents who do not share this view? “There is always a clique of parents who are happy with the amount of homework. In fact, they would prefer more .  I tend not to get along with that type of parent.” [viii]  

Mr. Greenfeld’s daughter attends a selective exam school in Manhattan, known for its rigorous expectations and, yes, heavy homework load.  He had also complained about homework in his daughter’s previous school in Brentwood, CA.  That school was a charter school.  After Mr. Greenfeld emailed several parents expressing his complaints about homework in that school, the school’s vice-principal accused Mr. Greenfeld of cyberbullying.  The lesson here is that even schools of choice are not immune from complaints about homework.

The homework horror stories need to be read in a proper perspective.  They seem to originate from the very personal discontents of a small group of parents.  They do not reflect the experience of the average family with a school-age child.  That does not diminish these stories’ power to command the attention of school officials or even the public at large. But it also suggests a limited role for policy making in settling such disputes.  Policy is a blunt instrument.  Educators, parents, and kids are in the best position to resolve complaints about homework on a case by case basis.  Complaints about homework have existed for more than a century, and they show no signs of going away.

Part II Notes:

[i] Brian Gill and Steven Schlossman, “A Sin Against Childhood: Progressive Education and the Crusade to Abolish Homework, 1897-1941,” American Journal of Education , vol. 105, no. 1 (Nov., 1996), 27-66.  Also see Brian P. Gill and Steven L. Schlossman, “Villain or Savior? The American Discourse on Homework, 1850-2003,” Theory into Practice , 43, 3 (Summer 2004), pp. 174-181.

[ii] Bennett, Sara, and Nancy Kalish.  The Case Against Homework:  How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It   (New York:  Crown, 2006).  Buell, John.  Closing the Book on Homework: Enhancing Public Education and Freeing Family Time . (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2004). Kohn, Alfie.    The Homework Myth:  Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing  (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2006).  Kralovec, Etta, and John Buell.  The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning  (Boston: Beacon Press, 2000).

[iii] Hu, Winnie, “ New Recruit in Homework Revolt: The Principal ,” New York Times , June 15, 2011, page a1.

[iv] Data for other years are available on the NAEP Data Explorer.  For Table 1, the starting point of 1984 was chosen because it is the first year all three ages were asked the homework question.  The two most recent dates (2012 and 2008) were chosen to show recent changes, and the two years in the 1990s to show developments during that decade.

[v] NAEP’s sampling design lessens the probability of skewing the homework figure.  Students are randomly drawn from a school population, meaning that an entire class is not tested.  Teachers would have to either single out NAEP students for special homework treatment or change their established homework routine for the whole class just to shelter NAEP participants from homework.  Sampling designs that draw entact classrooms for testing (such as TIMSS) would be more vulnerable to this effect.  Moreover, students in middle and high school usually have several different teachers during the day, meaning that prior knowledge of a particular student’s participation in NAEP would probably be limited to one or two teachers.

[vi] NAEP Question B003801 for 9 year olds and B003901 for 13- and 17-year olds.

[vii] Met Life, Met Life Survey of the American Teacher: The Homework Experience , November 13, 2007, pp. 21-22.

[viii] Greenfeld, Karl Taro, “ My Daughter’s Homework Is Killing Me ,” The Atlantic , September 18, 2013. 

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Is Homework Good for Kids? Here's What the Research Says

A s kids return to school, debate is heating up once again over how they should spend their time after they leave the classroom for the day.

The no-homework policy of a second-grade teacher in Texas went viral last week , earning praise from parents across the country who lament the heavy workload often assigned to young students. Brandy Young told parents she would not formally assign any homework this year, asking students instead to eat dinner with their families, play outside and go to bed early.

But the question of how much work children should be doing outside of school remains controversial, and plenty of parents take issue with no-homework policies, worried their kids are losing a potential academic advantage. Here’s what you need to know:

For decades, the homework standard has been a “10-minute rule,” which recommends a daily maximum of 10 minutes of homework per grade level. Second graders, for example, should do about 20 minutes of homework each night. High school seniors should complete about two hours of homework each night. The National PTA and the National Education Association both support that guideline.

But some schools have begun to give their youngest students a break. A Massachusetts elementary school has announced a no-homework pilot program for the coming school year, lengthening the school day by two hours to provide more in-class instruction. “We really want kids to go home at 4 o’clock, tired. We want their brain to be tired,” Kelly Elementary School Principal Jackie Glasheen said in an interview with a local TV station . “We want them to enjoy their families. We want them to go to soccer practice or football practice, and we want them to go to bed. And that’s it.”

A New York City public elementary school implemented a similar policy last year, eliminating traditional homework assignments in favor of family time. The change was quickly met with outrage from some parents, though it earned support from other education leaders.

New solutions and approaches to homework differ by community, and these local debates are complicated by the fact that even education experts disagree about what’s best for kids.

The research

The most comprehensive research on homework to date comes from a 2006 meta-analysis by Duke University psychology professor Harris Cooper, who found evidence of a positive correlation between homework and student achievement, meaning students who did homework performed better in school. The correlation was stronger for older students—in seventh through 12th grade—than for those in younger grades, for whom there was a weak relationship between homework and performance.

Cooper’s analysis focused on how homework impacts academic achievement—test scores, for example. His report noted that homework is also thought to improve study habits, attitudes toward school, self-discipline, inquisitiveness and independent problem solving skills. On the other hand, some studies he examined showed that homework can cause physical and emotional fatigue, fuel negative attitudes about learning and limit leisure time for children. At the end of his analysis, Cooper recommended further study of such potential effects of homework.

Despite the weak correlation between homework and performance for young children, Cooper argues that a small amount of homework is useful for all students. Second-graders should not be doing two hours of homework each night, he said, but they also shouldn’t be doing no homework.

Not all education experts agree entirely with Cooper’s assessment.

Cathy Vatterott, an education professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, supports the “10-minute rule” as a maximum, but she thinks there is not sufficient proof that homework is helpful for students in elementary school.

“Correlation is not causation,” she said. “Does homework cause achievement, or do high achievers do more homework?”

Vatterott, the author of Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs , thinks there should be more emphasis on improving the quality of homework tasks, and she supports efforts to eliminate homework for younger kids.

“I have no concerns about students not starting homework until fourth grade or fifth grade,” she said, noting that while the debate over homework will undoubtedly continue, she has noticed a trend toward limiting, if not eliminating, homework in elementary school.

The issue has been debated for decades. A TIME cover in 1999 read: “Too much homework! How it’s hurting our kids, and what parents should do about it.” The accompanying story noted that the launch of Sputnik in 1957 led to a push for better math and science education in the U.S. The ensuing pressure to be competitive on a global scale, plus the increasingly demanding college admissions process, fueled the practice of assigning homework.

“The complaints are cyclical, and we’re in the part of the cycle now where the concern is for too much,” Cooper said. “You can go back to the 1970s, when you’ll find there were concerns that there was too little, when we were concerned about our global competitiveness.”

Cooper acknowledged that some students really are bringing home too much homework, and their parents are right to be concerned.

“A good way to think about homework is the way you think about medications or dietary supplements,” he said. “If you take too little, they’ll have no effect. If you take too much, they can kill you. If you take the right amount, you’ll get better.”

Write to Katie Reilly at [email protected] .

parents views on homework

K-12 Resources By Teachers, For Teachers Provided by the K-12 Teachers Alliance

The Value of Parents Helping with Homework

Dr. selena kiser.

Young girl and mom high-fiving while working on homework.

The importance of parents helping with homework is invaluable. Helping with homework is an important responsibility as a parent and directly supports the learning process. Parents’ experience and expertise is priceless. One of the best predictors of success in school is learning at home and being involved in children’s education. Parental involvement with homework helps develop self-confidence and motivation in the classroom. Parents helping students with homework has a multitude of benefits including spending individual time with children, enlightening strengths and weaknesses, making learning more meaningful, and having higher aspirations.

How Parental Involvement with Homework Impacts Students

Parental involvement with homework impacts students in a positive way. One of the most important reasons for parental involvement is that it helps alleviate stress and anxiety if the students are facing challenges with specific skills or topics. Parents have experience and expertise with a variety of subject matter and life experiences to help increase relevance. Parents help their children understand content and make it more meaningful, while also helping them understand things more clearly.

Also, their involvement increases skill and subject retention. Parents get into more depth about content and allow students to take skills to a greater level. Many children will always remember the times spent together working on homework or classroom projects. Parental involvement with homework and engagement in their child’s education are related to higher academic performance, better social skills and behavior, and increased self-confidence.

Parents helping with homework allows more time to expand upon subjects or skills since learning can be accelerated in the classroom. This is especially true in today’s classrooms. The curricula in many classrooms is enhanced and requires teaching a lot of content in a small amount of time. Homework is when parents and children can spend extra time on skills and subject matter. Parents provide relatable reasons for learning skills, and children retain information in greater depth.

Parental involvement increases creativity and induces critical-thinking skills in children. This creates a positive learning environment at home and transfers into the classroom setting. Parents have perspective on their children, and this allows them to support their weaknesses while expanding upon their strengths. The time together enlightens parents as to exactly what their child’s strengths and weaknesses are.

Virtual learning is now utilized nationwide, and parents are directly involved with their child’s schoolwork and homework. Their involvement is more vital now than ever. Fostering a positive homework environment is critical in virtual learning and assists children with technological and academic material.

Strategies for Including Parents in Homework

An essential strategy for including parents in homework is sharing a responsibility to help children meet educational goals. Parents’ commitment to prioritizing their child’s educational goals, and participating in homework supports a larger objective. Teachers and parents are specific about the goals and work directly with the child with classwork and homework. Teachers and parents collaboratively working together on children’s goals have larger and more long-lasting success. This also allows parents to be strategic with homework assistance.

A few other great examples of how to involve parents in homework are conducting experiments, assignments, or project-based learning activities that parents play an active role in. Interviewing parents is a fantastic way to be directly involved in homework and allows the project to be enjoyable. Parents are honored to be interviewed, and these activities create a bond between parents and children. Students will remember these assignments for the rest of their lives.

Project-based learning activities examples are family tree projects, leaf collections, research papers, and a myriad of other hands-on learning assignments. Children love working with their parents on these assignments as they are enjoyable and fun. This type of learning and engagement also fosters other interests. Conducting research is another way parents directly impact their child’s homework. This can be a subject the child is interested in or something they are unfamiliar with. Children and parents look forward to these types of homework activities.

Parents helping students with homework has a multitude of benefits. Parental involvement and engagement have lifelong benefits and creates a pathway for success. Parents provide autonomy and support, while modeling successful homework study habits.

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The Pros and Cons of Homework


Homework is a word that most students dread hearing. After hours upon hours of sitting in class , the last thing we want is more schoolwork over our precious weekends. While it’s known to be a staple of traditional schooling, homework has also become a rather divise topic. Some feel as though homework is a necessary part of school, while others believe that the time could be better invested. Should students have homework? Have a closer look into the arguments on both sides to decide for yourself.

A college student completely swamped with homework.

Photo by  energepic.com  from  Pexels

Why should students have homework, 1. homework encourages practice.

Many people believe that one of the positive effects of homework is that it encourages the discipline of practice. While it may be time consuming and boring compared to other activities, repetition is needed to get better at skills. Homework helps make concepts more clear, and gives students more opportunities when starting their career .

2. Homework Gets Parents Involved

Homework can be something that gets parents involved in their children’s lives if the environment is a healthy one. A parent helping their child with homework makes them take part in their academic success, and allows for the parent to keep up with what the child is doing in school. It can also be a chance to connect together.

3. Homework Teaches Time Management

Homework is much more than just completing the assigned tasks. Homework can develop time management skills , forcing students to plan their time and make sure that all of their homework assignments are done on time. By learning to manage their time, students also practice their problem-solving skills and independent thinking. One of the positive effects of homework is that it forces decision making and compromises to be made.

4. Homework Opens A Bridge Of Communication

Homework creates a connection between the student, the teacher, the school, and the parents. It allows everyone to get to know each other better, and parents can see where their children are struggling. In the same sense, parents can also see where their children are excelling. Homework in turn can allow for a better, more targeted educational plan for the student.

5. Homework Allows For More Learning Time

Homework allows for more time to complete the learning process. School hours are not always enough time for students to really understand core concepts, and homework can counter the effects of time shortages, benefiting students in the long run, even if they can’t see it in the moment.

6. Homework Reduces Screen Time

Many students in North America spend far too many hours watching TV. If they weren’t in school, these numbers would likely increase even more. Although homework is usually undesired, it encourages better study habits and discourages spending time in front of the TV. Homework can be seen as another extracurricular activity, and many families already invest a lot of time and money in different clubs and lessons to fill up their children’s extra time. Just like extracurricular activities, homework can be fit into one’s schedule.

A female student who doesn’t want to do homework.

The Other Side: Why Homework Is Bad

1. homework encourages a sedentary lifestyle.

Should students have homework? Well, that depends on where you stand. There are arguments both for the advantages and the disadvantages of homework.

While classroom time is important, playground time is just as important. If children are given too much homework, they won’t have enough playtime, which can impact their social development and learning. Studies have found that those who get more play get better grades in school , as it can help them pay closer attention in the classroom.

Children are already sitting long hours in the classroom, and homework assignments only add to these hours. Sedentary lifestyles can be dangerous and can cause health problems such as obesity. Homework takes away from time that could be spent investing in physical activity.

2. Homework Isn’t Healthy In Every Home

While many people that think homes are a beneficial environment for children to learn, not all homes provide a healthy environment, and there may be very little investment from parents. Some parents do not provide any kind of support or homework help, and even if they would like to, due to personal barriers, they sometimes cannot. Homework can create friction between children and their parents, which is one of the reasons why homework is bad .

3. Homework Adds To An Already Full-Time Job

School is already a full-time job for students, as they generally spend over 6 hours each day in class. Students also often have extracurricular activities such as sports, music, or art that are just as important as their traditional courses. Adding on extra hours to all of these demands is a lot for children to manage, and prevents students from having extra time to themselves for a variety of creative endeavors. Homework prevents self discovery and having the time to learn new skills outside of the school system. This is one of the main disadvantages of homework.

4. Homework Has Not Been Proven To Provide Results

Endless surveys have found that homework creates a negative attitude towards school, and homework has not been found to be linked to a higher level of academic success.

The positive effects of homework have not been backed up enough. While homework may help some students improve in specific subjects, if they have outside help there is no real proof that homework makes for improvements.

It can be a challenge to really enforce the completion of homework, and students can still get decent grades without doing their homework. Extra school time does not necessarily mean better grades — quality must always come before quantity.

Accurate practice when it comes to homework simply isn’t reliable. Homework could even cause opposite effects if misunderstood, especially since the reliance is placed on the student and their parents — one of the major reasons as to why homework is bad. Many students would rather cheat in class to avoid doing their homework at home, and children often just copy off of each other or from what they read on the internet.

5. Homework Assignments Are Overdone

The general agreement is that students should not be given more than 10 minutes a day per grade level. What this means is that a first grader should be given a maximum of 10 minutes of homework, while a second grader receives 20 minutes, etc. Many students are given a lot more homework than the recommended amount, however.

On average, college students spend as much as 3 hours per night on homework . By giving too much homework, it can increase stress levels and lead to burn out. This in turn provides an opposite effect when it comes to academic success.

The pros and cons of homework are both valid, and it seems as though the question of ‘‘should students have homework?’ is not a simple, straightforward one. Parents and teachers often are found to be clashing heads, while the student is left in the middle without much say.

It’s important to understand all the advantages and disadvantages of homework, taking both perspectives into conversation to find a common ground. At the end of the day, everyone’s goal is the success of the student.

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Making homework work at home: the parent's perspective


This article views homework through the eyes of parents in a rural area whose children with disabilities spent a majority of their time in general education classrooms. The qualitative analysis of data from individual interviews, focus groups, and parent action research logs yielded five themes: (a) Parents felt ill-prepared to help their children with homework; (b) parents wanted more information about the classroom teachers' expectations of their child and of their roles as parents in helping with homework; (c) parents wanted their children to be given individualized homework assignments; (d) parents valued hands-on homework and projects in which the whole family could participate; and (e) parents wanted a two-way communication system that would allow them to become partners on their child's instructional team.

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The Journal

parents views on homework

Latest Issue

Winter 2023.

Vol. 23, No. 1

The Case for (Quality) Homework

Why it improves learning, and how parents can help

parents views on homework

Janine Bempechat

Any parent who has battled with a child over homework night after night has to wonder: Do those math worksheets and book reports really make a difference to a student’s long-term success? Or is homework just a headache—another distraction from family time and downtime, already diminished by the likes of music and dance lessons, sports practices, and part-time jobs?

Allison, a mother of two middle-school girls from an affluent Boston suburb, describes a frenetic afterschool scenario: “My girls do gymnastics a few days a week, so homework happens for my 6th grader after gymnastics, at 6:30 p.m. She doesn’t get to bed until 9. My 8th grader does her homework immediately after school, up until gymnastics. She eats dinner at 9:15 and then goes to bed, unless there is more homework to do, in which case she’ll get to bed around 10.” The girls miss out on sleep, and weeknight family dinners are tough to swing.

Parental concerns about their children’s homework loads are nothing new. Debates over the merits of homework—tasks that teachers ask students to complete during non-instructional time—have ebbed and flowed since the late 19th century, and today its value is again being scrutinized and weighed against possible negative impacts on family life and children’s well-being.

Are American students overburdened with homework? In some middle-class and affluent communities, where pressure on students to achieve can be fierce, yes. But in families of limited means, it’s often another story. Many low-income parents value homework as an important connection to the school and the curriculum—even as their children report receiving little homework. Overall, high-school students relate that they spend less than one hour per day on homework, on average, and only 42 percent say they do it five days per week. In one recent survey by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a minimal 13 percent of 17-year-olds said they had devoted more than two hours to homework the previous evening (see Figure 1).

Recent years have seen an increase in the amount of homework assigned to students in grades K–2, and critics point to research findings that, at the elementary-school level, homework does not appear to enhance children’s learning. Why, then, should we burden young children and their families with homework if there is no academic benefit to doing it? Indeed, perhaps it would be best, as some propose, to eliminate homework altogether, particularly in these early grades.

On the contrary, developmentally appropriate homework plays a critical role in the formation of positive learning beliefs and behaviors, including a belief in one’s academic ability, a deliberative and effortful approach to mastery, and higher expectations and aspirations for one’s future. It can prepare children to confront ever-more-complex tasks, develop resilience in the face of difficulty, and learn to embrace rather than shy away from challenge. In short, homework is a key vehicle through which we can help shape children into mature learners.

The Homework-Achievement Connection

A narrow focus on whether or not homework boosts grades and test scores in the short run thus ignores a broader purpose in education, the development of lifelong, confident learners. Still, the question looms: does homework enhance academic success? As the educational psychologist Lyn Corno wrote more than two decades ago, “homework is a complicated thing.” Most research on the homework-achievement connection is correlational, which precludes a definitive judgment on its academic benefits. Researchers rely on correlational research in this area of study given the difficulties of randomly assigning students to homework/no-homework conditions. While correlation does not imply causality, extensive research has established that at the middle- and high-school levels, homework completion is strongly and positively associated with high achievement. Very few studies have reported a negative correlation.

As noted above, findings on the homework-achievement connection at the elementary level are mixed. A small number of experimental studies have demonstrated that elementary-school students who receive homework achieve at higher levels than those who do not. These findings suggest a causal relationship, but they are limited in scope. Within the body of correlational research, some studies report a positive homework-achievement connection, some a negative relationship, and yet others show no relationship at all. Why the mixed findings? Researchers point to a number of possible factors, such as developmental issues related to how young children learn, different goals that teachers have for younger as compared to older students, and how researchers define homework.

Certainly, young children are still developing skills that enable them to focus on the material at hand and study efficiently. Teachers’ goals for their students are also quite different in elementary school as compared to secondary school. While teachers at both levels note the value of homework for reinforcing classroom content, those in the earlier grades are more likely to assign homework mainly to foster skills such as responsibility, perseverance, and the ability to manage distractions.

Most research examines homework generally. Might a focus on homework in a specific subject shed more light on the homework-achievement connection? A recent meta-analysis did just this by examining the relationship between math/science homework and achievement. Contrary to previous findings, researchers reported a stronger relationship between homework and achievement in the elementary grades than in middle school. As the study authors note, one explanation for this finding could be that in elementary school, teachers tend to assign more homework in math than in other subjects, while at the same time assigning shorter math tasks more frequently. In addition, the authors point out that parents tend to be more involved in younger children’s math homework and more skilled in elementary-level than middle-school math.

In sum, the relationship between homework and academic achievement in the elementary-school years is not yet established, but eliminating homework at this level would do children and their families a huge disservice: we know that children’s learning beliefs have a powerful impact on their academic outcomes, and that through homework, parents and teachers can have a profound influence on the development of positive beliefs.

How Much Is Appropriate?

Harris M. Cooper of Duke University, the leading researcher on homework, has examined decades of study on what we know about the relationship between homework and scholastic achievement. He has proposed the “10-minute rule,” suggesting that daily homework be limited to 10 minutes per grade level. Thus, a 1st grader would do 10 minutes each day and a 4th grader, 40 minutes. The National Parent Teacher Association and the National Education Association both endorse this guideline, but it is not clear whether the recommended allotments include time for reading, which most teachers want children to do daily.

For middle-school students, Cooper and colleagues report that 90 minutes per day of homework is optimal for enhancing academic achievement, and for high schoolers, the ideal range is 90 minutes to two and a half hours per day. Beyond this threshold, more homework does not contribute to learning. For students enrolled in demanding Advanced Placement or honors courses, however, homework is likely to require significantly more time, leading to concerns over students’ health and well-being.

Notwithstanding media reports of parents revolting against the practice of homework, the vast majority of parents say they are highly satisfied with their children’s homework loads. The National Household Education Surveys Program recently found that between 70 and 83 percent of parents believed that the amount of homework their children had was “about right,” a result that held true regardless of social class, race/ethnicity, community size, level of education, and whether English was spoken at home.

Learning Beliefs Are Consequential

As noted above, developmentally appropriate homework can help children cultivate positive beliefs about learning. Decades of research have established that these beliefs predict the types of tasks students choose to pursue, their persistence in the face of challenge, and their academic achievement. Broadly, learning beliefs fall under the banner of achievement motivation, which is a constellation of cognitive, behavioral, and affective factors, including: the way a person perceives his or her abilities, goal-setting skills, expectation of success, the value the individual places on learning, and self-regulating behavior such as time-management skills. Positive or adaptive beliefs about learning serve as emotional and psychological protective factors for children, especially when they encounter difficulties or failure.

Motivation researcher Carol Dweck of Stanford University posits that children with a “growth mindset”—those who believe that ability is malleable—approach learning very differently than those with a “fixed mindset”—kids who believe ability cannot change. Those with a growth mindset view effort as the key to mastery. They see mistakes as helpful, persist even in the face of failure, prefer challenging over easy tasks, and do better in school than their peers who have a fixed mindset. In contrast, children with a fixed mindset view effort and mistakes as implicit condemnations of their abilities. Such children succumb easily to learned helplessness in the face of difficulty, and they gravitate toward tasks they know they can handle rather than more challenging ones.

Of course, learning beliefs do not develop in a vacuum. Studies have demonstrated that parents and teachers play a significant role in the development of positive beliefs and behaviors, and that homework is a key tool they can use to foster motivation and academic achievement.

Parents’ Beliefs and Actions Matter

It is well established that parental involvement in their children’s education promotes achievement motivation and success in school. Parents are their children’s first teachers, and their achievement-related beliefs have a profound influence on children’s developing perceptions of their own abilities, as well as their views on the value of learning and education.

Parents affect their children’s learning through the messages they send about education, whether by expressing interest in school activities and experiences, attending school events, helping with homework when they can, or exposing children to intellectually enriching experiences. Most parents view such engagement as part and parcel of their role. They also believe that doing homework fosters responsibility and organizational skills, and that doing well on homework tasks contributes to learning, even if children experience frustration from time to time.

Many parents provide support by establishing homework routines, eliminating distractions, communicating expectations, helping children manage their time, providing reassuring messages, and encouraging kids to be aware of the conditions under which they do their best work. These supports help foster the development of self-regulation, which is critical to school success.

Self-regulation involves a number of skills, such as the ability to monitor one’s performance and adjust strategies as a result of feedback; to evaluate one’s interests and realistically perceive one’s aptitude; and to work on a task autonomously. It also means learning how to structure one’s environment so that it’s conducive to learning, by, for example, minimizing distractions. As children move into higher grades, these skills and strategies help them organize, plan, and learn independently. This is precisely where parents make a demonstrable difference in students’ attitudes and approaches to homework.

Especially in the early grades, homework gives parents the opportunity to cultivate beliefs and behaviors that foster efficient study skills and academic resilience. Indeed, across age groups, there is a strong and positive relationship between homework completion and a variety of self-regulatory processes. However, the quality of parental help matters. Sometimes, well-intentioned parents can unwittingly undermine the development of children’s positive learning beliefs and their achievement. Parents who maintain a positive outlook on homework and allow their children room to learn and struggle on their own, stepping in judiciously with informational feedback and hints, do their children a much better service than those who seek to control the learning process.

A recent study of 5th and 6th graders’ perceptions of their parents’ involvement with homework distinguished between supportive and intrusive help. The former included the belief that parents encouraged the children to try to find the right answer on their own before providing them with assistance, and when the child struggled, attempted to understand the source of the confusion. In contrast, the latter included the perception that parents provided unsolicited help, interfered when the children did their homework, and told them how to complete their assignments. Supportive help predicted higher achievement, while intrusive help was associated with lower achievement.

Parents’ attitudes and emotions during homework time can support the development of positive attitudes and approaches in their children, which in turn are predictive of higher achievement. Children are more likely to focus on self-improvement during homework time and do better in school when their parents are oriented toward mastery. In contrast, if parents focus on how well children are doing relative to peers, kids tend to adopt learning goals that allow them to avoid challenge.

Homework and Social Class

Social class is another important element in the homework dynamic. What is the homework experience like for families with limited time and resources? And what of affluent families, where resources are plenty but the pressures to succeed are great?

Etta Kralovec and John Buell, authors of The End of Homework, maintain that homework “punishes the poor,” because lower-income parents may not be as well educated as their affluent counterparts and thus not as well equipped to help with homework. Poorer families also have fewer financial resources to devote to home computers, tutoring, and academic enrichment. The stresses of poverty—and work schedules—may impinge, and immigrant parents may face language barriers and an unfamiliarity with the school system and teachers’ expectations.

Yet research shows that low-income parents who are unable to assist with homework are far from passive in their children’s learning, and they do help foster scholastic performance. In fact, parental help with homework is not a necessary component for school success.

Brown University’s Jin Li queried low-income Chinese American 9th graders’ perceptions of their parents’ engagement with their education. Students said their immigrant parents rarely engaged in activities that are known to foster academic achievement, such as monitoring homework, checking it for accuracy, or attending school meetings or events. Instead, parents of higher achievers built three social networks to support their children’s learning. They designated “anchor” helpers both inside and outside the family who provided assistance; identified peer models for their children to emulate; and enlisted the assistance of extended kin to guide their children’s educational socialization. In a related vein, a recent analysis of survey data showed that Asian and Latino 5th graders, relative to native-born peers, were more likely to turn to siblings than parents for homework help.

Further, research demonstrates that low-income parents, recognizing that they lack the time to be in the classroom or participate in school governance, view homework as a critical connection to their children’s experiences in school. One study found that mothers enjoyed the routine and predictability of homework and used it as a way to demonstrate to children how to plan their time. Mothers organized homework as a family activity, with siblings doing homework together and older children reading to younger ones. In this way, homework was perceived as a collective practice wherein siblings could model effective habits and learn from one another.

In another recent study, researchers examined mathematics achievement in low-income 8th-grade Asian and Latino students. Help with homework was an advantage their mothers could not provide. They could, however, furnish structure (for example, by setting aside quiet time for homework completion), and it was this structure that most predicted high achievement. As the authors note, “It is . . . important to help [low-income] parents realize that they can still help their children get good grades in mathematics and succeed in school even if they do not know how to provide direct assistance with their child’s mathematics homework.”

The homework narrative at the other end of the socioeconomic continuum is altogether different. Media reports abound with examples of students, mostly in high school, carrying three or more hours of homework per night, a burden that can impair learning, motivation, and well-being. In affluent communities, students often experience intense pressure to cultivate a high-achieving profile that will be attractive to elite colleges. Heavy homework loads have been linked to unhealthy symptoms such as heightened stress, anxiety, physical complaints, and sleep disturbances. Like Allison’s 6th grader mentioned earlier, many students can only tackle their homework after they do extracurricular activities, which are also seen as essential for the college résumé. Not surprisingly, many students in these communities are not deeply engaged in learning; rather, they speak of “doing school,” as Stanford researcher Denise Pope has described, going through the motions necessary to excel, and undermining their physical and mental health in the process.

Fortunately, some national intervention initiatives, such as Challenge Success (co-founded by Pope), are heightening awareness of these problems. Interventions aimed at restoring balance in students’ lives (in part, by reducing homework demands) have resulted in students reporting an increased sense of well-being, decreased stress and anxiety, and perceptions of greater support from teachers, with no decrease in achievement outcomes.

What is good for this small segment of students, however, is not necessarily good for the majority. As Jessica Lahey wrote in Motherlode, a New York Times parenting blog, “homework is a red herring” in the national conversation on education. “Some otherwise privileged children may have too much, but the real issue lies in places where there is too little. . . . We shouldn’t forget that.”

My colleagues and I analyzed interviews conducted with lower-income 9th graders (African American, Mexican American, and European American) from two Northern California high schools that at the time were among the lowest-achieving schools in the state. We found that these students consistently described receiving minimal homework—perhaps one or two worksheets or textbook pages, the occasional project, and 30 minutes of reading per night. Math was the only class in which they reported having homework each night. These students noted few consequences for not completing their homework.

Indeed, greatly reducing or eliminating homework would likely increase, not diminish, the achievement gap. As Harris M. Cooper has commented, those choosing to opt their children out of homework are operating from a place of advantage. Children in higher-income families benefit from many privileges, including exposure to a larger range of language at home that may align with the language of school, access to learning and cultural experiences, and many other forms of enrichment, such as tutoring and academic summer camps, all of which may be cost-prohibitive for lower-income families. But for the 21 percent of the school-age population who live in poverty—nearly 11 million students ages 5–17—homework is one tool that can help narrow the achievement gap.

Community and School Support

Often, community organizations and afterschool programs can step up to provide structure and services that students’ need to succeed at homework. For example, Boys and Girls and 4-H clubs offer volunteer tutors as well as access to computer technology that students may not have at home. Many schools provide homework clubs or integrate homework into the afterschool program.

Home-school partnerships have succeeded in engaging parents with homework and significantly improving their children’s academic achievement. For example, Joyce Epstein of Johns Hopkins University has developed the TIPS model (Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork), which embraces homework as an integral part of family time. TIPS is a teacher-designed interactive program in which children and a parent or family member each have a specific role in the homework scenario. For example, children might show the parent how to do a mathematics task on fractions, explaining their reasoning along the way and reviewing their thinking aloud if they are unsure.

Evaluations show that elementary and middle-school students in classrooms that have adopted TIPS complete more of their homework than do students in other classrooms. Both students and parent participants show more positive beliefs about learning mathematics, and TIPS students show significant gains in writing skills and report-card science grades, as well as higher mathematics scores on standardized tests.

Another study found that asking teachers to send text messages to parents about their children’s missing homework resulted in increased parental monitoring of homework, consequences for missed assignments, and greater participation in parent-child conferences. Teachers reported fewer missed assignments and greater student effort in coursework, and math grades and GPA significantly improved.

Homework Quality Matters

Teachers favor homework for a number of reasons. They believe it fosters a sense of responsibility and promotes academic achievement. They note that homework provides valuable review and practice for students while giving teachers feedback on areas where students may need more support. Finally, teachers value homework as a way to keep parents connected to the school and their children’s educational experiences.

While students, to say the least, may not always relish the idea of doing homework, by high school most come to believe there is a positive relationship between doing homework and doing well in school. Both higher and lower achievers lament “busywork” that doesn’t promote learning. They crave high-quality, challenging assignments—and it is this kind of homework that has been associated with higher achievement.

What constitutes high-quality homework? Assignments that are developmentally appropriate and meaningful and that promote self-efficacy and self-regulation. Meaningful homework is authentic, allowing students to engage in solving problems with real-world relevance. More specifically, homework tasks should make efficient use of student time and have a clear purpose connected to what they are learning. An artistic rendition of a period in history that would take hours to complete can become instead a diary entry in the voice of an individual from that era. By allowing a measure of choice and autonomy in homework, teachers foster in their students a sense of ownership, which bolsters their investment in the work.

High-quality homework also fosters students’ perceptions of their own competence by 1) focusing them on tasks they can accomplish without help; 2) differentiating tasks so as to allow struggling students to experience success; 3) providing suggested time frames rather than a fixed period of time in which a task should be completed; 4) delivering clearly and carefully explained directions; and 5) carefully modeling methods for attacking lengthy or complex tasks. Students whose teachers have trained them to adopt strategies such as goal setting, self-monitoring, and planning develop a number of personal assets—improved time management, increased self-efficacy, greater effort and interest, a desire for mastery, and a decrease in helplessness.

Excellence with Equity

Currently, the United States has the second-highest disparity between time spent on homework by students of low socioeconomic status and time spent by their more-affluent peers out of the 34 OECD-member nations participating in the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) (see Figure 2). Noting that PISA studies have consistently found that spending more time on math homework strongly correlates with higher academic achievement, the report’s authors suggest that the homework disparity may reflect lower teacher expectations for low-income students. If so, this is truly unfortunate. In and of itself, low socioeconomic status is not an impediment to academic achievement when appropriate parental, school, and community supports are deployed. As research makes clear, low-income parents support their children’s learning in varied ways, not all of which involve direct assistance with schoolwork. Teachers can orient students and parents toward beliefs that foster positive attitudes toward learning. Indeed, where homework is concerned, a commitment to excellence with equity is both worthwhile and attainable.

In affluent communities, parents, teachers, and school districts might consider reexamining the meaning of academic excellence and placing more emphasis on leading a balanced and well-rounded life. The homework debate in the United States has been dominated by concerns over the health and well-being of such advantaged students. As legitimate as these worries are, it’s important to avoid generalizing these children’s experiences to those with fewer family resources. Reducing or eliminating homework, though it may be desirable in some advantaged communities, would deprive poorer children of a crucial and empowering learning experience. It would also eradicate a fertile opportunity to help close the achievement gap.

Janine Bempechat is clinical professor of human development at the Boston University Wheelock College of Education and Human Development.

An unabridged version of this article is available here .

For more, please see “ The Top 20 Education Next Articles of 2022 .”

This article appeared in the Winter 2019 issue of Education Next . Suggested citation format:

Bempechat, J. (2019). The Case for (Quality) Homework: Why it improves learning, and how parents can help . Education Next, 19 (1), 36-43.

Last updated October 10, 2018

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Parents’ Role in Homework

parents views on homework

What can you do then to support your children in learning and help them take ownership?

When I was a classroom teacher, it wasn’t hard to tell which kids were getting too much outside help from their parents. A project and poster would look like a graphics team had created it, or a homework paper would be perfect, but the student would fail the test on the same material.

Today the urge to get overinvolved in homework is just as great, and perhaps even greater because some experts say that many parents “consumed with overprotective zeal” are coddling their kids through homework, correcting their errors or even doing the papers for them Karen Guzman, “Whose homework is it?” The News & Observer , Charlotte, NC, May 3, 2005, Section E, pp. 1-3 .

Telltale clues of overinvolvement are when parents say “ Our project is taking a lot of time,” or “ We have so much homework tonight!” Actually, it’s the child’s project and homework, and even though parents are just trying to help, if they take over, kids start thinking, Why care or put out so much effort? Mom and Dad will do it for me!

What can you do then to support your children in learning and help them take ownership? The first step is to build responsibility . Kids who learn responsibility at home (by doing a few daily, age-appropriate chores and completing their own homework assignments) tend to be more competent and successful at school.

You should provide an organized study area (with good light, paper, and color-coded file folders to keep papers in, and let them choose some of their own supplies) because disorganization causes stress and distracts from the learning process. Children need a break and physical play after school, but then you need to establish a fixed place in your house and a regular time for homework and reading because it helps build a strong “mental set” for studying.

Another thing you can do is show your child how to break assignments into doable bites so the pressure won’t be on the night before due date (when you’re more tempted to pick up the ball and do the project for him so he won’t get a zero) — but then expect your child to do the work. Teach good study strategies that build on your child’s learning strengths — but let him or her keep the “ownership” of the homework and school responsibilities.

And if he’s done a math problem incorrectly, show him how to work a similar problem but let him be the one to correct it on his worksheet. When parents repeatedly bail kids out if they fail to do their work, the kids don’t learn responsibility or use their own abilities. But when you encourage self-reliance and responsibility, you’ll be empowering your child with an “I can do it” kind of attitude.

Adapted from Handbook on Choosing Your Child’s Education , a Focus on the Family book published by Tyndale House Publishers. Copyright © 2007, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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Cheri Fuller is an award-winning author, a popular conference speaker and a frequent guest on many national TV and radio programs. She is also the executive director of the Oklahoma Messages Project, a nonprofit organization that serves children of incarcerated parents. Cheri has written more than 45 books including  What a Girl Needs From Her Mom, What a Son Needs From His Mom, When Mothers Pray  and The One Year Women’s Friendship Devotional.  Cheri and her husband, Holmes, reside in Oklahoma. They have three grown children and six grandchildren. Learn more about Cheri by visiting her website: www.cherifuller.com

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Swedish parents’ perspectives on homework: manifestations of principled pragmatism


Parents, homework and children’s learning, framing the research question, closing thoughts.

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Additional information, original article.

Motivated by earlier research highlighting Swedish teachers’ beliefs that the setting of homework compromises deep-seated principles of educational equity, this paper presents an exploratory study of Swedish parents’ perspectives on homework in their year-one children’s learning. Twenty-five parents, drawn from three demographically different schools in the Stockholm region, participated in semi-structured interviews. The interviews, broadly focused on how parents support their children’s learning and including questions about homework in general and mathematics homework in particular, were transcribed and data subjected to a constant comparison analytical process. This yielded four broad themes, highlighting considerable variation in how parents perceive the relationship between homework and educational equity. First, all parents spoke appreciatively of their children receiving reading homework and, in so doing, indicated a collective construal that reading homework is neither homework nor a threat to equity. Second, four parents, despite their enthusiasm for reading homework, opposed the setting of any homework due to its potential compromise of family life. Third, seven parents indicated that they would appreciate mathematics homework where it were not a threat to equity. Finally, fourteen parents, despite acknowledging homework’s potential compromise to equity, were unequivocally in favour of mathematics homework being set to their children.

A recent study found Swedish teachers of year-one children conflicted by homework, arguing, essentially, that unless children can complete homework independently of parental intervention, variation in home background will comprise principles of educational equity (Sayers, Petersson, Marschall, & Andrews, Citation 2020 ). In this paper, we extend this work by presenting an interview study of Swedish parents’ perspectives on the role of homework in year-one children’s learning and, in so doing, highlight the extent to which Swedish parents also find themselves conflicted by personal desires to facilitate their children’s learning and a collective commitment to equity.

Despite much research on the matter, the nature and efficacy of homework remains both contested and uncertain. From the perspective of its function, Epstein and Van Voorhis ( Citation 2001 , p. 181), in an almost whimsical summary of the literature, synthesised ten broad purposes related to “practice, preparation, participation, personal development, parent–child relations, parent–teacher communications, peer interactions, policy, public relations, and punishment”. With respect to its classroom manifestation, primary teachers typically use homework to review material, secondary teachers use it to prepare students for subsequent lessons (Muhlenbruck, Cooper, Nye, & Lindsay, Citation 1999 ), while students at the border benefit from homework presented as extensions to current work (Rosário et al., Citation 2015 ). Other studies have shown that the amount of homework and the time given to it are less significant indicators of achievement than the extent to which homework is completed (Fan, Xu, Cai, He, & Fan, Citation 2017 ; Ramdass & Zimmerman, Citation 2011 ), while others seem to say the opposite (Kitsantas, Cheema, & Ware, Citation 2011 ). Also, emphases on drill and practice are counterproductive (Trautwein, Niggli, Schnyder, & Lüdtke, Citation 2009 ), while out-of-school homework has an impact on achievement that in-school homework does not (Keith, Diamond-Hallam, & Fine, Citation 2004 ).

While some scholars have suggested that little research has been conducted into the relationship between parents and their children’s homework (Doctoroff & Arnold, Citation 2017 ), our view is that there has been sufficient to confirm its ambivalence, particularly from the perspective of parents wishing to know how they might best complement schools’ expectations. Indeed, so much material has been published that meta-analyses are both increasingly commonplace and diverse in their conclusions. For example, one meta-analysis found that parental monitoring of homework was negatively related to achievement at all age levels (Patall, Cooper, & Robinson, Citation 2008 ), while others found that it has a small but statistically insignificant negative effect on achievement for primary-aged children (Jeynes, Citation 2005 ) but a statistically significant positive impact on secondary-aged children’s achievement (Jeynes, Citation 2007 ).

Other meta-analyses, focusing on the impact of the broad construct of parental homework involvement, found small positive associations with the achievement of both elementary and high school students (Barger, Kim, Kuncel, & Pomerantz, Citation 2019 ; Patall et al., Citation 2008 ). However, the same two studies differed in respect of the impact of parental homework on middle school children’s achievement, with the former yielding positive and the latter negative associations. The greatest diversity of findings, however, seem to coalesce around meta-analyses examining the impact of parental homework help on children’s achievement. On the one hand, there are studies showing negative associations between homework assistance and children’s achievement, both generally (Barger et al., Citation 2019 ) and at the particular level of middle school students (Hill & Tyson, Citation 2009 ). On the other hand, there are studies showing, irrespective of student age, positive associations between homework assistance and children’s achievement (Ariës & Cabus, Citation 2015 ; Patall et al., Citation 2008 ). By way of contrast, there are also meta-analyses concluding that homework assistance is unrelated to academic achievement (Wilder, Citation 2014 ). In other words, the various meta-analyses have not proved especially helpful with respect to how parents might meaningfully support their children, whether concerning homework monitoring, homework assistance of general homework involvement.

Shifting attention from meta-analyses, many studies have, de facto, drawn on the distinction between mastery goals and performance goals, constructs that can be traced back to the work of Elliott and Dweck ( Citation 1988 ), which have been associated with autonomy-related support and controlling behaviour respectively (Gonida & Cortina, Citation 2014 ). In this respect, autonomy support, which concerns “the ability of parents to guide children’s participation in learning activities by tailoring adequate levels of support to the child without over-control or interference” (Doctoroff & Arnold, Citation 2017 , p. 104), has been found to lead to greater achievement than support focused on competence alone (Cooper, Lindsay, & Nye, Citation 2000 ; Dettmers, Yotyodying, & Jonkmann, Citation 2019 ; Gonzalez-dehass, Willems, & Holbein, Citation 2005 ; Madjar, Shklar, & Moshe, Citation 2016 ; Pomerantz, Moorman, & Litwack, Citation 2007 ). In the context of Sweden, however, parents’ autonomy support appears to benefit only those students with a disposition for systemising, or “the drive to analyse systems in the physical environment, and to make predictions about the behaviour of those systems (Jungert & Koestner, Citation 2015 , p. 363). In sum, despite occasional ambivalence, parental homework support focused on autonomy appears more productive than support focused on performance.

In related vein, parental behaviour supportive of their children’s psychological needs not only benefits their children’s mental health (Pomerantz et al., Citation 2007 ) but impacts positively on both their homework-related motivation (Katz, Kaplan, & Buzukashvily, Citation 2011 ) and effort (Feng, Xie, Gong, Gao, & Cao, Citation 2019 ). Moreover, when parents perceive their children as succeeding with homework, their support adopts an autonomous focus that reinforces that success (Dumont, Trautwein, Nagy, & Nagengast, Citation 2014 ). However, homework-related involvement that is either controlling or negative compromises both children’s achievement (Dumont et al., Citation 2012 ; Pressman, Owens, Evans, & Nemon, Citation 2014 ) and emotional well-being (Offer, Citation 2013 ) in reciprocal ways (Dumont et al., Citation 2014 ). In other words, it is the quality of parental homework support that influences achievement rather than quantity or, importantly, any temptation to interfere, which children are likely to interpret negatively (Moroni, Dumont, Trautwein, Niggli, & Baeriswyl, Citation 2015 ; Pezdek, Berry, & Renno, Citation 2002 ). Indeed, one of the meta-analyses discussed above found that the setting of rules about homework’s completion had a stronger positive relationship with achievement than all other actions (Patall et al., Citation 2008 ).

Separate from their actions, which may be as much a consequence of habit as any articulated justification (Davidovitch & Yavich, Citation 2017 ), the role of parents’ beliefs and attitudes has been extensively researched. From the perspective of justifying their homework-related support, US parents believe homework to be a necessary element of the educational process (Liang, Peters, Akaba, Lomidze, & Graves, Citation 2020 ). They get involved because they believe they should be involved, that their involvement makes a difference, and that both teachers and children expect it (Hoover-Dempsey et al., Citation 2001 ). However, despite their general enthusiasm and evidence that they may even derive personal gratification from homework-related support (Levin et al., Citation 1997 ), parents are less positive about homework’s role than are teachers (Cooper, Lindsay, Nye, & Greathouse, Citation 1998 ; Davidovitch & Yavich, Citation 2017 ). In Sweden, where parents typically believe their children should do their homework independently, their desire to be seen as responsible parents makes it difficult for them not to intervene (Forsberg, Citation 2007 ).

Importantly, students’ homework-related attitudes are greatly influenced by their parents’ homework-related beliefs and attitudes (Cooper et al., Citation 1998 ), frequently reinforcing gender stereotypes (Bhanot & Jovanovic, Citation 2005 ). Parents who espouse mastery goals tend to provide autonomy-related support, while parental beliefs about performance are matched by controlling behaviours at both primary and secondary levels (Gonida & Cortina, Citation 2014 ). Indeed, several studies have shown that the more parents believe their children to be failing at school the more they intervene instructionally with, typically, negative results (Hoglund, Jones, Brown, & Aber, Citation 2015 ; Pressman et al., Citation 2015 ; Silinskas, Niemi, Lerkkanen, & Nurmi, Citation 2012 ). Moreover, while many parents feel unprepared or unable to meet the expectations laid upon them (Collier-Meek & Sanetti, Citation 2019 ; Kay, Fitzgerald, Paradee, & Mellencamp, Citation 1994 ; Sheridan, Ryoo, Garbacz, Kunz, & Chumney, Citation 2013 ), a wider problem is that as parents’ beliefs in their ability to support their children declines the more family stress is experienced (Pressman et al., Citation 2015 ). Indeed, homework may cause considerable family stress (Kralovec & Buell, Citation 2000 ; Solomon, Warin, & Lewis, Citation 2002 ) and broaden class divides (Kralovec & Buell, Citation 2000 ). In sum, parents’ beliefs play an important role in defining how they choose to support their children, with autonomy-related beliefs being more productive than performance-related beliefs. Moreover, parental over-reactions to perceptions of failure are likely to compound such failure.

Finally, located in assumptions about mothers being principally responsible for parenting, several studies have examined various aspects of mothers’ relationship with their children’s homework. From the perspective of their homework-related beliefs, many mothers see homework as way of facilitating family time and keeping on top of what children do in school (Fox, Citation 2016 ). Others, however, feel compelled to uphold an ideology that good mothering means supporting homework (Lehner-Mear, Citation 2020 ). From a behavioural perspective, increasing maternal intervention reduces children’s persistence (Viljaranta et al., Citation 2018 ) and has no impact on children’s academic development (Levin et al., Citation 1997 ) and may even impede it (Silinskas, Kiuru, Aunola, Lerkkanen, & Nurmi, Citation 2015 ). In particular, the more mothers perceive their child to be struggling, the more frequent and the more controlling their interventions, with, reciprocally, poorer academic performance and lower self-concept, particularly for boys (Levin et al., Citation 1997 ; Silinskas & Kikas, Citation 2019 ; Silinskas et al., Citation 2015 ). That said, confirming the above, primary-aged children’s engagement and achievement is enhanced by autonomy-supportive maternal behaviours (Doctoroff & Arnold, Citation 2017 ; Silinskas et al., Citation 2015 ), particularly when they have negative self-perceptions of competence (Pomerantz, Ng, & Wang, Citation 2006 ). Mothers and children’s homework-related emotions are not only correlated but implicated in their children’s achievement (Else-Quest et al., Citation 2008 ). In sum, research undertaken on mothers and their children’s homework generally confirms the trends identified for parents in general.

Swedish education is premised on deep-seated principles of equity. Indeed, the rubric of the Swedish national curriculum emphasises the importance of educational equity, particularly with respect to preparing children for life in a participative democracy (Skolverket, Citation 2018 ). There are no fee-paying schools and all children without exception follow the same broad curriculum throughout their nine years of compulsory school. There is no explicit segregation within schools, although there is implicit segregation between schools due to increased parental choice and the flight of affluent parents from less affluent areas (Andersson, Malmberg, & Östh, Citation 2012 ; Yang Hansen & Gustafsson, Citation 2016 ). Highlighting expectations of reciprocal roles and responsibilities, whereby “parental involvement and good parenthood are closely connected” (Wingard & Forsberg, Citation 2009 , p. 1578), schools are expected to create collaborative partnerships between themselves and parents (Åkerström, Aytar, & Brunnberg, Citation 2015 ; Forsberg, Citation 2007 ). This means, typically, that parents are expected to participate in their children’s regular teacher meetings (Niia, Almqvist, Brunnberg, & Granlund, Citation 2015 ) and involve themselves in various school-based activities (Wingard & Forsberg, Citation 2009 ).

From a systemic perspective, educational equity and the role of parents in the completion of homework are uneasy companions. On the one hand, since 2013, parents who purchase homework tuition are entitled to tax relief, an innovation that not only legitimates the role of homework in children’s learning but positions those who can afford such materials as good parents (Svensson, Meaney, & Norén, Citation 2014 ). On the other hand, the National Agency for Education, whose national curriculum offers no explicit encouragement for teachers to set homework, recently published an evaluation of 10 schools’ homework-related support practices (Skolverket, Citation 2014 ) “designed to help schools take away the responsibilities from parents and contribute to more equal possibilities for students to succeed and manage homework” (Gurdal & Sorbring, Citation 2019 , p. 106). In other words, the state’s message to parents with respect to homework is ambivalent.

What are the (mathematics) homework-related views of parents of Swedish year-one children?

Finally, by way of explanation, the research question posed above includes the word mathematics in parentheses. This is because the interview data on which analyses were based, framed by questions focusing on year-one children’ learning of number, yielded results in which mathematics was not always visible.

Following the approach used to elicit Swedish teachers’ views on the role of homework in year-one children’s learning of number (Sayers et al., Citation 2020 ), schools’ principals were approached to elicit their support for the project and invited to act as conduits through which parents could be contacted. Initially, the principals of three schools were approached in demographically different areas in and around Stockholm. Due to their locations, we have labelled the schools Centre, Suburb and Satellite. It is important to note that in the context of Stockholm, city centre schools generally cater for families of relatively high socio-economic status, suburban schools serve ethnically mixed communities of relatively low socio-economic status, while the satellite town reflects a mixture of all characteristics.

With the principals’ support, 22 interviews, timed to coincide with parents’ visits to schools for their children’s development talks (utvecklingssamtal), were undertaken in private rooms in the different schools, while a further three were held at parent’s workplaces. Twenty-five interviews were thought to be sufficient for establishing thematic saturation in such contexts (Guest, Bunce, & Johnson, Citation 2006 ). Parents, informed of their rights, gave written consent to their participation. Interviews, lasting around 30 minutes, were recorded for later transcription. The interviews were structured by a series of broad questions focused on how parents construe their roles in relation to their children’s learning of mathematics in general and basic number in particular. Thus, for example, one broad question invited parents to talk about the sorts of mathematics-related activities they encourage at home. However, motivated by the outcomes of earlier interviews with teachers, questions concerning parents’ homework-related beliefs and actions were included.

A study motivated by the desire to elicit parents’ perspectives on homework implies an approach that would privilege both the parent voice and facilitate emergent insights. A methodology commensurate with such ambitions is grounded theory (Charmaz, Citation 2008 ; Conlon, Carney, Timonen, & Scharf, Citation 2015 ; Hardman, Citation 2013 ), being explicitly a bottom-up rather than a top-down process (Harry, Sturges, & Klingner, Citation 2005 ). Classical grounded theory involves a cyclical process of data being collected and analysed, before more data are collected and analysed to elaborate on the themes emerging from earlier analyses (Glaser, Citation 1978 ; Wasserman, Clair, & Wilson, Citation 2009 ). Its analytical process, constant comparison, is “a process of coding data and then grouping those codes into concepts in an increasingly hierarchical fashion … in grounded theory everything begins with the data” (Wasserman et al., Citation 2009 , p. 358). Theories developed in this manner are typically generated “without any presuppositions on the part of the analyst as to what patterns would emerge” (Hardman, Citation 2013 , p. 638).

That being said, funding arrangements necessitated interviews being completed within a short period of time, making classical grounded theory an impossibility. However, despite this divergence from the methodological norm, constant comparison is particularly appropriate for analysing interview data (See, for example, Andrews & Hatch, Citation 2002 ; Boeije, Citation 2002 ; Conlon et al., Citation 2015 ). Procedurally, the first phase of the analysis was undertaken independently by two members of the authorial team. Each person took a different random transcript, which was read and reread and codes indicative of the informant’s stance on homework identified. A second transcript was then read and reread with the dual goal of refining the codes yielded by the first transcript and identifying new codes not previously noted. In the latter case, the first transcript was then reread to see if the new codes had, in fact, been present. The process was repeated until all transcripts had been read and coded. Following these independent analyses, the two sets of codes were discussed within the whole authorial team and broad categories identified and clustered into the themes discussed below. As the team worked, it was conscious of the need to both support and challenge emergent codes (Charmaz, Citation 2008 ; Harry et al., Citation 2005 ). Finally, in order to minimise the loss of contextual meaning, transcripts were analysed in Swedish before quotes selected for inclusion in this paper were translated into English. This latter process typically entailed transforming Swedish idioms into forms recognisable to an English-speaker without losing the speaker’s intended meaning (Kvale & Brinkmann, Citation 2009 ).

As indicated above, when undertaking constant comparison analyses researchers should be alert to unexpected, unanticipated or unpredictable outcomes (Charmaz, Citation 2008 ; Conlon et al., Citation 2015 ; Glaser, Citation 1978 ). This study was no exception. Despite interview questions being framed by mathematics, parents’ responses were as likely to avoid mathematics as not. Indeed, the analytical process described above yielded four broad themes, of which only two addressed mathematics explicitly. These broad themes highlighted considerable inconsistencies in most parents’ perspectives on the role of homework in their children’s learning. The first theme, drawing on the comments of all informants, alluded to parents’ satisfaction with their children’s receiving reading homework. The second theme, seemingly at odds with the first, drew on the comments of a minority of parents who opposed the setting of homework. These parents we labelled as homework-negative. The third theme drew on the comments of those parents whom we have described as homework-ambivalent. While these parents were generally uncertain about the value of homework, typically because it had the potential to compromise principles of educational equity, they still wished for their children to receive mathematics homework. The final theme drew on the comments of fourteen parents who expressed a desire for mathematics homework. These parents, who all acknowledged a potential compromise to equity, we have described as homework-positive.

Before presenting the results, however, it is important to acknowledge that the results may have been influenced by at least three contextual factors. First, it is not unreasonable to assume that parents with children in the same school may have similar views about various aspects of homework. Second, parents who volunteer for interview are more likely to be positively involved in their children’s schooling than parents who do not (Cooper et al., Citation 1998 ). Third, despite demographic differences across the three schools, the parents of this study were generally well-educated.

Finally, to preserve anonymity and make for ease of reporting, all parents were given codes determined by their child’s school and a unique reference number. Thus, the one parent from Satellite School was designated Sat 1. The fifteen parents from Suburb School were designated Sub 2 through Sub 16, while the nine parents from Centre School were designated Cen 17 through Cen 25.

Parents views on reading homework

reading homework once a week. They bring with them a reading book and a writing book and then there are questions on the homework. They should read, they will primarily practice reading, and then they will answer questions and then submit it”

we get reading homework. We should read 10 minutes every day. That’s what he gets … (My role) is to keep track of whether there is any [homework] and make sure that it gets done or that I try to make sure it gets done. You listen when he reads and help when needed. After, I am expected to make notes on a reading protocol; the number of pages and any comments.

In sum, the comments of all parents indicated a pragmatic approval of the value of reading homework.

Parents expressing negative views about homework

I don’t think you need homework. It is very important that leisure time is and remains leisure time, even for adults. It is natural for any of us to take work home with us. We’ll do that. We may not have a choice. But kids should have that choice. I fully agree that the children should not be given homework.

He continued by suggesting that “homework as an instrument for learning at home is unnecessary. The child should be entitled to his or her free time. Homework should be done in school if you should now call it homework”. This latter point was repeated by Sub 7, who commented that “I think you should do your homework in school”, before adding that “I think you should do your homework half an hour or an hour before you go home. When you are left in school, there are resources to get help from”.

I think that children should learn their subjects in school from educators, who have pedagogical training and who can teach … see what the children are and teach them the right way … I don’t think we parents are capable enough to teach them properly. We can teach them … but maybe not always the right way.

I’m sceptical of homework on the whole … but with homework, I think it’s hard when you get home. It just becomes an annoyance. Then you go through the tasks, but only because it is a must, not because you want to understand. Then the question is how much of it goes in. It will probably only be surface learning”.

In sum, while all seemed to concede the value of homework in support of reading, all four offered different arguments for their opposition to homework more generally.

Parents expressing ambivalent views about homework

Seven parents offered comments indicative of uncertain beliefs about the role of homework in their year-one children’s learning. For some, these were expressed in short statements, as with Cen 23’s “I really do not know about this” and Sub 10’s “I am split over it”. Others indicated an awareness that homework in Sweden is a contested practice, as with Sub 13’s, “I don’t really know what I think … it’s a matter of dispute. I’m not really sure where I stand actually” and Sub 15’s “I think it’s a very complex question. Should you have homework at all? Different parents probably have different opinions about it. I think it is problematic”. Finally, one parent, Sub 11, confidently asserted that “as far as I understand, there is not much evidence that homework is particularly good”. That being said, all seven offered principled concerns over homework while, at the same time, justifying why their children should receive some.

places very high demands on the family. Not all children have the same conditions and this creates inequality … If you have a family, maybe with two parents who live together, who have an education that they feel secure with and who are in the know, then I think their child will automatically receive support if the family is functional. But if you do not come from such a background, then it is much more difficult. Then you are more excluded. I think it is problematic to place a lot of responsibility for learning on the family. Because then an inequality arises quite quickly, which cannot be compensated.

the brain needs different kinds of activities for us to develop and feel good. And it can also, be very worthwhile to have free time too. A time to let … to relax, for creativity. I think that’s more how it works over time. Then you also know that in the morning the brain is at its most alert. So, it is probably more, most effective, that one should be learning while you have that energy. Then it is quite natural in the evening to do more relaxing and less mentally demanding things to get a total mix.

homework could meet a need for me. That I could see that ‘now you (my child) are at this level and now you are learning this’. So, it’s probably for my own and not so much for the sake of the children.

Both Sub 11 and Cen 23 saw value in homework if a child was struggling with something at school, with the former saying that “if there is a need to strengthen from home, then I am not negative about it”. Sub 13 spoke of doing “practical stuff at home. “how many steps are here?”, “which is the middle one?”, “how many steps above and below?” … and such’, while Cen 25, having also articulated the value of such home-initiated activity, acknowledged a sense of guilt in her comment that “it still becomes unequal because we are engaged and other parents may be less involved”. Finally, Sub 10, closely reflecting the views of Sub 9, commented that homework “should be something that fulfils a function. It shouldn’t be a homework just to be a homework”.

Overall, these seven parents seemed conflicted by homework. All expressed uncertainty, and warranted their uncertainties in principled ways, typically pertaining to equity or the stress homework places on learners. However, all, pleased that their children received reading homework, offered a range of pragmatic justifications to support their desires for mathematics homework.

Parents expressing positive views about homework

If I am to be honest, I think a little homework is good, that you should start with a little. Because in high school it is not like that. Therefore, I think you need to learn a little how to do homework … maybe not every day, but some days every week so that you have some structure.

Others spoke more generally of homework as a preparation for life, as in Cen 20’s comment that “I guess it’s clear that sometimes they have to take things home. I guess it’s nothing strange. So do I”, while Sub 16 added, “you can have homework sometime in the week, and one homework may not take as much time … I see it as learning for life”. In sum, for these parents, homework serves long-term pragmatic purposes unrelated to a child’s immediate learning and any concerns about equity.

I would love to have homework. Partly because you get more insight into schoolwork, that’s not very easy to get. You have your full-time job. You pick up (the children) from leisure and it just rolls on. If they have homework, they can much more easily see what they have done. One becomes more involved than simply asking “What have you done in school?”. They just say “maths, Swedish and English”. Then they say nothing more.

Taken together, it seems clear that for a small number of parents, homework provides a way of monitoring what children do in school. It is a pragmatic perspective and one unrelated to any concerns about equity or subject area.

It’s not good. It should be at least once a week. At home I try to … he wants to keep on with his maths, he wants to memorise all the times (multiplications) … But there should be homework. Because I want to know his performance level … I had a meeting with the teacher who said that ‘he has a problem with this; 2, 4, 6 … He counts like this 2 … 4 … 6 [probably counting numbers between quietly]. I would like to have some homework on this because it is new to him … I just want a little bit of homework at home, like once a week. He will memorize everything and not forget anything.

if you have ten minutes a day of reading homework, then you might … spend five minutes on maths. So, I think you should be able to have some kind of mathematics homework a couple of times a week. Or for that matter, you have one that runs throughout the week … I think it is good with each week, because otherwise it is so easy that both children and parents forget. Some weekly homework … . After all, we feel that it works well in school.

It’s not one size fits all (dra alla över en kam), because everyone has such different conditions. If some (parents) work shifts, then they can’t help at home with homework. Others have poorer study backgrounds and such like … After all, it is difficult when there is such a large spread in what one could expect from parents … Then it would be worthwhile with resources from the school … for the school to do even more, so that not too much ends up with the parents. One has heard of … a mathematics club in the afternoon at school and you can get help doing the homework there from some good mathematics teacher.

Others added that while homework may be desirable, it should be, as noted by Cen 22, “like the reading homework and not require any knowledge from the parents … Homework introducing new material can create unequal situations in how much help parents can give”, before adding that, “it is well that one (the parent) should be involved. And a little responsibility can be placed on parents perhaps for just those sorts of routine practice of number skills”.

In sum, the majority of interviewed parents expressed positive views about the posing of mathematics homework. Interestingly, while many members of this group mentioned potential threats to equity, few did not speak of routine tasks requiring little or no interventions on their part. In other words, with few exceptions, parents’ pragmatic desires were tempered by acknowledgements, implicit and explicit, of equity.

In an earlier paper, Sayers et al. ( Citation 2020 ) found Swedish year one teachers’ perspectives on homework informed by a clearly articulated awareness that variation in home background compromises principles of equity. In this paper, motivated by that earlier study and drawing on similarly structured interviews, we have examined the homework-related views of parents of year-one children. Data, which were subjected to the constant comparison analytical processes of the grounded theorists, yielded four broad categories of response. Importantly, acknowledging that constant comparison requires analysts to be mindful of unanticipated or unpredictable outcomes (Charmaz, Citation 2008 ), it was a surprise, despite interview questions being framed by mathematics, invoked it explicitly.

The first theme, drawing on parents’ comments about reading homework, highlighted not only the fact that every child implicated in the study received reading homework but that every parent supported and encouraged it. In other words, parents see helping their children learn to read as a natural responsibility (Epstein & Van Voorhis, Citation 2012 ; Forsberg, Citation 2007 ; Hoover-Dempsey, Bassler, & Burow, Citation 1995 ) and may even derive pleasure from so doing (Levin et al., Citation 1997 ). Such responses indicate that parents do not associate such support with educational equity, despite evidence that Swedish parents’ backgrounds influence greatly children’s reading competence (Axelsson, Lundqvist, & Sandberg, Citation 2020 ; Myrberg & Rosén, Citation 2009 ).

The second, homework-negative, theme emerged from the utterances of four parents who spoke negatively about homework. For these parents, each of whom offered clear justifications for his or her perspective, whether perceived compromises to children’s free time or their own inability to provide adequate support (Collier-Meek & Sanetti, Citation 2019 ; Kay et al., Citation 1994 ; Sheridan et al., Citation 2013 ), there was an underlying sense that homework creates unnecessary stress for both children and parents (Kralovec & Buell, Citation 2000 ; Pressman et al., Citation 2015 ; Solomon et al., Citation 2002 ). However, none of their arguments were premised on concerns for equity, although Sub 7’s comment that when children do their homework in school, “there are resources to get help from”, could be construed as an oblique reference.

The third, homework-ambivalent, theme coalesced around seven parents who expressed uncertainty about the setting of homework and its potential compromise to equity, as seen in Sub 15’s observation that “inequality arises quite quickly, which cannot be compensated”. However, despite any uncertainties, all expressed a desire for their children to receive mathematics homework. That being said, their utterances, implicitly addressing concerns about equity, typically focused on the repetition of routine skills, which, we speculate, would rarely require parental intervention and resonates with earlier studies of how teachers prefer homework to be managed (Gu & Kristoffersson, Citation 2015 ; Sayers et al., Citation 2020 ). In other words, there is an argument that even when making their pleas for teachers to set homework, these parents, albeit implicitly, did so in ways that minimised any compromise to equity.

The fourth, homework-positive, theme drew on the comments of sixteen parents who spoke positively about the importance of homework. Their homework-positive perspectives were categorised in three ways. One group indicated, pragmatically, that homework affords them insights into what their children are doing in school. In this guise, homework could be construed as functionally equivalent to Epstein and Van Voorhis ( Citation 2001 ) notion of parent–teacher communication. Importantly, such views were expressed independently of any concerns for equity: homework keeps parents informed without the need to interfere. A second group spoke of how homework prepared children for later learning and real-world functionality (Johnson & Pontius, Citation 1989 ; Muhlenbruck et al., Citation 1999 ). None of these utterances alluded to equity, although Sub 2’s use of the phrase, “if I am to be honest” alongside his desire for his son to receive homework can be interpreted as a guilty allusion to his tacit compromising equity. A third group spoke of their desire for their children to receive homework focused on the consolidation of routine mathematical skills. However, half this group of parents, whose comments concerning variable home circumstances indicated equity-related awareness, suggested that any homework should avoid the need for parental intervention.

Acknowledging that our informants were generally well-educated, the narratives presented above shine interesting and important lights on how homework is construed by Swedish parents and an apparent conflict between pragmatism and principle. First, whether or not they expressed concerns for equity in other homework-related contexts, parents seemed not to construe reading homework as homework and, as a consequence, did not see it as a compromise to educational equity. Indeed, it could be argued that their enthusiasm for reading homework reflected, albeit tacitly, a pragmatic compromise of principle. Second, equity emerges explicitly only when homework was discussed in contexts other than reading. For example, the homework-negative group raised two issues, one principled, that children have a right to free time, and one pragmatic, that they lack confidence in their abilities to support their children. The latter is interesting in its implication that these parents would have compromised equity had they believed in their abilities to support their children mathematically. The pragmatic compromise of equity, however, emerges particularly strongly in relation to the perspectives of the homework-ambivalent and the homework-positive groups. Indeed, parents in both these groups, while acknowledging that mathematics homework has the potential to compromise equity, seemed prepared to compromise equity in their desire for mathematics homework. That said, the main difference between these two groups was that homework-positive parents seemed further prepared to compromise equity by arguing for homework as a means of maintaining an overview of their children’s school work and preparing them for later life. In sum, while equity was present somewhere in all but a handful of transcripts, the extent to which it was compromised by pragmatic concerns highlights the significance of this paper. From the perspective of reading, homework is an unproblematic pragmatic necessity and an unconscious compromise of equity. From the perspective of mathematics, homework is a pragmatic necessity and a conscious compromise of equity, albeit, for some parents, mediated by pragmatic expectations of tasks requiring no parental interventions.

Finally, the pragmatisation of principle, whether conscious or unconscious, is unsurprising when set against, as discussed earlier, the Swedish state’s homework-related ambivalence. In other words, across Swedish society, a collective desire to facilitate educational equity is made problematic by the existence of homework, problems that could be alleviated by school’s providing the facilities for children to complete their homework before leaving for home. However, evidence that in-school homework is less effective than out-of-school homework (Keith et al., Citation 2004 ) behoves educational authorities to examine how in-school homework may be better structured and implemented.


The authors acknowledge with gratitude the financial support of Vetenskapsrådet, project grant 2015-01066, without which the work reported in this paper would not have been possible.

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author(s).

Notes on contributors

Judy sayers, jöran petersson, eva rosenqvist, paul andrews.

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Most parents of k-12 students learning online worry about them falling behind, parents of children attending school in person are largely satisfied with steps to prevent coronavirus spread but still concerned about exposure.

parents views on homework

Pew Research Center conducted this study to understand how parents of children in K-12 schools in the United States assess the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on their children’s education amid changes in instruction this fall. The study also explores concerns among parents of K-12 students and younger children in light of the pandemic. This analysis is based on 2,561 U.S. parents of children younger than 18 who live in their household. The data was collected as a part of a larger survey conducted Oct. 13-19, 2020. Everyone who took part is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way, nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology .

See here to read more about the questions used for this report and the report’s methodology .

“Parent” is defined here as the parent or guardian of a child under age 18 who lives in the household.

“Middle income” is defined here as two-thirds to double the median annual family income for panelists on the American Trends Panel. “Lower income” falls below that range; “upper income” falls above it. See the methodology for more details.

Parents of children attending school fully in person are more likely to be satisfied, less likely to be concerned about their education

Parents of K-12 students who are getting only in-person instruction are the most likely to say they are very satisfied with the way their children’s school is handling instruction amid the pandemic: 54% say this, compared with 30% of those whose children are getting online instruction only and 27% of parents whose children are getting a mix of in-person and online instruction. 1 Still, large majorities of parents across these instruction types say they are at least somewhat satisfied with the way their children’s school is handling instruction.

Concerns about children falling behind in school are particularly common among parents of K-12 students who are getting at least some online instruction this fall; those whose children are getting a mix of in-person and online instruction are the most concerned. Seven-in-ten parents whose children are getting online instruction – either fully or in combination with in-person learning – say they or another adult in their household is providing at least some additional instruction or resources to their children beyond what is being provided by the school. This is significantly higher than the share among parents whose children are getting only in-person instruction (52%).

Most parents of students getting in-person instruction are satisfied with steps to prevent virus spread, concerned about exposure

The survey also finds some differences by income. For example, parents of K-12 students with lower incomes (72%) are more likely than middle-income (63%) and upper-income parents (55%) to say they are very or somewhat concerned about their children falling behind in school as a result of disruptions caused by the pandemic. 2  And lower-income parents (72%) are more likely than those in the upper-income tier (58%) to say they or another adult in their household is providing at least some additional instruction or resources to their children beyond what is being provided by the school. In turn, upper-income parents are the most likely to say they have hired someone to provide additional instruction or resources (19% vs. 7% of middle-income and 8% of lower-income parents).

These are among the key findings of a Pew Research Center survey of 10,332 U.S. adults conducted Oct. 13-19, 2020, using the Center’s American Trends Panel . 3  The survey, which includes 2,561 parents with children younger than 18 living in the household, also explores broader concerns of parents of children in K-12 schools and younger about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on their children’s development and well-being.

Lower-income parents of K-12 students are more likely to say their children are getting online instruction only

With the fall semester underway, 46% of parents with children in elementary, middle or high school in their household report that their children are receiving online instruction only from their school; 20% say they’re getting only in-person instruction, and 23% say their children are getting a mix of online and in-person instruction (4% say they have different situations for different children).

A plurality of parents of K-12 students say their children are getting online instruction only

The share of parents with children in K-12 education who say their children are being home-schooled has risen significantly since the spring: 7% this fall, compared with 3% in April . Lower- and middle-income parents are more likely than upper-income parents to say their children are being home-schooled (6% and 9% vs. 2%, respectively). In April, similar shares of parents across income levels said this.

Parents of K-12 students receiving only in-person instruction are more satisfied than those whose children are learning online

Parents of K-12 students who are getting in-person instruction only are the most satisfied

Parents whose children are receiving in-person instruction only are, by far, the most satisfied with the way their children’s school has been handling instruction this fall: 54% of these parents say they are very satisfied, compared with 30% of parents whose children are getting online instruction only and 27% of those who say their children are getting a mix of in-person and online instruction. Still, three-quarters or more in each of the three groups say they are at least somewhat satisfied with the way their children’s school has been handling instruction.

Most parents of K-12 students are worried about their children falling behind in school because of pandemic-related disruptions

Lower-income parents of K-12 students are the most concerned about their children falling behind in school

Parents whose children are getting a mix of in-person and online instruction are the most likely to be concerned about their children falling behind in school, and those whose children are getting in-person instruction only are the least likely to be concerned. About three-quarters of parents whose children are getting a mix of instruction (74%) say they are very or somewhat concerned about their children falling behind, compared with 65% of those whose children are getting online instruction only and 56% of those whose children are getting in-person instruction only.

Most parents of K-12 students say they or someone else in their household is providing additional instruction beyond what schools are providing

Parents of K-12 students getting only in-person instruction are least likely to be providing additional instruction

Parents whose children are receiving online instruction only (72%) or a mix of in-person and online instruction (66%) are more likely than those whose children are receiving in-person instruction only (52%) to say they or another adult in their household is providing at least some additional instruction or resources to their children. Among lower-income parents, 72% say they or another adult in their household is providing additional instruction or resources, compared with 58% of upper-income parents; 65% of middle-income parents say the same.

Upper-income parents of K-12 students are the most likely to say they have hired someone to provide additional instruction for their children

While many parents of K-12 students say they or another adult in their household is providing additional instruction or resources to their children beyond what is being provided by the school, a relatively small share (9%) say they have hired someone to do this. Parents whose children are getting a mix of in-person and online instruction are the most likely to say they have hired someone to do this (14% vs. 8% of those whose children are getting online instruction only and 6% of those whose children are getting in-person instruction only).

Among upper-income parents, 19% say they have hired someone to provide additional instruction or resources beyond what is being provided by their children’s school. Far smaller shares of those with lower (8%) or middle (7%) incomes say they have done this.

Most parents of K-12 students attending school in person are satisfied with steps to prevent virus spread, but majority are still concerned about children’s exposure

Most parents of K-12 students getting in-person instruction are satisfied with steps to prevent coronavirus spread

At the same time, 62% of parents of K-12 students who are getting at least some in-person instruction express concern about their children being exposed to the coronavirus at school; 20% say they are very concerned. Similar shares of those whose children are getting in-person instruction only and those whose children are getting a mix of in-person and online instruction say they are very or somewhat concerned about this.

Majorities of parents of K-12 students more concerned now than before pandemic about screen time, social connections, emotional well-being, access to extracurricular activities

Majorities of parents of K-12 students say that, compared with before the coronavirus outbreak, they are more concerned about each of the following for their children: having too much screen time (63% say they are more concerned about this now than before the outbreak), maintaining social connections and friendships (60%), their emotional well-being (59%) and having access to extracurricular activities (58%). About half (52%) say they are more worried about their children not getting enough exercise than they were before the coronavirus outbreak, while 31% say they are now more worried about their children spending too much time unsupervised.

For many parents of K-12 students, concerns about various aspects of their children’s lives have grown since the coronavirus outbreak

Parents’ concerns vary considerably depending on the type of instruction children are getting from their K-12 school. In particular, on five of the six items, parents whose children are getting at least some online instruction are more likely than those whose children are getting in-person instruction only to say they are more concerned than they were before the coronavirus outbreak. For example, 64% of parents whose children are getting online instruction only and 60% of those whose children are getting a mix of online and in-person instruction say they are now more concerned about their children maintaining social connections and friendships; 49% of parents whose children are getting in-person instruction only say the same.

Upper-income parents of K-12 students are more likely than those with middle or lower incomes to say they are now more concerned than they were before the coronavirus outbreak about their children maintaining social connections and friendships and having access to extracurricular activities; and upper-income parents are more likely than lower-income parents to say they are now more concerned about their children having too much screen time and about their children’s emotional well-being.

Amid coronavirus disruptions, parents of young children express more concern about development of social skills than about language or physical skills

Many parents of young children are worried about their kids falling behind in developing social skills

Among parents with children in child care settings, 47% are very satisfied with the steps their day care or preschool is taking to prevent the spread of coronavirus; 34% are somewhat satisfied, while 17% are not too or not at all satisfied. Overall, 36% of parents with children who are preschool age or younger say their children currently regularly attend a day care or preschool, while 64% say their children do not.

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Table of contents, most k-12 parents say first year of pandemic had a negative effect on their children’s education, how teens navigate school during covid-19, academic, emotional concerns outweigh covid-19 risks in parents’ views about keeping schools open, what we know about online learning and the homework gap amid the pandemic, the internet and the pandemic, most popular.

About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts .

parents views on homework

Here’s what you need to know about homework and how to help your child

parents views on homework

Professor of Education, University of Florida

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Ellen Amatea has received funding in the past from the Florida Department of Education.

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Many parents and educators view homework as an important indicator of classroom rigor. The Back-to-Basic movement , which emphasizes the need for schools to teach basic academic skills in particular, has increased the emphasis on homework as a measure of a school’s success.

In fact, many parents and students judge the difficulty of a course or teacher by the amount of homework assigned. Furthermore, many educators believe that asking parents to help their children with homework is a particularly effective strategy for enhancing children’s achievement.

Many parents, too, agree that their involvement will make a positive difference. In a 2014 study conducted by the US Department of Education, 90% of parents reported that they set aside a place at home for their child to do homework, and 85% reported that they checked to see that homework had been completed.

But does helping with homework really improve student achievement? As a high school and college teacher who has assigned homework, and a mother of two sons who were not always too enthusiastic about completing homework, I have studied the many ways that families from different income levels support their children’s academic success.

I have come to believe that homework can not only enhance children’s achievement but can be a powerful opportunity for parent-child nurturing. But research also tells us that it is not just any homework assignment that will have that kind of impact.

Here is what we are learning about homework.

When parent involvement helps

Despite a widespread belief that parent involvement in homework is good for kids, researchers are discovering that it can have both positive and negative effects.

In 2008, three researchers – Erika A Patall , Harris Cooper and Jorgianne Civey Robinson – conducted an extensive review of research on the effects on students of parent involvement in homework. They found that the effects of parent involvement appear to be strongly influenced by four factors:

parents views on homework

The researchers found that homework assignments in which students are expected to memorize facts, and the parent is expected to teach school skills, provide less meaningful opportunities for parent and student interaction in the learning process.

In contrast, homework assignments in which students choose a project that requires in-depth investigation, thought and some creative license enable meaningful parent participation. Parents can play supportive roles in discussing the project with their child, which is more enjoyable both for the child and parent.

For example, students may demonstrate math skills; share ideas and obtain reactions to written work; conduct surveys or interviews; gather parents’ memories and experiences; apply school skills to real life; or work with parents or other family partners in new ways.

Strategies for parents

In addition, how parents help their child with homework appears to have distinct effects on student achievement.

Most parents engage in a wide variety of involvement strategies, such as creating “school-like routines” in which they make rules about when, where or how homework is done. They also interact with the teacher about homework and provide general oversight or monitoring of homework completion.

In some instances, parents control these structures; in others, parents follow the student’s lead.

For instance, parents may engage in the learning processes with the child (eg, engage in homework tasks with the child or in processes that support the child’s understanding of homework). Parents may also help their child learn self-management skills (eg, coping with distractions).

The strategies that parents use may vary depending on their beliefs about child-rearing and broader cultural values. Yet these different parent involvement strategies appear to have distinct effects on student achievement.

Strategies that support a child’s autonomy and also provide structure in the form of clear and consistent guidelines appear to be the most beneficial.

For example, in a 2001 study , researchers reported that parent homework involvement that supported autonomy was associated with higher standardized test scores, class grades and homework completion.

In contrast, direct aid (doing the homework for the student) was associated with lower test scores and class grades.

In another study , parent involvement in homework was reported by students to have a detrimental effect if the parent tried to help without a request from the child or was perceived as intrusive or controlling by the child.

Age matters

Researchers have also noted that the age and ability level of a child strongly influenced the amount of help with homework that parents provided and its subsequent benefits to the child.

Parents reported spending more time helping their elementary-age children with homework than their secondary school-age children. Parents of low-ability students reported spending more time helping with homework than did parents of high-ability students.

parents views on homework

While teachers and parents of elementary-aged children were more likely to work together to help students complete their assignments, parents of secondary school students often did not monitor their adolescents’ homework as faithfully as when their children were younger. This, in part, is because they were not expected or asked to do so by secondary teachers.

As a result, low-ability students in middle and high school were less likely to complete homework or to achieve academically.

Another factor was that parents of older students often reported feeling increasingly less able to help with homework.

What can educators do?

These research findings have important implications for how teachers design homework assignments and how parents and teachers might participate in the homework process.

First, students (and parents) need to know why they should be doing a particular homework assignment. What skill is to be practiced/reinforced? Why does this skill matter?

Teachers need to explicitly communicate the purpose of a particular homework assignment and emphasize how the skills they are learning in a homework assignment can be applied in the real world.

Second, educators should design homework assignments that are more meaningful and allow for creativity. Students should be able to have a choice in how they carry out an assignment.

Third, students have different learning styles, and educators need to consider how they might need to express their learning differently (via audiotapes, videotapes, posters and oral presentations rather than the standard written report).

Fourth, teachers should design interactive homework assignments that involve students in interactions with peers and with family and community members. For example, authors Alma Flor Ada and F Isabel Campoy have developed an approach of creating family storybooks that are used as reading and writing texts in the classroom.

Another group of researchers designed “interactive” homework assignments that guided students on how to conduct conversations with family members in math, science and language arts.

Another team of educators worked with teachers and parents to develop curricular approaches that brought students’ cultural backgrounds and families’ “funds of knowledge” into the classroom. For example, class lessons and homework were based on how parents use math in cooking or sewing or how workers use reading and math to build a house.

Homework is a daily activity for most students that takes time, energy and emotion, not only for students but for their families as well. Given these investments, it is important that homework be a more beneficial learning experience, in which parents too can bring their interesting and enriching skills.

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10 Top Homework Tips for Parents

More articles.

Education Research International

Perspectives of primary teachers, students, and parents on homework.

The purpose of this research was to examine the experiences of teachers, students, and parents on homework purpose and student feedback in primary school. The qualitative methodology was adopted for this research. This qualitative study used data from 20 teachers, 20 students, and 20 parents of the fifth-grade primary school in four municipalities of Kosovo. Data were collected through semistructured interviews and were analyzed through the thematic analysis method. The research results provided an overview of the reality of the way teachers approached homework. Research showed that there was a lack of a general standard, in almost all schools, related to homework assignments and there was a lack of teachers’ professional development for homework planning. Also, this research showed that the purpose of homework was closely related to how teachers planned and understood the role of homework, as well as how teachers built collaboration with students.

1. Introduction

Homework is a pedagogical practice as it plays an important role in the educational process for children. The issue of homework assignments has a long history. Homework is an important part of the teaching and learning process, which is practiced very often in teaching [ 1 ]. Homework research has historically been a concern for teachers, parents, and students, but the homework debate is still ongoing. Completing homework is complex, and it is unclear which steps of the homework completion cycle are most salient in determining whether or not homework gets turned-in to the teacher [ 2 , p. 5].

Research suggests [ 3 , 4 – 10 ] that when planning homework, teachers should give adequate consideration to the purpose of homework, effective implementation of homework, providing feedback to students, the time students spend on homework, and the parents’ involvement in homework. Teachers should give students tasks with a certain purpose and appropriate to their learning styles. Teachers should not give students assignments without purpose, and they should only give assignments when there is a specific purpose [ 11 , p. 6]. So, it is very important that homework is clearly defined. Therefore, teachers should be aware of the literature available to their students when assigning homework based on the curriculum and level of the students in the class. Accordingly, teachers play a crucial role in the proper implementation of homework and these tasks are evident during the pedagogical process they develop. While implementing homework, of course, teachers face inevitable challenges. Due to the lack of studies that have been conducted about the challenges that teachers face during the implementation of homework, the main focus of the research area is to address the main question: what are the challenges that teachers face when assigning homework? By far, the biggest focus of homework studies has been on the purpose of homework, students’ benefits and parental involvement, as well as the time students spend on homework. Therefore, this research aims to identify in-depth the challenges of teachers when practicing homework. The research also provides new theoretical knowledge about the importance of the context of the school and the teaching profession in relation to the treatment of homework as an essential element of teachers’ work.

2. Purpose of the Present Study

The main purpose of the study has been to explore the challenges that teachers face during the implementation of homework, more specifically the process of homework planning, the time that students spend on homework, providing feedback on these tasks, and the possibilities of cooperation with parents about homework.

At the same time, the research analyzes teachers’ experiences regarding the purpose of homework and the role of student feedback on homework. Finally, the research also analyzes parents’ support on homework.

The research questions that this study aims to answer are as follows: (RQ1) What are the challenges that teachers face related to homework? (RQ2) How should teachers approach homework for it to be effective? (RQ3) How do parents and students view homework?

3. Literature Review

Homework is considered a bridge between school and home. Many researchers, teachers, and parents have different opinions about teachers assigning homework. Like many other methods and strategies in the field of education, homework is sometimes considered useful and sometimes useless. Despite this objection, assigning homework has more positive effects than negative ones. The positive effects of homework are improving students’ study skills and attitudes toward school and teaching students that learning can take place inside and outside the school [ 12 , 13 ]. Even in the study conducted by Baş et al. [ 14 ], the purpose of homework is classified into two categories based on the research of many authors, which shows multiple purposes teachers give homework. These goals are classified into two categories: instructional goals and noninstructional goals.

The author is right when he says that homework is a unique educational practice as every child does not have the same experience with homework, thus practicing homework is quite challenging and very complex given the boundary between the school world and the home world [ 15 ].

The most important factor that affects the quality of homework is undoubtedly the purpose of the homework. It is very important that the teacher has a certain purpose in mind when planning homework for students. Well-designed, clearly intended homework has the potential to enhance a child’s learning and development. Teachers should not give students assignments without purpose, but only when there is a specific purpose [ 7 , 11 ]. Various researchers show that there are many reasons why teachers assign homework. They describe 10 goals for homework assignments: practice, preparation, participation, personal development, parent–child relationships, parent–teacher communication, peer interactions, politics, public relations, and punishment [ 3 ]. All these goals should be interrelated in order to include each student in the lesson, to increase the responsibility for work, to manage the time, and above all to gain self-confidence while doing homework.

In addition to the purpose of homework, another very important factor is giving clear instructions related to homework. Whenever homework is given, teachers should make sure that the instructions are clear so that there are no doubts or vagueness when the student starts doing homework. If the instructions are unclear, students will feel bored, confused, and have no interest in completing the homework, which force them to postpone completing or not doing properly [ 16 ].

Another important factor that affects the completion of homework is feedback that teachers provide to students. Likewise, the time spent by student on homework is of great importance as it also affects their results in the learning process. When assigning homework, teachers should consider students’ age and capacity so that students show interest in completing homework and not copying homework from classmates. If teachers give too much homework, students will become disappointed and stressed [ 6 , 16 ]. Respecting the “10 min” rule for each grade level would be in the best interest of students and parents because children will not be too busy with homework if this rule is followed [ 4 ]. Another factor of great importance is obviously the parents. Parents are the first teachers of their children until they start school, so parental involvement in homework is a bridge between students, parents, and schools, which makes an important triangle. In a study conducted by Cooper [ 17 ] on the effects of homework, among the positive effects mentioned are the parental involvement in homework. When parents are involved in homework, they increase their children’s appreciation for their education and express positive attitudes toward them. Syla and Saqipi [ 18 , p. 3] stated that “Indeed, when parents support their children dealing with homework, children receive feedback from the teacher and notice the appreciation of their efforts and at the same time, they feel motivated to do their homework.” Students also learn that learning can take place anywhere and not just within the school.

The activity systems theory has been adapted to conduct this research using a variety of constructs for the needs of this research, so this theory is of great interest for the study as it has been shown to be fruitful for analyzing factors affecting the effectiveness of homework and challenges faced by teachers, students, and parents in implementing these tasks.

The activity systems theory as a framework was developed by Engeström based on Vygotsky’s concept ([ 19 ], as cited in Engeström [ 20 ]). The activity systems theory in educational research offers a unique perspective for researchers who address the interactions between the individual and contextual aspects of an activity. This theory that aims at action, human practice, learning, and development can be considered as a new theory related to pedagogical practice [ 21 , 22 ]. Roth and Lee [ 23 , p. 32] stated that “of direct importance to teachers, systems activity theory has always been a theory based on practice and out of practice, so it aspires to be a theory of practice.”

As shown in Figure 1 , the activity system’s fundamental components are subjects, objects, tools and instruments (mediating artifacts), rules, community, and division of tasks.

parents views on homework

The subject represents the participants in the activity who work on achieving the object that represents the overall purpose of the activity. The object is the main purpose that the subject operates and transforms. Tools are the processes that the subject can use to reach the object. Rules represent standards that help the subject to achieve the overall goal. The community involves working with all stakeholders to achieve the overall goal. The last element that forms the activity system is the division of labor that presents the responsibilities of all participants in this activity system, including the community.

3.1. The Study Context

The educational system in Kosovo, in all periods of history, has faced a lot of challenges. After the end of the war in Kosovo, the system was in a process of educational reforms and innovations designed to help the system. After 1999, there were some major problems, which highlighted the need for change in the country’s education system. Kosovo began to focus on the education of teaching and the professional development of teachers.

In Kosovo, homework is part of students’ daily routine, despite constant debates of teachers, parents, and students on how to implement it. The time that elementary school students spend in school is not sufficient for them to reinforce and expand their knowledge. Therefore, in these cases, there is a great necessity for homework as it provides a meaningful lesson outside the classroom. Although schools apply homework, teacher preparation is not at the right level to assign homework. The school system in Kosovo lacks a clear plan or a standard of how teachers should apply their homework in schools and they are not trained to properly assign homework.

4. Methodology

4.1. data collection methods.

This study employed a qualitative descriptive research design. Qualitative research is used when less is known about a topic or phenomenon and when one wants to discover or learn more about it. It is commonly used to understand people’s experiences and to express their perspectives [ 24 ]. The interview process was conducted through the “Zoom” platform due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Data collection was between June and July 2020. Interviews were recorded and transcribed for analysis. Participants were guaranteed that the interview would only be used for research purposes.

4.2. Participants

For this research, interviews were conducted with five teachers, five students, and five parents in each municipality where the study was conducted, so a total of 20 teachers, 20 students, and 20 parents were participants in the study. The demographic data of interview participants are given in Table 1 .

The criterion for the selection of teachers has been teaching fifth graders, after they have spent 5 years practicing homework and, therefore, had experience with homework practices in their classroom. The appropriate time to conduct the interview had already been arranged. Teachers helped the study author to conduct interviews with students and their parents. The appropriate time was initially set when participants were ready for interviews. Prior to the start of the interview, participants were assured of their anonymity. Participants signed the sound recording agreement, which informed them that the interview is confidential and will only be used for research issues with the guarantee that their identity will not be revealed under any circumstances.

4.3. Data Analysis

Thematic analysis was used to analyze the interviews. To better answer the research questions, the focus was on identifying topics from the participants’ perspectives. According to Bryman (2012), as cited by McNulty [ 25 ], thematic analysis is one of the most widely used approaches to qualitative data analysis. This analysis provides accessible and systematic procedures for extracting codes and themes from qualitative data [ 26 ]. Semistructured interviews were designed and conducted by the researcher. The researcher is interested in the content of the interview conversation as well as in the way the participants express themselves [ 27 ]. The first part of the study consisted of a semistructured questionnaire for teachers, while the second part of the study consisted of semistructured interviews with parents and students. The interviews were administered individually by a researcher. The familiarity of the researcher with the topic of research created the possibility for delivering in-depth questions when participants were not open enough in answering. Each interview lasted between 20 and 30 min, following open-ended questions prepared earlier. When greater clarity or in-depth answers were needed, the researcher used follow-up questions. After transcribing the interviews, the data were coded taking into account issues related to the purpose of the research. The codes were then grouped into topics to draw conclusions about teachers’, parents’, and students’ perceptions.

5. Research Findings

Findings from the interviews are presented in three parts: interviews with teachers, interviews with parents, and interviews with students.

5.1. Findings from Interviews with Teachers

5.1.1. the challenges that teachers face related to homework.

Table 2 presents a summary of the topics that emerge from the interviews with teachers regarding the challenges they face regarding their professional preparation for homework assignments, homework assignment goals, and to provide feedback on homework.

Three important topics for the study have been identified, as well: (1) Lack of a standard in schools for homework planning (2) Lack of training for homework (3) Inability to provide feedback on time

The first issue from the research has been the lack of a standard in schools for homework planning. Teachers point out that schools do not have any homework plans or standards. According to them, they are free to assign homework as they wish, as school does not oblige them to give homework. “ There is no written rule for assigning homework so we are the ones who define homework” (Teacher, 4). “School has no standard. Neither does Ministry of Education, nor the curriculum. You have to take some kind of responsibility whether you should give assignments or not” (Teacher, 12). “We have no obligation from school, we are free to act as we wish” (Teacher, 7).

According to the teachers’ answers, they are responsible for assigning homework as the school does not oblige them to give homework and in this case, the responsibility is even greater when the teachers give homework with no criterion. If there was a detailed plan from the school, teachers would feel more secure in assigning the homework. According to Epstein and Van Voorhis [ 3 ], as cited by Peltier [ 28 ], it could be determined by school principals or education teams, the time students should spend on homework. While a homework assignment plan is lacking, teachers may encounter difficulties in managing homework at the elementary level.

The second issue of the research was the lack of training related to homework. Although teachers have attended numerous trainings to improve classroom teaching practices, they are not trained about assigning homework. Out of 20 teachers, five of them claim that the training of the Critical Thinking while Reading and Writing has helped them, to some extent, use different techniques in creating homework, as well as the training about curriculum, which has helped them design the tasks as attractively as possible. Below are some of the teachers’ thoughts on this topic:

Nowadays, I haven’t participated in any training specifically related to homework. It would be very useful for me if I had the opportunity to attend such training (Teacher, 13).
Special homework training no, but for example, the last training “curriculum framework” has helped me with assigning homework; categorizing according to the age of students, making them as attractive as possible for students, also with adapting to the competencies that we want to achieve (Teacher, 3).
I have never attended homework-related training. I am interested in any possibility to be a part of this kind of training, which would help me in creating homework but unfortunately, there is no such training in our country (Teacher, 7).

Although they have different trainings for teaching, they have not attended any training only related to homework. According to Landing-Corretjer [ 29 ], there is a critical necessity for teacher professional development about homework assignments. In a study conducted by Landing-Corretjer [ 29 ], 50% of the participants from the conducted study that were trained about homework assigned homework in the form of projects which participating students reported to prefer. The other half of the participants, who were never part of any homework training, have shown that they have difficulty in clearly designing homework. This proves the importance of the professional development of teachers for the proper implementation of homework.

The last issue of the research has been inability to provide timely feedback. Despite teachers giving homework, most of them point out that it is impossible for them to always give feedback on time. Due to the large number of students in the class and the short hours spent in class, they are obliged to give oral feedback or check homework after working hours. Here are some of the teachers’ opinions about using feedback regarding homework.

Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time to provide written feedback. Because of a lack of time and a very large number of students in the class, I’m not able to give written feedback. Therefore, I take the assignments home to check them (Teacher, 5). In most cases, I return pupils’ homework after two or three days, since I can’t check them at school for many reasons (Teacher, 16).

From the interviews, it is understood that teachers sometimes do not even have the ability to check homework so they require that students only hand them in. Now the question arises: How motivated are students to complete homework when their homework is just handed in and they do not receive any feedback on time? When students receive constructive feedback, they will learn even more and feel more important; therefore, when teachers give homework, it is important to find the time and opportunity to give oral or written feedback.

5.1.2. Teachers’ Approach for Effective Homework

Table 3 presents a summary of the topics that emerge from the interviews with teachers regarding their approach for effective homework.

Four important topics for the study have been identified, as well: (1) Creating work habit and responsibility (2) Assessment and reinforcement of learned units (3) Encouragement for research and creativity (4) Feedback in order to help reinforce knowledge

Creating work habits and responsibility has been the first issue of the research. Many topics about the purpose of giving homework come up from the teachers’ answers. Teachers give homework for many reasons. According to most teachers, the reason for giving homework is the engagement of students in homework in order to gain work habits, to become independent and to become responsible for the given task, as well as to assess the knowledge through homework.

The main goal is for the student to acquire work habits and to work independently on them (Teacher, 18).
The purpose of my homework is to develop student’s responsibility, to complete a task, and to establish a work habit. Usually, this is why I give homework (Teacher, 7).

Creating work habits and independence is of great importance to every child. Another reason that teachers give homework is to create responsibility for the task given. Of course, students also have a responsibility to do their homework. Creating responsibility at this age prepares the student for the future as well. When a person is responsible about a particular task, they are more likely to succeed. The purpose of homework should be to further facilitate learning, develop organizational skills, and make students disciplined and independent [ 10 , 30 ].

Assessment and reinforcement of learned units have been another issue of the research. According to teachers, another reason they give homework is so students practice more for a better result, as well as to verify students’ progress. Repetition of lessons and assessment of students are mentioned by most teachers as the purpose for giving homework.

Of course, the first reason is also reinforcement. By assigning homework, we understand if we have managed to be clear during the learning process, by analyzing the results of homework we notice if we have managed to be clear with the explanations we have given in class. This is also feedback about our own work (Teacher, 2).
I usually give homework that is useful to the students. In my opinion, they enhance acquisition and learning, develop the skills taught in the classroom, and verify students’ progress in class (Teacher, 11).

Another issue of the research is the incentives for research and creativity. Some teachers emphasize that they give homework in order to expand knowledge and develop creativity. According to them, through attractive game-based tasks, students enjoy working on tasks and at the same time become encouraged to research.

I don’t overload with tasks which are not attractive to children. I try to give homework in such a way that the child has fun while doing homework. If we combine both learning and having fun, it won’t ever be a burden to them (Teacher, 6).
I try to give tasks that are motivating or appealing to children or tasks that make children curious to learn something, to achieve result “learning by doing.” I try to give attractive tasks for children; even very small, simple, or any research task to motivate the child and keep them curious, otherwise reproductive tasks that require only writing are not appropriate homework according to me (Teacher, 13).

About seven teachers claim that the purpose of homework is to complement what have learned in school but always in the form of play and creative tasks. The purpose of homework should be practical, so that students apply the content in their daily lives, otherwise they will not have the motivation to do it. If homework is not interesting to students and does not encourage research, students will do the homework just to claim that they did them. Moreover, tasks that foster research and develop creativity and imagination make those tasks even more effective.

Based on teachers’ opinion, they give homework feedback in order to reinforce knowledge. According to them, their biggest focus is on correcting mistakes, spelling, content, and areas, which should be developed. In addition, they focus on the strongest points as well as the creative work.

Now, depending on the subjects, in Albanian for example, I focus on spelling and grammar depending on what they have learned and I give them feedback about what they need or how they could improve what is necessary for them (Teacher, 3).
To students who need correction, I give feedback on the parts they need improvement, but I give a comment for further motivation even to good students (Teacher, 14).

While teachers assign homework, they should also evaluate student work. According to Costa et al. [ 31 ], homework should always be corrected, as this reinforces the importance and usefulness of homework to students.

5.2. Findings from Interviews with Parents

Table 4 summarizes the topics derived from interviews with parents regarding their views on the homework that their children do. Four important topics emerged from the interviews that need elaboration. Parents agree that their children should have homework but not become overloaded by it. Parents see teacher–parent–student cooperation very important and necessary. They point out how to use teacher feedback. According to them, there is a lack of written feedback.

According to parents’ responses in interviews, homework is necessary for their children to improve. Homework keeps students more prepared and active. Some parents claim that through homework, they notice whether the child has understood the lessons in class. Here are some opinions from parents who find homework necessary:

When we sit down to do the homework, I notice if they have understood the unit, the new learning units they have learned, or the difficulties they encounter. Through homework, I understand what I should practice more with them, so definitely I want my children to have homework (Parent, 5).
Homework is necessary because if they do not have it at all, then the children lose the importance of learning (Parent, 12).

According to the parents, homework is very important as it inform the parents about their children’s work, where the child stands with lessons and what he/she should work on more. In this way, the parents will be informed about the child’s condition related to learning.

Homework can give parents the opportunity to see what is going on at school and to express positive attitudes toward achievement. In addition, parents should be involved in homework when appropriate. They should help children to summarize the information they have learned, but at the same time they should not feel like they need to act as teachers or police officers to make sure they do their homework [ 32 , 33 ].

The majority of parents said that homework burdens the students. In addition to the fact that children have a lot of homework, considering their age, they have homework almost everyday, not excluding weekends. Here are some opinions from parents about their children’s homework:

Children are burdened with homework, which enable them to use their free time for any physical activity (Parent, 12) .
Children spend more than 2 hr on homework. These tasks are unnecessary because they are the continuation of class tasks, descriptive or memorizing tasks (Parent, 20) .

As can be seen from the statements of the parents, the students are very busy with homework. This load denies them the free time that children should have after school. Including homework for 7 days a week without skipping the weekend is tedious for children and parents.

Parents who helped their children with homework believed that the volume of homework was too large and that the children did not have enough time for leisure activities.

Based on parental responses, cooperation with parents is necessary. Most parents claim that they constantly communicate with their teachers about the homework that their children do. For any ambiguity and stagnation of their children in homework, parents discuss with their children’s teachers.

We discuss them quite often and she is always ready to give us answers about the children’s tasks, where she has difficulty, she gives us explanations. Parent, teacher, and child can cooperate and achieve something good with lessons (Parent, 17).

The teacher also benefits from family involvement. Teachers have more positive feelings about teaching in their schools when there is more parental involvement in the school [ 34 , 35 ]. Teachers who communicate with parents tend to increase expectation and appreciation for all parents, and continue to increase family involvement activities [ 3 ].

Despite the fact that teachers say that they provide feedback, based on the answers of most parents, there is a lack of written feedback. One of the reasons that is pointed out by almost all parents is the limited time in relation to the large number of students in the class. Here are some of the parents’ comments that prove that they do not provide written feedback:

In fact, it happens to notice an underlining of mistakes (Parent, 9).
In most cases, the child has an oral comment because the large number of students in the class does not allow the teacher to inform each student in a written form (Parent, 15).

Highlighting mistakes in assignments not only shows that the teacher is not able to give written feedback properly, but it also shows that feedback does not focus too much on the individual which is very important for improving learning.

Students work should be evaluated by giving clear and concrete feedback, which will help them to learn more about where their needs are, based on giving feedback [ 5 , 36 ].

5.2.1. Findings from Interviews with Students

Table 5 presents a summary of topics derived from the interviews with students regarding their opinion on homework. Three important topics for this study emerged from the interview. Students consider homework necessary and feedback as an incentive to reinforce knowledge, but teachers do not always have the opportunity to provide written feedback.

In recent years, homework has been the topic of discussion about its impact on student learning [ 7 , 17 ]. Despite the very heated debates in these discussions, the students show very important experiences in doing homework. They emphasize that homework is good, and they learn a lot by reinforcing the lessons learned in the classroom. According to them, homework is necessary in order to repeat the lessons learned in class and prepare for the next day.

Homework helps us learn to be better prepared for tomorrow (Student, 4). Homework plays a very important role for me and for other students as well. They are a revision of class assignments that the teacher gives us so in the future we become more advanced and develop our memory (Student, 10).

Homework is a powerful tool that can contribute to the preparation and progress of students if given by teachers in the right way. According to most of the students interviewed, using feedback on homework encourages them to improve.

Feedback, I think, is very important because the teacher is very good at informing and advising us on what we have done. If we, did it right or wrong and that helps us a lot?! (Student, 6).
Yes, the teacher gives us feedback, tells us if we did well or badly and this help us improve (Student, 9).

In their experience, homework feedback helps students to improve their homework, motivates to learn more, advises them for next time, and their lessons do not accumulate due to their constant follow-up and information through oral and written comments. Feedback is one of the most powerful influences on student learning and achievement [ 37 ].

Based on the interviews conducted with students, oral feedback has been more used than written feedback. Out of 20 students, whom the interview was conducted with, only three students claim that they receive written feedback, while 17 other students receive oral feedback.

Oral feedback helps us a lot in returning information (Student, 5). Yes orally! In written form less often (Student, 2); we get confirmed that we have done it by giving a tick (✓) if we have a mistake, we correct it later in the class (Student, 11).

Oral feedback is used to correct mistakes, praise, evaluate, present a challenge, additional explanation, encouragement for reflection, and many other issues that help students learn more [ 38 ].

6. Discussion

6.1. challenges faced by teachers related to homework practice.

The lack of a standard in schools for assigning homework is the most important factor in this study that can be seen as a critical point of this research. According to the interviews conducted with teachers, they do not possess any standard or plan from the school or the municipality for assigning homework. This proves that the problem addressed by teachers is deeper as no official document mentions the role of homework, much less a proper standard around these tasks.

The findings of research also correlate with research as schools lack a homework policy and have erroneous knowledge from parents and teachers about homework policies [ 39 ].

Interviews with teachers show that they have not attended any special homework training. According to the teachers, they are not professionally prepared enough to homework, so it often happens that they have dilemmas about the homework workload for students.

The findings of our study are in line with the study of Cooper [ 40 ], where the researcher shows that teachers are not trained much for homework and in particular for how to create homework and how to involve parents in homework. Skaggs [ 41 ] also pointed out that there is a lack of homework training. According to Skaggs [ 41 ], homework is mentioned in teacher trainings; however, there is no specific training related only to homework. In addition to homework training, Skaggs [ 41 ] found it necessary for teachers to be trained on what to do with homework after returning to class.

According to Landing-Corretjer [ 29 ], professional development of teachers to design homework is much needed. They can achieve this by attending homework training. Even in a study that examines teachers’ practice and attitudes about homework, the authors call for teacher integration to be trained in homework [ 42 ].

The large number of students in the classroom and the short schedule do not allow teachers to control homework as they wish. According to teachers, they are forced to check homework during breaks or at home. This prevents feedback from being made in a timely manner, which is very important for student achievement.

The findings of this research are in line with the results of Forster’s [ 43 ] study, where according to interviews conducted with teachers, the use of feedback on homework caused them difficulty and practicing it properly. One of the factors that made it difficult for or hindered teachers to use the feedback properly was the large number of students, which correlates with our study.

6.2. Teachers’ Approach for Effective Homework

Teachers’ approach to homework is a strong point observed in the study. Teachers show many reasons for their approach to tasks. The reason they give homework is for the student to engage in homework, to gain work and responsibility habits, reinforce learning units, foster research and creativity, and assess students’ knowledge.

The results provided by this study are consistent with many other studies [ 3 , 7 , 11 , 31 , 44 ], which have shown the importance of the professional development of teachers and the connection of this development with the teachers’ approach to the effective implementation of homework.

Holland et al. [ 39 ] showed that the purpose of homework according to teachers is presented as a variety of goals for homework. The main goals found in this study are to train students for practical work, to develop work ethic, and to make students independent and accountable.

On the other hand, Hassaan [ 5 ] presented important results, some of which are related to study, such as preparing for the next lesson and reviewing the material learned in class. The same goals are also found in the study conducted by Baş et al. [ 14 ] where the authors explain that homework can be assigned for guiding purposes, such as practice, review, reinforcement, and research.

6.3. Parents’ and Students’ Views on Homework Assignments

In terms of results for teachers, students, and parents, they find homework very necessary. Although parents support their children with homework, they constantly point out that their children are too busy with homework. Based on the opinions of parents, children spend many hours on homework and as a result, they do not have free time to play, so this is also a challenge that parents see as a burden for their children.

According to them, children are so busy with homework that neither weekends nor holidays are excluded. They constantly emphasize that they are for homework, but not too much. Even the study conducted by Kukk et al. [ 45 ] proved that parents believe that the volume of tasks that their children work on is too large and they do not have enough time to use their free time.

Parents see teacher–parent and student cooperation very necessary. For any ambiguity and stagnation of children in homework, they consider it very important to have constant communication with the teacher.

According to Cooper [ 17 ], when parents are involved in homework, they increase their children’s appreciation for their education and express positive attitudes toward them. Another challenge that parents face when engaging in homework is homework instructions. They state that it often happens that they do not understand the tasks the teacher has asked their child to do, so they are forced to seek the help of teachers to better clarify the homework.

According to Huisman [ 6 ], teachers need to keep in mind that parents may not have the knowledge to help their children with homework. Finally, the results obtained from the interviews show that the factors that affect the effectiveness of homework are numerous, starting from the teacher’s approach to homework, the standard of homework, the time that students spend on homework, giving clear instructions on homework, the number of students in the class, the daily schedule at school, giving feedback, and genuine cooperation with parents. All these factors are closely related to each other, so the lack of one factor makes it impossible to effectively manage homework; therefore, this issue also highlights the need for coordination and cooperation of all actors who are an integral part of this important dimension in the education system.

7. Conclusion

In the end, the research recommends that homework should be guided by a clear policy formed by policymakers, teachers, and parents. The education system should place homework within the framework of a homework policy that clearly articulates useful expectations, guidelines, and advice. Setting a standard for homework should be focused on the purpose of homework, the creation of homework, the time that students should spend on homework, providing feedback on homework tasks, and on cooperation with parents.

However, the idea of setting a standard and policy should not be misused to create a reality in which teachers’ autonomy is diminished. Teachers should be able to define their approach for developing effective homework practices that are integral and meaningful to the teaching and learning process. This standard and policy should, therefore, not lead to the establishment of uniformity and defined actions that teachers should follow in managing students’ homework in a template manner.

The inclusion of homework as part of daily practices requires a comprehensive approach to the preparation of teachers for professional development related to the real implementation of homework in primary education. Moreover, the implementation of the change from the current situation to the desired situation also implies the need for effective homework practices to be treated from the perspective of being a teacher and aspects of the functioning of the school and the education system.

The processing and filtering of the current reality of homework practices along with the reality of individual, organizational, and systemic dimensions of the teacher’s work clearly defines the path to be followed by the development of homework assignments and practices by teachers. In these circumstances of managing change from the current situation, the need has arisen to perceive this change as a project in itself, which in fact is no more than managing the change of teaching practice in a subsector and in which principle does not differ from the perception of teacher orientation in the task. Therefore, homework policy and the standard are seen only as a transition toward strengthening teachers’ new approach to homework and integrating effective practices as part of teachers’ professional identity and routine reality.

Only then will teachers continue to analyze their practice in view of continuous improvement in the field of homework. Such a model could be used as a generic model to understand and manage the transformation of teachers’ professional practice.

This study has implications for institutions that create educational policies to engage experts in the provision of training related to homework. Among other things, the school should take initiatives to create an adequate standard that is suitable for the level of primary classes. Also, this study has implications for teachers to understand their role in creating a real standard for practicing their duties in comprehensive education, where the benefits will be for both students and parents. Likewise, teachers should undergo adequate training for homework in order to develop their skills for the effectiveness of homework.

Data Availability

Data supporting this research article are available from the corresponding author or first author on reasonable request.

Conflicts of Interest

The author declares that there is no conflicts of interest.

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This article was published more than  2 years ago

Does homework work when kids are learning all day at home?

parents views on homework

The value of homework has long been debated in the education world — but now, the discussion has become even more complicated in the era of the coronavirus pandemic.

Researchers have long found that there is less to homework than many might think; they have found that it has little to no effect on test scores in elementary school and a marginal positive effect in the later grades. That was when kids were in school for classes and went home to do homework.

But now, school for millions of students means working at home doing school work all day, because school buildings are closed to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus and its disease, covid-19. That raises the question: How feasible is it to ask kids to do even more work in the same environment, especially for kids who live in environments not conducive to studying?

The closing of schools this past spring as the pandemic hit put a new focus on issues of equity, racism and access to education technology and the Internet. Now that many, if not most, school districts are not holding in-person teaching for the start of the 2020-21 school year, or not for all students, those issues are ever more urgent.

ASCD, an education organization of more than 110,000 members — superintendents, teachers and others from countries around the world — looked at the homework issue in its newsletter, ASCD Express. Below is one of the pieces in the package.

(ASCD, founded as the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, now focuses not just on curriculum but also on other parts of the educational process, including professional development, leadership and capacity building.)

The post below was written by Denise Pope, a co-founder of Challenge Success and a senior lecturer at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education, where she specializes in student engagement, curriculum studies, qualitative research methods and service learning.

(Challenge Success is a nonprofit organization that works with teams of educators, parents and students at schools to identify problems and implement best practices and policies in areas such as curriculum, assessment, homework, school schedule, and a healthy school climate.)

Pope is the author of “ Doing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed-Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students ,” and co-author of “ Overloaded and Underprepared: Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthy, Successful Kids .”

Pope’s article was originally published in the Aug. 27 issue of ASCD Express that focused on whether and how homework works today. ASCD Express is a free email publication for K-12 educators. I am using the article with permission.

Why this superintendent banned homework -- and asked kids to read instead

By Denise Pope

For students and educators participating in distance learning these days, it may be hard to distinguish homework assignments from any kind of school-assigned work that is done at home.

In fact, between March and June 2020, “homework” varied considerably: Some schools assigned weekly packets of work to be completed at home in lieu of any online lessons, while other schools decided to eliminate “homework” altogether for students who participated in online lessons for several hours each day. Though we conducted the following research on homework prior to the pandemic, our findings offer implications for all kinds of assignments done at home — both during remote learning and once students return to classrooms.

In a student survey conducted over the last decade (from 2009 to 2020) by Challenge Success , a nonprofit that I co-founded based on my research at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, we asked over 200,000 middle and high school students from high-performing schools, “Right now in your life, what, if anything, causes you the most stress?”

One of the most common responses was one word: “Homework.”

The cultural narrative about homework generally focuses on how much homework students are doing. It's treated as a Goldilocks problem: When is it too little? When is it too much? When is it just right?

Having too much homework is certainly part of the problem when it comes to student stress levels. In fact, of the more than 50,000 high school students that Challenge Success surveyed from October 2018 to January 2020, 56 percent of students said they had too much homework . In that same sample, students reported doing an average of 2.7 hours of homework per weeknight and 3.0 hours on weekends.

However, the amount of homework alone doesn't tell the whole story. The type of homework students receive can also be a source of stress, our survey shows. For instance, when students perceive homework to be boring or repetitive, or if they feel it is too advanced or confusing, they are likely to be stressed, regardless of the amount of assigned work. In addition, students are often stressed about how well they do on their homework, particularly because homework completion and quality are usually factored into students' course grades.

Given the stress from homework that so many students report, we updated our previous homework white paper with an extensive review of the current literature on homework and its benefits. Based on this review, we found that the relationship between time spent on homework and academic achievement is nuanced and complex.

In elementary school, there is very little, if any, evidence that time spent on homework in most subject areas has a positive effect on achievement. (A notable exception is reading for pleasure, which is associated with achievement. One 2013 study found that the influence of reading for pleasure is powerful for children’s cognitive development , especially in terms of vocabulary.)

In middle and high school, there is a slight positive relationship between time spent on homework and grades and test scores in the recent research. However, those benefits are complicated by various factors and limitations, including whether the homework was interesting to the students, how much effort they put into it, and the level of difficulty and purpose of the assignment. Furthermore, several studies found diminishing returns on the value of homework once a student exceeds a certain amount of time spent on it.

To make homework work for students and educators, we recommend taking a close look at the quality and purpose of the assignments by asking five questions. These questions apply whether learning is happening primarily at school, at home, or a hybrid of the two.

As educators consider the changes they need to make to their curriculum and pedagogy this fall, particularly how to make up for lost learning over the spring and summer and how to prioritize essential skills and understandings, the questions above can help streamline assignments, increase student engagement, and alleviate some of the stress that so many students are experiencing right now.

To further explore the research mentioned above and to see more tips for designing effective homework, [teachers] can download the Challenge Success homework white paper.

Cooper, H. (1989). Synthesis of research on homework. Educational Leadership , 47 (3), 85–91.

Cooper, H. (2007). The battle over homework: Common ground for administrators, teachers, and parents . Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Sullivan, A. & Brown, M. (2013). Social inequalities in cognitive scores at age 16: The role of reading . Centre for Longitudinal Studies. Retrieved from https://cls.ucl.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/CLS-WP-2013-10.pdf

The pandemic school year

Students, guardians and teachers experience a very different school year as the coronavirus disrupts the country’s education system..

Schools reopening: Safety concerns | Fall “normalcy” | CDC’s road map | Inside Biden’s reopening promises

Current school year: Staying at home | Asian American students missing from classrooms | Schoolchildren struggling with mental health

Higher ed: Living on campus during the pandemic | Education Department extends pause on federal student loan payments | Mental health crisis on college campuses

The latest DMV news: Random coronavirus testing at D.C. schools | Alexandria adopts 3-foot distancing in classrooms | In-person learning expands in D.C., but mostly at wealthiest schools | Four days a week of in-person learning in Fairfax

We want to hear from you:

Tell us how school reopening is going: Parents, guardians and teachers | Students

Financial aid: How has the pandemic affected how you’ll pay for college?

Top 10 Homework Tips

Kids are more successful in school when parents take an active interest in their homework — it shows kids that what they do is important.

Of course, helping with homework shouldn't mean spending hours hunched over a desk. Parents can be supportive by demonstrating study and organization skills, explaining a tricky problem, or just encouraging kids to take a break. And who knows? Parents might even learn a thing or two!

Here are some tips to guide the way:

parents views on homework

Does homework really enhance learning in children? The answer may surprise you

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The positives, the negatives , perceptions of homework.

Does Homework Really Enhance Learning?

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What you could do right away.

parents views on homework

Simi Ramesh Dec 26, 2019

parents views on homework

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  14. Full article: Swedish parents' perspectives on homework: manifestations

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  21. ERIC

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  22. Does homework work when kids are learning all day at home?

    In fact, of the more than 50,000 high school students that Challenge Success surveyed from October 2018 to January 2020, 56 percent of students said they had too much homework. In that same sample ...

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  24. Does Homework Really Enhance Child Learning, Advantages ...

    Also, how parents view homework also makes a difference. Children do better in school when their parents are focused on 'mastery'. If parents focus on their child's performance relative to his peers, he is likely to avoid challenges. Here are some tips for parents to make homework a more enjoyable and relaxing activity for both you and your child: