How much homework is too much?

How much homework is too much? It’s a valid question. It’s also a question I’m glad Brookstone School is not afraid to ask.

Last year, our Upper School teachers began doing some research into the amount of homework students had to do each night. Obviously, there are lots of factors that go into the amount of time each student spends on homework, such as after school activities, technology, and routine bedtimes, but regardless, an informal survey of our students from last year indicated over 70% of our students said that they spent more than 2 hours every night doing homework and over 90% of students said they don’t get to start homework until after 7:00 or 8:00 pm. This leaves very little time for family, relaxation, or getting enough sleep each night.

After surveying our students, Mr. Garry Sullivan, our Middle and Upper School Principal, decided we might need to take a closer look at how much homework we assign. He says, “While we will continue doing our best to educate parents and students on those variables that they need to control, i.e. cell usage and bedtimes, I always want us as a school to look at what we can control, being intentional in everything we do.”

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He continues, “Research has shown that even in middle school, the relationship between homework and academic success is minimal. By the time students reach high school, homework does provide academic benefit, but only in moderation. More than 90-120 minutes per night (not per class) is the limit. After that amount, the benefits start tapering off.”

Mr. Sullivan does not advocate getting rid of all homework, as some schools have moved to do, but rather he has encouraged all of his teachers to thoughtfully consider their assignments each day. Some things he has encouraged teachers to do is ask themselves the following questions when assigning homework:

  • Have all learners been considered when assigning homework? What takes one student 15 minutes, might take another 45 minutes. Start thinking about differentiating homework.
  • Focus on quality over quantity. Mastery is the objective, not simply completion.
  • Is the assignment intentional in supporting what I am doing in the classroom?
  • Does the assignment place material in a context the classroom cannot?
  • How long should this assignment/paper/etc. take each student?
  • Have I considered that every other class might be assigning work as well, or that we encourage them to be as active in extra-curricular activities as possible?
  • Has this been well thought out or is it a last-minute assignment?

 

To further maximize student potential and teacher efficacy, our Middle and Upper School schedules have been revamped as well. We have long implemented a rotating schedule, but for the past several years have had one period drop each day.

This year, the daily schedule now includes seven academic periods so that everyone stays on the same schedule, as well as a work period for all teachers at least once a week and a study hall for students every day. The lunch period has also been extended to allow for more student downtime, too. These slight adjustments do matter and have a significant impact on our students’ success and well being.

Once more, let me reiterate how grateful I am to be at a school that truly has the students at the center of every decision made. As Mr. Sullivan said, ” Let’s keep evaluating everything we do to make sure our students benefit because, ultimately, that’s why we are educators to begin with…for them!”

For a more in-depth look into how much is too much homework, click here!

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