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Does 20 minutes of homework sound right for a Grade 2 student? Add to ...

Now that the lazy hazy days are waning, parenting blogs are getting back to the great homework debate.

It’s a perennial issue – how much is too much?

In response to complaints from parents about overburdened children, many school districts, including ones in New Jersey and California, have adopted the “10-minute rule,” Parade.com reports.

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The guideline – backed by research from Duke University – limits weeknight homework to 10 minutes per grade level (20 minutes for second grade, 30 minutes for third grade, etc.).

Other institutions, including Prince of Wales Public School in Barrie, Ont., have gone a step further and banned homework altogether.

But schools that set limits on the nightly workload face the wrath of parents who consider homework a crucial first step in their children’s future careers.

In July, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced a policy for the coming year in which homework would account for only 10 per cent of a student’s grade. Public outcry forced the district to abandon the idea.

Educators remain divided over whether after-school work is counterproductive.

“Homework fosters the motivational skills children need, such as responsibility and the ability to delay gratification,” Janine Bempechat, an associate professor at Wheelock College in Boston, told Parade.

The backlash against homework can go too far, argues KrisC, a commenter at Parade whose son went to a “no-homework” school in Virginia. When he entered high school, she writes, “he wasn't prepared for a school w/ standards of homework, time management, or studying … & had poor marks for work habits.”

On the other hand, research by Toronto professors Lee Bartel and Linda Cameron suggests that homework may cause marital stress and other problems for Canadian families. According to their 2007 study, a significant number of Canadian children receive homework in kindergarten, while 28 per cent in Grade 1 and more than 50 per cent in Grade 2 are assigned more than 20 minutes of homework a day.

Homework widens the gap for children of immigrants or from low-income families, according to Etta Kralovec, author of The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children & Limits Learning. Some children “have parents who don’t speak English, work long hours or are simply unable to provide [homework]assistance. These children are put at a disadvantage compared to wealthier classmates,” she explained in an interview with TakePart.com.

The debate is endless, but one thing is for certain: Parents who want to take an educated approach to the issue will have to do their you-know-what.

What’s your take on the 10-minute rule? How does homework get done in your house?

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