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While it may be beneficial for very young ones, such as kindergarteners, to let them and their learning habits run amok and spend time on creative activities, for first and second graders it might be better to buckle down for as little as 10 to 20 minutes for a short homework session. It instills qualities like concentrating on their studies at home that they can use throughout their educational careers.

Mathematics homework (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One rule of thumb Harris Cooper, director of Program in Education at Duke University, suggests is the “10-minute rule”, wherein teachers increase homework by 10 minutes per day as the grade level increases. So a teacher may assign 30 minutes of homework for grade three, and two hours for a high school senior.

The study conducted by Cooper as published in Duke Today, concluded that as long as the homework isn’t too much, it helps students achieve academic success. The achievement level doesn’t go up beyond two hours of homework. Too much homework amounts to exhaustion and lack of interest in academics, he says in Science Daily. Even though there isn’t any immediate improvement in tests on the material in early education, some teachers may allot homework so that children develop good study habits and time management skills, Cooper says.

Practice is also of vital importance to learn and become better at doing things such as writing or solving math problems. A research carried out by National Council of Teachers of Mathematics showed that homework-doing students on average starting from second grade to twelfth graders did consistently better than those that didn’t.

Along with length of and time consumed by assignments, difficulty levels are important too. An eight-year-old was one week given the extensive task of answering questions on reading clocks and watches, coming up with the 10 best ways to save the environment and a chart of words with the “ee” sound in it, which led to a call for ban on primary school homework in 2008, as reported by The Independent.

Having high expectations from children inspires them to be better and set higher standards for themselves, but on the other hand having homework too difficult for their age can lower morale. Balancing the complexity of projects so that most students do well and keeping the average grade of the class high and challenges them can encourage them to do more and better without getting too stressed out. Homework – in the right amount – can work wonders for students’ test performances.