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Thread: 4th Grade Homework -- HOW MUCH IT TOO MUCH?

  1. #1
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    4th Grade Homework -- HOW MUCH IT TOO MUCH?

    My 4th grader spends two to three hours each night on homework and at least an hour or more on the weekends. I realize that the teachers are getting them ready for the standarized tests, but this is just unreal. My DH and I feel sorry for our DS because he doesn't even have time to just be a kid. Of course, my DS got the 4th grade teacher who gives the most homework. The others give SIGNIFICANTLY less and no homework on the weekends. It's just so unfair IMO. I'd love to hear from others parents and teachers!

  2. #2
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    I agree that that amount is entirely too much! But I went through the same thing when my sons were in traditional school. Homework should be no more than a 15 minute review of what was taught in class that day...JMHO! There is so much more to life than school work!
    Well-behaved women seldom make history!

  3. #3
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    I think it depends on the school and the child...

    I seem to remember that it was 10 minuts a grade, so in 4th grade you should have 40 minutes of homework a night PLUS 1/2 hour of independent reading.

    The only class that I seem to always remember homework in over the weekend is math and I don't think this started until 6th grade.

    I would call the teacher and ask for a conference (or wait until back-to-school night) and see if your child is taking longer then expected.....
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  4. #4
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    I am curious about this issue as well. Last year, my sons were in kindergarten, and they had homework everyday - 2 sheets on the phonic reading where they would have to trace the word, and then write the word 4 times, and then draw a picture (e.g., if the word was Mop, they would have to draw a mop following the step-by-step directions) and then write a sentence using the word on the back of the paper, and then draw a picture of the sentence. So, it would take them about an hour to do - in kindergarten! We send our kids to a public school - all day kindergarten, and they were wiped out when they got home from school - throw in some swimming lessons, and homework was a burden for them and for us because we had to help them - and keep our DD entertained while we were helping them.

    We talked to the teacher, and the other parents also were complaining, but this was standard for this school. We tried to make it fun, but it was really, really hard. I've read reports that kids in the U.S. do worse than their foreign counterparts in math/science, but I'm not sure if more homework is the solution to the problem.

  5. #5
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    I'm bored... so I googled it
    Here is one school district's policy (NY)
    Grade Level Recommended Guidelines
    Kindergarten 15 minutes

    Grade 1 30 minutes

    Grade 2 45 minutes

    Grade 3 60 minutes

    Grade 4 75 minutes

    Grade 5 90 minutes

    Grade 6 20-30 minutes per course

    Grade 7 20-30 minutes per course

    Grade 8 30 minutes per course

    Grade 9 30 minutes per course

    Grade 10 30-40 minutes per course

    Grade 11 30-45 minutes per course

    Grade 12 30-45 minutes per course

    here is another (Utah I think)
    Grade Cumulative Minutes per School Day Purpose(s)
    Kindergarten 0 - 10 Study skills and habits
    1 - 2 10 - 20 Study skills and habits
    Basic skill building
    3 - 4 30 - 40 Study skills and habits
    Basic skill building
    5-6 50-60 Preparation
    Skill integration
    Homework assignments for sixth graders are particularly important so that they
    begin to assume after school hours responsibilities that are critical for their
    success in junior high.
    7 - 8 70 - 90 Practice and review
    Preparation
    Skill integration
    Extension
    9 - 12 90 - 120 Practice and review
    Preparation
    Skill integration
    Extension

    and one from CA
    The amount of homework assigned shall be related to the maturity and ability level of the students in a given class. The following chart suggests these homework schedules as guides for students. These schedules can be used as guidelines for parents and teachers in monitoring student time devoted to homework.

    K 2 10 - 30 minutes up to 4 days per week

    3 6 30 - 60 minutes up to 4 days per week

    Be advised that students on occasion may spend more than one hour and/or more than four days a week completing schoolwork, as time at home may be spent doing assigned homework, long-term projects, and completing unfinished classroom assignments. Students have varying abilities to use class time efficiently, and the amount of time spent on homework varies from one child to another.
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  6. #6
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    Yes, DH and I were just discussing this matter ourselves. Our 1st grader goes to school from 9:10 (goes in building at 9:05, so actually gets to school at 9) and gets out at 4:01. It is a long day and they have homework every night. 10-15 minutes of reading, math, spelling, writing, etc. It may not be a lot time wise each night, but it sure adds up. We also have brownies, etc. It is pulling teeth to get DD to do the homework.

    In kindergarten they had homework every night, M-F, but not on weekends. Now it is Friday to Friday for homework, so even on the weekends. They had to do research reports and lots of crafty type projects in Kindergarten, so I expect we will have that more so this year.

    I don't remember so much homework in Elementary school. I do know that we had a lot more extracurricular activities when I was a kid, now it is hard to fit them in because school is so long and then homework.

    Lisa

  7. #7
    Wow! My kids don't get nearly that much homework.

    The most homework my kids ever got was my oldest when he was in 3rd grade. He'd have 20 minutes of reading, 20 minutes of physical activity (I loved that one!) and other assigned papers, not usually adding up to any more than 20 more minutes.

    This year my 3rd grader has 15 minutes of reading each night and sometimes other assignments as well.

    My 6th grader often has time in school to complete work (like independent reading, etc.), so he's not had more than maybe 30 minutes or so.

    What SDMomChef described sounds ridiculous!

    I don't know what the "right" amount is, but I sure am glad my kids are not bogged down with hours of homework! There is more to life than school!

    Alysha

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Lrimerman
    They had to do research reports and lots of crafty type projects in Kindergarten, so I expect we will have that more so this year.
    Oh good grief. Who really ends up doing the work? In Kindergarten, most kids are working on beginning to read, letter recognition and little writing. How in the world can you expect them to put together any kind of report? So what happens then? Mom and Dad end up doing most of it, fighting the whole time to get their child to pay attention - and said child is only 5 years old and shouldn't be expected to do this anyway!

    What does this teach kids by overwhelming them and frustrating them from the get-go?

  9. #9
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    I'll chime in as a teacher! It does seem like a lot to me. Is some of that time reading or is it all written and then reading on top of that? When I taught 3rd grade I assigned 20 min each night and then some math and/or spelling not to take more than 30 minutes (so 50 min total with the reading). No HW was given on weekends.

    Do you think it's taking your DS longer than most of the other children or is this pretty much the norm? I would ask the teacher how long she expects students to spend on HW each night. I never mind being asked that question...

    Good luck!

  10. #10
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    That sounds like a lot to me. I would definitely check with the teacher and see if homework is expected to take that long each night. My kids are in kindergarten and second grade, and the school guidelines are 15-20 minutes a night for kindergarten, and 30 minutes a night for 2nd grade. They are also expected to read or be read to for 15-20 minutes a night. I looked up the 4th grade guidelines and it says 45-60 minutes a night. I don't think most of the 4th graders routinely have homework on the weekends, although they might occasionally.

    Claire

  11. #11
    I also have a fourth grader and this is way more than what she is getting. As others have stated you will need to check with the teacher as to how long he/she thinks this work should take. Homework is supposed to complement the work already given in class and give your child some extra practice to enhance the concept. Lucky for us our teacher realizes that kids sometimes have after school sports, piano lessons, etc and she allows the kids to start on homework if they finish their classwork. This allows my daughter to get a head start on what is needed. I would say that her homework averages 30 minutes of work plus 30 minutes of reading. Of course I would be thrilled if she put another 15 minutes into practicing those ellusive "higer-number" times tables or practicing her spelling list but she is 9 and there are other things calling her name. I figure she can afford to be a kid for a bit longer
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  12. #12
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    I have a fourth grader and this is also way more than she has. Granted, they haven't even been back to school for 2 weeks now, but last week she had homework every night but Friday and it took about 45 minutes each night, plus there were also some math games for us to play over the weekend.
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    This happened to my DD last year. The problem was that she wasn't working effectively at school. She was doing too much daydreaming when she should have been working and so the extra ended up in her take home folder. Once we sorted it out and helped DD to focus more on her tasks, the problem ended and we were down to 30 minutes a night plus reading. It was just a back to school transition thing for her.

    I think a note going back to school with the homework asking for a meeting with the teacher is appropriate so that you can discuss the issue face to face. If she does indeed intend for 3 hours of homework, I'd ask to meet with her and the principal. Honestly, an average 4th grader gets home at 4:00 and goes to bed at 8:30... 3 hours is ridiculous. That only leaves an hour and a half for dinner and the rest of her life!
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  14. #14
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    What Rosie said. I am a teacher and this could be why there is so much HW. If your child didn't finish the assigned class work then he has that plus the homework to do. Talk to your child's teacher. Ask if your child is getting the reg. classwork done. If he is , then ask why there is so much homework.

    Vicky

  15. #15
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    I had a *issue* with my DS's homework last year (when he was in 4th grade). He was sitting there for almost 2 hours each night. I did bring this up with the teacher and she said "oh no, he should not be taking that long to do the homework I assign."

    Now some of the problem was my son (he has ADHD) and other kids were not taking that long to do the same amount of homework. Also, I don't think the teacher realized that she was giving a lot. Some other parents must have complained because shortly after I talked with her, the homework was significantly cut back.

    Last night, I went to back to school night for my 5th grader. The teacher said that there will be 1-1.5 hours of homework that night. She said that if the children took longer than that amount of time to do it, we needed to let her know.

    So, I think I would call the teacher and tell her how long it is taking. She may not have a clue as to how much she is giving, or she can let you know if there is a particular problem with your child (i.e., is he the only one that needs two hours to complete it).
    Christine

  16. #16
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    Echoing previous sentiments... I, too, am a teacher. When my 5th grade students have homework in every subject- math, reading, spelling, science AND social studies (which is rare to have it all in one night for us) it should be around an hour, maybe just over. Pretty much our students can count on spelling and math every night. We, too, have all kinds of state/standardized tests but that doesn't necessarily justify oodles of homework every single nights and on weekends!

    Of course, a lot does depend on the child and/or the teacher. You said your DS got the teacher that assigns the most homework- you may want to ask why that is? As a grade level at our school, we may vary slightly but there is no single teacher who piles it on more than the others. Not to sound nosy or anything, but is your son usually a fairly solid student? Certain students work quickly whereas for others homework can be very laborious. If he's usually a good performer (report cards and standardized tests) and it's taking that long, I think a conference with the teacher might help.

    I feel bad for what you're going through. He's only about 9 and, like you said, he can't really just be a kid with all that homework. Keep us posted on how things work out.
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  17. #17
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    My husband and I had our first meeting with my DS's teacher. I'm sure that it won't be the last. When we told her how much time he spent on his homework she didn't respond "Wow, that's way too much time." She does give the most homework and has worked there for 34 years so I'm sure nothing will change with the homework load. Thousands of parents have complained about this teacher. She did state that DS doesn't use his time wisely so we talked with him about that. He also has a big problem remembering to bring home his work. Even though he has a homework notebook and the teacher even reminds the class what to bring home he still forgets!!!! She said she would assign him a buddy to help remind him about what to bring home, but DS stated that she told the buddy to make sure DS writes everything down. I need to talk to her about that. We basically went in with a good attitude and told her the problems he was having and told her what we were doing to try to help him be more responsible and more efficient with his time. We put the ball back in her court so to speak by saying "is there anything you can do to help him?" So far she hasn't lived up to the one thing she said she would do. Perhaps a miscommunication that needs clearing up.

    It will be the year from you know where I'm sure. What's frustrating is that I spend so much time helping him that I don't have time to make dinner, etc. Thanks goodness I only have one DS because the other child would suffer w/o my attention. He also has 3 missed assignments and if he gets one more, it's DETENTION. I realize they must hold the kids responsible, but in my son's case he forgets. He will beat himself up when he gets the detention. "I'm being punished because I'm so stupid I can't remember my homework." Should I let my son's educators destroy my son's self-image and self-respect? BTW, it's a catholic school. Thanks for listening to my rant!

  18. #18
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    Wow, I'd be looking for a new school. Seriously. Are the public schools a possibility where you live?

    I'm sorry. I hope things work out for you.
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    Alisajean,

    I told my husband about your situation - he is a principal at an elementary and my step-son is in 4th grade. He agreed this amount of homework is excessive and also that your son's teacher is a problem.

    The bigger problem, though, appears to be a school that supports her. If "thousands" of people have complained, and they're not doing anything, then you can assume they don't intend to change her ways. You can make a bigger stink about it, but then what impact could that potentially have on your son??

    You probably have only a couple of options.....find another school, or, use this as a learning experience. This is a prime example that life isn't fair, that sometimes you have to suck it up and deal with the unfairness. Can a 10-year old kid do that? I don't know. (Maybe the bigger question is can the kid's parents do that??! )

    Regarding your son's memory, I can tell you my step-son is exactly the same way. If I give him 3 things to do, he'll come back a few minutes later having already forgotten to do two of the three things. My husband says a lot of kids are like that and they usually become less forgetful as they mature and become more focused.

    Good luck!!

  20. #20
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    Do you pick your child up from school? If not, is it possible? Can you just go to his room before going home and make sure he has everything he needs?

    I would definitely make every effort to help him through a year with a difficult teacher. If things do not improve, I would also consider switching schools for the one year if it is not possible to switch classes. It just wouldn't be worth it to me to have my kid become soured on school at such a young age because of a difficult (as in unreasonable, not as in strict) teacher.

    If your son continues in that class, I would also be visiting with the principal frequently regarding any problems. It would not be out of line to request a conference with the teacher, the principal and you and your husband to discuss a plan to help your son. That would also make the teacher be more accountable to the things she agrees to do.

    I guess the way I see it is that your child's success in school largely determines his or her future, and YOU are their advocate to make sure they are as successful as possible. If the teacher is not willing to do her part, become that "squeaky wheel" or take him somewhere else where they are as interested in his success as you are.

    I have had to be a squeaky wheel myself, and I am not a bit sorry for the extra effort I have had to make. I can see the results in the attitudes both of my kids have towards school....positive and confident.

    Good luck!!!
    kathyb


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  21. #21
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    This is so much like my oldest DS that I really can empathize with you (DS#3 wasn't much better in the memory department though). And it was also a Catholic (parish) school that they attended...

    Our solution was that DS#1 was to bring home every book every night, including weekends. If by chance he forgot to write down an assignment (though the teacher should at least agree to checking his assignment book every day...rather than playing the role of lord and master :mad: ) then he could call a classmate and find out what the assignment is. I will say that lugging all that cr@p home for a couple of weeks did improve his memory.

    Also by the time DS#3 was in the 4th grade(though I did move him midyear) the school had established a homework phone line. You could call the number every day (with an ext # for each class) and get the day's assignments. It was paid for by PTO funds.

    Boys are notoriously bad in the short-term memory dept and it's even worse while they are experiencing a growth spurt (pretty sure they are "brain-dead" for that time) since the brain takes longer to catch-up with the body. JMHO as the mother of 3 loving though forgetful boys!!
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  22. #22
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    Thanks for letting me know my son is pretty normal when it comes to the forgetful stuff. I've also looked into ADD. He does forget and gets distracted at home unless I'm right there next to him. I did read where the signs of ADD should have appeared before the age of 7 and his did not until this year so maybe he is just being a "boy." We can only love and support him and let him know that doing his best is all we expect!

  23. #23
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    I don't know if things are different with a private school vs. public but one year I had huge issues with one of my teachers (2nd grade). She'd say rather deragotory things - calling the class stupid. (at least that's what I remember) - I distinctly recall her telling us she was going to get us pencils without erasers b/c we were making too many mistakes on on papers and erasing them to fix them. We never got the pencils - I was actaully excited about them b/c I thought they were cool looking. Anyway I guess when I came home starting to say I was going to fail and was stupid etc. my parents became forceful advocates and got me switched to another class. (I think they even kept me home from school until I was in the new class). Sounds like there's more than one 4th grade teacher, I'd see if you can get him moved. If you think it's bad enough to warrant it you can threaten to pull him out if they won't do it. I went on to be successful in school and I'm not sure if I'd spent a whole year with a teacher like that, how much long term damage would have been done. It doesn't sound like this teacher is that detrimental.

    Kim

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by sneezles
    Boys are notoriously bad in the short-term memory dept and it's even worse while they are experiencing a growth spurt (pretty sure they are "brain-dead" for that time) since the brain takes longer to catch-up with the body. JMHO as the mother of 3 loving though forgetful boys!!
    Oh yes! It's a the more they eat, the less they remember or the less clearly they can think kind of correlation. By the time you buy a size larger pair of shoes, things seem to begin to settle down again.

    You can give them tools for writing down assignments, checking their backpacks and try to help reinforce them, but it takes time, persistence, patience and a realization that they won't ever be perfect.

    Whether you can make a teacher change or not, reassure your son that everyone has some years that are going to be tougher and teachers that will not be as good for them as others, but that he can learn from the experience and become smarter and stronger. Does he have a planner, agenda or small notebook to write down assignments? He might not always remember to use it, but maybe you can develop a habit of getting the assignments in one place and then checking to see if he has everything before he leaves school. Also reassure him that everyone has to learn habits and ways that work for them and that it is a process -- even an experiment to see what works for him. Let him know that he is not stupid or flawed -- he just hasn't found his way of working yet. Some adults still haven't, so when he does, he'll be way ahead of them.

    I've got a 4th grade boy too. This year is off to a better start for us -- so far, but it has been a process to get this far. I know what you're going through is hard, and I agree that it seems like the homework load is too much if he is getting that on a regular basis. Occasssionally, we have things pile up, but even the GT classses don't have that much on a daily basis.

  25. #25
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    input from another teacher

    Do you think it's taking your DS longer than most of the other children or is this pretty much the norm? I would ask the teacher how long she expects students to spend on HW each night. I never mind being asked that question a teacher myself,
    I have to agree with the above from 615 bride, as a teacher myself. Homework is not a time to learn new information, it is the time and opportunity for a student to practice what is learned in class. It is the "independent practice". Definitely ask the teacher how much time she expects them to spend. Does he take a longer time to finish tasks in class? In a specific area (writing, math, reading). It is a good start for you.

    Karen

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by alisajean
    She did state that DS doesn't use his time wisely so we talked with him about that. He also has a big problem remembering to bring home his work. Even though he has a homework notebook and the teacher even reminds the class what to bring home he still forgets!!!! She said she would assign him a buddy to help remind him about what to bring home, but DS stated that she told the buddy to make sure DS writes everything down. I need to talk to her about that. We basically went in with a good attitude and told her the problems he was having and told her what we were doing to try to help him be more responsible and more efficient with his time. We put the ball back in her court so to speak by saying "is there anything you can do to help him?" So far she hasn't lived up to the one thing she said she would do. Perhaps a miscommunication that needs clearing up.

    It will be the year from you know where I'm sure. What's frustrating is that I spend so much time helping him that I don't have time to make dinner, etc. Thanks goodness I only have one DS because the other child would suffer w/o my attention. He also has 3 missed assignments and if he gets one more, it's DETENTION. I realize they must hold the kids responsible, but in my son's case he forgets. He will beat himself up when he gets the detention. "I'm being punished because I'm so stupid I can't remember my homework." Should I let my son's educators destroy my son's self-image and self-respect? BTW, it's a catholic school. Thanks for listening to my rant!
    I really don't mean to not sound supportive...but I don't think it is the teacher's responsibility to check that your son has remembered to take home his assignments and his books. I have known teachers that will initial the written homework assignment to make sure that he has copied it correctly but to expect her to go through his backpack to make sure he has everything is asking a bit much IMHO.

    Trust me, after he has done a dentention (or two or three) his memory about his homework will improve greatly!

    I always tell my sons (13 & 16) that my job is to raise RESPONSIBLE adults and that the only way to do that is for them to suffer the consequences of their actions.

    If you are still worried about the AMOUNT of homework, you might see if you can get him transfered to a different teacher. But any teacher will have consequences for missing assignments, up to and including failing the class. Better that your son knows what the consequences are in 4th grade then later in life (high school, etc).

    Also, he shouldn't need that much supervision that it is preventing you from cooking dinner. If he can't stay on task for a period of time without your constant supervision, I personally would mention it to my peditrician and see if he needs to be tested.
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