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How to Find Relief from Too Much Homework

In 1901, California lawmakers banned homework for K-8 but the law was repealed 15 years later

By Rory Devine
|  Tuesday, May 1, 2012  |  Updated 8:55 AM PDT
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Students Tanner Watson and Luke Andrews, parent Brenda Watsonand Nellie Neyer Ed.D. Deputy Superintendent of Academics discuss how to avoid homework horrors in this report from NBC 7's Rory Devine.

Students Tanner Watson and Luke Andrews, parent Brenda Watsonand Nellie Neyer Ed.D. Deputy Superintendent of Academics discuss how to avoid homework horrors in this report from NBC 7's Rory Devine.

Homework, students say, is getting in the way of a balanced life.

The latest numbers from the U.S. Department of Education reveal 70 percent of 13-year-olds spend at least an hour a day on homework - that's up from 40 percent in 1982.

“Right after my sport, I come home and do my homework, eat dinner and go to bed,” said 7th grader Tanner Watson. “No time for me.”

“Sometimes you don’t even get enough sleep because of all the homework piling up,” said 7th grader Luke Andrews.

They’re not alone in their struggle to find the meaning of it all.

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Parent Brenda Watson wonders if sending home assignments is really necessary for her child’s education.

“I think studying for tests is important but the day-in and day-out homework, is it really necessary? I don’t think so,” Watson said.

Nellie Meyer Ed.D. is Assistant Superintendent of Academics for the San Diego Unified School District.

Homework should be thoughtful, part of the lesson plan, to help students go deeper Meyer said.

“The purpose of the homework is to re-enforce the lessons the teacher gave that day as well as to enrich the lessons,” she said.

It’s up to each school to develop guidelines. Something the La Jolla Cluster did after the documentary “Race to Nowhere” touched a few nerves.

Two years ago the amount of homework was re-adjusted. The kind of homework was re-evaluated. Test scores remained high, backing up what some research shows about the link between homework and achievement.

An Australian study found very little benefit for elementary and junior high school students though homework did help those in 11th and 12th grades.

Educators say homework should still be given to students at a young age to promote good study habits.

“We have five pages of math for the whole week,” said second grader Brandon Watson. “So I just do it the first day and then I have play time the whole rest of the week.”

But studies also suggest too much homework becomes counterproductive after a certain amount of time.

Fifth grader Roxy Shimp believes a lot of homework will help you the same about as a little bit will.

The National PTA recommends the 10 minute per grade rule. For a 3rd grader, about 30 minutes should be acceptable. A 6th grader should get no more than one hour. For older students, the amount of homeowner depends on their coursework.

“It is a red flag if a student is doing more than two or three hours a night a conversation has to be had with the school,” said Meyer.

Meyer said it could mean the student is struggling independently or it could mean a teacher is giving too much homework in general.

The cost can be great.

“It has been the bane of my existence and I think the long-term effect has been a erosion to our relationship between myself and my kids,” said parent Tamara Hurley.

So keep the lines of communication open because like it or not, homework and the age-old debate about it are here to stay. 

Let us know what you think. Comment below, send us your thoughts via Twitter @nbcsandiego or add your comment to our Facebook page.

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