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How Many Hours of Homework Should Be Expected in Fourth Grade?

by Jennifer Brozak, studioD

With each passing grade, the amount of time your child spends on homework will likely increase. While homework can a have a definite purpose by reinforcing the skills and concepts your child is learning in the classroom, too much homework can be frustrating for both you and your child -- and even have a detrimental effect on his academic success. Some parents have reason to be concerned about the amount of time their fourth grader spends cracking the books at home.

Time Limits

According to research endorsed by the National Education Association, children should receive no more than 10 minutes of homework per grade level, starting with first grade. This means that kindergarteners should receive zero homework, while children in fourth grade should be expected to complete no more than 40 minutes per night. More than that has been shown to have absolutely no positive effective on children and, in fact, can cause them to become disinterested in learning, according to education expert Alfie Kohn.

Types of Assignments

As your child inches into the higher grades, expectations -- especially those associated with high-stakes standardized testing -- will rise. As such, reading, math and science homework will likely become part of your child’s nightly homework routine. Students also may be expected to complete short spelling and vocabulary assignments at home or work on more extensive projects over a period of time.

Warning Signs

If your fourth grader is routinely spending much longer than the recommended 40 minutes on his nightly homework, constantly needs your help to complete assignments, or if the amount of work he’s bringing home seems excessive, talk to his teacher. Struggling to complete grade-appropriate assignments may be a sign of a learning or emotional issue, and he may need to be tested or reassessed to rule out underlying problems.

Take Action

If you’re worried that your child’s teacher is piling on excessive amounts of homework for his grade level, you have every right to be worried. First, try talking to his teacher and explain your concerns. Discuss evidence from education researchers like Kohn, which proves that too much homework can be detrimental to a child’s academic progress. If your child’s teacher is unwilling to budge on the issue, talk to the school’s principal. Still not getting anywhere? Join with other parents who may be experiencing the same issue and approach the school board.

About the Author

As a mother, wife and recovering English teacher, Jennifer Brozak is passionate about all things parenting and education. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and St. Vincent College, Jennifer writes features for the IN Community magazine network and shares her daily escapades on her blog, One Committed Mama.

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