Too Much Homework?

Paul Harrison, a graduate and now head of the math department at Faith Mennonite High School in Kinzers Pa., grades homework before class on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2006.
Too much homework? Sorry, kids, the adults aren't buying it.

Most parents say their children get the right amount of homework, and most teachers agree, according to an AP-AOL Learning Services Poll.

Even among the parents and teachers who say the load assigned these days is out of whack, more say it's too light — not too heavy.

In Palmdale, Calif., Dwight Daugherty, 52, says his two sons barely take home any homework from high school. "Kids," he says, "aren't being as well educated as I was."

Parents seem rather content, though, with the demands that homework places on their own time.

In the poll, 64 percent of parents said they have little trouble finding time to help with homework, and 57 percent said they spend the right amount of time helping out.

And for those parents who haven't dipped into an algebra or chemistry book in a while? No worries — 70 percent say the homework they see is not too difficult for them to help with.

Teachers, however, are skeptical about the support children get at home. Almost nine in 10 said parents don't set aside enough time to help.

By subject, math is the one that kids need the most help with, parents and teachers agree.

When Cindy Gilpin's two children bring home math in Burlington, Mass., she tries to help, but she has a back-up plan for them: "Go find your father."

As homework aids go, the Internet gets high marks, parents and teachers said in the AP-AOL Poll. More than 80 percent of both groups rated Internet resources as good or very good.

The survey also found:

  • Less educated parents spend more time helping kids with take-home assignments.
  • The most affluent parents spend the least time helping their kids with homework.
  • Women spend an average 46 minutes a day helping with homework. Men spend 35 minutes.
  • Black parents spend more time than Hispanics or whites on homework help.
  • Public school students spend less time on homework than kids in other schools.

    So how much homework is too much? That's the question that elicits emotion, the one that sends parents to their school board asking why weary kids must lug home huge book bags.