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Homework Debate Unfolding Across The Country

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Schools across the country are debating whether or not homework is beneficial for young students. It's a topic that can divide parents and teachers. However, what if your child's homework is actually counterproductive? That's one of the arguments being made in the great homework debate.

Many parents are resigned to the idea that homework is just part of learning and succeeding in school. But for fourth grader Judah Broshi, homework is a thing of the past. His school in New York banned mandatory homework for kids in kindergarten through fourth grade. The policy change came after a big push from Judah's mom.

"I was obsessed about why I had to have this contentious relationship with my child about homework," said Robin Broshi, Judah's mother.

Studies show that for younger children homework can be counterproductive. Instead of teaching math and reading skills, it can kill a child's love for learning and put stress on the family.

Before Megan Elliott took on counseling duties, she spent 16 years in an Oklahoma classroom. 

"Homework is a doubled edged sword, it really is," said Elliott. "Little kids, especially, need to be playing. They need to be eating dinner with their families. They need to be moving."

However, Elliott says teachers find it hard to do away with homework altogether because of a government mandate.

"The school day doesn't allow for us to teach all of the things we have to teach," she said.

Doctor Harris Cooper has studied the benefits of homework for years. He says parents, students and teachers need to find some common ground.

"Studies do show even small amounts of homework help kids do better on unit tests," Dr. Cooper said. "But they also help to begin shaping a child's time management skills, their organization."

Dr. Cooper also believes homework improves self-discipline and achievement, but he cautions that moderation is key.

"Teachers have a rule that they call the ten-minute rule," he said. "You take a child's grade and you multiply it by ten, and that's how much time students should be spending."

For Judah, that would mean about 40 minutes of homework a night, precious time that his mother says she would rather spend focusing on family.

"There are people that want to do multiplication, flash cards with their kids and they should, that's great," said Broshi. "But it shouldn't be mandatory."

While Judah's school has outlawed homework, all students still have to read about 30 minutes a night. Experts say if your child is overwhelmed by homework, come up with some fun, short tasks you can do with them to get a break.

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