Homework – How much is too much?

As Aussie kids return to school this week after the winter break there is nothing that quite stresses out students and parents more than the return to homework, which for many households means nightly battles centred around completing after-school assignments.

Recent reserch from Roy Morgan shows that Aussie tweens aged 10-13 now spend an average four hours a week doing homework – 40 minutes more than in 2007. The more studious kids include those in high-income homes, kids without any distracting siblings, girls, and those with an Asian background. 

In 2015, the average Australian tween aged 10 to 13 spent 37 minutes on a typical weekday and nearly an hour on weekends doing homework—for a total of four hours per week. But the amount of time Aussie tweens spend hitting the books varies markedly depending on sex, ethnicity, household wealth, and how many other kids are in the home.

Tween girls do almost an hour’s more homework during the week than boys. Girls spend 4 hours: 25 minutes on average, compared with boys’ 3 hours 35 minutes.



Increasing household income also adds to tweens’ homework time. Tweens in top-earning homes with an annual gross income over $200Kpa spend an average 4 hours and 35 minutes per week doing homework—over an hour more than those in low income homes.

Although students nowadays are spending significantly more time on homework assignments – the type and quality of the assignments have changed to better capture critical thinking skills and higher levels of learning.

However in comparison to our countries this may not seem a lot.

According to the international Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and various education research partners, 15-year-olds in Shanghai spend the most amount of time on homework, at an average of 13.8 hours per week. While students in Finland spend just 2.8 hours on homework per week, but manage to still perform well on academic tests, despite the correlation between time spent on homework and success.

British 15-year-olds spend an average of 4.9 hours per week on homework, which is exactly the same as the overall OECD average.

Of course some British students refuse to do any homework, while there are many who spend at least twice the average studying at home.

But how much do you think children should spend on homework? Although there are many kids who would rather be reading or playing than working on their assignment, it seems that parents have a very different perspective on the matter.

The decline in time spent doing homework might be the result of changing patterns in how students use their free time, reflecting, for example, the growing importance of the Internet and computers in adolescents’ lives.

Homework Tips

While many parents might feel stressed about homework, there are specific things they can do to make the entire homework experience less stressful for everyone in the household.

If parents are concerned about how much time their children are spending on homework, they first look at how and where their child is doing their homework to see whether that’s a contribution to how long it takes. For instance, are the children being distracted by smartphones, music or other household activities?

Homework is meant to help children and the teacher know which skills are missing and what needs improvement.

Secondly, and something that is crucial to the success of our children later in life, is the importance of letting our kids learn how to make mistakes, letting them fail and find the motivation for their own success.