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How Much Homework Is Enough?

Commentary by Al Neuharth, founder of USA TODAY.

About 74 million students now are or soon will be back in classrooms across the USA (55.6 million in grade school or high school; 18.4 million in colleges or universities).

That reignites this age-old family question or argument: How much time should students spend on "homework" each school night (Sunday through Thursday)?

Based on parenting eight children - two now very successful adults, one a freshman in college, one in junior high and four in grade school - here is my perspective:

Grade school, one hour maximum.

High school, two hours maximum.

College, as much time as is necessary.

Many or most parents will disagree with me. Many or most students will agree.

Parents generally expect too much time on homework. Many - but not all - students want to do too little. Some teachers add to the problem by emphasizing homework more than work they should supervise in school.

Most students in grade school or high school put in six, seven or eight consecutive hours there. After that, they deserve a break for some fun and games and then a limited time in home studying.

In college, classes are split more throughout the day. Hours generally are fewer, so longer homework periods are desirable and necessary.

Most working parents average eight-hour days on the job. After that most get diversion, whether at home or away.

Students deserve the same. That doesn't mean they shouldn't spend any evening time reading or writing - as long as some of it is for fun and not just to fulfill teacher assignments for the next day.

At every grade level, some time in sports, the arts, other extracurricular activities or on-the-job business experience is as important as book-learning.

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