“Elementary school homework not very useful”

The positive effects of elementary school homework turn out to be fairly limited, research by a team of education experts shows. Nevertheless, 3 out of 4 parents in Flanders think homework is very useful, to process learning materials and to prepare for high school regimes. VRT and newspaper Het Nieuwsblad questioned 1,000 Flemish parents with children in elementary school.

4 out of 5 parents help their kids with their homework for about 15 minutes a day. The older the child gets, the more help he/she receives. Experts say that parents bear high expectations, and find homework very important.

"Nevertheless, research clearly shows that homework results in better school achievements in no more than 15% of children between the age of 6 and 9. In older pupils, the figure climbs to 25%, but that doesn't make it worthwhile", says Ghent University education expert Martin Valcke. Many schools are putting the question on the table, but changing homework policy isn't easy. "Homework is part of the job the same way chalk dust is."

Other remarkable findings from the VRT-Het Nieuwsblad questionnaire:

  • Elementary school children spend a daily average of 30 minutes doing their homework. The amount of time increases as the pupils' education advances: it's at 20 minutes in the first year, against 40 minutes in the final year.
  • Homework causes tensions in 1 out of 3 families.
  • 4 out of 5 parents feel that homework helpsstay up-to-date on what their child is learning at school at any given moment.
  • 1 out of 5 parents thinks homework is unnecessary, dispensable, and a nuisance that gets in the way of hobbies.
  • 1 out of 5 (mostly very work-busy) parents don't help their children with their homework.