November 20, 2019


Hi Nikki!

Now that I’m in fifth grade, I’m getting totally SLAMMED with homework. The teachers are probably getting us ready for middle school, but sometimes I have like THREE HOURS of homework! The only way to get it done is to come straight home from school and spend all my time on assignments! If I do the school play, softball or anything else, I’ll never get everything done! Do you have any advice for me?

Horrible Homework Hassle

Hi Horrible Homework Hassle,

Oh ugh, you’re totally right. The teachers are trying to prepare you for middle school. But instead of piling on the work, it seems like they should let you be a kid for as long as you can!

I did some research and the National Parent-Teacher Association recommends ten minutes of homework per grade, per night. So…

  • If you’re in third grade, you shouldn’t have more than thirty minutes
  • Fourth grade, forty minutes
  • Fifth grade, fifty minutes, and so on.

However, please don’t use this as an excuse NOT to complete your homework! I can promise you, your teacher is NOT going to be very happy to hear you didn’t finish your homework just because you read on the Dork Diaries website that Nikki Maxwell said a fifth grader should only have fifty minutes of homework. It won’t be MY fault if you get a bad grade! LOL!

But, I totally agree that three hours sounds like way too much for fifth grade! ☹!!

The first step might be figuring out if you REALLY have three hours of homework. I mean, I believe you that it’s taking too long. But could it be taking that long because you have lots of distractions and take lots of breaks, etc.? I’m not saying you shouldn’t take breaks, but there’s a difference between taking a five minute break every thirty minutes or so and drifting to TV, video games, or your text messages between every math problem. ☺

You might also experiment with what time of day you work best on homework. After school, you’re already exhausted from working your brain all day. Maybe you’d work more efficiently (meaning more quickly!) if you got up earlier in the morning! Or maybe you need a break after school, but you work well after dinner.

It’s definitely not cool if your homework keeps you from doing any other activities you enjoy. Those activities aren’t only for fun, either. Things like school plays and team sports are important for building teamwork skills, discipline, and other educational-type stuff, I’m sure!

Sometimes it’s hard if you’re getting the homework from different teachers, like if you go to different teachers for math and language arts, they might assign work not thinking about how much other work you’re also getting.

Kids complaining about homework is an age old thing and I don’t know how much luck you’d have if you go straight to the teacher. I think talking to your parents should probably be the next step, after making sure you’re using your time well. Bring them the statistic about ten minutes per grade. Show them your assignments. See what they think.

If your parents talk to your teacher about it, there’s more of a chance something might change. If they get other parents involved, that could increase the chances even more. A whole group of parents approaching the school to talk about the homework load could be really effective.

I hope you and your parents and teachers can work this out. I think everyone has the same goal—for you to learn and be prepared for middle and high school. But part of that has to be giving your brain a rest and giving you time for other activities. You have my support!

Do you get a ton of homework? Do you have tips for getting it all done? Tell us in the comments!