Kids will be heading back to school any day now. The Christmas break has given them a reprieve from the rigors of the classroom and also from what some kids consider the “headache of homework.”

According to a study done by the nonprofit Public Agenda Group, it’s possible that some parents will also find themselves doing homework very soon.  The Group discovered that almost ¼ of American parents have done part of their children’s homework for them.

The findings of the report aren’t surprising. Homework is not only capable of soliciting help from a parent, but also of bringing about strong opinions. Some parents believe homework is too stressful and takes too much of the children’s time. Others think it is essential and teaches important skills like time management.

Perhaps the answer to the homework debate is somewhere in the middle of the continuum from No Homework to Pile It On. Homework definitely has benefits – especially when the child takes the responsibility for its completion.  It can give kids an early opportunity to build a good work ethic.

The key is gearing the homework assignments and the time it takes to finish those assignments to the age of the student. Consider the “10-minute rule’ – assigning 10 minutes of work per grade level. That means none in Kindergarten, 10 minutes in first grade, 20 in second, and so forth.  The work might be reading, drawing a picture, or even reading with a parent.

As kids get older, research has shown a correlation between homework and achievement that doesn’t exist in the early years. That seems to be in support the concept of the “10-minute rule.”

One quick reminder to parents: Your child’s homework is your child’s responsibility. If he or she is having difficulty that doesn’t mean you can’t help, but let the teacher know you gave some assistance so it isn’t assumed your child did it alone and completely understands the concepts.