New guidelines prohibit Chinese parents from correcting homework

Photo: Simon Shek from Los Angeles, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Less, but better. Those are – in short – the new guidelines for homework, recently issued by the Chinese Ministry of Education.  

Among the ten new requirements for homework in China’s compulsory education is a ban on written homework assignments for first and second graders. It is also strictly forbidden for parents to complete, or even correct, their children’s homework.  

The central government’s requirements aim at improving the quality of teaching by reversing problems with too many home assignments of poor quality.  

Here is a short rundown of the rules for homework in China, based on information from Finn-Sino Education Club’s Chinese media partner, Rayee ACE:  

  • 1. Homework should support classroom teaching 

Homework must be used in the most efficient way possible.  

Homework should be a supplement to classroom teaching, helping students consolidate knowledge, form abilities and cultivate habits.  

Teachers should use homework to analyse academic conditions and improve teaching methods.  

  • 2. Amount of written homework strictly controlled 

Schools must ensure that there are no written homework assignments in the first and second grades of elementary school.  

The average daily written homework completion time for other grades of primary school should not exceed 60 minutes, and the average daily written homework completion time for junior high school should not exceed 90 minutes.  

The total amount of time used for writing school assignments should also be controlled on weekends and holidays.  

  • 3. Use of innovative methods

Schools should arrange different types of assignments based on subject characteristics and the students’ actual needs and abilities.  

Layered, flexible and personalized homework should be encouraged, as should exploratory, practical, and cross-disciplinary homework. The aim is to avoid mechanical and ineffective training. 

Repetitive and punitive operations are strictly forbidden. 

  • 4. Differentiated assignments 

Teachers should improve their ability to design homework independently, according to the different situations of students.  

The difficulty level of homework should not exceed the requirements of the national curriculum standards.  

Educational administrative departments in various regions should regularly organise and carry out teacher training focusing on homework design and implementation.   

  • 5. Improved guidance 

Teachers should make full use of their classroom teaching time to strengthen the guidance of their students’ homework to cultivate their autonomous learning and time management skills.  

Primary school students should be guided to complete written homework in school, and junior high school students to complete most of the written homework in school. 

  • 6. Quality feedback 

Teachers cannot require students to approve and correct their homework themselves.

The way assignment corrections are made, should be standardized, and comments should be appropriate.  

In particular, it is necessary to strengthen the guidance and assistance for students with learning difficulties. Where conditions permit, use of information technology will be encouraged.  

  • 7. No homework assigned to parents 

It is forbidden to assign homework to parents, directly or indirectly. 

In addition, it is strictly prohibited to ask parents to correct the assignments. Instead, parents should be guided to create a good family education atmosphere, without assigning additional homework assignments. 

  • 8. Only school is allowed to assign homework 

Off-campus training institutions should not give primary and middle school students extra homework.

  • 9. Clear, regional guidelines 

Regional educational administrative departments throughout China should guide schools to improve their homework management and clarify work requirements. 

The schools have the main responsibility of homework management and should plan their students’ homework load at the beginning of each semester. 

  • 10. Reporting of opinions and problems 

The homework management of schools and teachers will systematically be evaluated. Regional educational administrative departments should include homework management in county-level school evaluations.  

All localities should set up unblocked supervision telephones and reporting platforms and take opinions and reports about problem seriously.