Most New Zealand primary schools find benefits in assigning children homework, despite its academic benefits coming under attack.

If managed properly, homework can improve a child's learning and the parent-child relationship while building bridges between schools and parents, says Irene Cooper, president of the primary schools' union at the New Zealand Educational Institute.

"How it's constructed and linked to the family is important and valuable to a child's learning. It's absolutely critical that parents help children [to learn], building quality time ... and parents also get a feeling for where their child is at in their school work.

"We're not talking about locking them away in a bedroom. Like anything, how you construct it determines whether its successful."

While there is no Ministry of Education requirement when it comes to homework, she said most primary schools see it as beneficial and assign about 30 minutes of homework a night.

Ms Cooper's backing comes as a Dunedin psychologist, Nigel Latta, criticised homework in primary schools as having no use.

He said most teachers agreed and assigned homework only to appease parents, which made children resent learning.

Meanwhile in Australia, a new Government junior school has been declared a homework-free zone so pupils can spend more recreational time with their families.

"Nine times out of 10, the homework doesn't help kids, it diminishes them," the school's director, Peter Kearney, told the Herald Sun newspaper in Melbourne.

"Parents think homework means success, but there's no link between academic performance and homework."

Auckland Primary Principals Association president Julien Le Sueur agreed: "Not too many schools would be misleading themselves to think homework was necessary to hugely enhance kids' actual academic capabilities."

But Mr Le Sueur also saw advantages in drawing in parents, particularly in the first three years of schooling when most homework involved parents and children reading together.

"It provides the opportunity for children to engage with their parents in a positive way and for parents to reinforce the fact that they value the reading process.

"Discipline when young doesn't go astray."

Mr Le Sueur said some children obviously didn't have the level of support at home as others, but teachers were understanding and did not get agitated if the homework was incomplete.

There was also the realisation many children were busy with after school activities like sports and music.

Both Education Minister Steve Maharey and National Party Education spokesman Bill English supported homework at the primary school level, so long as it was kept in balance with other life activities.

Mr English said if children did not have homework they would be sitting in front of the television watching The Simpsons.

He said with his own children he had found homework helpful to identify gaps in their learning and parents needed something a bit more than a positive school report.

As long as the homework was not excessive or some attempt to "hot house" the child which could put them off learning, it offered a chance for learning in the home as well, he said.