Thanks for the replies. FTR, I'm not keen on labels, in general, so we don't really refer to her as "gifted". She "tested" into this school, but no labels were ever put on her.
She does love the homework and it is *not* busy work. Nanette - it's not a public school, it's private language immersion. The homework really is applying what she's learning (including everyday living type of things), using some logic, practicing skills learned, etc.
To answer some questions... The teacher said that it will be "in-class work only". I took that to mean "no homework", but afterward, I realized that she did not explicitly say that. I'm not convinced there will be no homework... there was last year when they pulled her out to do extra, advanced work. (But as I said before, she had very little homework in 2nd grade, anyway, so no biggie then.) It was very low-key last year, though.
She does have other interests. Extra-curricular activities - she spends a good amount of time riding (horses) and hanging out at the stables. She likes to cook and bake with me. She sews and does cross stitch, mainly with my mom (who lives with us) and she plays outside when the weather permits. She *is* and only child, though, with zero kids in our neighborhood (mostly retired/older people), and her "free time"interests kind of reflect that.
School's out at 3pm and she does some homework in the car - it takes about an hour to get home. She'll usually have at least an hour's worth of work to do after she gets home. She does sometimes play board games with my mom or color or play polly pockets. However, after all the work is done, she often likes to spend her time doing things that are math and language oriented (venn diagrams, math perplexors, banagrams, crosswords, etc.). She's tv-free during the week. In other words, the homework is not overwhelming her at all, and in fact she would gladly do more. In fact, she wanted copies of her homework that was sent for her to do on our trip so that she could "do the homework once on the way over and do it again on the way back".
Lots of good things to think about, though.
I liked what you said, whatsnextmom, about pacing. Dd does get done early and then reads in class (according to her). I agree with what you are saying. I'm not sure being pulled out to do "more advanced" is the key.
Thanks for the BTDT advice, VisionaryMom. That helps to know how it was handled for you and the results.
ASusan, I think it may be cultural, but dh's school was all day. He went to a special private school in his home country. Seeing, first-hand, his nieces doing the same work really threw me for a loop. When we are visiting, they are up at 8am on a Sunday to do homework and spending 2 years worth of Saturdays to prepare for college entrance exams. The work load is more than it was for me in undergrad. Way more than I PERSONALLY think is healthy, but "the norm" for his culture.
Thanks again everyone! Some great thoughts! I appreciate it!