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More than two hours of homework may be counterproductive, research suggests.

Education scholar Denise Pope has found that too much homework has negative impacts on student well-being and behavioral engagement (Shutterstock)

A Stanford education researcher found that too much homework can negatively affect kids, especially their lives away from school, where family, friends and activities matter.   "Our findings on the effects of homework challenge the traditional assumption that homework is inherently good," wrote Denise Pope , a senior lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and a co-author of a study published in the Journal of Experimental Education .   The researchers used survey data to examine perceptions about homework, student well-being and behavioral engagement in a sample of 4,317 students from 10 high-performing high schools in upper-middle-class California communities. Along with the survey data, Pope and her colleagues used open-ended answers to explore the students' views on homework.   Median household income exceeded $90,000 in these communities, and 93 percent of the students went on to college, either two-year or four-year.   Students in these schools average about 3.1 hours of homework each night.   "The findings address how current homework practices in privileged, high-performing schools sustain students' advantage in competitive climates yet hinder learning, full engagement and well-being," Pope wrote.   Pope and her colleagues found that too much homework can diminish its effectiveness and even be counterproductive. They cite prior research indicating that homework benefits plateau at about two hours per night, and that 90 minutes to two and a half hours is optimal for high school.   Their study found that too much homework is associated with:   • Greater stress : 56 percent of the students considered homework a primary source of stress, according to the survey data. Forty-three percent viewed tests as a primary stressor, while 33 percent put the pressure to get good grades in that category. Less than 1 percent of the students said homework was not a stressor.   • Reductions in health : In their open-ended answers, many students said their homework load led to sleep deprivation and other health problems. The researchers asked students whether they experienced health issues such as headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss and stomach problems.   • Less time for friends, family and extracurricular pursuits : Both the survey data and student responses indicate that spending too much time on homework meant that students were "not meeting their developmental needs or cultivating other critical life skills," according to the researchers. Students were more likely to drop activities, not see friends or family, and not pursue hobbies they enjoy.   A balancing act   The results offer empirical evidence that many students struggle to find balance between homework, extracurricular activities and social time, the researchers said. Many students felt forced or obligated to choose homework over developing other talents or skills.   Also, there was no relationship between the time spent on homework and how much the student enjoyed it. The research quoted students as saying they often do homework they see as "pointless" or "mindless" in order to keep their grades up.   "This kind of busy work, by its very nature, discourages learning and instead promotes doing homework simply to get points," said Pope, who is also a co-founder of Challenge Success , a nonprofit organization affiliated with the GSE that conducts research and works with schools and parents to improve students' educational experiences..   Pope said the research calls into question the value of assigning large amounts of homework in high-performing schools. Homework should not be simply assigned as a routine practice, she said.   "Rather, any homework assigned should have a purpose and benefit, and it should be designed to cultivate learning and development," wrote Pope.   High-performing paradox   In places where students attend high-performing schools, too much homework can reduce their time to foster skills in the area of personal responsibility, the researchers concluded. "Young people are spending more time alone," they wrote, "which means less time for family and fewer opportunities to engage in their communities."   Student perspectives   The researchers say that while their open-ended or "self-reporting" methodology to gauge student concerns about homework may have limitations – some might regard it as an opportunity for "typical adolescent complaining" – it was important to learn firsthand what the students believe.   The paper was co-authored by Mollie Galloway from Lewis and Clark College and Jerusha Conner from Villanova University.

Clifton B. Parker is a writer at the Stanford News Service .

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When Your Child Has Too Much Homework

  • How Much Time Is Ideal?
  • Time Management
  • Set Up a Homework Corner
  • Have a Homework Routine

Are you concerned about the amount of time your child spends on homework each evening? Perhaps you feel like your child is spending a lot of time on their homework, and they are not getting anything out of it.

If your child is overwhelmed by homework, you can help them by examining their habits to find the source of homework trouble. Once you have identified the root of the problem , you can guide your child to a solution.

1) Find Out How Much Time Your Child Should Be Spending on Homework

While there are no set rules on exactly how much homework a child should have, there are some guidelines to help you decide if the amount of homework is too much or just right. 

The most common guideline is the 10-minute rule, which states that a child should have about ten minutes of homework per night for each grade they are in.

With this rule, a first-grader would average 10 minutes of homework, a second grader would have 20 minutes per night, and so on.

The 10-minute rule is recommended by the National PTA and the National Educators Association. Keep in mind that it is a guideline—some high school classes and advanced work classes may have more homework than the general guideline.

Often, teachers will send home a letter explaining their homework policy in the first weeks of school. This policy will often include more personalized guidelines, including how much time homework should take each evening.

2) Check How Well Your Child Uses Their Homework Time

If you realize your child is spending more time on their homework than expected, you will need to do some troubleshooting to solve the problem. Is your child or teen sitting with their homework out, yet they are doing something else, like texting friends or watching a TV program. Check to make sure they are focused on their work during the time they are working.

You want to check this first hand.

Your child or teen may simply not be aware of how distractions can impact their homework time.

If you find your child is not focused on homework, use the following suggestions to help them stay focused during homework time.

3) Make Sure Your Child Has a Homework Corner at Home

Your child or teen will benefit from having a specific place where they can work on their homework. The area should be someplace that is comfortable to work, allows for an age-appropriate amount of parental supervision, and access to any needed supplies or resources.

Completing homework in a specific place will help reinforce habits.   Your child will get used to doing their work in that specific spot.

4 ) Have a Regular Homework Routine to Prevent Procrastination

Sometimes, school-age children will put off doing larger homework assignments rather than trying to complete them a few days before they are due. Rather than spending 10 to 20 minutes for several evenings on the large assignment, they will have to spend hours to get the work done.

Having a regular homework set time in their daily schedule will give them the time to work on their assignments on most days. Tweens and teens will need to make sure they keep track of the different due dates in their different subjects.

Work Straight Through or Take Breaks?  

Remember that 10-minute rule stated earlier? That rule would lead to an eighth-grade student doing 1 hour and 20 minutes of homework each night. High school students can expect even more time on homework.

If your child needs a break and tries to push through, they often find it difficult to maintain focus. They may be seated at the table, but their work will slow down or stop altogether.

Some children and teens are able to sit down and work straight through until their daily homework is completed. Others may find they need to take a short break every 40 minutes.

Some children or teens may also experience a condition that affects their ability to focus for long periods of time. Examples include ADHD, depression , and anxiety .

Children and teens who struggle with focusing for long periods of time will need to keep their abilities in mind when they plan to do their work. They may benefit from a distraction-free area, splitting homework time between before and after school or another creative arrangement that accounts for their needs.

5) Check for Reasons You Need to Follow up With the Teacher

Sometimes homework overload is not something that can be solved only at home.

Your child does not know how to do the assignment. If your child or teen does not know how to do the work, they may take a very long time trying to complete it. Sit down with your child and watch them try to do their work. Do they understand the directions for the assignment? Are they missing skills they need to complete the work?

If it is the first time your child has struggled to understand how to do the homework, encourage your child to discuss the problems with the teacher in the next class session. If your elementary or middle school child is starting to fall into a pattern of struggling with work, you will want to be included in the conversation over the struggle with the material. If your child is in high school, use your knowledge of your teen to decide if they should handle it completely on their own.

You want to let the teacher know quickly if your child cannot do the homework so that the teacher can help address any gaps in knowledge early.

Nationwide schools are adopting rigorous curricula that build from grade to grade. Missing a skill in one grade level can lead to missing building blocks for following years.

Fortunately, teachers can find ways to address gaps in learning. The earlier a teacher is aware of a gap, the faster the gap can be addressed before it becomes a larger gap in learning.

Your child takes an excessive amount of time to complete their homework. Perhaps your child does sit down every evening in a distraction-free area and focuses on their school work, only an assignment that should 10 minutes actually takes 40 minutes. Your child might be working hard and know what to do, but they are very slow, especially compared to other kids in their class.

This may be caused by a learning disability . Children with dyslexia may struggle to learn to read and then read very slowly.   Children with dyscalculia, a disability in math , may take an exceptionally long time to complete work involving numbers, estimation, and math.   Fortunately, there are teaching and learning methods that can help children with these issues once they have been diagnosed.

Your child has multiple assignments due at the same time. This is a situation that you may only expect in high school when you know your teen will have several different subjects and teachers, each with their own calendar of assignments. Teachers may assign a large project with a due date right before or after a break, believing it would be convenient for everyone to have it due. Sometimes school calendars have other days, like the midpoint in a quarter, that seems ideal to have work due.

It's often the convenience of certain dates in the schedule that can cause multiple assignments to be due in middle school. Children in elementary school who see different teachers throughout the day in an effort to individualize to skill level may be surprised to find themselves caught with too much work due at the same time.

Ideally, teachers will plan out large assignments far in advance of the due date so that even if multiple subjects require work to be turned in on the same day, children can plan ahead and work slowly. Sometimes, this doesn't happen.

Teachers are often somewhat isolated from one another in schools, each working in their own classrooms, so teachers may not even know that they are assigning work that will all be due at the same time.

If your child has a truly unreasonable amount of work due at once, talk with the teachers involved. Some schools have set policies limiting the number of large tests or projects that can be due on a single day. Even if your child's school does not have a specific policy, teachers may be able to change due dates or come up with a plan that will allow your child to get the work done without being overwhelmed.

A Final Word From Verywell

Learning to get homework done regularly can help your child develop a growth mindset, where they know that their hard work will lead them to learn and opportunity. Finding ways to overcome difficult periods in school will also help your child or teen learn that they can find ways to meet challenges and be successful in school.

National Education Association. Research spotlight on homework. NEA reviews of the research on best practices in education .

Xu J. Why Do Students Have Difficulties Completing Homework? The Need for Homework Management . J Educ Train Stud . 2013;1(1):98-105. doi:10.11114/jets.v1i1.78

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other Concerns and Conditions With ADHD .

Hulme C, Snowling MJ. Reading disorders and dyslexia . Curr Opin Pediatr . 2016;28(6):731-735. doi:10.1097/MOP.0000000000000411

Kaufmann L, Mazzocco MM, Dowker A, et al. Dyscalculia from a developmental and differential perspective .  Front Psychol . 2013;4:516. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00516

By Lisa Linnell-Olsen Lisa Linnell-Olsen has worked as a support staff educator, and is well-versed in issues of education policy and parenting issues.

kids have too much homework

Is it time to get rid of homework? Mental health experts weigh in.

It's no secret that kids hate homework. And as students grapple with an ongoing pandemic that has had a wide range of mental health impacts, is it time schools start listening to their pleas about workloads?

Some teachers are turning to social media to take a stand against homework. 

Tiktok user @misguided.teacher says he doesn't assign it because the "whole premise of homework is flawed."

For starters, he says, he can't grade work on "even playing fields" when students' home environments can be vastly different.

"Even students who go home to a peaceful house, do they really want to spend their time on busy work? Because typically that's what a lot of homework is, it's busy work," he says in the video that has garnered 1.6 million likes. "You only get one year to be 7, you only got one year to be 10, you only get one year to be 16, 18."

Mental health experts agree heavy workloads have the potential do more harm than good for students, especially when taking into account the impacts of the pandemic. But they also say the answer may not be to eliminate homework altogether.

Emmy Kang, mental health counselor at Humantold , says studies have shown heavy workloads can be "detrimental" for students and cause a "big impact on their mental, physical and emotional health."

"More than half of students say that homework is their primary source of stress, and we know what stress can do on our bodies," she says, adding that staying up late to finish assignments also leads to disrupted sleep and exhaustion.

Cynthia Catchings, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist at Talkspace , says heavy workloads can also cause serious mental health problems in the long run, like anxiety and depression. 

And for all the distress homework  can cause, it's not as useful as many may think, says Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, a psychologist and CEO of Omega Recovery treatment center.

"The research shows that there's really limited benefit of homework for elementary age students, that really the school work should be contained in the classroom," he says.

For older students, Kang says, homework benefits plateau at about two hours per night. 

"Most students, especially at these high achieving schools, they're doing a minimum of three hours, and it's taking away time from their friends, from their families, their extracurricular activities. And these are all very important things for a person's mental and emotional health."

Catchings, who also taught third to 12th graders for 12 years, says she's seen the positive effects of a no-homework policy while working with students abroad.

"Not having homework was something that I always admired from the French students (and) the French schools, because that was helping the students to really have the time off and really disconnect from school," she says.

The answer may not be to eliminate homework completely but to be more mindful of the type of work students take home, suggests Kang, who was a high school teacher for 10 years.

"I don't think (we) should scrap homework; I think we should scrap meaningless, purposeless busy work-type homework. That's something that needs to be scrapped entirely," she says, encouraging teachers to be thoughtful and consider the amount of time it would take for students to complete assignments.

The pandemic made the conversation around homework more crucial 

Mindfulness surrounding homework is especially important in the context of the past two years. Many students will be struggling with mental health issues that were brought on or worsened by the pandemic , making heavy workloads even harder to balance.

"COVID was just a disaster in terms of the lack of structure. Everything just deteriorated," Kardaras says, pointing to an increase in cognitive issues and decrease in attention spans among students. "School acts as an anchor for a lot of children, as a stabilizing force, and that disappeared."

But even if students transition back to the structure of in-person classes, Kardaras suspects students may still struggle after two school years of shifted schedules and disrupted sleeping habits.

"We've seen adults struggling to go back to in-person work environments from remote work environments. That effect is amplified with children because children have less resources to be able to cope with those transitions than adults do," he explains.

'Get organized' ahead of back-to-school

In order to make the transition back to in-person school easier, Kang encourages students to "get good sleep, exercise regularly (and) eat a healthy diet."

To help manage workloads, she suggests students "get organized."

"There's so much mental clutter up there when you're disorganized. ... Sitting down and planning out their study schedules can really help manage their time," she says.

Breaking up assignments can also make things easier to tackle.

"I know that heavy workloads can be stressful, but if you sit down and you break down that studying into smaller chunks, they're much more manageable."

If workloads are still too much, Kang encourages students to advocate for themselves.

"They should tell their teachers when a homework assignment just took too much time or if it was too difficult for them to do on their own," she says. "It's good to speak up and ask those questions. Respectfully, of course, because these are your teachers. But still, I think sometimes teachers themselves need this feedback from their students."

More: Some teachers let their students sleep in class. Here's what mental health experts say.

More: Some parents are slipping young kids in for the COVID-19 vaccine, but doctors discourage the move as 'risky'

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Adolescent girl doing homework.

What’s the Right Amount of Homework?

Decades of research show that homework has some benefits, especially for students in middle and high school—but there are risks to assigning too much.

Many teachers and parents believe that homework helps students build study skills and review concepts learned in class. Others see homework as disruptive and unnecessary, leading to burnout and turning kids off to school. Decades of research show that the issue is more nuanced and complex than most people think: Homework is beneficial, but only to a degree. Students in high school gain the most, while younger kids benefit much less.

The National PTA and the National Education Association support the “ 10-minute homework guideline ”—a nightly 10 minutes of homework per grade level. But many teachers and parents are quick to point out that what matters is the quality of the homework assigned and how well it meets students’ needs, not the amount of time spent on it.

The guideline doesn’t account for students who may need to spend more—or less—time on assignments. In class, teachers can make adjustments to support struggling students, but at home, an assignment that takes one student 30 minutes to complete may take another twice as much time—often for reasons beyond their control. And homework can widen the achievement gap, putting students from low-income households and students with learning disabilities at a disadvantage.

However, the 10-minute guideline is useful in setting a limit: When kids spend too much time on homework, there are real consequences to consider.

Small Benefits for Elementary Students

As young children begin school, the focus should be on cultivating a love of learning, and assigning too much homework can undermine that goal. And young students often don’t have the study skills to benefit fully from homework, so it may be a poor use of time (Cooper, 1989 ; Cooper et al., 2006 ; Marzano & Pickering, 2007 ). A more effective activity may be nightly reading, especially if parents are involved. The benefits of reading are clear: If students aren’t proficient readers by the end of third grade, they’re less likely to succeed academically and graduate from high school (Fiester, 2013 ).

For second-grade teacher Jacqueline Fiorentino, the minor benefits of homework did not outweigh the potential drawback of turning young children against school at an early age, so she experimented with dropping mandatory homework. “Something surprising happened: They started doing more work at home,” Fiorentino writes . “This inspiring group of 8-year-olds used their newfound free time to explore subjects and topics of interest to them.” She encouraged her students to read at home and offered optional homework to extend classroom lessons and help them review material.

Moderate Benefits for Middle School Students

As students mature and develop the study skills necessary to delve deeply into a topic—and to retain what they learn—they also benefit more from homework. Nightly assignments can help prepare them for scholarly work, and research shows that homework can have moderate benefits for middle school students (Cooper et al., 2006 ). Recent research also shows that online math homework, which can be designed to adapt to students’ levels of understanding, can significantly boost test scores (Roschelle et al., 2016 ).

There are risks to assigning too much, however: A 2015 study found that when middle school students were assigned more than 90 to 100 minutes of daily homework, their math and science test scores began to decline (Fernández-Alonso, Suárez-Álvarez, & Muñiz, 2015 ). Crossing that upper limit can drain student motivation and focus. The researchers recommend that “homework should present a certain level of challenge or difficulty, without being so challenging that it discourages effort.” Teachers should avoid low-effort, repetitive assignments, and assign homework “with the aim of instilling work habits and promoting autonomous, self-directed learning.”

In other words, it’s the quality of homework that matters, not the quantity. Brian Sztabnik, a veteran middle and high school English teacher, suggests that teachers take a step back and ask themselves these five questions :

  • How long will it take to complete?
  • Have all learners been considered?
  • Will an assignment encourage future success?
  • Will an assignment place material in a context the classroom cannot?
  • Does an assignment offer support when a teacher is not there?

More Benefits for High School Students, but Risks as Well

By the time they reach high school, students should be well on their way to becoming independent learners, so homework does provide a boost to learning at this age, as long as it isn’t overwhelming (Cooper et al., 2006 ; Marzano & Pickering, 2007 ). When students spend too much time on homework—more than two hours each night—it takes up valuable time to rest and spend time with family and friends. A 2013 study found that high school students can experience serious mental and physical health problems, from higher stress levels to sleep deprivation, when assigned too much homework (Galloway, Conner, & Pope, 2013 ).

Homework in high school should always relate to the lesson and be doable without any assistance, and feedback should be clear and explicit.

Teachers should also keep in mind that not all students have equal opportunities to finish their homework at home, so incomplete homework may not be a true reflection of their learning—it may be more a result of issues they face outside of school. They may be hindered by issues such as lack of a quiet space at home, resources such as a computer or broadband connectivity, or parental support (OECD, 2014 ). In such cases, giving low homework scores may be unfair.

Since the quantities of time discussed here are totals, teachers in middle and high school should be aware of how much homework other teachers are assigning. It may seem reasonable to assign 30 minutes of daily homework, but across six subjects, that’s three hours—far above a reasonable amount even for a high school senior. Psychologist Maurice Elias sees this as a common mistake: Individual teachers create homework policies that in aggregate can overwhelm students. He suggests that teachers work together to develop a school-wide homework policy and make it a key topic of back-to-school night and the first parent-teacher conferences of the school year.

Parents Play a Key Role

Homework can be a powerful tool to help parents become more involved in their child’s learning (Walker et al., 2004 ). It can provide insights into a child’s strengths and interests, and can also encourage conversations about a child’s life at school. If a parent has positive attitudes toward homework, their children are more likely to share those same values, promoting academic success.

But it’s also possible for parents to be overbearing, putting too much emphasis on test scores or grades, which can be disruptive for children (Madjar, Shklar, & Moshe, 2015 ). Parents should avoid being overly intrusive or controlling—students report feeling less motivated to learn when they don’t have enough space and autonomy to do their homework (Orkin, May, & Wolf, 2017 ; Patall, Cooper, & Robinson, 2008 ; Silinskas & Kikas, 2017 ). So while homework can encourage parents to be more involved with their kids, it’s important to not make it a source of conflict.

Is Homework Good for Kids? Here’s What the Research Says

A s kids return to school, debate is heating up once again over how they should spend their time after they leave the classroom for the day.

The no-homework policy of a second-grade teacher in Texas went viral last week , earning praise from parents across the country who lament the heavy workload often assigned to young students. Brandy Young told parents she would not formally assign any homework this year, asking students instead to eat dinner with their families, play outside and go to bed early.

But the question of how much work children should be doing outside of school remains controversial, and plenty of parents take issue with no-homework policies, worried their kids are losing a potential academic advantage. Here’s what you need to know:

For decades, the homework standard has been a “10-minute rule,” which recommends a daily maximum of 10 minutes of homework per grade level. Second graders, for example, should do about 20 minutes of homework each night. High school seniors should complete about two hours of homework each night. The National PTA and the National Education Association both support that guideline.

But some schools have begun to give their youngest students a break. A Massachusetts elementary school has announced a no-homework pilot program for the coming school year, lengthening the school day by two hours to provide more in-class instruction. “We really want kids to go home at 4 o’clock, tired. We want their brain to be tired,” Kelly Elementary School Principal Jackie Glasheen said in an interview with a local TV station . “We want them to enjoy their families. We want them to go to soccer practice or football practice, and we want them to go to bed. And that’s it.”

A New York City public elementary school implemented a similar policy last year, eliminating traditional homework assignments in favor of family time. The change was quickly met with outrage from some parents, though it earned support from other education leaders.

New solutions and approaches to homework differ by community, and these local debates are complicated by the fact that even education experts disagree about what’s best for kids.

The research

The most comprehensive research on homework to date comes from a 2006 meta-analysis by Duke University psychology professor Harris Cooper, who found evidence of a positive correlation between homework and student achievement, meaning students who did homework performed better in school. The correlation was stronger for older students—in seventh through 12th grade—than for those in younger grades, for whom there was a weak relationship between homework and performance.

Cooper’s analysis focused on how homework impacts academic achievement—test scores, for example. His report noted that homework is also thought to improve study habits, attitudes toward school, self-discipline, inquisitiveness and independent problem solving skills. On the other hand, some studies he examined showed that homework can cause physical and emotional fatigue, fuel negative attitudes about learning and limit leisure time for children. At the end of his analysis, Cooper recommended further study of such potential effects of homework.

Despite the weak correlation between homework and performance for young children, Cooper argues that a small amount of homework is useful for all students. Second-graders should not be doing two hours of homework each night, he said, but they also shouldn’t be doing no homework.

Not all education experts agree entirely with Cooper’s assessment.

Cathy Vatterott, an education professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, supports the “10-minute rule” as a maximum, but she thinks there is not sufficient proof that homework is helpful for students in elementary school.

“Correlation is not causation,” she said. “Does homework cause achievement, or do high achievers do more homework?”

Vatterott, the author of Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs , thinks there should be more emphasis on improving the quality of homework tasks, and she supports efforts to eliminate homework for younger kids.

“I have no concerns about students not starting homework until fourth grade or fifth grade,” she said, noting that while the debate over homework will undoubtedly continue, she has noticed a trend toward limiting, if not eliminating, homework in elementary school.

The issue has been debated for decades. A TIME cover in 1999 read: “Too much homework! How it’s hurting our kids, and what parents should do about it.” The accompanying story noted that the launch of Sputnik in 1957 led to a push for better math and science education in the U.S. The ensuing pressure to be competitive on a global scale, plus the increasingly demanding college admissions process, fueled the practice of assigning homework.

“The complaints are cyclical, and we’re in the part of the cycle now where the concern is for too much,” Cooper said. “You can go back to the 1970s, when you’ll find there were concerns that there was too little, when we were concerned about our global competitiveness.”

Cooper acknowledged that some students really are bringing home too much homework, and their parents are right to be concerned.

“A good way to think about homework is the way you think about medications or dietary supplements,” he said. “If you take too little, they’ll have no effect. If you take too much, they can kill you. If you take the right amount, you’ll get better.”

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Write to Katie Reilly at [email protected]

Guy Winch Ph.D.

How Much Homework Is Too Much?

Are schools assigning too much homework.

Posted October 19, 2011

Timothy, a fifth grader, spends up to thirteen hours a day hunched over a desk at school or at home, studying and doing homework. Should his parents feel proud? Now imagine, for comparison's sake, Timothy spending thirteen hours a day hunched over a sewing machine instead of a desk.

Parents have the right to complain when schools assign too much homework but they often don't know how to do so effectively.

Drowning in Homework ( an excerpt from Chapter 8 of The Squeaky Wheel )

I first met Timothy, a quiet, overweight eleven-year-old boy, when his mother brought him to therapy to discuss his slipping grades. A few minutes with Timothy were enough to confirm that his mood, self-esteem , and general happiness were slipping right along with them. Timothy attended one of the top private schools in Manhattan, an environment in which declining grades were no idle matter.

I asked about Timothy's typical day. He awoke every morning at six thirty so he could get to school by eight and arrived home around four thirty each afternoon. He then had a quick snack, followed by either a piano lesson or his math tutor, depending on the day. He had dinner at seven p.m., after which he sat down to do homework for two to three hours a night. Quickly doing the math in my head, I calculated that Timothy spent an average of thirteen hours a day hunched over a writing desk. His situation is not atypical. Spending that many hours studying is the only way Timothy can keep up and stay afloat academically.

But what if, for comparison's sake, we imagined Timothy spending thirteen hours a day hunched over a sewing machine instead of a desk. We would immediately be aghast at the inhumanity because children are horribly mistreated in such "sweatshops." Timothy is far from being mistreated, but the mountain of homework he faces daily results in a similar consequence- he too is being robbed of his childhood.

Timothy's academics leave him virtually no time to do anything he truly enjoys, such as playing video games, movies, or board games with his friends. During the week he never plays outside and never has indoor play dates or opportunities to socialize with friends. On weekends, Timothy's days are often devoted to studying for tests, working on special school projects, or arguing with his mother about studying for tests and working on special school projects.

By the fourth and fifth grade and certainly in middle school, many of our children have hours of homework, test preparation, project writing, or research to do every night, all in addition to the eight hours or more they have to spend in school. Yet study after study has shown that homework has little to do with achievement in elementary school and is only marginally related to achievement in middle school .

Play, however, is a crucial component of healthy child development . It affects children's creativity , their social skills, and even their brain development. The absence of play, physical exercise, and free-form social interaction takes a serious toll on many children. It can also have significant health implications as is evidenced by our current epidemic of childhood obesity, sleep deprivation, low self- esteem, and depression .

A far stronger predictor than homework of academic achievement for kids aged three to twelve is having regular family meals. Family meals allow parents to check in, to demonstrate caring and involvement, to provide supervision, and to offer support. The more family meals can be worked into the schedule, the better, especially for preteens. The frequency of family meals has also been shown to help with disordered eating behaviors in adolescents.

Experts in the field recommend children have no more than ten minutes of homework per day per grade level. As a fifth- grader, Timothy should have no more than fifty minutes a day of homework (instead of three times that amount). Having an extra two hours an evening to play, relax, or see a friend would constitute a huge bump in any child's quality of life.

kids have too much homework

So what can we do if our child is getting too much homework?

1. Complain to the teachers and the school. Most parents are unaware that excessive homework contributes so little to their child's academic achievement.

2. Educate your child's teacher and principal about the homework research-they are often equally unaware of the facts and teachers of younger children (K-4) often make changes as a result.

3. Create allies within the system by speaking with other parents and banding together to address the issue with the school.

You might also like: Is Excessive Homework in Private Schools a Customer Service Issue?

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Guy Winch, Ph.D. , is a licensed psychologist and author of Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts.

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Does Homework Really Help Students Learn?

A conversation with a Wheelock researcher, a BU student, and a fourth-grade teacher

child doing homework

“Quality homework is engaging and relevant to kids’ lives,” says Wheelock’s Janine Bempechat. “It gives them autonomy and engages them in the community and with their families. In some subjects, like math, worksheets can be very helpful. It has to do with the value of practicing over and over.” Photo by iStock/Glenn Cook Photography

Do your homework.

If only it were that simple.

Educators have debated the merits of homework since the late 19th century. In recent years, amid concerns of some parents and teachers that children are being stressed out by too much homework, things have only gotten more fraught.

“Homework is complicated,” says developmental psychologist Janine Bempechat, a Wheelock College of Education & Human Development clinical professor. The author of the essay “ The Case for (Quality) Homework—Why It Improves Learning and How Parents Can Help ” in the winter 2019 issue of Education Next , Bempechat has studied how the debate about homework is influencing teacher preparation, parent and student beliefs about learning, and school policies.

She worries especially about socioeconomically disadvantaged students from low-performing schools who, according to research by Bempechat and others, get little or no homework.

BU Today  sat down with Bempechat and Erin Bruce (Wheelock’17,’18), a new fourth-grade teacher at a suburban Boston school, and future teacher freshman Emma Ardizzone (Wheelock) to talk about what quality homework looks like, how it can help children learn, and how schools can equip teachers to design it, evaluate it, and facilitate parents’ role in it.

BU Today: Parents and educators who are against homework in elementary school say there is no research definitively linking it to academic performance for kids in the early grades. You’ve said that they’re missing the point.

Bempechat : I think teachers assign homework in elementary school as a way to help kids develop skills they’ll need when they’re older—to begin to instill a sense of responsibility and to learn planning and organizational skills. That’s what I think is the greatest value of homework—in cultivating beliefs about learning and skills associated with academic success. If we greatly reduce or eliminate homework in elementary school, we deprive kids and parents of opportunities to instill these important learning habits and skills.

We do know that beginning in late middle school, and continuing through high school, there is a strong and positive correlation between homework completion and academic success.

That’s what I think is the greatest value of homework—in cultivating beliefs about learning and skills associated with academic success.

You talk about the importance of quality homework. What is that?

Quality homework is engaging and relevant to kids’ lives. It gives them autonomy and engages them in the community and with their families. In some subjects, like math, worksheets can be very helpful. It has to do with the value of practicing over and over.

Janine Bempechat

What are your concerns about homework and low-income children?

The argument that some people make—that homework “punishes the poor” because lower-income parents may not be as well-equipped as affluent parents to help their children with homework—is very troubling to me. There are no parents who don’t care about their children’s learning. Parents don’t actually have to help with homework completion in order for kids to do well. They can help in other ways—by helping children organize a study space, providing snacks, being there as a support, helping children work in groups with siblings or friends.

Isn’t the discussion about getting rid of homework happening mostly in affluent communities?

Yes, and the stories we hear of kids being stressed out from too much homework—four or five hours of homework a night—are real. That’s problematic for physical and mental health and overall well-being. But the research shows that higher-income students get a lot more homework than lower-income kids.

Teachers may not have as high expectations for lower-income children. Schools should bear responsibility for providing supports for kids to be able to get their homework done—after-school clubs, community support, peer group support. It does kids a disservice when our expectations are lower for them.

The conversation around homework is to some extent a social class and social justice issue. If we eliminate homework for all children because affluent children have too much, we’re really doing a disservice to low-income children. They need the challenge, and every student can rise to the challenge with enough supports in place.

What did you learn by studying how education schools are preparing future teachers to handle homework?

My colleague, Margarita Jimenez-Silva, at the University of California, Davis, School of Education, and I interviewed faculty members at education schools, as well as supervising teachers, to find out how students are being prepared. And it seemed that they weren’t. There didn’t seem to be any readings on the research, or conversations on what high-quality homework is and how to design it.

Erin, what kind of training did you get in handling homework?

Bruce : I had phenomenal professors at Wheelock, but homework just didn’t come up. I did lots of student teaching. I’ve been in classrooms where the teachers didn’t assign any homework, and I’ve been in rooms where they assigned hours of homework a night. But I never even considered homework as something that was my decision. I just thought it was something I’d pull out of a book and it’d be done.

I started giving homework on the first night of school this year. My first assignment was to go home and draw a picture of the room where you do your homework. I want to know if it’s at a table and if there are chairs around it and if mom’s cooking dinner while you’re doing homework.

The second night I asked them to talk to a grown-up about how are you going to be able to get your homework done during the week. The kids really enjoyed it. There’s a running joke that I’m teaching life skills.

Friday nights, I read all my kids’ responses to me on their homework from the week and it’s wonderful. They pour their hearts out. It’s like we’re having a conversation on my couch Friday night.

It matters to know that the teacher cares about you and that what you think matters to the teacher. Homework is a vehicle to connect home and school…for parents to know teachers are welcoming to them and their families.

Bempechat : I can’t imagine that most new teachers would have the intuition Erin had in designing homework the way she did.

Ardizzone : Conversations with kids about homework, feeling you’re being listened to—that’s such a big part of wanting to do homework….I grew up in Westchester County. It was a pretty demanding school district. My junior year English teacher—I loved her—she would give us feedback, have meetings with all of us. She’d say, “If you have any questions, if you have anything you want to talk about, you can talk to me, here are my office hours.” It felt like she actually cared.

Bempechat : It matters to know that the teacher cares about you and that what you think matters to the teacher. Homework is a vehicle to connect home and school…for parents to know teachers are welcoming to them and their families.

Ardizzone : But can’t it lead to parents being overbearing and too involved in their children’s lives as students?

Bempechat : There’s good help and there’s bad help. The bad help is what you’re describing—when parents hover inappropriately, when they micromanage, when they see their children confused and struggling and tell them what to do.

Good help is when parents recognize there’s a struggle going on and instead ask informative questions: “Where do you think you went wrong?” They give hints, or pointers, rather than saying, “You missed this,” or “You didn’t read that.”

Bruce : I hope something comes of this. I hope BU or Wheelock can think of some way to make this a more pressing issue. As a first-year teacher, it was not something I even thought about on the first day of school—until a kid raised his hand and said, “Do we have homework?” It would have been wonderful if I’d had a plan from day one.

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Sara Rimer A journalist for more than three decades, Sara Rimer worked at the Miami Herald , Washington Post and, for 26 years, the New York Times , where she was the New England bureau chief, and a national reporter covering education, aging, immigration, and other social justice issues. Her stories on the death penalty’s inequities were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and cited in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision outlawing the execution of people with intellectual disabilities. Her journalism honors include Columbia University’s Meyer Berger award for in-depth human interest reporting. She holds a BA degree in American Studies from the University of Michigan. Profile

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There are 81 comments on Does Homework Really Help Students Learn?

Insightful! The values about homework in elementary schools are well aligned with my intuition as a parent.

when i finish my work i do my homework and i sometimes forget what to do because i did not get enough sleep

same omg it does not help me it is stressful and if I have it in more than one class I hate it.

Same I think my parent wants to help me but, she doesn’t care if I get bad grades so I just try my best and my grades are great.

I think that last question about Good help from parents is not know to all parents, we do as our parents did or how we best think it can be done, so maybe coaching parents or giving them resources on how to help with homework would be very beneficial for the parent on how to help and for the teacher to have consistency and improve homework results, and of course for the child. I do see how homework helps reaffirm the knowledge obtained in the classroom, I also have the ability to see progress and it is a time I share with my kids

The answer to the headline question is a no-brainer – a more pressing problem is why there is a difference in how students from different cultures succeed. Perfect example is the student population at BU – why is there a majority population of Asian students and only about 3% black students at BU? In fact at some universities there are law suits by Asians to stop discrimination and quotas against admitting Asian students because the real truth is that as a group they are demonstrating better qualifications for admittance, while at the same time there are quotas and reduced requirements for black students to boost their portion of the student population because as a group they do more poorly in meeting admissions standards – and it is not about the Benjamins. The real problem is that in our PC society no one has the gazuntas to explore this issue as it may reveal that all people are not created equal after all. Or is it just environmental cultural differences??????

I get you have a concern about the issue but that is not even what the point of this article is about. If you have an issue please take this to the site we have and only post your opinion about the actual topic

This is not at all what the article is talking about.

This literally has nothing to do with the article brought up. You should really take your opinions somewhere else before you speak about something that doesn’t make sense.

we have the same name

so they have the same name what of it?

lol you tell her

totally agree

What does that have to do with homework, that is not what the article talks about AT ALL.

Yes, I think homework plays an important role in the development of student life. Through homework, students have to face challenges on a daily basis and they try to solve them quickly.I am an intense online tutor at 24x7homeworkhelp and I give homework to my students at that level in which they handle it easily.

More than two-thirds of students said they used alcohol and drugs, primarily marijuana, to cope with stress.

You know what’s funny? I got this assignment to write an argument for homework about homework and this article was really helpful and understandable, and I also agree with this article’s point of view.

I also got the same task as you! I was looking for some good resources and I found this! I really found this article useful and easy to understand, just like you! ^^

i think that homework is the best thing that a child can have on the school because it help them with their thinking and memory.

I am a child myself and i think homework is a terrific pass time because i can’t play video games during the week. It also helps me set goals.

Homework is not harmful ,but it will if there is too much

I feel like, from a minors point of view that we shouldn’t get homework. Not only is the homework stressful, but it takes us away from relaxing and being social. For example, me and my friends was supposed to hang at the mall last week but we had to postpone it since we all had some sort of work to do. Our minds shouldn’t be focused on finishing an assignment that in realty, doesn’t matter. I completely understand that we should have homework. I have to write a paper on the unimportance of homework so thanks.

homework isn’t that bad

Are you a student? if not then i don’t really think you know how much and how severe todays homework really is

i am a student and i do not enjoy homework because i practice my sport 4 out of the five days we have school for 4 hours and that’s not even counting the commute time or the fact i still have to shower and eat dinner when i get home. its draining!

i totally agree with you. these people are such boomers

why just why

they do make a really good point, i think that there should be a limit though. hours and hours of homework can be really stressful, and the extra work isn’t making a difference to our learning, but i do believe homework should be optional and extra credit. that would make it for students to not have the leaning stress of a assignment and if you have a low grade you you can catch up.

Studies show that homework improves student achievement in terms of improved grades, test results, and the likelihood to attend college. Research published in the High School Journal indicates that students who spent between 31 and 90 minutes each day on homework “scored about 40 points higher on the SAT-Mathematics subtest than their peers, who reported spending no time on homework each day, on average.” On both standardized tests and grades, students in classes that were assigned homework outperformed 69% of students who didn’t have homework. A majority of studies on homework’s impact – 64% in one meta-study and 72% in another – showed that take home assignments were effective at improving academic achievement. Research by the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) concluded that increased homework led to better GPAs and higher probability of college attendance for high school boys. In fact, boys who attended college did more than three hours of additional homework per week in high school.

So how are your measuring student achievement? That’s the real question. The argument that doing homework is simply a tool for teaching responsibility isn’t enough for me. We can teach responsibility in a number of ways. Also the poor argument that parents don’t need to help with homework, and that students can do it on their own, is wishful thinking at best. It completely ignores neurodiverse students. Students in poverty aren’t magically going to find a space to do homework, a friend’s or siblings to help them do it, and snacks to eat. I feel like the author of this piece has never set foot in a classroom of students.

THIS. This article is pathetic coming from a university. So intellectually dishonest, refusing to address the havoc of capitalism and poverty plays on academic success in life. How can they in one sentence use poor kids in an argument and never once address that poor children have access to damn near 0 of the resources affluent kids have? Draw me a picture and let’s talk about feelings lmao what a joke is that gonna put food in their belly so they can have the calories to burn in order to use their brain to study? What about quiet their 7 other siblings that they share a single bedroom with for hours? Is it gonna force the single mom to magically be at home and at work at the same time to cook food while you study and be there to throw an encouraging word?

Also the “parents don’t need to be a parent and be able to guide their kid at all academically they just need to exist in the next room” is wild. Its one thing if a parent straight up is not equipped but to say kids can just figured it out is…. wow coming from an educator What’s next the teacher doesn’t need to teach cause the kid can just follow the packet and figure it out?

Well then get a tutor right? Oh wait you are poor only affluent kids can afford a tutor for their hours of homework a day were they on average have none of the worries a poor child does. Does this address that poor children are more likely to also suffer abuse and mental illness? Like mentioned what about kids that can’t learn or comprehend the forced standardized way? Just let em fail? These children regularly are not in “special education”(some of those are a joke in their own and full of neglect and abuse) programs cause most aren’t even acknowledged as having disabilities or disorders.

But yes all and all those pesky poor kids just aren’t being worked hard enough lol pretty sure poor children’s existence just in childhood is more work, stress, and responsibility alone than an affluent child’s entire life cycle. Love they never once talked about the quality of education in the classroom being so bad between the poor and affluent it can qualify as segregation, just basically blamed poor people for being lazy, good job capitalism for failing us once again!

why the hell?

you should feel bad for saying this, this article can be helpful for people who has to write a essay about it

This is more of a political rant than it is about homework

I know a teacher who has told his students their homework is to find something they are interested in, pursue it and then come share what they learn. The student responses are quite compelling. One girl taught herself German so she could talk to her grandfather. One boy did a research project on Nelson Mandela because the teacher had mentioned him in class. Another boy, a both on the autism spectrum, fixed his family’s computer. The list goes on. This is fourth grade. I think students are highly motivated to learn, when we step aside and encourage them.

The whole point of homework is to give the students a chance to use the material that they have been presented with in class. If they never have the opportunity to use that information, and discover that it is actually useful, it will be in one ear and out the other. As a science teacher, it is critical that the students are challenged to use the material they have been presented with, which gives them the opportunity to actually think about it rather than regurgitate “facts”. Well designed homework forces the student to think conceptually, as opposed to regurgitation, which is never a pretty sight

Wonderful discussion. and yes, homework helps in learning and building skills in students.

not true it just causes kids to stress

Homework can be both beneficial and unuseful, if you will. There are students who are gifted in all subjects in school and ones with disabilities. Why should the students who are gifted get the lucky break, whereas the people who have disabilities suffer? The people who were born with this “gift” go through school with ease whereas people with disabilities struggle with the work given to them. I speak from experience because I am one of those students: the ones with disabilities. Homework doesn’t benefit “us”, it only tears us down and put us in an abyss of confusion and stress and hopelessness because we can’t learn as fast as others. Or we can’t handle the amount of work given whereas the gifted students go through it with ease. It just brings us down and makes us feel lost; because no mater what, it feels like we are destined to fail. It feels like we weren’t “cut out” for success.

homework does help

here is the thing though, if a child is shoved in the face with a whole ton of homework that isn’t really even considered homework it is assignments, it’s not helpful. the teacher should make homework more of a fun learning experience rather than something that is dreaded

This article was wonderful, I am going to ask my teachers about extra, or at all giving homework.

I agree. Especially when you have homework before an exam. Which is distasteful as you’ll need that time to study. It doesn’t make any sense, nor does us doing homework really matters as It’s just facts thrown at us.

Homework is too severe and is just too much for students, schools need to decrease the amount of homework. When teachers assign homework they forget that the students have other classes that give them the same amount of homework each day. Students need to work on social skills and life skills.

I disagree.

Beyond achievement, proponents of homework argue that it can have many other beneficial effects. They claim it can help students develop good study habits so they are ready to grow as their cognitive capacities mature. It can help students recognize that learning can occur at home as well as at school. Homework can foster independent learning and responsible character traits. And it can give parents an opportunity to see what’s going on at school and let them express positive attitudes toward achievement.

Homework is helpful because homework helps us by teaching us how to learn a specific topic.

As a student myself, I can say that I have almost never gotten the full 9 hours of recommended sleep time, because of homework. (Now I’m writing an essay on it in the middle of the night D=)

I am a 10 year old kid doing a report about “Is homework good or bad” for homework before i was going to do homework is bad but the sources from this site changed my mind!

Homeowkr is god for stusenrs

I agree with hunter because homework can be so stressful especially with this whole covid thing no one has time for homework and every one just wants to get back to there normal lives it is especially stressful when you go on a 2 week vaca 3 weeks into the new school year and and then less then a week after you come back from the vaca you are out for over a month because of covid and you have no way to get the assignment done and turned in

As great as homework is said to be in the is article, I feel like the viewpoint of the students was left out. Every where I go on the internet researching about this topic it almost always has interviews from teachers, professors, and the like. However isn’t that a little biased? Of course teachers are going to be for homework, they’re not the ones that have to stay up past midnight completing the homework from not just one class, but all of them. I just feel like this site is one-sided and you should include what the students of today think of spending four hours every night completing 6-8 classes worth of work.

Are we talking about homework or practice? Those are two very different things and can result in different outcomes.

Homework is a graded assignment. I do not know of research showing the benefits of graded assignments going home.

Practice; however, can be extremely beneficial, especially if there is some sort of feedback (not a grade but feedback). That feedback can come from the teacher, another student or even an automated grading program.

As a former band director, I assigned daily practice. I never once thought it would be appropriate for me to require the students to turn in a recording of their practice for me to grade. Instead, I had in-class assignments/assessments that were graded and directly related to the practice assigned.

I would really like to read articles on “homework” that truly distinguish between the two.

oof i feel bad good luck!

thank you guys for the artical because I have to finish an assingment. yes i did cite it but just thanks

thx for the article guys.

Homework is good

I think homework is helpful AND harmful. Sometimes u can’t get sleep bc of homework but it helps u practice for school too so idk.

I agree with this Article. And does anyone know when this was published. I would like to know.

It was published FEb 19, 2019.

Studies have shown that homework improved student achievement in terms of improved grades, test results, and the likelihood to attend college.

i think homework can help kids but at the same time not help kids

This article is so out of touch with majority of homes it would be laughable if it wasn’t so incredibly sad.

There is no value to homework all it does is add stress to already stressed homes. Parents or adults magically having the time or energy to shepherd kids through homework is dome sort of 1950’s fantasy.

What lala land do these teachers live in?

Homework gives noting to the kid

Homework is Bad

homework is bad.

why do kids even have homework?

Comments are closed.

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August 16, 2021

Is it time to get rid of homework? Mental health experts weigh in

by Sara M Moniuszko

homework

It's no secret that kids hate homework. And as students grapple with an ongoing pandemic that has had a wide-range of mental health impacts, is it time schools start listening to their pleas over workloads?

Some teachers are turning to social media to take a stand against homework .

Tiktok user @misguided.teacher says he doesn't assign it because the "whole premise of homework is flawed."

For starters, he says he can't grade work on "even playing fields" when students' home environments can be vastly different.

"Even students who go home to a peaceful house, do they really want to spend their time on busy work? Because typically that's what a lot of homework is, it's busy work," he says in the video that has garnered 1.6 million likes. "You only get one year to be 7, you only got one year to be 10, you only get one year to be 16, 18."

Mental health experts agree heavy work loads have the potential do more harm than good for students, especially when taking into account the impacts of the pandemic. But they also say the answer may not be to eliminate homework altogether.

Emmy Kang, mental health counselor at Humantold, says studies have shown heavy workloads can be "detrimental" for students and cause a "big impact on their mental, physical and emotional health."

"More than half of students say that homework is their primary source of stress, and we know what stress can do on our bodies," she says, adding that staying up late to finish assignments also leads to disrupted sleep and exhaustion.

Cynthia Catchings, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist at Talkspace, says heavy workloads can also cause serious mental health problems in the long run, like anxiety and depression.

And for all the distress homework causes, it's not as useful as many may think, says Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, a psychologist and CEO of Omega Recovery treatment center.

"The research shows that there's really limited benefit of homework for elementary age students, that really the school work should be contained in the classroom," he says.

For older students, Kang says homework benefits plateau at about two hours per night.

"Most students, especially at these high-achieving schools, they're doing a minimum of three hours, and it's taking away time from their friends from their families, their extracurricular activities. And these are all very important things for a person's mental and emotional health."

Catchings, who also taught third to 12th graders for 12 years, says she's seen the positive effects of a no homework policy while working with students abroad.

"Not having homework was something that I always admired from the French students (and) the French schools, because that was helping the students to really have the time off and really disconnect from school ," she says.

The answer may not be to eliminate homework completely, but to be more mindful of the type of work students go home with, suggests Kang, who was a high-school teacher for 10 years.

"I don't think (we) should scrap homework, I think we should scrap meaningless, purposeless busy work-type homework. That's something that needs to be scrapped entirely," she says, encouraging teachers to be thoughtful and consider the amount of time it would take for students to complete assignments.

The pandemic made the conversation around homework more crucial

Mindfulness surrounding homework is especially important in the context of the last two years. Many students will be struggling with mental health issues that were brought on or worsened by the pandemic, making heavy workloads even harder to balance.

"COVID was just a disaster in terms of the lack of structure. Everything just deteriorated," Kardaras says, pointing to an increase in cognitive issues and decrease in attention spans among students. "School acts as an anchor for a lot of children, as a stabilizing force, and that disappeared."

But even if students transition back to the structure of in-person classes, Kardaras suspects students may still struggle after two school years of shifted schedules and disrupted sleeping habits.

"We've seen adults struggling to go back to in-person work environments from remote work environments. That effect is amplified with children because children have less resources to be able to cope with those transitions than adults do," he explains.

'Get organized' ahead of back-to-school

In order to make the transition back to in-person school easier, Kang encourages students to "get good sleep, exercise regularly (and) eat a healthy diet."

To help manage workloads, she suggests students "get organized."

"There's so much mental clutter up there when you're disorganized... sitting down and planning out their study schedules can really help manage their time," she says.

Breaking assignments up can also make things easier to tackle.

"I know that heavy workloads can be stressful, but if you sit down and you break down that studying into smaller chunks, they're much more manageable."

If workloads are still too much, Kang encourages students to advocate for themselves.

"They should tell their teachers when a homework assignment just took too much time or if it was too difficult for them to do on their own," she says. "It's good to speak up and ask those questions. Respectfully, of course, because these are your teachers. But still, I think sometimes teachers themselves need this feedback from their students."

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Because differences are our greatest strength

Homework challenges and strategies

kids have too much homework

By Amanda Morin

Expert reviewed by Jim Rein, MA

Homework Strategies for Struggling Students. A boy does homework with parent in background.

At a glance

Kids can struggle with homework for lots of reasons.

A common challenge is rushing through assignments.

Once you understand a homework challenge, it’s easier to find solutions.

Most kids struggle with homework from time to time. But kids who learn and think differently may struggle more than others. Understanding the homework challenges your child faces can help you reduce stress and avoid battles.

Here are some common homework challenges and tips to help.

The challenge: Rushing through homework

Kids with learning difficulties may rush because they’re trying to get through what’s hard for them as fast as possible. For kids with ADHD, trouble with focus and working memory may be the cause.

Rushing through homework can lead to messy or incorrect homework. It can also lead to kids missing key parts of the assignment. One thing to try is having your child do the easiest assignments first and then move to harder ones.

Get more tips for helping grade-schoolers and middle-schoolers slow down on homework.

The challenge: Taking notes

Note-taking isn’t an easy skill for some kids. They may struggle with the mechanical parts of writing or with organizing ideas on a page. Kids may also find it hard to read text and take notes at the same time.

Using the outline method may help. It divides notes into main ideas, subtopics, and details. 

Explore different note-taking strategies .

The challenge: Managing time and staying organized

Some kids struggle with keeping track of time and making a plan for getting all of their work done. That’s especially true of kids who have trouble with executive function.

Try creating a homework schedule and set a specific time and place for your child to get homework done. Use a timer to help your child stay on track and get a better sense of time.

Learn about trouble with planning .

The challenge: Studying effectively

Many kids need to be taught how to study effectively. But some may need concrete strategies.

One thing to try is creating a checklist of all the steps that go into studying. Have your child mark off each one. Lists can help kids monitor their work.

Explore more study strategies for grade-schoolers and teens .

The challenge: Recalling information

Some kids have trouble holding on to information so they can use it later. (This skill is called working memory. ) They may study for hours but remember nothing the next day. But there are different types of memory.

If your child has trouble with verbal memory, try using visual study aids like graphs, maps, or drawings.

Practice “muscle memory” exercises to help kids with working memory.

The challenge: Learning independently

It’s important for kids to learn how to do homework without help. Using a homework contract can help your child set realistic goals. Encourage “thinking out loud.”

Get tips for helping grade-schoolers do schoolwork on their own.

Sometimes, homework challenges don’t go away despite your best efforts. Look for signs that kids may have too much homework . And learn how to talk with teachers about concerns .

Key takeaways

Some kids have a hard time doing schoolwork on their own.

It can help to tailor homework strategies to a child’s specific challenges and strengths.

Sometimes, there’s too much homework for a child to handle. Talk to the teacher.

Explore related topics

Does homework really work?

by: Leslie Crawford | Updated: December 12, 2023

Print article

Does homework help

You know the drill. It’s 10:15 p.m., and the cardboard-and-toothpick Golden Gate Bridge is collapsing. The pages of polynomials have been abandoned. The paper on the Battle of Waterloo seems to have frozen in time with Napoleon lingering eternally over his breakfast at Le Caillou. Then come the tears and tantrums — while we parents wonder, Does the gain merit all this pain? Is this just too much homework?

However the drama unfolds night after night, year after year, most parents hold on to the hope that homework (after soccer games, dinner, flute practice, and, oh yes, that childhood pastime of yore known as playing) advances their children academically.

But what does homework really do for kids? Is the forest’s worth of book reports and math and spelling sheets the average American student completes in their 12 years of primary schooling making a difference? Or is it just busywork?

Homework haterz

Whether or not homework helps, or even hurts, depends on who you ask. If you ask my 12-year-old son, Sam, he’ll say, “Homework doesn’t help anything. It makes kids stressed-out and tired and makes them hate school more.”

Nothing more than common kid bellyaching?

Maybe, but in the fractious field of homework studies, it’s worth noting that Sam’s sentiments nicely synopsize one side of the ivory tower debate. Books like The End of Homework , The Homework Myth , and The Case Against Homework the film Race to Nowhere , and the anguished parent essay “ My Daughter’s Homework is Killing Me ” make the case that homework, by taking away precious family time and putting kids under unneeded pressure, is an ineffective way to help children become better learners and thinkers.

One Canadian couple took their homework apostasy all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. After arguing that there was no evidence that it improved academic performance, they won a ruling that exempted their two children from all homework.

So what’s the real relationship between homework and academic achievement?

How much is too much?

To answer this question, researchers have been doing their homework on homework, conducting and examining hundreds of studies. Chris Drew Ph.D., founder and editor at The Helpful Professor recently compiled multiple statistics revealing the folly of today’s after-school busy work. Does any of the data he listed below ring true for you?

• 45 percent of parents think homework is too easy for their child, primarily because it is geared to the lowest standard under the Common Core State Standards .

• 74 percent of students say homework is a source of stress , defined as headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss, and stomach problems.

• Students in high-performing high schools spend an average of 3.1 hours a night on homework , even though 1 to 2 hours is the optimal duration, according to a peer-reviewed study .

Not included in the list above is the fact many kids have to abandon activities they love — like sports and clubs — because homework deprives them of the needed time to enjoy themselves with other pursuits.

Conversely, The Helpful Professor does list a few pros of homework, noting it teaches discipline and time management, and helps parents know what’s being taught in the class.

The oft-bandied rule on homework quantity — 10 minutes a night per grade (starting from between 10 to 20 minutes in first grade) — is listed on the National Education Association’s website and the National Parent Teacher Association’s website , but few schools follow this rule.

Do you think your child is doing excessive homework? Harris Cooper Ph.D., author of a meta-study on homework , recommends talking with the teacher. “Often there is a miscommunication about the goals of homework assignments,” he says. “What appears to be problematic for kids, why they are doing an assignment, can be cleared up with a conversation.” Also, Cooper suggests taking a careful look at how your child is doing the assignments. It may seem like they’re taking two hours, but maybe your child is wandering off frequently to get a snack or getting distracted.

Less is often more

If your child is dutifully doing their work but still burning the midnight oil, it’s worth intervening to make sure your child gets enough sleep. A 2012 study of 535 high school students found that proper sleep may be far more essential to brain and body development.

For elementary school-age children, Cooper’s research at Duke University shows there is no measurable academic advantage to homework. For middle-schoolers, Cooper found there is a direct correlation between homework and achievement if assignments last between one to two hours per night. After two hours, however, achievement doesn’t improve. For high schoolers, Cooper’s research suggests that two hours per night is optimal. If teens have more than two hours of homework a night, their academic success flatlines. But less is not better. The average high school student doing homework outperformed 69 percent of the students in a class with no homework.

Many schools are starting to act on this research. A Florida superintendent abolished homework in her 42,000 student district, replacing it with 20 minutes of nightly reading. She attributed her decision to “ solid research about what works best in improving academic achievement in students .”

More family time

A 2020 survey by Crayola Experience reports 82 percent of children complain they don’t have enough quality time with their parents. Homework deserves much of the blame. “Kids should have a chance to just be kids and do things they enjoy, particularly after spending six hours a day in school,” says Alfie Kohn, author of The Homework Myth . “It’s absurd to insist that children must be engaged in constructive activities right up until their heads hit the pillow.”

By far, the best replacement for homework — for both parents and children — is bonding, relaxing time together.

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Homework: A New User's Guide

Cory Turner - Square

Cory Turner

It's Homework Time!

If you made it past the headline, you're likely a student, concerned parent, teacher or, like me, a nerd nostalgist who enjoys basking in the distant glow of Homework Triumphs Past (second-grade report on Custer's Last Stand, nailed it!).

Whoever you are, you're surely hoping for some clarity in the loud, perennial debate over whether U.S. students are justifiably exhausted and nervous from too much homework — even though some international comparisons suggest they're sitting comfortably at the average.

Well, here goes. I've mapped out six, research-based polestars that should help guide you to some reasonable conclusions about homework.

How much homework do U.S. students get?

The best answer comes from something called the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP . In 2012, students in three different age groups — 9, 13 and 17 — were asked, "How much time did you spend on homework yesterday?" The vast majority of 9-year-olds (79 percent) and 13-year-olds (65 percent) and still a majority of 17-year-olds (53 percent) all reported doing an hour or less of homework the day before.

Another study from the National Center for Education Statistics found that high school students who reported doing homework outside of school did, on average, about seven hours a week.

If you're hungry for more data on this — and some perspective — check out this exhaustive report put together last year by researcher Tom Loveless at the Brookings Institution.

An hour or less a day? But we hear so many horror stories! Why?

The fact is, some students do have a ton of homework. In high school we see a kind of student divergence — between those who choose or find themselves tracked into less-rigorous coursework and those who enroll in honors classes or multiple Advanced Placement courses. And the latter students are getting a lot of homework. In that 2012 NAEP survey, 13 percent of 17-year-olds reported doing more than two hours of homework the previous night. That's not a lot of students, but they're clearly doing a lot of work.

kids have too much homework

Source: Met Life Survey of the American Teacher, The Homework Experience, 2007. LA Johnson/NPR hide caption

That also tracks with a famous survey from 2007 — from MetLife — that asked parents what they think of their kids' homework load. Sixty percent said it was just right. Twenty-five percent said their kids are getting too little. Just 15 percent of parents said their kids have too much homework.

Research also suggests that the students doing the most work have something else in common: income. "I think that the debate over homework in some ways is a social class issue," says Janine Bempechat, professor of human development at Wheelock College. "There's no question that in affluent communities, children are really over-taxed, over-burdened with homework."

But the vast majority of students do not seem to have inordinate workloads. And the ones who do are generally volunteering for the tough stuff. That doesn't make it easier, but it does make it a choice.

Do we know how much homework students in other countries are doing?

Sort of. Caveats abound here. Education systems and perceptions of what is and isn't homework can vary remarkably overseas. So any comparison is, to a degree, apples-to-oranges (or, at least, apples-to-pears). A 2012 report from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development pegged the U.S. homework load for 15-year-olds at around six hours per week. That's just above the study's average. It found that students in Hong Kong are also doing about six hours a week. Much of Europe checks in between four and five hours a week. In Japan, it's four hours. And Korea's near the bottom, at three hours.

kids have too much homework

Source: OECD, PISA 2012 Database, Table IV.3.48. LA Johnson/NPR hide caption

How much homework is too much?

Better yet, how much is just right? Harris Cooper at Duke University has done some of the best work on homework. He and his team reviewed dozens of studies, from 1987 to 2003, looking for consensus on what works and what doesn't. A common rule of thumb, he says, is what's called the 10-minute rule. Take the child's grade and multiply by 10. So first-graders should have roughly 10 minutes of homework a night, 40 minutes for fourth-graders, on up to two hours for seniors in high school. A lot of of schools use this. Even the National PTA officially endorses it.

Homework clearly improves student performance, right?

Not necessarily. It depends on the age of the child. Looking over the research, there's little to no evidence that homework improves student achievement in elementary school. Then again, the many experts I spoke with all said the same thing: The point of homework in those primary grades isn't entirely academic. It's about teaching things like time-management and self-direction.

But, by high school the evidence shifts. Harris Cooper's massive review found, in middle and high school, a positive correlation between homework and student achievement on unit tests. It seems to help. But more is not always better. Cooper points out that, depending on the subject and the age of the student, there is a law of diminishing returns. Again, he recommends the 10-minute rule.

What kinds of homework seem to be most effective?

This is where things get really interesting. Because homework should be about learning, right? To understand what kinds of homework best help kids learn, we really need to talk about memory and the brain.

Let's start with something called the spacing effect . Say a child has to do a vocabulary worksheet. The next week, it's a new worksheet with different words and so on. Well, research shows that the brain is better at remembering when we repeat with consistency, not when we study in long, isolated chunks of time. Do a little bit of vocabulary each night, repeating the same words night after night.

Similarly, a professor of psychology at Washington University in St. Louis, Henry "Roddy" Roediger III , recommends that teachers give students plenty of little quizzes, which he says strengthen the brain's ability to remember. Don't fret. They can be low-stakes or no-stakes, says Roediger: It's the steady recall and repetition that matter. He also recommends, as homework, that students try testing themselves instead of simply re-reading the text or class notes.

There's also something known as interleaving . This is big in the debate over math homework. Many of us — myself included — learned math by focusing on one concept at a time, doing a worksheet to practice that concept, then moving on.

Well, there's evidence that students learn more when homework requires them to choose among multiple strategies — new and old — when solving problems. In other words, kids learn when they have to draw not just from what they learned in class that day but that week, that month, that year.

One last note: Experts agree that homework should generally be about reinforcing what students learned in class (this is especially true in math). Sometimes it can — and should — be used to introduce new material, but here's where so many horror stories begin.

Tom Loveless, a former teacher, offers this advice: "I don't think teachers should ever send brand-new material that puts the parent in the position of a teacher. That's a disaster. My own personal philosophy was: Homework is best if it's material that requires more practice but they've already received initial instruction."

Or, in the words of the National PTA: "Homework that cannot be done without help is not good homework."

How Much Homework Should Students Have?

A look at how homework impacts students

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  • Immigration
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  • Psy.D., Organizational Psychology, Rutgers University - New Brunswick
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Parents have been questioning the excessive amount of homework given in schools, both public and private for years, and believe it or not, there is evidence that supports limiting the amount of homework children have can actually be beneficial. The National Education Association (NEA) has released guidelines about the right amount of homework--the amount that helps kids learn without getting in the way of their developing other parts of their life.

Many experts believe that students should receive roughly 10 minutes per night of homework in the first grade and an additional 10 minutes per grade for each following year. By this standard, high school seniors should have about 120 minutes or two hours of homework a night, but some students have two hours of work in middle school and many more hours than that in high school, particularly if they are enrolled in Advanced or AP classes.

However, schools are starting to change their policies on homework. While some schools equate excessive homework with excellence, and it is true that students benefit from some work at home to learn new material or to practice what they have learned in school, that's not the case with all schools. Flipped classrooms, real-world learning projects and changes in our understanding of how children and teenagers learn best has all forced schools to evaluate levels of homework.

Homework Needs to be Purposeful

Fortunately, most teachers today recognize that homework isn't always necessary, and the stigma that many teachers once faced if they didn't assign what was simply perceived as enough is gone. The pressures placed on teachers to assign homework eventually lead to teachers assigning "busy work" to students rather than true learning assignments. As we better understand how students learn, we have come to determine that for many students, they can get just as much benefit, if not more, from smaller amounts of work than larger homework loads. This knowledge has helped teachers create more effective assignments that can be completed is shorter amounts of time. 

Too Much Homework Prevents Play

Experts believe that playtime is more than just a fun way to pass the time—it actually helps kids learn. Play, particularly for younger kids, is vital to developing creativity, imagination, and even social skills. While many educators and parents believe that young children are ready for direct instruction, studies have shown that kids learn more when they are simply allowed to play. For example, young children who were showed how to make a toy squeak only learned this one function of the toy, while kids who were allowed to experiment on their own discovered many flexible uses of the toy. Older kids also need time to run, play, and simply experiment, and parents and teachers must realize that this independent time allows kids to discover their environment. For example, kids who run in a park learn rules about physics and the environment intuitively, and they cannot take in this knowledge through direct instruction.

Too Much Pressure Backfires

With regard to kids’ learning, less is often more. For example, it’s natural for kids to learn to read by about age 7, though there is a variability in the time individual kids learn to read; kids can learn at any time from 3-7. Later development does not in any way correlate with advancement at a later age, and when kids who are not ready for certain tasks are pushed into doing them, they may not learn properly. They may feel more stressed and turned off to learning, which is, after all, a life-long pursuit. Too much homework turns kids off to learning and makes them less—rather than more—invested in school and learning.

Homework Does Not Develop Emotional Intelligence

Recent research has demonstrated the importance of emotional intelligence, which involves understanding one’s own and others’ emotions. In fact, after people reach a certain base level of intelligence, the rest of their success in life and in their careers can be attributed, researchers believe, largely to differences in people’s levels of emotional intelligence. Doing endless amounts of homework does not leave children the proper amount of time to interact socially with family members and peers in a way that will develop their emotional intelligence.

Fortunately, many schools are trying to reduce students’ stress after realizing that too much work has a deleterious effect on kids’ health. For example, many schools are instituting no-homework weekends to provide kids with a much-needed break and time to spend with family and friends.

Article edited by  Stacy Jagodowski

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Homework – Top 3 Pros and Cons

Cite this page using APA, MLA, Chicago, and Turabian style guides

Pro/Con Arguments | Discussion Questions | Take Action | Sources | More Debates

kids have too much homework

From dioramas to book reports, from algebraic word problems to research projects, whether students should be given homework, as well as the type and amount of homework, has been debated for over a century. [ 1 ]

While we are unsure who invented homework, we do know that the word “homework” dates back to ancient Rome. Pliny the Younger asked his followers to practice their speeches at home. Memorization exercises as homework continued through the Middle Ages and Enlightenment by monks and other scholars. [ 45 ]

In the 19th century, German students of the Volksschulen or “People’s Schools” were given assignments to complete outside of the school day. This concept of homework quickly spread across Europe and was brought to the United States by Horace Mann , who encountered the idea in Prussia. [ 45 ]

In the early 1900s, progressive education theorists, championed by the magazine Ladies’ Home Journal , decried homework’s negative impact on children’s physical and mental health, leading California to ban homework for students under 15 from 1901 until 1917. In the 1930s, homework was portrayed as child labor, which was newly illegal, but the prevailing argument was that kids needed time to do household chores. [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 45 ] [ 46 ]

Public opinion swayed again in favor of homework in the 1950s due to concerns about keeping up with the Soviet Union’s technological advances during the Cold War . And, in 1986, the US government included homework as an educational quality boosting tool. [ 3 ] [ 45 ]

A 2014 study found kindergarteners to fifth graders averaged 2.9 hours of homework per week, sixth to eighth graders 3.2 hours per teacher, and ninth to twelfth graders 3.5 hours per teacher. A 2014-2019 study found that teens spent about an hour a day on homework. [ 4 ] [ 44 ]

Beginning in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic complicated the very idea of homework as students were schooling remotely and many were doing all school work from home. Washington Post journalist Valerie Strauss asked, “Does homework work when kids are learning all day at home?” While students were mostly back in school buildings in fall 2021, the question remains of how effective homework is as an educational tool. [ 47 ]

Is Homework Beneficial?

Pro 1 Homework improves student achievement. Studies have shown that homework improved student achievement in terms of improved grades, test results, and the likelihood to attend college. Research published in the High School Journal indicated that students who spent between 31 and 90 minutes each day on homework “scored about 40 points higher on the SAT-Mathematics subtest than their peers, who reported spending no time on homework each day, on average.” [ 6 ] Students in classes that were assigned homework outperformed 69% of students who didn’t have homework on both standardized tests and grades. A majority of studies on homework’s impact – 64% in one meta-study and 72% in another – showed that take-home assignments were effective at improving academic achievement. [ 7 ] [ 8 ] Research by the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) concluded that increased homework led to better GPAs and higher probability of college attendance for high school boys. In fact, boys who attended college did more than three hours of additional homework per week in high school. [ 10 ] Read More
Pro 2 Homework helps to reinforce classroom learning, while developing good study habits and life skills. Students typically retain only 50% of the information teachers provide in class, and they need to apply that information in order to truly learn it. Abby Freireich and Brian Platzer, co-founders of Teachers Who Tutor NYC, explained, “at-home assignments help students learn the material taught in class. Students require independent practice to internalize new concepts… [And] these assignments can provide valuable data for teachers about how well students understand the curriculum.” [ 11 ] [ 49 ] Elementary school students who were taught “strategies to organize and complete homework,” such as prioritizing homework activities, collecting study materials, note-taking, and following directions, showed increased grades and more positive comments on report cards. [ 17 ] Research by the City University of New York noted that “students who engage in self-regulatory processes while completing homework,” such as goal-setting, time management, and remaining focused, “are generally more motivated and are higher achievers than those who do not use these processes.” [ 18 ] Homework also helps students develop key skills that they’ll use throughout their lives: accountability, autonomy, discipline, time management, self-direction, critical thinking, and independent problem-solving. Freireich and Platzer noted that “homework helps students acquire the skills needed to plan, organize, and complete their work.” [ 12 ] [ 13 ] [ 14 ] [ 15 ] [ 49 ] Read More
Pro 3 Homework allows parents to be involved with children’s learning. Thanks to take-home assignments, parents are able to track what their children are learning at school as well as their academic strengths and weaknesses. [ 12 ] Data from a nationwide sample of elementary school students show that parental involvement in homework can improve class performance, especially among economically disadvantaged African-American and Hispanic students. [ 20 ] Research from Johns Hopkins University found that an interactive homework process known as TIPS (Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork) improves student achievement: “Students in the TIPS group earned significantly higher report card grades after 18 weeks (1 TIPS assignment per week) than did non-TIPS students.” [ 21 ] Homework can also help clue parents in to the existence of any learning disabilities their children may have, allowing them to get help and adjust learning strategies as needed. Duke University Professor Harris Cooper noted, “Two parents once told me they refused to believe their child had a learning disability until homework revealed it to them.” [ 12 ] Read More
Con 1 Too much homework can be harmful. A poll of California high school students found that 59% thought they had too much homework. 82% of respondents said that they were “often or always stressed by schoolwork.” High-achieving high school students said too much homework leads to sleep deprivation and other health problems such as headaches, exhaustion, weight loss, and stomach problems. [ 24 ] [ 28 ] [ 29 ] Alfie Kohn, an education and parenting expert, said, “Kids should have a chance to just be kids… it’s absurd to insist that children must be engaged in constructive activities right up until their heads hit the pillow.” [ 27 ] Emmy Kang, a mental health counselor, explained, “More than half of students say that homework is their primary source of stress, and we know what stress can do on our bodies.” [ 48 ] Excessive homework can also lead to cheating: 90% of middle school students and 67% of high school students admit to copying someone else’s homework, and 43% of college students engaged in “unauthorized collaboration” on out-of-class assignments. Even parents take shortcuts on homework: 43% of those surveyed admitted to having completed a child’s assignment for them. [ 30 ] [ 31 ] [ 32 ] Read More
Con 2 Homework exacerbates the digital divide or homework gap. Kiara Taylor, financial expert, defined the digital divide as “the gap between demographics and regions that have access to modern information and communications technology and those that don’t. Though the term now encompasses the technical and financial ability to utilize available technology—along with access (or a lack of access) to the Internet—the gap it refers to is constantly shifting with the development of technology.” For students, this is often called the homework gap. [ 50 ] [ 51 ] 30% (about 15 to 16 million) public school students either did not have an adequate internet connection or an appropriate device, or both, for distance learning. Completing homework for these students is more complicated (having to find a safe place with an internet connection, or borrowing a laptop, for example) or impossible. [ 51 ] A Hispanic Heritage Foundation study found that 96.5% of students across the country needed to use the internet for homework, and nearly half reported they were sometimes unable to complete their homework due to lack of access to the internet or a computer, which often resulted in lower grades. [ 37 ] [ 38 ] One study concluded that homework increases social inequality because it “potentially serves as a mechanism to further advantage those students who already experience some privilege in the school system while further disadvantaging those who may already be in a marginalized position.” [ 39 ] Read More
Con 3 Homework does not help younger students, and may not help high school students. We’ve known for a while that homework does not help elementary students. A 2006 study found that “homework had no association with achievement gains” when measured by standardized tests results or grades. [ 7 ] Fourth grade students who did no homework got roughly the same score on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) math exam as those who did 30 minutes of homework a night. Students who did 45 minutes or more of homework a night actually did worse. [ 41 ] Temple University professor Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek said that homework is not the most effective tool for young learners to apply new information: “They’re learning way more important skills when they’re not doing their homework.” [ 42 ] In fact, homework may not be helpful at the high school level either. Alfie Kohn, author of The Homework Myth, stated, “I interviewed high school teachers who completely stopped giving homework and there was no downside, it was all upside.” He explains, “just because the same kids who get more homework do a little better on tests, doesn’t mean the homework made that happen.” [ 52 ] Read More

Discussion Questions

1. Is homework beneficial? Consider the study data, your personal experience, and other types of information. Explain your answer(s).

2. If homework were banned, what other educational strategies would help students learn classroom material? Explain your answer(s).

3. How has homework been helpful to you personally? How has homework been unhelpful to you personally? Make carefully considered lists for both sides.

Take Action

1. Examine an argument in favor of quality homework assignments from Janine Bempechat.

2. Explore Oxford Learning’s infographic on the effects of homework on students.

3. Consider Joseph Lathan’s argument that homework promotes inequality .

4. Consider how you felt about the issue before reading this article. After reading the pros and cons on this topic, has your thinking changed? If so, how? List two to three ways. If your thoughts have not changed, list two to three ways your better understanding of the “other side of the issue” now helps you better argue your position.

5. Push for the position and policies you support by writing US national senators and representatives .

1.Tom Loveless, “Homework in America: Part II of the 2014 Brown Center Report of American Education,” brookings.edu, Mar. 18, 2014
2.Edward Bok, “A National Crime at the Feet of American Parents,”  , Jan. 1900
3.Tim Walker, “The Great Homework Debate: What’s Getting Lost in the Hype,” neatoday.org, Sep. 23, 2015
4.University of Phoenix College of Education, “Homework Anxiety: Survey Reveals How Much Homework K-12 Students Are Assigned and Why Teachers Deem It Beneficial,” phoenix.edu, Feb. 24, 2014
5.Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), “PISA in Focus No. 46: Does Homework Perpetuate Inequities in Education?,” oecd.org, Dec. 2014
6.Adam V. Maltese, Robert H. Tai, and Xitao Fan, “When is Homework Worth the Time?: Evaluating the Association between Homework and Achievement in High School Science and Math,”  , 2012
7.Harris Cooper, Jorgianne Civey Robinson, and Erika A. Patall, “Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Researcher, 1987-2003,”  , 2006
8.Gökhan Bas, Cihad Sentürk, and Fatih Mehmet Cigerci, “Homework and Academic Achievement: A Meta-Analytic Review of Research,”  , 2017
9.Huiyong Fan, Jianzhong Xu, Zhihui Cai, Jinbo He, and Xitao Fan, “Homework and Students’ Achievement in Math and Science: A 30-Year Meta-Analysis, 1986-2015,”  , 2017
10.Charlene Marie Kalenkoski and Sabrina Wulff Pabilonia, “Does High School Homework Increase Academic Achievement?,” iza.og, Apr. 2014
11.Ron Kurtus, “Purpose of Homework,” school-for-champions.com, July 8, 2012
12.Harris Cooper, “Yes, Teachers Should Give Homework – The Benefits Are Many,” newsobserver.com, Sep. 2, 2016
13.Tammi A. Minke, “Types of Homework and Their Effect on Student Achievement,” repository.stcloudstate.edu, 2017
14.LakkshyaEducation.com, “How Does Homework Help Students: Suggestions From Experts,” LakkshyaEducation.com (accessed Aug. 29, 2018)
15.University of Montreal, “Do Kids Benefit from Homework?,” teaching.monster.com (accessed Aug. 30, 2018)
16.Glenda Faye Pryor-Johnson, “Why Homework Is Actually Good for Kids,” memphisparent.com, Feb. 1, 2012
17.Joan M. Shepard, “Developing Responsibility for Completing and Handing in Daily Homework Assignments for Students in Grades Three, Four, and Five,” eric.ed.gov, 1999
18.Darshanand Ramdass and Barry J. Zimmerman, “Developing Self-Regulation Skills: The Important Role of Homework,”  , 2011
19.US Department of Education, “Let’s Do Homework!,” ed.gov (accessed Aug. 29, 2018)
20.Loretta Waldman, “Sociologist Upends Notions about Parental Help with Homework,” phys.org, Apr. 12, 2014
21.Frances L. Van Voorhis, “Reflecting on the Homework Ritual: Assignments and Designs,”  , June 2010
22.Roel J. F. J. Aries and Sofie J. Cabus, “Parental Homework Involvement Improves Test Scores? A Review of the Literature,”  , June 2015
23.Jamie Ballard, “40% of People Say Elementary School Students Have Too Much Homework,” yougov.com, July 31, 2018
24.Stanford University, “Stanford Survey of Adolescent School Experiences Report: Mira Costa High School, Winter 2017,” stanford.edu, 2017
25.Cathy Vatterott, “Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs,” ascd.org, 2009
26.End the Race, “Homework: You Can Make a Difference,” racetonowhere.com (accessed Aug. 24, 2018)
27.Elissa Strauss, “Opinion: Your Kid Is Right, Homework Is Pointless. Here’s What You Should Do Instead.,” cnn.com, Jan. 28, 2020
28.Jeanne Fratello, “Survey: Homework Is Biggest Source of Stress for Mira Costa Students,” digmb.com, Dec. 15, 2017
29.Clifton B. Parker, “Stanford Research Shows Pitfalls of Homework,” stanford.edu, Mar. 10, 2014
30.AdCouncil, “Cheating Is a Personal Foul: Academic Cheating Background,” glass-castle.com (accessed Aug. 16, 2018)
31.Jeffrey R. Young, “High-Tech Cheating Abounds, and Professors Bear Some Blame,” chronicle.com, Mar. 28, 2010
32.Robin McClure, “Do You Do Your Child’s Homework?,” verywellfamily.com, Mar. 14, 2018
33.Robert M. Pressman, David B. Sugarman, Melissa L. Nemon, Jennifer, Desjarlais, Judith A. Owens, and Allison Schettini-Evans, “Homework and Family Stress: With Consideration of Parents’ Self Confidence, Educational Level, and Cultural Background,”  , 2015
34.Heather Koball and Yang Jiang, “Basic Facts about Low-Income Children,” nccp.org, Jan. 2018
35.Meagan McGovern, “Homework Is for Rich Kids,” huffingtonpost.com, Sep. 2, 2016
36.H. Richard Milner IV, “Not All Students Have Access to Homework Help,” nytimes.com, Nov. 13, 2014
37.Claire McLaughlin, “The Homework Gap: The ‘Cruelest Part of the Digital Divide’,” neatoday.org, Apr. 20, 2016
38.Doug Levin, “This Evening’s Homework Requires the Use of the Internet,” edtechstrategies.com, May 1, 2015
39.Amy Lutz and Lakshmi Jayaram, “Getting the Homework Done: Social Class and Parents’ Relationship to Homework,”  , June 2015
40.Sandra L. Hofferth and John F. Sandberg, “How American Children Spend Their Time,” psc.isr.umich.edu, Apr. 17, 2000
41.Alfie Kohn, “Does Homework Improve Learning?,” alfiekohn.org, 2006
42.Patrick A. Coleman, “Elementary School Homework Probably Isn’t Good for Kids,” fatherly.com, Feb. 8, 2018
43.Valerie Strauss, “Why This Superintendent Is Banning Homework – and Asking Kids to Read Instead,” washingtonpost.com, July 17, 2017
44.Pew Research Center, “The Way U.S. Teens Spend Their Time Is Changing, but Differences between Boys and Girls Persist,” pewresearch.org, Feb. 20, 2019
45.ThroughEducation, “The History of Homework: Why Was It Invented and Who Was behind It?,” , Feb. 14, 2020
46.History, “Why Homework Was Banned,” (accessed Feb. 24, 2022)
47.Valerie Strauss, “Does Homework Work When Kids Are Learning All Day at Home?,” , Sep. 2, 2020
48.Sara M Moniuszko, “Is It Time to Get Rid of Homework? Mental Health Experts Weigh In,” , Aug. 17, 2021
49.Abby Freireich and Brian Platzer, “The Worsening Homework Problem,” , Apr. 13, 2021
50.Kiara Taylor, “Digital Divide,” , Feb. 12, 2022
51.Marguerite Reardon, “The Digital Divide Has Left Millions of School Kids Behind,” , May 5, 2021
52.Rachel Paula Abrahamson, “Why More and More Teachers Are Joining the Anti-Homework Movement,” , Sep. 10, 2021

More School Debate Topics

Should K-12 Students Dissect Animals in Science Classrooms? – Proponents say dissecting real animals is a better learning experience. Opponents say the practice is bad for the environment.

Should Students Have to Wear School Uniforms? – Proponents say uniforms may increase student safety. Opponents say uniforms restrict expression.

Should Corporal Punishment Be Used in K-12 Schools? – Proponents say corporal punishment is an appropriate discipline. Opponents say it inflicts long-lasting physical and mental harm on students.

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ARTS & CULTURE

Do kids have too much homework.

Across the United States, parents, teachers and administrators alike are rethinking their approach to after-school assignments

LynNell Hancock

Student with homework

Homework horror stories are as timeworn as school bullies and cafeteria mystery meat. But as high-stakes testing pressures have mounted over the past decade—and global rankings for America’s schools have declined—homework has come under new scrutiny.

Diane Lowrie says she fled an Ocean County, New Jersey, school district three years ago when she realized her first grader’s homework load was nearly crushing him. Reading logs, repetitive math worksheets, and regular social studies reports turned their living room into an anguished battleground. “Tears were shed, every night,” says Lowrie, 47, an environmental educator, who tried to convince school district administrators that the work was not only numbing, but harmful. “Iain started to hate school, to hate learning, and he was only 6 years old,” she told me in a recent interview.

A 2003 Brookings Institution study suggests that Iain’s experience may be typical of a few children in pressure-cooker schools, but it’s not a widespread problem. Still, a 2004 University of Michigan survey of 2,900 six- to seventeen-year-old children found that time spent each week on homework had increased from 2 hours 38 minutes to 3 hours 58 minutes since 1981. And in his 2001 and 2006 reviews of academic studies of homework outcomes, Harris Cooper, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, found little correlation between the amount of homework and academic achievement in elementary school (though higher in middle school and high school). Cooper supports the influential ten-minute homework rule, which recommends adding ten daily minutes of homework per grade beginning in first grade, up to a maximum of two hours. Some districts have added no homework on weekends to the formula.

The question of how much homework is enough is widely debated and was a focus of the 2009 documentary Race to Nowhere , a galvanizing cri de coeur about the struggles of kids in high-performing schools. “I can’t remember the last time I had the chance to go in the backyard and just run around,” a teenage girl laments in the film. “I’ve gone through bouts of depression” from too much homework, another confesses. A bewildered-looking third girl says: “I would spend six hours a night on my homework.”

The results of international tests give the homework skeptics ammunition. David Baker and Gerald LeTendre, professors of education at Penn State, found that in countries with the most successful school systems, like Japan, teachers give small amounts homework, while teachers in those with the lowest scores, such as Greece and Iran, give a lot. (Of course the quality of the assignment and the teacher’s use of it also matter.) The United States falls somewhere in the middle—average amounts of homework and average test results. Finnish teachers tend to give minimal amounts of homework throughout all the grades; the New York Times reported Finnish high-school kids averaged only one-half hour a night.

Sara Bennett, a Brooklyn criminal attorney and mother of two, began a second career as an anti-homework activist when her first-grade son brought home homework only a parent could complete. The 2006 book she co-wrote, The Case Against Homework , is credited with propelling a nationwide parent movement calling for time limits on homework.

Last year, the affluent village of Ridgewood, New Jersey, was shaken by two young suicides, causing school officials to look for ways they could ease kids’ anxieties. Anthony Orsini, principal of Ridgewood’s Benjamin Franklin Middle School, eliminated homework for elective courses and set up an online system that lets families know how long many homework assignments should take. “We have a high-powered district,” says Orsini. “The pressures are palpable on these students to succeed. My community is not ready to eliminate homework altogether.”

The trend, instead, is to lessen the quantity while improving the quality of homework by using it to complement classroom work, says Cathy Vatterott, a professor of education at University of Missouri at St. Louis and author of Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs (2009). Cynthia Schneider, principal of World Journalism Preparatory school in Queens for 570 sixth through twelfth graders, plans to encourage all students to read for pleasure every night, then write a thoughtful response. There are also initiatives to “decriminalize” not finishing homework assignments.

As for Diane Lowrie, who left Ocean County because of too much homework, she says Iain, now 10 and heading for fifth grade in Roosevelt, New Jersey, is less stressed out. He recently spent 40 hours working on a book report and diorama about the Battle of Yorktown. “But,” says his mother, “it was his idea and he enjoyed it.”

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Do Kids Get Too Much Homework?

child frustrated by homework

Family stress worsens as children’s homework loads increase, and the long hours kids spend on homework could be used for exercise, sleep, or extracurricular activities. Then again, these assignments do help children practice their skills and dive deeper into subjects they haven’t mastered during the school day. Are children getting too much homework? The answer may be “yes.”

Homework by the Numbers

Since every school has its own policies, and the amount of homework a child is assigned does fluctuate, no hard and fast statistics about homework distribution exist.

However, researchers provide some insight into general trends. One major study , done in 2007, polled more than 2,000 3rd- through 12th-grade students. The researchers asked how much time students spent doing homework on a typical weeknight. Thirty-seven percent of elementary students and fifty percent of secondary students reported spending an hour or more on homework. Eight percent of secondary students spent three or more hours doing homework on a typical weeknight.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress also tracks the homework practices of American students. In 2012, 9-year-old, 13-year-old, and 17-year-old students were asked how long they had spent on homework the previous day. About one in five students said they had not been assigned any homework. Most students had less than two hours of homework, but 5 percent of 9-year-olds, 7 percent of 13-year-olds, and 13 percent of 17-year-olds had more than two hours of homework.

The Case Against Homework

Between long school days, afternoon club meetings, sports practices, sports games, and time spent commuting, many children do not get home for the day until late afternoon or early evening. Fitting in two hours of homework after dinner cuts into time children could be using for sleep , exercise , family time , and fun. If students do not finish their homework, however, they risk falling behind their classmates and getting reprimanded by teachers.

Parents suffer too, according to a 2015 report published in The American Journal of Family Therapy , which found that “family stress … increased as homework load increased and as parents’ perception of their capacity to assist decreased.” While most parents can help with elementary school homework, they may discover that advanced calculus homework is beyond their abilities.

The Case for Homework

Does homework actually help students succeed? Researchers say it can, although it seems to be more effective for kids in grades 7–12 rather than those in K–6. Homework helps kids retain information, develop responsibility , and hone their time-management skills.

Children who do homework also tend to have higher test scores than those who do not, but only up to a certain point. A Duke professor and author of The Battle over Homework found that junior high students reached a point of diminishing returns after 90 minutes of homework per night. Students who did more than 90 minutes of homework did not have higher test scores than those who did 90 minutes only.

What’s Next?

More and more, teachers are turning away from traditional homework. One Texas elementary school teacher announced she would not be assigning homework in the 2016–2017 school year, and she was met with overwhelming support from parents around the country. And some schools have created no-homework policies, while administrators at other schools are considering the idea.

The homework tide may be turning, but it is a slow process. If you believe your child’s homework requirements are not effective for him or her, consider online learning , which offers students a personalized education experience and a number of benefits for young learners.

How much homework do your students have during the week? Is it too much or too little? Let us know in the comments section!

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kids have too much homework

VIDEO: Do American Kids Have Too Much Homework?

Fred dews fred dews managing editor, new digital products - office of communications @publichistory.

March 19, 2014

Do American kids have too much homework? Despite public perceptions that they do, Tom Loveless , in a new Brown Center on Education Policy report, “ Homework in America ,” finds that “data do not support the view that the homework burden is growing, nor do they support the belief that the proportion of students with a lot of homework has increased in recent years.” Watch the video below to get some of the highlights, and  download the report for more detail.

“ Homework in America ” is one part of the three-part 2014 Brown Center Report on American Education. The others are: “ Lessons from the PISA-Shanghai Controversy ” and “ A Progress Report on the Common Core .”

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IMAGES

  1. HOMEWORK HAVOC: How Much Homework Is Too Much??

    kids have too much homework

  2. Study: Too Much Homework Can Take A Toll On Children’s Health

    kids have too much homework

  3. Do Students Have Too Much Homework?

    kids have too much homework

  4. Signs your child may have too much homework

    kids have too much homework

  5. What Parents Can Do When a Child Gets Too Much Homework

    kids have too much homework

  6. Dear Highlights Podcast: Do Kids Have Too Much Homework?

    kids have too much homework

VIDEO

  1. plush :D

  2. really old edit because I have too much homework

  3. SAVE ME (I have too much homework)

  4. I have too much homework😭 #art #drawing #artist #funny #arttrend #shorts

  5. when you get in a crash, but you have too much homework

  6. When kids have too much energy to burn on a school night

COMMENTS

  1. Do our kids have too much homework?

    Further muddying the waters is an AP/AOL poll that suggests that most Americans feel that their children are getting the right amount of homework. It found that 57% of parents felt that their child was assigned about the right amount of homework, 23% thought there was too little and 19% thought there was too much.

  2. Signs your child may have too much homework

    Kids with too much homework might: Put off doing homework, to the point of not having time to finish it. Not want to go to school or feel unprepared for class because homework isn't done. Ask for help before trying to do homework on their own. Ask for help even if they understand the assignment and could do it on their own.

  3. More than two hours of homework may be counterproductive, research

    A Stanford education researcher found that too much homework can negatively affect kids, especially their lives away from school, where family, friends and activities matter. "Our findings on the effects of homework challenge the traditional assumption that homework is inherently good," wrote Denise Pope, a senior lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and a

  4. What Parents Can Do When a Child Gets Too Much Homework

    4 ) Have a Regular Homework Routine to Prevent Procrastination . Sometimes, school-age children will put off doing larger homework assignments rather than trying to complete them a few days before they are due. Rather than spending 10 to 20 minutes for several evenings on the large assignment, they will have to spend hours to get the work done.

  5. Is it time to get rid of homework? Mental health experts weigh in

    For older students, Kang says, homework benefits plateau at about two hours per night. "Most students, especially at these high achieving schools, they're doing a minimum of three hours, and it's ...

  6. Is Homework Good for Kids?

    There are non-academic benefits to homework, but too much work may interfere with other areas of development. Research suggests students should be given about 10 minutes of homework per grade level.

  7. What's the Right Amount of Homework?

    As young children begin school, the focus should be on cultivating a love of learning, and assigning too much homework can undermine that goal. And young students often don't have the study skills to benefit fully from homework, so it may be a poor use of time (Cooper, 1989; Cooper et al., 2006; Marzano & Pickering, 2007). A more effective ...

  8. Is Homework Good for Kids? Here's What the Research Says

    A TIME cover in 1999 read: "Too much homework! How it's hurting our kids, and what parents should do about it.". The accompanying story noted that the launch of Sputnik in 1957 led to a push ...

  9. How to talk with your child's teacher about too much homework

    Communicate clearly. Keep the focus on what your child is doing, not on what the teacher is doing or what the homework policies are. Be specific about what you're noticing at home, but don't be critical of the teacher. For instance, saying "You're giving so much homework that my child is spending hours trying to get it done" can sound ...

  10. How Much Homework Is Too Much?

    The frequency of family meals has also been shown to help with disordered eating behaviors in adolescents. Experts in the field recommend children have no more than ten minutes of homework per day ...

  11. Does Homework Really Help Students Learn?

    The conversation around homework is to some extent a social class and social justice issue. If we eliminate homework for all children because affluent children have too much, we're really doing a disservice to low-income children. They need the challenge, and every student can rise to the challenge with enough supports in place.

  12. Should Kids Get Homework?

    Too much, however, is harmful. And homework has a greater positive effect on students in secondary school (grades 7-12) than those in elementary. "Every child should be doing homework, but the ...

  13. Is it time to get rid of homework? Mental health experts weigh in

    If workloads are still too much, Kang encourages students to advocate for themselves. "They should tell their teachers when a homework assignment just took too much time or if it was too difficult ...

  14. Homework challenges and strategies

    The challenge: Managing time and staying organized. Some kids struggle with keeping track of time and making a plan for getting all of their work done. That's especially true of kids who have trouble with executive function. Try creating a homework schedule and set a specific time and place for your child to get homework done.

  15. Does homework really work?

    A 2020 survey by Crayola Experience reports 82 percent of children complain they don't have enough quality time with their parents. Homework deserves much of the blame. "Kids should have a chance to just be kids and do things they enjoy, particularly after spending six hours a day in school," says Alfie Kohn, author of The Homework Myth ...

  16. Homework: A New User's Guide : NPR Ed : NPR

    Just 15 percent of parents said their kids have too much homework. Research also suggests that the students doing the most work have something else in common: income. "I think that the debate over ...

  17. How Much Homework Should Students Have?

    Many experts believe that students should receive roughly 10 minutes per night of homework in the first grade and an additional 10 minutes per grade for each following year. By this standard, high school seniors should have about 120 minutes or two hours of homework a night, but some students have two hours of work in middle school and many ...

  18. Homework Pros and Cons

    Homework can also help clue parents in to the existence of any learning disabilities their children may have, allowing them to get help and adjust learning strategies as needed. ... Jamie Ballard, "40% of People Say Elementary School Students Have Too Much Homework," yougov.com, July 31, 2018: 24. Stanford University, "Stanford Survey of ...

  19. Do Kids Have Too Much Homework?

    Still, a 2004 University of Michigan survey of 2,900 six- to seventeen-year-old children found that time spent each week on homework had increased from 2 hours 38 minutes to 3 hours 58 minutes ...

  20. Do Kids Get Too Much Homework?

    January 9 2017 Learning Liftoff. Family stress worsens as children's homework loads increase, and the long hours kids spend on homework could be used for exercise, sleep, or extracurricular activities. Then again, these assignments do help children practice their skills and dive deeper into subjects they haven't mastered during the school day.

  21. Kids have three times too much homework, study finds

    The study, published Wednesday in The American Journal of Family Therapy, found students in the early elementary school years are getting significantly more homework than is recommended by ...

  22. VIDEO: Do American Kids Have Too Much Homework?

    Do American kids have too much homework? Despite public perceptions that they do, Tom Loveless, in a new Brown Center on Education Policy report, "Homework in America," finds that "data do not ...