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Homework or Personal Lives?
Many students get home and the first thing they do is homework. They’re pressured by their parents to do their homework while simultaneously being encouraged to spend time with family, eat, spend time with friends, go outside, participate in sports or other extracurricular activities, and sleep for 7+ hours. Rather than motivating students to master material and learn efficiently, homework negatively impacts students by taking away from personal time that is necessary for them to lead balanced lives.
In an article published by The Washington Post by Gerald K LeTendre, a professor of education in education policy studies at Penn State, states that, “Worldwide, homework is not associated with high national levels of academic achievement.” This means that there is no direct correlation between homework and test grades, and very few studies have been able to prove this, and the ones that have were more of a reach. At Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, 16 out of 19 of the students in Fire Stream agreed that homework adds extra stress onto them or takes time away from other things that they’re encouraged to do, such as sports, extra classes, extracurricular activities, family time, etc. This means that just over 84% of students in Fire Stream have agreed that homework is added stress and takes time away from things that they’re encouraged to do outside of school. Many students participate in these activities because they’re passionate about them and it makes them happy. Sports and exercise is proven to relieve stress, homework adds stress and if time for this stress reliever is taken away that just means more stress, this can cause more problems in many aspects of their lives.
In an article written by CNN about how homework has been banned in some cities and not others, “What is clear is that parents and kids don't live in the world of academic research; they live in the real world where there are piles of homework on the kitchen table.” Meaning that students don’t have the luxury of just easily saying that homework helps their academic performance or not, and they don’t have the luxury of just not doing homework. That is especially true to highschool students who have to regularly chose between sleep and doing work, especially when they get homework from every class every night and homework can be up to 30% of their grade. Students in every grade get piles of homework and a lot of the time they don’t have resources on hand to see if they’re right or to get help, meaning they might do it wrong and not learn anything at all. Even if students do try and do their homework it might take a while, according to Nationwide Children’s Hospital adolescents should be getting 9 to 9 ½ hours of sleep per night. Due to homework and trying to fit other after school activities in many adolescents don’t get the necessary amount of sleep. Sleep deprivation in teens has many negative effects such as mood changes, being more inclined to engage in risky behavior such as driving fast, drinking, etc, doing worse in school, and declined cognitive abilities.
In an article published by the New York Times, a mother explained how… , “The stress homework places on families starts early.” The article also talks about how homework takes away from family time and family activities. The author also says that her kids “are fighting not just over the homework, but also over their share of my coveted attention and my unique ability to download and print images.” This shows how homework adds extra pressure and can cause tension in families. It takes away from family time and causes more stress on students and parents. It’s almost as if once children start school and the homework starts that it never stops, and that more family time is taken away while more stress is added.
In a study concluded in 2003 by Dr. Harris Cooper he tries to argue that homework has a positive effect on students, but his studies also found no direct correlation between increased homework for students and improved test scores. Cooper himself said that “The analysis also showed that too much homework can be counter-productive for students at all levels.” Meaning that excessive amounts of homework can cause negative effects on students, but who is judging what excessive amounts of homework means? He talks about the “10 minute rule” meaning that every grade that a student increases they should get 10 more minutes of homework, meaning that a second grader should get 20 minutes, and a twelfth grader should get around 2 hours of homework. That would seem ideal, but in most high school settings teachers don’t interact with each other to see how much homework each of them give to equal it out to around 2 hours. This means that one class’s homework could take a student 2 hours alone and that would be what the ideal amount of homework is, so if it takes 2 hours for one class’s homework then how are students supposed to have positive benefits from doing all of their homework? Cooper’s research was also limited because very little research was done to see if student’s race, socioeconomic status, or even their ability levels has an affect on how much homework is “good” for said age range. This means that other aspects than just that they’re students in a certain grade weren’t taken into consideration. These things could cause major changes to the data that was collected.
Rather than encouraging students to master material and learn efficiently, homework negatively impacts students and families by causing more stress and taking away from family time. This is a problem not just for the overworked students, but also for students who have more complex personal lives. Many students work or have family obligations that they have to deal with, but don’t necessarily feel comfortable talking to a teacher about them. Although teachers might not think that the amount of homework that they give matters much,its influence goes beyond giving students work to do at home to how they interact in other important personal aspects of their life.
LeTendre, Gerald K. “Homework Could Have an Effect on Kids’ Health. Should Schools Ban It?” The Washington Post , WP Company, 2 Sept. 2015, www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/09/02/homework-could-have-an-effect-on-kids-health-should-schools-ban-it/?utm_term=.3ed6d0fa2c72.
Kralovec, Etta. “Should Schools Ban Homework?” CNN , Cable News Network, 5 Sept. 2014, www.cnn.com/2014/09/05/opinion/kralovec-ban-homework/index.html.
Dell'Antonia, Kj. “Homework's Emotional Toll on Students and Families.” The New York Times , The New York Times, 12 Mar. 2014, parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/12/homeworks-emotional-toll-on-students-and-families/.
“Duke Study: Homework Helps Students Succeed in School, As Long as There Isn't Too Much.” Duke Today , Duke Today, 7 Mar. 2006, today.duke.edu/2006/03/homework.html.
“Sleep in Adolescents (13-18 Years).” Sleep in Adolescents :: Nationwide Children's Hospital , www.nationwidechildrens.org/sleep-in-adolescents
A question that I have after reading this is in what other ways can we as students improve our learning without homework?
This 2fer has changed my opinion about how much homework affects a student's life in a bad way more than a good way.
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Using homework as an excuse to avoid family time
H omework: it’s accepted as an integral part of school life, going as far back as kindergarten for many people. Piles of papers stacked on students’ desks, keyboards poised underneath their fingertips, hours worth of assignments waiting for them — under these circumstances, g etting fewer than five hours of sleep per night isn’t unusual.
A 2014 Stanford University survey of 4,317 students from 10 high-performing high schools in California revealed that the average student is assigned over three hours of homework on a typical night. It also showed increased amounts of homework led to greater stress and less family time. While it’s obvious that more homework means less time to do other things, the interesting aspect isn’t the survey results — it’s the reasoning behind it. Homework is used as a reason and an excuse. Students with too much homework take what little family time they have and further lessen it. Because of homework, students have less time to spend with their families and yet,the excuse “I can’t, I have too much homework” is commonly used to avoid family time.
In a part of the country where high tech companies such as Apple and Google flourish, expectations rise each year for the students in Bay Area schools. Because of outside perception of the Bay Area’s reputation and parents wanting their children to lead privileged lives, academics have taken over much of the family life.
“Before high school,whenever [my parents] talked to me, it was mainly about what I dreamed of doing,” senior Christine Chyu said. “But the moment I entered high school, everything was about GPA and standardized tests.”
Chyu feels like her relationship with her parents has become more distant.
“My mom comes home at around 6 p.m.,” Chyu said, “and then we talk about stuff like ‘what do you want to eat for dinner tonight?’ but then she also asks about how I’m doing in my classes, and ‘how do you think you did on your ACT?’”
The discussion then shifts to college applications. These questions continue until it’s time for Chyu to go to bed.
While Chyu uses homework as an excuse to stop these conversations, freshman Rukmini Banerjee uses homework as an excuse to procrastinate, choosing to spend more time with her family.
Banerjee knows that it can be exhausting to answer questions about grades and the like. Though she brushes off school-related questions and ignores her parents’ urging her to manage her time more efficiently, Banerjee takes every opportunity that her family offers to get out of doing her homework, choosing instead to go hiking with them or out to dinner. Other times, her dad will sit by her and they’ll watch the news.
It is natural for parents to ask about school because it takes up so much of their children’s lives, but it takes away from the quality of conversations when academics become the only topic.
“When parents interfere with their children’s homework activities… or are over-controlling,” said Richard Walker, an associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Sydney. “Parental involvement in homework can have detrimental effects on achievement outcomes.”
Chyu and Banerjee just reply with generic answers to their parents’ questions instead of initiating more practical conversations because they know the topic will eventually shift to academics.
Cathy Vatterott, an education professor at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, says that homework has become so ingrained into lives beyond the classroom that teachers have more control over a student’s free time than parents do. The reasoning for this is that homework teaches responsibility, and that “intellectual pursuits hold an implied superiority over unintellectual tasks such as throwing a ball, walking a dog, riding a bike, or just hanging out.”This statement dismisses the value of leisure activity, which is just as crucial in child development as academics are. While homework may facilitate learning, seven to eight hours of a child’s day is already dedicated to learning — this is more than enough time spent on intellectual pursuits, rather than time socializing.
Junior Daniel Hong doesn’t spend much time with dad, who comes home late after work, but when his dad makes an effort to spend time with his family on weekends, Hong frequently chooses not to, citing homework and sports injuries.
“I have a little regret, maybe I should have been closer to my family,” Hong said. “[When we don’t go out on weekends], [he gets] really disappointed.”
Hong’s mom frequently requests that he finish his homework earlier so that he doesn’t have to tell his dad ‘I have homework so I can’t hang out with you.’
Homework has become so predominant in student’s lives that although it is meant to help them do well in school, it instead has taken over family life to an extent at which it’s hurting students’ relationships with their parents. But despite the pressure students have from homework, it cannot be fully blamed in this situation because there are some who consciously choose not to spend time with family.
Parents may mean well by realizing the importance of school and turning it into the most discussed topic in the household. Even so, discussing about academics has become a way for parents to keep in check with their kids’ lives. Unfortunately, their intentions are often misunderstood. Once parents bring up the topic of homework, students close themselves off for fear of being reprimanded for being unfocused or simply because it’s a redundant talk. .
“If we joke around, then I’m closer with my mom,” said Chyu. “But if I ever bring up my own thoughts, she’d probably shut it down, saying that it’s useless to think about other stuff, just do what you’re told and you’ll be fine.”
Although spending time with family is important, its purpose is defeated it continues to revolve around school, or worse — cause as much stress as school does. Conversing with family may be stressful, but the majority of the time, family members are only concerned about our well-being and want the best for us. Using homework as an excuse not to participate in family time would mean losing out on these valuable experiences.
Additional reporting by Krishna Sunder.
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Is homework robbing your family of joy? You're not alone
Children are not the only ones who dread their homework these days. In a 2019 survey of 1,049 parents with children in elementary, middle, or high school, Office Depot found that parents spend an average of 21 minutes a day helping their children with their homework. Those 21 minutes are often apparently very unpleasant.
Parents reported their children struggle to complete homework. One in five believed their children "always or often feel overwhelmed by homework," and half of them reported their children had cried over homework stress.
Parents are struggling to help. Four out of five parents reported that they have had difficulty understanding their children's homework.
This probably comes as no surprise to any parent who has come up against a third grade math homework sheet with the word "array" printed on it. If you have not yet had the pleasure, for the purposes of Common Core math, an array is defined as a set of objects arranged in rows and columns and used to help kids learn about multiplication. For their parents, though, it's defined as a "What? Come again? Huh?"
It's just as hard on the students. "My high school junior says homework is the most stressful part of high school...maybe that’s why he never does any," said Mandy Burkhart, of Lake Mary, Florida, who is a mother of five children ranging in age from college to preschool.
In fact, Florida high school teacher and mother of three Katie Tomlinson no longer assigns homework in her classroom. "Being a parent absolutely changed the way I assign homework to my students," she told TODAY Parents .
"Excessive homework can quickly change a student’s mind about a subject they previously enjoyed," she noted. "While I agree a check and balance is necessary for students to understand their own ability prior to a test, I believe it can be done in 10 questions versus 30."
But homework is a necessary evil for most students, so what is a parent to do to ensure everyone in the house survives? Parents and professionals weigh in on the essentials:
Understand the true purpose of homework
"Unless otherwise specified, homework is designed to be done by the child independently, and it's most often being used as a form of formative assessment by the teacher to gauge how the kids are applying — independently — what they are learning in class," said Oona Hanson , a Los Angeles-area educator and parent coach.
"If an adult at home is doing the heavy lifting, then the teacher never knows that the child isn't ready to do this work alone, and the cycle continues because the teacher charges ahead thinking they did a great job the day before!" Hanson said. "It's essential that teachers know when their students are struggling for whatever reason."
Hanson noted the anxiety both parents and children have about academic achievement, and she understands the parental impulse to jump in and help, but she suggested resisting that urge. "We can help our kids more in the long run if we can let them know it's OK to struggle a little bit and that they can be honest with their teacher about what they don't understand," she said.
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Help kids develop time management skills
Some children like to finish their homework the minute they get home. Others need time to eat a snack and decompress. Either is a valid approach, but no matter when students decide to tackle their homework, they might need some guidance from parents about how to manage their time .
One tip: "Set the oven timer for age appropriate intervals of work, and then let them take a break for a few minutes," Maura Olvey, an elementary school math specialist in Central Florida, told TODAY Parents. "The oven timer is visible to them — they know when a break is coming — and they are visible to you, so you can encourage focus and perseverance." The stopwatch function on a smartphone would work for this method as well.
But one size does not fit all when it comes to managing homework, said Cleveland, Ohio, clinical psychologist Dr. Sarah Cain Spannagel . "If their child has accommodations as a learner, parents know they need them at home as well as at school: quiet space, extended time, audio books, etcetera," she said. "Think through long assignments, and put those in planners in advance so the kid knows it is expected to take some time."
Know when to walk away
"I always want my parents to know when to call it a night," said Amanda Feroglia, a central Florida elementary teacher and mother of two. "The children's day at school is so rigorous; some nights it’s not going to all get done, and that’s OK! It’s not worth the meltdown or the fight if they are tired or you are frustrated...or both!"
Parents also need to accept their own limits. Don't be afraid to find support from YouTube videos, websites like Khan Academy, or even tutors. And in the end, said Spannagel, "If you find yourself yelling or frustrated, just walk away!" It's fine just to let a teacher know your child attempted but did not understand the homework and leave it at that.
Ideally, teachers will understand when parents don't know how to help with Common Core math, and they will assign an appropriate amount of homework that will not leave both children and their parents at wits' ends. If worst comes to worst, a few parents offered an alternative tip for their fellow homework warriors.
"If Brittany leaves Boston for New York at 3:00 pm traveling by train at 80 MPH, and Taylor leaves Boston for New York at 1:00 pm traveling by car at 65 MPH, and Brittany makes two half hour stops, and Taylor makes one that is ten minutes longer, how many glasses of wine does mommy need?" quipped one mom of two.
Also recommended: "Chocolate, in copious amounts."
Allison Slater Tate is a freelance writer and editor in Florida specializing in parenting and college admissions. She is a proud Gen Xer, ENFP, Leo, Diet Coke enthusiast, and champion of the Oxford Comma. She mortifies her four children by knowing all the trending songs on TikTok. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram .
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Yes, You Can Opt Your Kids Out of Homework—Here’s How
One mom says her kids haven't been doing homework for years. Here's how she opted them out and what experts say.
Guille Faingold / Stocksy
When Juliana Porter thinks about the feeling that homework induces, one word comes to mind: dread. With afternoon and evening time constraints, the North Carolina mom of three wants her kids to have some time to relax and unwind, so homework is often pushed until during or after dinnertime.
“The subject we’ve found to be the most challenging is math, in large part because strategies and ‘show your work’ are often required to get correct answers,” says Porter. “But as parents who are not in the class to learn new methods, we’re not able to help. Or we can help, but it’s not the correct method being taught and adds to our child’s confusion. These at-home cram sessions usually end in frustration for both child and parent.”
The Porter family’s experience isn’t unique. Research published in the Child & Youth Care Forum found more than 25% of parents and kids say homework “always or often interferes with family time and creates a power struggle,” while more than 36% of kids say homework sometimes forces them to get less sleep in grades 3 to 6. According to Stanford research , 56% of students surveyed say homework is a primary source of stress.
While many families do their best to help their children complete homework with as little frustration as possible, my family has chosen a different option: to simply skip it. And I don’t mean just skipping it on the nights it's difficult either. For four years, my family has totally opted out of homework, which I’ve learned doesn’t produce enough benefits for the stress it causes. And I want other parents to know that opting out of homework is an option for their kids, too.
Homework: How to Opt Out
If your child goes to an open admissions public school, opting out of homework can be something you consider. While it may be a particularly good choice if homework is causing major household stress, you don’t have to wait until your child is miserable to act if they (or you) would simply prefer to spend the time in other ways. There are no legal requirements that students complete work outside of school hours and, for many children, the actual determinants of homework outweigh the theoretical benefits.
To opt out, I send a note to each of my children's teachers at the beginning of the year letting them know that my child will not be completing homework, that their overall grade should not be impacted, and that they should not be penalized in any way for not turning in homework assignments.
I also let them know that we're committed to our kids' education, that we read together most evenings, and that, if my child is struggling or needs extra support in any subject, we're happy to brainstorm solutions to help them get the practice they need. Though no teachers have pushed back yet (and several have told us they wish they were not required to assign homework and that more families knew they could opt out), we have a small folder of research on the detriments of homework that we could share with an administrator if needed.
Opting out has worked well for our family but implicit bias might mean that other families don't receive the same neutral or positive reaction that our white family does.
"Many minoritized and historically marginalized families never consider opting out of homework, even when they know that it's not meaningful," says Sequoya Mungo, Ph.D. , an educational equity consultant and co-founder of BrownLight Inc. , a company helping to create positive diversity and inclusion results in educational, nonprofit, and corporate environments. "When white families make these types of educational choices, they are viewed as forward-thinking and seen as advocates for their children's education. Teachers and others often think that they're being proactive and identifying other enrichment opportunities for their kids. When non-middle class and non-white families opt out, the assumption is that parents don't value education and don't want to, or are unable to, help their kids with homework.”
According to Dr. Mungo, coming with research or policy can be helpful as even some school level administrators are unaware that opting out is within your rights as parents. “The more prepared you are, the more likely you are to not be met with pushback.”
Why Families May Want to Opt Out of Homework
Since homework is so prevalent, many assume it's vital, or at least important, to kids' academic growth. But the reality is murkier. "There's really no good evidence that homework completion positively impacts kids' academic growth or achievement," says Samantha Cleaver, Ph.D. , a reading interventionist and author of Raising an Active Reader: The Case for Reading Aloud to Engage Elementary School Youngsters .
A 2006 meta-analysis of homework and achievement found moderate correlation in middle school and little correlation in elementary school, while there was negative correlation (that is, more homework means less learning) in third grade and below.
While research shows homework can help high school kids improve grades, test results, and likelihood of going to college, the reality is academic pressures in the U.S. have increased over the last two decades, and so too has the amount of homework that kids are assigned. The National Education Association (NEA) recommends no more than 10 minutes of homework per night per grade level, but that's often not what's happening. According to a 2015 study, elementary school students are being assigned more than is recommended , sometimes almost triple the amount. And, often, even when educators are assigning homework they think falls in this window, it can take some students, particularly those who are “behind” already or who have learning disabilities, much more time to complete.
Excessive homework can negatively impact sleep, mental health, and stress levels. It’s also important to note homework is an issue of equity, since not every child has the same opportunities at home. "When kids are doing work in school, the classroom environment serves as somewhat of an equalizer,'' says Dr. Mungo. "Kids have access to the same teacher and generally the same resources within the classroom setting. At home, kids have different environments, different access to resources, and different levels of support." This means kids with less support and more challenges often end up getting lower grades or being penalized for not turning in work for reasons totally outside their control.
Making Change on Homework
Parents who don't want to be the only ones opting out can work to change the homework culture at their school. Consider reaching out to your principal about your homework concerns or connecting with other parents or the PTA to help build support for your cause.
And if you do opt out, don't be shy about letting other parents know that's what you've chosen to do. Sometimes just knowing there is an option and that others have opted out successfully can help families decide what's right for them.
What to Do With the Extra Time
When Porter thinks about what a life without homework would be like, she envisions a much more relaxed evening routine. “I imagine a scenario where my kids can do their after-school activities, read more, get outside, and generally just decompress from the daily eight-hour grind that is school with no more dread and no more crying,” she says.
If you opt out of homework and find your family with more time for other sorts of learning, leisure, or adventure, be thoughtful how you’ll structure your new routine and talk with your kids about the value of doing nothing, the importance of family time, or how to spend their time in ways that matter to them.
And if you want to be sure they're getting in some valuable post-school learning, consider repurposing your previous homework time to reading with your kids. "Reading aloud has benefits long after your kids can read on their own," says Dr. Cleaver. "Encourage them to choose books about subjects they're interested in, snuggle up together, and enjoy watching them learn through active reading."
But reading isn’t the only way to reap benefits. "There are lots of things that kids can do after school that will positively impact their growth and development that don't involve sitting down to do more of the work they've done at school,'' says Dr. Cleaver. "Time to decompress through play or relaxation isn't just fun, it actually helps kids' brains and bodies relax, making them more open to learning."
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More than two hours of homework may be counterproductive, research suggests.
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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Reclaiming Family Time: What to Do When Homework is Too Intrusive
- February 1, 2019
BY STEPHANIE HELSABECK, M.Ed.
When looking at decades of research on the topic of homework in elementary school, no overall positive correlation between homework and achievement has been found. Knowing this often causes parents to wonder why the practice of giving young children homework continues. Often teachers are uninformed and are also following uninformed policy given by the school or the school district. So, what can you, as an informed parent, do to protect your home from the unnecessary homework strains?
First, figure out what you are willing to do. The school is not in control of your home, you are! This is your family, and you deserve quality family time. How much family time are you willing to give up? Is your child having problems with the quality or quantity of the assignments? Are you taking on the role of tutor or can your child complete assignments independently? Thinking through these questions will help you decide what changes need to be made.
It is important to know the school district’s homework policy as well as the individual school’s policy. By being informed about these policies, you can determine if the individual teacher is following the guidelines. If guidelines are not being followed, often a simple discussion with the teacher can get things in line with policy. At most back-to-school nights the teacher will talk about homework policies and expectations. They usually tell parents how they want to be approached in the event a problem should arise. Take them at their word and contact them immediately if homework starts to cause problems.
If you find it is time to have a meeting, ask the teacher to briefly explain expectations for homework and then express your own expectations and what your family can and cannot do. For example, if the teacher says, “The expectation in my class is reading thirty minutes, and completing a math worksheet, so homework shouldn’t take more than an hour.” You may say, “We find our child has a hard time with math; therefore it takes him/her much longer to complete the worksheet. Could we modify the assignment, so that he/she has less to complete, or set a time limit and after this amount of time, work stops?” The teacher may not be aware of the struggles with homework, so engaging in a conversation may accomplish a lot to improve the situation.
If the teacher is unwilling to work with your situation, it may be time to make the changes necessary for your child yourself. Most of the time teachers want to help, but there are times when you must take unilateral action and cut homework yourself. When taking this step, you must inform the teacher, and at this point let the principal know what is happening. You may write a note stating your appreciation for the meetings you had earlier to discuss the issue, express understanding for the teacher’s position, but make it clear you disagree. Lay out what you are willing and not willing to do for homework. Let the teacher know you are willing to meet again, perhaps in a month, to discuss how the adjusted homework is going. You could also share correspondence with the principal, so that he/she is aware of the homework issue and how you as a parent are trying to remediate the situation.
Making the decision to adjust your child’s homework yourself can be an uncomfortable prospect. But it will prove to be well worth it as you enjoy less stressful evenings. Keep in mind elementary school grades do not impact students in life-altering ways, but the daily struggles with homework may have lasting effects. One of the biggest impacts is that students learn to hate school, and that impact is long lasting and has life-altering consequences. As you engage in battles over homework, your relationship with your child is also impacted negatively. That can also be a long-lasting consequence of allowing homework madness to invade your home. Again, reclaiming family evenings takes some effort, and can be uncomfortable at times, but will surely be well worth it!
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- The Highlight
Nobody knows what the point of homework is
The homework wars are back.
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As the Covid-19 pandemic began and students logged into their remote classrooms, all work, in effect, became homework. But whether or not students could complete it at home varied. For some, schoolwork became public-library work or McDonald’s-parking-lot work.
Luis Torres, the principal of PS 55, a predominantly low-income community elementary school in the south Bronx, told me that his school secured Chromebooks for students early in the pandemic only to learn that some lived in shelters that blocked wifi for security reasons. Others, who lived in housing projects with poor internet reception, did their schoolwork in laundromats.
According to a 2021 Pew survey , 25 percent of lower-income parents said their children, at some point, were unable to complete their schoolwork because they couldn’t access a computer at home; that number for upper-income parents was 2 percent.
The issues with remote learning in March 2020 were new. But they highlighted a divide that had been there all along in another form: homework. And even long after schools have resumed in-person classes, the pandemic’s effects on homework have lingered.
Over the past three years, in response to concerns about equity, schools across the country, including in Sacramento, Los Angeles , San Diego , and Clark County, Nevada , made permanent changes to their homework policies that restricted how much homework could be given and how it could be graded after in-person learning resumed.
Three years into the pandemic, as districts and teachers reckon with Covid-era overhauls of teaching and learning, schools are still reconsidering the purpose and place of homework. Whether relaxing homework expectations helps level the playing field between students or harms them by decreasing rigor is a divisive issue without conclusive evidence on either side, echoing other debates in education like the elimination of standardized test scores from some colleges’ admissions processes.
I first began to wonder if the homework abolition movement made sense after speaking with teachers in some Massachusetts public schools, who argued that rather than help disadvantaged kids, stringent homework restrictions communicated an attitude of low expectations. One, an English teacher, said she felt the school had “just given up” on trying to get the students to do work; another argued that restrictions that prohibit teachers from assigning take-home work that doesn’t begin in class made it difficult to get through the foreign-language curriculum. Teachers in other districts have raised formal concerns about homework abolition’s ability to close gaps among students rather than widening them.
Many education experts share this view. Harris Cooper, a professor emeritus of psychology at Duke who has studied homework efficacy, likened homework abolition to “playing to the lowest common denominator.”
But as I learned after talking to a variety of stakeholders — from homework researchers to policymakers to parents of schoolchildren — whether to abolish homework probably isn’t the right question. More important is what kind of work students are sent home with and where they can complete it. Chances are, if schools think more deeply about giving constructive work, time spent on homework will come down regardless.
There’s no consensus on whether homework works
The rise of the no-homework movement during the Covid-19 pandemic tapped into long-running disagreements over homework’s impact on students. The purpose and effectiveness of homework have been disputed for well over a century. In 1901, for instance, California banned homework for students up to age 15, and limited it for older students, over concerns that it endangered children’s mental and physical health. The newest iteration of the anti-homework argument contends that the current practice punishes students who lack support and rewards those with more resources, reinforcing the “myth of meritocracy.”
But there is still no research consensus on homework’s effectiveness; no one can seem to agree on what the right metrics are. Much of the debate relies on anecdotes, intuition, or speculation.
Researchers disagree even on how much research exists on the value of homework. Kathleen Budge, the co-author of Turning High-Poverty Schools Into High-Performing Schools and a professor at Boise State, told me that homework “has been greatly researched.” Denise Pope, a Stanford lecturer and leader of the education nonprofit Challenge Success, said, “It’s not a highly researched area because of some of the methodological problems.”
Experts who are more sympathetic to take-home assignments generally support the “10-minute rule,” a framework that estimates the ideal amount of homework on any given night by multiplying the student’s grade by 10 minutes. (A ninth grader, for example, would have about 90 minutes of work a night.) Homework proponents argue that while it is difficult to design randomized control studies to test homework’s effectiveness, the vast majority of existing studies show a strong positive correlation between homework and high academic achievement for middle and high school students. Prominent critics of homework argue that these correlational studies are unreliable and point to studies that suggest a neutral or negative effect on student performance. Both agree there is little to no evidence for homework’s effectiveness at an elementary school level, though proponents often argue that it builds constructive habits for the future.
For anyone who remembers homework assignments from both good and bad teachers, this fundamental disagreement might not be surprising. Some homework is pointless and frustrating to complete. Every week during my senior year of high school, I had to analyze a poem for English and decorate it with images found on Google; my most distinct memory from that class is receiving a demoralizing 25-point deduction because I failed to present my analysis on a poster board. Other assignments really do help students learn: After making an adapted version of Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book for a ninth grade history project, I was inspired to check out from the library and read a biography of the Chinese ruler.
For homework opponents, the first example is more likely to resonate. “We’re all familiar with the negative effects of homework: stress, exhaustion, family conflict, less time for other activities, diminished interest in learning,” Alfie Kohn, author of The Homework Myth, which challenges common justifications for homework, told me in an email. “And these effects may be most pronounced among low-income students.” Kohn believes that schools should make permanent any moratoria implemented during the pandemic, arguing that there are no positives at all to outweigh homework’s downsides. Recent studies , he argues , show the benefits may not even materialize during high school.
In the Marlborough Public Schools, a suburban district 45 minutes west of Boston, school policy committee chair Katherine Hennessy described getting kids to complete their homework during remote education as “a challenge, to say the least.” Teachers found that students who spent all day on their computers didn’t want to spend more time online when the day was over. So, for a few months, the school relaxed the usual practice and teachers slashed the quantity of nightly homework.
Online learning made the preexisting divides between students more apparent, she said. Many students, even during normal circumstances, lacked resources to keep them on track and focused on completing take-home assignments. Though Marlborough Schools is more affluent than PS 55, Hennessy said many students had parents whose work schedules left them unable to provide homework help in the evenings. The experience tracked with a common divide in the country between children of different socioeconomic backgrounds.
So in October 2021, months after the homework reduction began, the Marlborough committee made a change to the district’s policy. While teachers could still give homework, the assignments had to begin as classwork. And though teachers could acknowledge homework completion in a student’s participation grade, they couldn’t count homework as its own grading category. “Rigorous learning in the classroom does not mean that that classwork must be assigned every night,” the policy stated . “Extensions of class work is not to be used to teach new content or as a form of punishment.”
Canceling homework might not do anything for the achievement gap
The critiques of homework are valid as far as they go, but at a certain point, arguments against homework can defy the commonsense idea that to retain what they’re learning, students need to practice it.
“Doesn’t a kid become a better reader if he reads more? Doesn’t a kid learn his math facts better if he practices them?” said Cathy Vatterott, an education researcher and professor emeritus at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. After decades of research, she said it’s still hard to isolate the value of homework, but that doesn’t mean it should be abandoned.
Blanket vilification of homework can also conflate the unique challenges facing disadvantaged students as compared to affluent ones, which could have different solutions. “The kids in the low-income schools are being hurt because they’re being graded, unfairly, on time they just don’t have to do this stuff,” Pope told me. “And they’re still being held accountable for turning in assignments, whether they’re meaningful or not.” On the other side, “Palo Alto kids” — students in Silicon Valley’s stereotypically pressure-cooker public schools — “are just bombarded and overloaded and trying to stay above water.”
Merely getting rid of homework doesn’t solve either problem. The United States already has the second-highest disparity among OECD (the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) nations between time spent on homework by students of high and low socioeconomic status — a difference of more than three hours, said Janine Bempechat, clinical professor at Boston University and author of No More Mindless Homework .
When she interviewed teachers in Boston-area schools that had cut homework before the pandemic, Bempechat told me, “What they saw immediately was parents who could afford it immediately enrolled their children in the Russian School of Mathematics,” a math-enrichment program whose tuition ranges from $140 to about $400 a month. Getting rid of homework “does nothing for equity; it increases the opportunity gap between wealthier and less wealthy families,” she said. “That solution troubles me because it’s no solution at all.”
A group of teachers at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia, made the same point after the school district proposed an overhaul of its homework policies, including removing penalties for missing homework deadlines, allowing unlimited retakes, and prohibiting grading of homework.
“Given the emphasis on equity in today’s education systems,” they wrote in a letter to the school board, “we believe that some of the proposed changes will actually have a detrimental impact towards achieving this goal. Families that have means could still provide challenging and engaging academic experiences for their children and will continue to do so, especially if their children are not experiencing expected rigor in the classroom.” At a school where more than a third of students are low-income, the teachers argued, the policies would prompt students “to expect the least of themselves in terms of effort, results, and responsibility.”
Not all homework is created equal
Despite their opposing sides in the homework wars, most of the researchers I spoke to made a lot of the same points. Both Bempechat and Pope were quick to bring up how parents and schools confuse rigor with workload, treating the volume of assignments as a proxy for quality of learning. Bempechat, who is known for defending homework, has written extensively about how plenty of it lacks clear purpose, requires the purchasing of unnecessary supplies, and takes longer than it needs to. Likewise, when Pope instructs graduate-level classes on curriculum, she asks her students to think about the larger purpose they’re trying to achieve with homework: If they can get the job done in the classroom, there’s no point in sending home more work.
At its best, pandemic-era teaching facilitated that last approach. Honolulu-based teacher Christina Torres Cawdery told me that, early in the pandemic, she often had a cohort of kids in her classroom for four hours straight, as her school tried to avoid too much commingling. She couldn’t lecture for four hours, so she gave the students plenty of time to complete independent and project-based work. At the end of most school days, she didn’t feel the need to send them home with more to do.
A similar limited-homework philosophy worked at a public middle school in Chelsea, Massachusetts. A couple of teachers there turned as much class as possible into an opportunity for small-group practice, allowing kids to work on problems that traditionally would be assigned for homework, Jessica Flick, a math coach who leads department meetings at the school, told me. It was inspired by a philosophy pioneered by Simon Fraser University professor Peter Liljedahl, whose influential book Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics reframes homework as “check-your-understanding questions” rather than as compulsory work. Last year, Flick found that the two eighth grade classes whose teachers adopted this strategy performed the best on state tests, and this year, she has encouraged other teachers to implement it.
Teachers know that plenty of homework is tedious and unproductive. Jeannemarie Dawson De Quiroz, who has taught for more than 20 years in low-income Boston and Los Angeles pilot and charter schools, says that in her first years on the job she frequently assigned “drill and kill” tasks and questions that she now feels unfairly stumped students. She said designing good homework wasn’t part of her teaching programs, nor was it meaningfully discussed in professional development. With more experience, she turned as much class time as she could into practice time and limited what she sent home.
“The thing about homework that’s sticky is that not all homework is created equal,” says Jill Harrison Berg, a former teacher and the author of Uprooting Instructional Inequity . “Some homework is a genuine waste of time and requires lots of resources for no good reason. And other homework is really useful.”
Cutting homework has to be part of a larger strategy
The takeaways are clear: Schools can make cuts to homework, but those cuts should be part of a strategy to improve the quality of education for all students. If the point of homework was to provide more practice, districts should think about how students can make it up during class — or offer time during or after school for students to seek help from teachers. If it was to move the curriculum along, it’s worth considering whether strategies like Liljedahl’s can get more done in less time.
Some of the best thinking around effective assignments comes from those most critical of the current practice. Denise Pope proposes that, before assigning homework, teachers should consider whether students understand the purpose of the work and whether they can do it without help. If teachers think it’s something that can’t be done in class, they should be mindful of how much time it should take and the feedback they should provide. It’s questions like these that De Quiroz considered before reducing the volume of work she sent home.
More than a year after the new homework policy began in Marlborough, Hennessy still hears from parents who incorrectly “think homework isn’t happening” despite repeated assurances that kids still can receive work. She thinks part of the reason is that education has changed over the years. “I think what we’re trying to do is establish that homework may be an element of educating students,” she told me. “But it may not be what parents think of as what they grew up with. ... It’s going to need to adapt, per the teaching and the curriculum, and how it’s being delivered in each classroom.”
For the policy to work, faculty, parents, and students will all have to buy into a shared vision of what school ought to look like. The district is working on it — in November, it hosted and uploaded to YouTube a round-table discussion on homework between district administrators — but considering the sustained confusion, the path ahead seems difficult.
When I asked Luis Torres about whether he thought homework serves a useful part in PS 55’s curriculum, he said yes, of course it was — despite the effort and money it takes to keep the school open after hours to help them do it. “The children need the opportunity to practice,” he said. “If you don’t give them opportunities to practice what they learn, they’re going to forget.” But Torres doesn’t care if the work is done at home. The school stays open until around 6 pm on weekdays, even during breaks. Tutors through New York City’s Department of Youth and Community Development programs help kids with work after school so they don’t need to take it with them.
As schools weigh the purpose of homework in an unequal world, it’s tempting to dispose of a practice that presents real, practical problems to students across the country. But getting rid of homework is unlikely to do much good on its own. Before cutting it, it’s worth thinking about what good assignments are meant to do in the first place. It’s crucial that students from all socioeconomic backgrounds tackle complex quantitative problems and hone their reading and writing skills. It’s less important that the work comes home with them.
Jacob Sweet is a freelance writer in Somerville, Massachusetts. He is a frequent contributor to the New Yorker, among other publications.
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Should Kids Get Homework?
Homework gives elementary students a way to practice concepts, but too much can be harmful, experts say.
Effective homework reinforces math, reading, writing or spelling skills, but in a way that's meaningful. (Getty Images)
How much homework students should get has long been a source of debate among parents and educators. In recent years, some districts have even implemented no-homework policies, as students juggle sports, music and other activities after school.
Parents of elementary school students, in particular, have argued that after-school hours should be spent with family or playing outside rather than completing assignments. And there is little research to show that homework improves academic achievement for elementary students.
But some experts say there's value in homework, even for younger students. When done well, it can help students practice core concepts and develop study habits and time management skills. The key to effective homework, they say, is keeping assignments related to classroom learning, and tailoring the amount by age: Many experts suggest no homework for kindergartners, and little to none in first and second grade.
Value of Homework
Homework provides a chance to solidify what is being taught in the classroom that day, week or unit. Practice matters, says Janine Bempechat, clinical professor at Boston University 's Wheelock College of Education & Human Development.
"There really is no other domain of human ability where anybody would say you don't need to practice," she adds. "We have children practicing piano and we have children going to sports practice several days a week after school. You name the domain of ability and practice is in there."
Homework is also the place where schools and families most frequently intersect.
"The children are bringing things from the school into the home," says Paula S. Fass, professor emerita of history at the University of California—Berkeley and the author of "The End of American Childhood." "Before the pandemic, (homework) was the only real sense that parents had to what was going on in schools."
Harris Cooper, professor emeritus of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University and author of "The Battle Over Homework," examined more than 60 research studies on homework between 1987 and 2003 and found that — when designed properly — homework can lead to greater student success. 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 amount and type that they're doing should be appropriate for their developmental level," he says. "For teachers, it's a balancing act. Doing away with homework completely is not in the best interest of children and families. But overburdening families with homework is also not in the child's or a family's best interest."
Negative Homework Assignments
Not all homework for elementary students involves completing a worksheet. Assignments can be fun, says Cooper, like having students visit educational locations, keep statistics on their favorite sports teams, read for pleasure or even help their parents grocery shop. The point is to show students that activities done outside of school can relate to subjects learned in the classroom.
But assignments that are just busy work, that force students to learn new concepts at home, or that are overly time-consuming can be counterproductive, experts say.
Homework that's just busy work.
Effective homework reinforces math, reading, writing or spelling skills, but in a way that's meaningful, experts say. Assignments that look more like busy work – projects or worksheets that don't require teacher feedback and aren't related to topics learned in the classroom – can be frustrating for students and create burdens for families.
"The mental health piece has definitely played a role here over the last couple of years during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the last thing we want to do is frustrate students with busy work or homework that makes no sense," says Dave Steckler, principal of Red Trail Elementary School in Mandan, North Dakota.
Homework on material that kids haven't learned yet.
With the pressure to cover all topics on standardized tests and limited time during the school day, some teachers assign homework that has not yet been taught in the classroom.
Not only does this create stress, but it also causes equity challenges. Some parents speak languages other than English or work several jobs, and they aren't able to help teach their children new concepts.
" It just becomes agony for both parents and the kids to get through this worksheet, and the goal becomes getting to the bottom of (the) worksheet with answers filled in without any understanding of what any of it matters for," says professor Susan R. Goldman, co-director of the Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Illinois—Chicago .
Homework that's overly time-consuming.
The standard homework guideline recommended by the National Parent Teacher Association and the National Education Association is the "10-minute rule" – 10 minutes of nightly homework per grade level. A fourth grader, for instance, would receive a total of 40 minutes of homework per night.
But this does not always happen, especially since not every student learns the same. A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Family Therapy found that primary school children actually received three times the recommended amount of homework — and that family stress increased along with the homework load.
Young children can only remain attentive for short periods, so large amounts of homework, especially lengthy projects, can negatively affect students' views on school. Some individual long-term projects – like having to build a replica city, for example – typically become an assignment for parents rather than students, Fass says.
"It's one thing to assign a project like that in which several kids are working on it together," she adds. "In (that) case, the kids do normally work on it. It's another to send it home to the families, where it becomes a burden and doesn't really accomplish very much."
Private vs. Public Schools
Do private schools assign more homework than public schools? There's little research on the issue, but experts say private school parents may be more accepting of homework, seeing it as a sign of academic rigor.
Of course, not all private schools are the same – some focus on college preparation and traditional academics, while others stress alternative approaches to education.
"I think in the academically oriented private schools, there's more support for homework from parents," says Gerald K. LeTendre, chair of educational administration at Pennsylvania State University—University Park . "I don't know if there's any research to show there's more homework, but it's less of a contentious issue."
How to Address Homework Overload
First, assess if the workload takes as long as it appears. Sometimes children may start working on a homework assignment, wander away and come back later, Cooper says.
"Parents don't see it, but they know that their child has started doing their homework four hours ago and still not done it," he adds. "They don't see that there are those four hours where their child was doing lots of other things. So the homework assignment itself actually is not four hours long. It's the way the child is approaching it."
But if homework is becoming stressful or workload is excessive, experts suggest parents first approach the teacher, followed by a school administrator.
"Many times, we can solve a lot of issues by having conversations," Steckler says, including by "sitting down, talking about the amount of homework, and what's appropriate and not appropriate."
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Should We Get Rid of Homework?
Some educators are pushing to get rid of homework. Would that be a good thing?
By Jeremy Engle and Michael Gonchar
Do you like doing homework? Do you think it has benefited you educationally?
Has homework ever helped you practice a difficult skill — in math, for example — until you mastered it? Has it helped you learn new concepts in history or science? Has it helped to teach you life skills, such as independence and responsibility? Or, have you had a more negative experience with homework? Does it stress you out, numb your brain from busywork or actually make you fall behind in your classes?
Should we get rid of homework?
In “ The Movement to End Homework Is Wrong, ” published in July, the Times Opinion writer Jay Caspian Kang argues that homework may be imperfect, but it still serves an important purpose in school. The essay begins:
Do students really need to do their homework? As a parent and a former teacher, I have been pondering this question for quite a long time. The teacher side of me can acknowledge that there were assignments I gave out to my students that probably had little to no academic value. But I also imagine that some of my students never would have done their basic reading if they hadn’t been trained to complete expected assignments, which would have made the task of teaching an English class nearly impossible. As a parent, I would rather my daughter not get stuck doing the sort of pointless homework I would occasionally assign, but I also think there’s a lot of value in saying, “Hey, a lot of work you’re going to end up doing in your life is pointless, so why not just get used to it?” I certainly am not the only person wondering about the value of homework. Recently, the sociologist Jessica McCrory Calarco and the mathematics education scholars Ilana Horn and Grace Chen published a paper, “ You Need to Be More Responsible: The Myth of Meritocracy and Teachers’ Accounts of Homework Inequalities .” They argued that while there’s some evidence that homework might help students learn, it also exacerbates inequalities and reinforces what they call the “meritocratic” narrative that says kids who do well in school do so because of “individual competence, effort and responsibility.” The authors believe this meritocratic narrative is a myth and that homework — math homework in particular — further entrenches the myth in the minds of teachers and their students. Calarco, Horn and Chen write, “Research has highlighted inequalities in students’ homework production and linked those inequalities to differences in students’ home lives and in the support students’ families can provide.”
Mr. Kang argues:
But there’s a defense of homework that doesn’t really have much to do with class mobility, equality or any sense of reinforcing the notion of meritocracy. It’s one that became quite clear to me when I was a teacher: Kids need to learn how to practice things. Homework, in many cases, is the only ritualized thing they have to do every day. Even if we could perfectly equalize opportunity in school and empower all students not to be encumbered by the weight of their socioeconomic status or ethnicity, I’m not sure what good it would do if the kids didn’t know how to do something relentlessly, over and over again, until they perfected it. Most teachers know that type of progress is very difficult to achieve inside the classroom, regardless of a student’s background, which is why, I imagine, Calarco, Horn and Chen found that most teachers weren’t thinking in a structural inequalities frame. Holistic ideas of education, in which learning is emphasized and students can explore concepts and ideas, are largely for the types of kids who don’t need to worry about class mobility. A defense of rote practice through homework might seem revanchist at this moment, but if we truly believe that schools should teach children lessons that fall outside the meritocracy, I can’t think of one that matters more than the simple satisfaction of mastering something that you were once bad at. That takes homework and the acknowledgment that sometimes a student can get a question wrong and, with proper instruction, eventually get it right.
Students, read the entire article, then tell us:
Should we get rid of homework? Why, or why not?
Is homework an outdated, ineffective or counterproductive tool for learning? Do you agree with the authors of the paper that homework is harmful and worsens inequalities that exist between students’ home circumstances?
Or do you agree with Mr. Kang that homework still has real educational value?
When you get home after school, how much homework will you do? Do you think the amount is appropriate, too much or too little? Is homework, including the projects and writing assignments you do at home, an important part of your learning experience? Or, in your opinion, is it not a good use of time? Explain.
In these letters to the editor , one reader makes a distinction between elementary school and high school:
Homework’s value is unclear for younger students. But by high school and college, homework is absolutely essential for any student who wishes to excel. There simply isn’t time to digest Dostoyevsky if you only ever read him in class.
What do you think? How much does grade level matter when discussing the value of homework?
Is there a way to make homework more effective?
If you were a teacher, would you assign homework? What kind of assignments would you give and why?
Want more writing prompts? You can find all of our questions in our Student Opinion column . Teachers, check out this guide to learn how you can incorporate them into your classroom.
Students 13 and older in the United States and Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.
Jeremy Engle joined The Learning Network as a staff editor in 2018 after spending more than 20 years as a classroom humanities and documentary-making teacher, professional developer and curriculum designer working with students and teachers across the country. More about Jeremy Engle
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The Pros and Cons of Homework
Homework is a word that most students dread hearing. After hours upon hours of sitting in class , the last thing we want is more schoolwork over our precious weekends. While it’s known to be a staple of traditional schooling, homework has also become a rather divise topic. Some feel as though homework is a necessary part of school, while others believe that the time could be better invested. Should students have homework? Have a closer look into the arguments on both sides to decide for yourself.
Photo by energepic.com from Pexels
Why should students have homework.
- Homework Encourages Practice Many people believe that one of the positive effects of homework is that it encourages the discipline of practice. While it may be time consuming and boring compared to other activities, repetition is needed to get better at skills. Homework helps make concepts more clear, and gives students more opportunities when starting their career .
- Homework Gets Parents Involved Homework can be something that gets parents involved in their children’s lives if the environment is a healthy one. A parent helping their child with homework makes them take part in their academic success, and allows for the parent to keep up with what the child is doing in school. It can also be a chance to connect together.
- Homework Teaches Time Management Homework is much more than just completing the assigned tasks. Homework can develop time management skills , forcing students to plan their time and make sure that all of their homework assignments are done on time. By learning to manage their time, students also practice their problem-solving skills and independent thinking. One of the positive effects of homework is that it forces decision making and compromises to be made.
- Homework Opens A Bridge Of Communication Homework creates a connection between the student, the teacher, the school, and the parents. It allows everyone to get to know each other better, and parents can see where their children are struggling. In the same sense, parents can also see where their children are excelling. Homework in turn can allow for a better, more targeted educational plan for the student.
- Homework Allows For More Learning Time Homework allows for more time to complete the learning process. School hours are not always enough time for students to really understand core concepts, and homework can counter the effects of time shortages, benefiting students in the long run, even if they can’t see it in the moment.
- Homework Reduces Screen Time Many students in North America spend far too many hours watching TV. If they weren’t in school, these numbers would likely increase even more. Although homework is usually undesired, it encourages better study habits and discourages spending time in front of the TV. Homework can be seen as another extracurricular activity, and many families already invest a lot of time and money in different clubs and lessons to fill up their children’s extra time. Just like extracurricular activities, homework can be fit into one’s schedule.
The Other Side: Why Homework Is Bad
- Homework Encourages A Sedentary Lifestyle Should students have homework? Well, that depends on where you stand. There are arguments both for the advantages and the disadvantages of homework. While classroom time is important, playground time is just as important. If children are given too much homework, they won’t have enough playtime, which can impact their social development and learning. Studies have found that those who get more play get better grades in school , as it can help them pay closer attention in the classroom. Children are already sitting long hours in the classroom, and homework assignments only add to these hours. Sedentary lifestyles can be dangerous and can cause health problems such as obesity. Homework takes away from time that could be spent investing in physical activity.
- Homework Isn’t Healthy In Every Home While many people that think homes are a beneficial environment for children to learn, not all homes provide a healthy environment, and there may be very little investment from parents. Some parents do not provide any kind of support or homework help, and even if they would like to, due to personal barriers, they sometimes cannot. Homework can create friction between children and their parents, which is one of the reasons why homework is bad .
- Homework Adds To An Already Full-Time Job School is already a full-time job for students, as they generally spend over 6 hours each day in class. Students also often have extracurricular activities such as sports, music, or art that are just as important as their traditional courses. Adding on extra hours to all of these demands is a lot for children to manage, and prevents students from having extra time to themselves for a variety of creative endeavors. Homework prevents self discovery and having the time to learn new skills outside of the school system. This is one of the main disadvantages of homework.
- Homework Has Not Been Proven To Provide Results Endless surveys have found that homework creates a negative attitude towards school, and homework has not been found to be linked to a higher level of academic success. The positive effects of homework have not been backed up enough. While homework may help some students improve in specific subjects, if they have outside help there is no real proof that homework makes for improvements. It can be a challenge to really enforce the completion of homework, and students can still get decent grades without doing their homework. Extra school time does not necessarily mean better grades — quality must always come before quantity. Accurate practice when it comes to homework simply isn’t reliable. Homework could even cause opposite effects if misunderstood, especially since the reliance is placed on the student and their parents — one of the major reasons as to why homework is bad. Many students would rather cheat in class to avoid doing their homework at home, and children often just copy off of each other or from what they read on the internet.
- Homework Assignments Are Overdone The general agreement is that students should not be given more than 10 minutes a day per grade level. What this means is that a first grader should be given a maximum of 10 minutes of homework, while a second grader receives 20 minutes, etc. Many students are given a lot more homework than the recommended amount, however. On average, college students spend as much as 3 hours per night on homework . By giving too much homework, it can increase stress levels and lead to burn out. This in turn provides an opposite effect when it comes to academic success.
The pros and cons of homework are both valid, and it seems as though the question of ‘‘should students have homework?’ is not a simple, straightforward one. Parents and teachers often are found to be clashing heads, while the student is left in the middle without much say.
It’s important to understand all the advantages and disadvantages of homework, taking both perspectives into conversation to find a common ground. At the end of the day, everyone’s goal is the success of the student.
The Homework Ate My Family
TIME followed a San Francisco sixth-grader for one busy week
While kids grow more frazzled, parents are increasingly torn. Just how involved should they be? Should they help a son or daughter finish that geography assignment, or stay aloof and risk having a frustrated, sleep-deprived child? Should they complain to teachers about the heavy workload or be thankful that their kids are being pushed toward higher achievement? Battles over homework have become so intense that some school districts have decided to formally prescribe the amount of homework kids at each grade level should receive. All of which leaves open the questions of just how much and what kind of homework is best. Though there's evidence that homework does improve academic performance, at least in the junior high and high school years, its true value may be more subtle. It encourages good study habits and acclimates students to self-directed work--but only when it's not so oppressive that it turns them off school altogether.
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6 Ways to Make the Most Out of No Homework Day
By Marissa Miller
Between an eight-hour school day and the pile of homework up to your high-tops, it may feel like you have no time to catch up on what’s really important to you. And as school curriculums currently stand, it seems they might not all be serving your well-being: A recent study published in The High School Journal found no correlation between time spent on homework and heightened grades in math and science students, since there typically seems to be a focus on quantity of work as opposed to quality. But as today is No Homework Day, you won't have to worry about those parabolas or vertices — as least for a night. What to do you ask? We have some ideas...
Ditch the “Dog ate my homework” excuse in favor for “Dog just made my entire evening slash life.” By donating your time to The Humane Society or an animal rescue shelter in your area , you’ll give some much-needed attention to marginalized furry friends while lowering your anxiety and stress levels. Research from the journal Frontiers in Psychology shows that interacting with an animal does wonders for your mental health. Science aside, sometimes you just need to tend to another living being to make yourself feel alive.
2) Take a class
No! Not the “C” word! Isn’t that the whole point of this no homework thing? Correct. Hit up Yelp to find a class in your area that focuses not only on refining a certain skill you’ve been meaning to add to your LinkedIn resume, but contributes to your well-being, too. Meaning to send some old-school snail mail to the pen pal you met while traveling? There’s calligraphy for that. Throwing a graduation party in a few weeks? Brush up your cooking skills with a few friends. Other off-the-beaten-path courses include meditation, pottery, and self-defense.
3) Get active
There’s no more excuse for staying sedentary all night since your lack of scholastic responsibilities tonight means it’s time to werk. Don’t look at exercise as an expensive chore: a bike ride just before sunset is a free way to clear your thoughts (make sure you wear light colors and ride with reflective beams). Grab some friends and do yoga in the park (not sure where to start? Download free guides of all levels and save them to your phone for reference). Take a walk around the neighborhood and explore all its Instagrammable nooks and crannies.
4) Prepare for tomorrow
Gone are the days of running out of the house with your shirt on backwards on an empty stomach, only to keel over at your desk emitting hunger sounds no fake cough can conceal (we’ve all been there). Now that you’ve got the evening to spare, lay out an outfit that requires multiple try-ons, and make sure you have food ready to go. “If you start the day without breakfast it’s like taking a road trip with only a quarter tank of gas. It won’t get you far,” Elana Zelikovic, a registered dietician from Montreal, tells Teen Vogue . “[It’s] like sparking your engine. It gets the message across that you’re awake and good to go.”
Love baking? Then pop in a comedy podcast you’ve been meaning to catch up on, massage a moisturizing coconut-oil-based mask into your hair, and get to work on tomorrow's breakfast!
5) Pamper yourself
C’mon, you earned it. We all have different criteria for what constitutes self-care, but who doesn’t love a luxurious mani-pedi? If you opt for them both at the same time, most salons offer a deal. Choose a bright spring-friendly color or design that’ll add some pep to your step. Take some serious advantage of your pedicure by staying as long as you possibly can in the massage chair, adjusting the dials to smooth out your upper- and lower-back knots from sitting (er, slouching) in class all day. Not much of a nail fanatic? A professional full-body massage, exfoliating facial, or a simple trim and blowout are pretty ideal alternatives to homework.
6) Rally the troops
The thing about class is that sometimes we get a little separation anxiety when we have to wait a full period or entire night to see our friends again. Ditch the library, meet at a local diner, and order a couple Pinterest-worthy desserts you can all share. Zelikovic reminds us that “when you’re indulging, the only thing you should be thinking about is enjoying it.” Bonus points for nursing your food coma over a Netflix marathon afterwards (that’s kind of like a sport, right?).
Related: Quiz: What Should You and Your Friends Do After Prom?
By Erika Owen
By Lisa Stardust
- Our Mission
Homework vs. No Homework Is the Wrong Question
Does your school have a homework policy? How does your school ensure that teachers don’t overload students with busy work?
The real question we should be asking is, "What do we believe should happen after the end of the school day to help ensure that students retain what they have learned and are primed to learn more?" Any answer with the word, "work" in its name, as in "homework," is not typically going to be met with eagerness or enthusiasm by students.
Ideally, we want children to understand that they are always learners. In school, we refer to them as "students" but outside of school, as children, they are still learners. So it makes no sense to even advertise a "no homework" policy in a school. It sends the wrong message. The policy should be, "No time-wasting, rote, repetitive tasks will be assigned that lack clear instructional or learning purposes."
A realistic homework strategy should be a key topic of back-to-school night and the first parent-teacher conferences of the school year. But it should also reflect a considered school policy and not simply be up to each individual teacher to carry out according to his or own theory of student learning. Another advantage of this approach is to ensure that individual children are not inadvertently overloaded with demands from teachers who may not know what other teachers are asking of the same student. This is a particular concern in secondary schools.
Home Activities That Matter the Most
Children should be encouraged to read, write, perform arithmetic, better understand the world around them in terms of civics, science, and the arts, and, of course, develop their people skills -- their emotional intelligence. This encouragement should be part of everyday family interactions outside of school, and the school should provide developmental guidance to all parents, in the appropriate languages, to help them do this. For some children, specialized guidance will be needed, and this, too, should be provided proactively to parents.
Some parents will select focused programs or after-school experiences to help foster their children's learning in one or more of the aforementioned areas. To promote equity within and across schools, communities should think about how to make these kinds of experiences available to all children in high-quality ways -- without undue or unrealistic expense to families.
Of course, some teachers will have specific, creative ideas about how learning can be enhanced at home, in the context of particular units of study in school. Maybe what we need is a new word for all this. Instead of "homework," how about "continued learning" or "ongoing growth activities?"
Parents Playing Their Part
Finally, students' learning would be greatly enhanced by schools taking a clear stance about supporting good parenting. My colleague Yoni Schwab and I have written about the importance of parents focusing on parenting as a priority, and secondarily working on assisting schools with educational issues (Elias, M. J., and Schwab, Y., 2004).
Aspects of good parenting that could be encouraged by schools include workshops, family nights, and discussion series on ways to promote:
- Children's social-emotional and character development
- Parents spending more time directly interacting with their kids in enjoyable ways
- Parents visibly showing how much they value the importance of education and effort
- Parents monitoring their children's use of and exposure to electronic media
- Children's "continued learning" in as many possible opportunities during everyday household routines
- Above all, schools should remind parents to never lose sight of modeling for their children the value of close relationships, support, caring, and fun. That is the most important home work of all.
Elias, M. J., and Schwab, Y. (2004). What About Parental Involvement in Parenting? The Case for Home-Focused School-Parent Partnerships. Education Week, 24 (8), 39,41.
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No Homework Day – March 6, 2024
No Homework Day, celebrated on March 6, is a holiday that seeks to give students a break from homework assignments. Homework refers to a set of tasks assigned to students by their teachers to be completed outside the classroom. Common homework could include any of a variety of required reading, mathematical exercises to be completed, information to be reviewed before a test, or other skills to be practiced, depending on the discretion of the teacher involved. The issue of how effective homework assignments are has been debated over the years. In a general sense, homework does not particularly improve the academic performance of students.
History of No Homework Day
No Homework Day was created by couple Thomas and Ruth Roy as a means to help students focus on activities other than homework. It is expected that on this day, parents give their children a break from homework and that teachers at school equally take a break from giving homework.
Research has shown that homework can lead to stress, thereby being counterproductive to the learning process. Homework eats up children’s free time for other activities necessary for development, and its importance in learning is rather obscure. Professors at Duke University have suggested that the 10-minute rule should apply to homework.
The No Homework Day isn’t about removing homework completely from the picture, but it is meant for everyone involved to take a step back and relax. It is about giving children a break. No Homework Day encourages students to take a break from homework for a day and focus on other rewarding activities like sleeping, reading a good novel, creating art, playing a sport, or any other such activity.
No Homework Day timeline
The first-ever high school, Shishi High School, based in Chengdu, China, is established.
American politician Horace Mann, who played a major role in the development of the foundational academic curricular system in the U.S., is born.
The Italian educator who is said to have “invented” homework, Roberto Nevilis, is born.
American filmmaker and co-founder of the holiday, No Homework Day, Thomas Roy, is born.
No Homework Day FAQ s
What is no homework day.
No Homework Day is an international holiday that was created to help students focus on activities other than homework.
When is No Homework Day?
No Homework Day is celebrated this year on March 6.
Who created No Homework Day?
No Homework Day was created by Thomas and Ruth Roy of “Wellcat.com.”
No Homework Day Activities
The best way to celebrate No Homework Day is to skip homework altogether. Ideally, no one should be getting homework that day anyway, so it would be justified.
Engage in a hobby
In the absence of any homework, this is an opportunity to feed any of your hobbies, which could be anything from seeing a movie to playing a video game. Enjoy the day!
Share the fun online
No Homework Day is fun for everyone, so whatever hobby you decide to devote that free time to, let everyone know by sharing on social media with the #NoHomeworkDay hashtag! Start a conversation about it online!
5 Interesting Facts About Homework
It helps with memory retention.
Taking home assignments based on work done in school tends to help students retain the knowledge of what has been taught.
It provides hands-on experience
Doing homework gives the student the opportunity of having practical experience on the subject.
Homework could be stressful
Having to deal with a load of homework every day or every other day, could increase stress levels in a student and cause a lack of interest in school work.
Homework affects students’ social lives
Homework usually gets in the way of students having an active social life, and if it gets too overwhelming, it could have negative effects on the students.
Homework doesn’t guarantee hard work
In the age of the internet, it is very easy for students to plagiarize homework and not necessarily put the required amount of time into learning the subject.
Why We Love No Homework Day
It’s more time for fun.
No Homework Day means less academic work to deal with for the day and therefore more time to indulge in varying ideas of fun. We love fun!
It’s good for balance
No Homework Day is good for helping the students balance out their lives seeing as they get homework every other day. Balance is important in life.
Parents can bond with children over something else
On most days of the week, parents bond with their children over academic work. No Homework Day allows us to bond over something else, anything but homework.
No Homework Day dates
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Mark Cuban has 'no plans' to run for president next year, says he wants more family time
Mark cuban has previously floated a potential run for president and endorsed hillary clinton in 2016. he says he'd like to support a republican but the gop is 'a mess.'.
Don't count on Mark Cuban's name appearing on the 2024 ballot.
The billionaire businessman told NBC News on Wednesday that he has "no plans to run" to run for president.
In 2016, the "Shark Tank" star teased a potential run for president before eventually endorsing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton , saying he had lost hope that Trump would be a pro-business candidate who was moderate on other issues.
Cuban floated the idea of running in 2020 before telling former Obama administration official David Axelrod that he decided to close that door after seeing how he’d match up against Trump and President Joe Biden.
In July, the Dallas Mavericks owner said is not considering a bid despite bipartisan group No Labels urging him to run as a third-party candidate, saying "my family would disown me" for the campaign.
Gavin Newsom Ron DeSantis debate: How to watch, moderators, topics
Speculation follows 'Shark Tank' departure
The latest online speculation over Cuban running for office comes as he plans to leave "Shark Tank" in 2025 after filming the next season and amid reports he plans to sell his majority stake in the Mavericks . ABC has not yet announced the Emmy-winning show's renewal for season 16.
"I just want to have a couple summers with my teens before they go off on their own," Cuban said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter on Monday. "Nothing to do with the show. I love it. I love being on it. I love what (it) represents and how it motivates entrepreneurs around the world."
Mark Cuban's political beliefs
Cuban has criticized the two-party political system in the U.S., calling it "so messed up" at an Axios event in 2022. He added that the system encourages candidates to appeal to the extreme views of voters on each side.
In 2015, Cuban said on his private-messaging app Dust that he wants to be a Republican but disagrees with them on most social issues, according to The Washington Post. He said he wants a smaller and smarter government but called the GOP a mess.
Contributing: KiMi Robinson, Dan Wolken
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Mark cuban not running for president despite speculation after selling mavericks, mark cuban run for president that's 'galaxies off', 111 11/29/2023 10:40 am pt.
Mark Cuban says there's "no chance" he's trying to campaign his way into the White House ... following speculation he might run for President in 2024 after selling a majority stake in the NBA's Dallas Mavericks.
Comments of the supposed political move flooded in on X ... though the billionaire tells TMZ that a presidential campaign trail for next year was "galaxies off" and adding, "family would disown me."
Remember ... after years of building his empire, Mark is putting family first -- announcing on the Showtime podcast "All The Smoke" Monday he was leaving "Shark Tank" after 16 seasons as it conflicts with his personal time.
And of course ... becoming President -- arguably the busiest job in the world -- wouldn't do a whole lot to clear up his schedule.
However, he's entertained the idea before, divulging to Harvey on "OBJECTified" in 2017 that he'd run as a Republican to challenge Donald Trump . In 2019, Mark told us his family "voted down" his serious desire to run for President in 2020.
The renewed political chat gained traction after TMZ Sports confirmed Mark was selling his majority stake, reportedly valued at $3.5B, to Miriam Adelson ... getting a massive return on the investment after buying the team in 2000 for $285 million.
Mark Cuban Sells Majority Stake In NBA's Dallas Mavericks
He'll retain some shares and be the lead decision-maker when it comes to basketball ops -- but billionaire widow/heiress Adelson has some plans of her own for the Mavs ... mainly building a new arena and casino -- if a gambling bill passes in Texas.
As for Mark ... he'll have a lot more free time on his hands ... and who knows, maybe the Oval Office will be calling his name in 2028 ...
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