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Is Homework Harmful to Children? Pros and Cons

How much homework is too much? This is a question that is getting a lot of attention lately, especially as the average time spent on nightly assignment grows. This question is one that has plagued scientists as well and in recent years, studies have been done to learn more about the student brain and how much activity it can handle before the student becomes stressed. Keep reading to learn about the pros and cons of nightly assignments, as well as how long your child should be spending on it after school and what some parents and teachers are doing to improve the lives of their students.

Homework is not assigned as a torture mechanism to students- it does have the purpose. Often, teachers have the intention of expanding on a student’s knowledge and what is being taught in class or enforcing what was taught through practice. One Florida college, Nicholas Stillwagon, does not mind a little extra work. He believes that “If you didn’t have homework, you wouldn’t learn anything… The class makes you get familiar with material, and the homework would make you learn it.” (Breitenstein, 2014). Research assignments like projects and papers also have another benefit- teaching students how to teach themselves. Long after a student graduates, they will learn that assignments like these prepare them for their future. They teach students to teach themselves, so they can learn new information and excel once they choose their career. They cannot do this, however, when they end up frustrated and burnt out at the thought of completing their assignments without homework help.

When teachers create assignments, it is true they have the potential to improve a child’s education and enrich their life- but only within a certain threshold. When students are forced to focus longer than their mind can handle, it causes mental stress. This mental stress burns the student out when they do homework, making it harder to concentrate and decreasing academic success (Breitenstein, 2012). Not only does it place stress on students, it places stress on the family. This is especially true in situations where the parent either works long hours and is not available to help or when they have limited education, and do not how to offer homework help in this day and age. Some studies have found that too much homework does not help a student’s GPA. It also can have a negative impact on a student’s attitude about their grades and school in general, as well as contribute to lower self-confidence, weaker social skills, and a lesser quality of life. Is it any surprise that students find themselves thinking, “I need someone to do homework for me” or turning to sites like CPM homework for help?

So, how much homework is too much? The NPTA (National Parent-Teacher Association) and the NEA (National Education Association) both recommend that students should only have a maximum of 10 minutes per their grade level- for all their courses combined (Levy, 2017). Students in first grade, for example, could have as much as ten minutes per night while seniors (12th graders) in high school may have as much as two hours. That is less than what students complain about now- with some high schoolers having 4 hours of homework or more (Abeles, 2013). Some studies have even found that kindergarteners have as many as 25 minutes a night, though they should not have any according to the national standard (Levy, 2017). The standards get even worse as the grades raise, because middle and high school students usually have several teachers assigning them homework, without any communication between each other. At the end of it, students may have so many responsibilities that they cannot possibly manage them all and their grades, attitude, and self-confidence are punished as a result.

Even though many teachers still support giving their students regular assignments, there are people stepping in to give students the help they need to succeed. One of these people is a teacher named Mark Barnes, who strayed away from the traditional cycle of lecturing students, assigning them work, and testing them to determine their grade after watching how vicious the cycle was for 14 years. Rather than assigning students traditional assignments, his classroom is one that is project-based. His method teaches students to teach themselves independently and he has noticed a boost in motivation and morale. Students also perform better than their grade-level peers in more traditional classrooms (Abeles, 2013). Some parents are also reaching out to help their children, by contacting teachers and informing them of their concerns, following the 10-minute rule at home, or telling students to quit completing their school assignments completely. This is a growing trend as of 2016, according to the Washington Post (Levy, 2017).

As the student workload continues to grow, there are teachers and parents tapping into their own resources to make a difference. As new scientific studies are released that explore the harm of too much work after school, it will be interesting to see which teachers are willing to cut back and help with homework issues that their students are having.

References

Abeles, V. (October 01. 2013). When homework does more harm than good. Retrieved June 04, 2017, from HuffPost.
Breitenstein, D. (September 28, 2014). Homework: How much is too much? Retrieved June 04, 2017 from News-Press.com.
Levy, S. (April 11, 2017). Is too much homework bad for kids’ health?Retrieved June 04, 2017 from Healthline.

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