A young girl sits at her desk, reviewing her homework assignments for the evening. English: read three chapters and write a journal response. Math: complete 30 problems, showing all work. Science: do a worksheet, front and back. French: study vocabulary for tomorrow’s test. It’s going to be a long night. This describes a typical weeknight for students across the country. Now is the time to start a homework revolution.
Do students receive too much homework? It is often times recommended that students should be assigned no more than 10 minutes per grade level per night. For example, a first grader should only have 10 minutes of homework, a second grader, 20 minutes, and so on. Yet this is often doubled, sometimes even tripled.
There are negatives to overloading students. Have you ever heard of a child getting sick because of homework? Today it can be noticed that kids are developing more school-related stomachaches, headaches, sleep problems, and depression than ever before. The average student is glued to his or her desk for almost seven hours a day. Add two to four hours of homework each night, and they are working a 45- to 55-hour week. A student who receives excessive homework will miss out on active playtime, essential for learning social skills, proper brain development, and warding off childhood obesity.
Everybody knows that teachers are the ones who assign homework, but they do not deserve all the blame. Many teachers are under greater pressure than ever before. Some of it comes from parents, some from the administration and the desire for high scores on standardized tests. Teachers who are under pressure feel the need to assign more homework. But why aren’t teachers aware of homework recommendations? Many have never heard of them, have never taken a course about good versus bad homework, how much to give, and the research behind it. And many colleges of education do not offer specific training in homework. Teachers are just winging it.
Although some teachers and parents believe that assigning a lot of homework is beneficial, there is almost no correlation between homework and long-term achievements in elementary school and only a moderate correlation in middle school. More is not better.
Is homework really necessary? Most teachers assign homework as a drill to improve memorization of material. While drills and repetitive exercises have their place in schools, homework may not be that place. If a student does a math worksheet with 50 problems but completes them incorrectly, he will likely fail the test. Most math teachers can tell after checking five algebraic equations whether a student understood the necessary concepts. Practicing dozens of homework problems incorrectly only cements the wrong method.
Some people argue that homework toughens kids up for high school, college, and the workforce. Too much homework is sapping students’ strength, curiosity, and most importantly, their love of learning. Is that really what teachers and parents want?
If schools assign less homework, it would benefit teachers, parents, and students alike. Teachers who assign large amounts of homework are often unable to do more than spot-check answers. This means that many errors are missed. Teachers who assign less homework will be able to check it thoroughly. In addition, it allows a teacher time to focus on more important things. And when a student doesn’t understand something, instead of a parent trying to puzzle it out, the teacher will be there to help them. A student who is assigned less homework will live a healthy and happy life. The family can look forward to stress-free, carefree nights and, finally, the teachers can too. It’s time to stop the insanity brought upon students of all ages, and start a homework revolution.