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Does Homework Cause Stress? Exploring the Impact on Students’ Mental Health
How much homework is too much?
Jump to: The Link Between Homework and Stress | Homework’s Impact on Mental Health | Benefits of Homework | How Much Homework Should Teacher’s Assign? | Advice for Students | How Healium Helps
Homework has become a matter of concern for educators, parents, and researchers due to its potential effects on students’ stress levels. It’s no secret that students often find themselves grappling with high levels of stress and anxiety throughout their academic careers, so understanding the extent to which homework affects those stress levels is important.
By delving into the latest research and understanding the underlying factors at play, we hope to provide valuable insights for educators, parents, and students who are wondering about how much stress homework is causing in their lives.
The Link Between Homework and Stress: What the Research Says
Over the years, numerous studies have been conducted to investigate the relationship between homework and stress levels in students.
One study published in the Journal of Experimental Education found that students who reported spending more than two hours per night on homework experienced higher stress levels and physical health issues . Those same students reported over three hours of homework a night on average.
This study, conducted by Stanford lecturer Denise Pope, has been heavily cited throughout the years, with WebMD even producing the below video on the topic– part of their special report series on teens and stress :
Additional studies published by Sleep Health Journal found that long hours on homework on may be a risk factor for depression while also suggesting that reducing workload outside of class may benefit sleep and mental fitness .
Lastly, a study presented by Frontiers in Psychology highlighted significant health implications for high school students facing chronic stress, including emotional exhaustion and alcohol and drug use.
Overall, it appears clear that the answer to whether or not homework is a significant stressor for students is “Yes, depending on the workload assigned to students.” As such, teachers and parents alike should be wary of how much work they are truly putting on the shoulders of teenagers.
Homework’s Impact on Mental Health and Well-being
Homework-induced stress on students is far-reaching and involves both psychological and physiological side effects.
1. Psychological Effects of Homework-Induced Stress:
• Anxiety: The pressure to perform academically and meet homework expectations can lead to heightened levels of anxiety in students. Constant worry about completing assignments on time and achieving high grades can be overwhelming.
• Sleep Disturbances : Homework-related stress can disrupt students’ sleep patterns, leading to sleep anxiety or sleep deprivation, both of which can negatively impact cognitive function and emotional regulation.
• Reduced Motivation: Excessive homework demands can drain students’ motivation, causing them to feel fatigued and disengaged from their studies. Reduced motivation may lead to a lack of interest in learning, hindering overall academic performance.
2. Physical Effects of Homework-Induced Stress:
• Impaired Immune Function: Prolonged stress from overwhelming homework loads can weaken the immune system, making students more susceptible to illnesses and infections.
• Disrupted Hormonal Balance : The body’s stress response triggers the release of hormones like cortisol, which, when chronically elevated due to stress, can disrupt the delicate hormonal balance and lead to various health issues.
• Gastrointestinal Disturbances: Stress has been known to affect the gastrointestinal system, leading to symptoms such as stomachaches, nausea, and other digestive problems.
• Cardiovascular Impact: The increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure associated with stress can strain the cardiovascular system, potentially increasing the risk of heart-related issues in the long run.
• Brain impact: Prolonged exposure to stress hormones may impact the brain’s functioning , affecting memory, concentration, and cognitive abilities.
The Benefits of Homework
It’s important to note that homework also offers several benefits that contribute to students’ academic growth and development, such as:
• Development of Time Management Skills: Completing homework within specified deadlines encourages students to manage their time efficiently. This valuable skill extends beyond academics and becomes essential in various aspects of life.
• Preparation for Future Challenges : Homework helps prepare students for future academic challenges and responsibilities. It fosters a sense of discipline and responsibility, qualities that are crucial for success in higher education and professional life.
• Enhanced Problem-Solving Abilities: Homework often presents students with challenging problems to solve. Tackling these problems independently nurtures critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
However, while homework can foster discipline, time management, and self-directed learning, it is crucial to strike a balance that promotes both academic growth and mental well-being .
How Much Homework Should Teachers Assign?
As a general guideline, educators should be assigning a workload that allows students to grasp concepts effectively without overwhelming them . Quality over quantity is key, ensuring that homework assignments are purposeful, relevant, and targeted towards specific objectives.
Advice for Students: How to balance Homework and Well-being
Finding a balance between academic responsibilities and well-being is crucial for students. Here are some practical tips and techniques to help manage homework-related stress and foster a healthier approach to learning:
• Effective Time Management : Encourage students to create a structured study schedule that allocates sufficient time for homework, breaks, and other activities. Prioritizing tasks and setting realistic goals can prevent last-minute rushes and reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed.
• Break Tasks into Smaller Chunks : Large assignments can be daunting and may contribute to stress. Students should break such tasks into smaller, manageable parts. This approach not only makes the workload seem less intimidating but also provides a sense of accomplishment as each section is completed.
• Find a Distraction-Free Zone : Establish a designated study area that is free from distractions like smartphones, television, or social media. This setting will improve focus and productivity, reducing time needed to complete homework.
• Be Active : Regular exercise is known to reduce stress and enhance mood. Encourage students to incorporate physical activity into their daily routine, whether it’s going for a walk, playing a sport, or doing yoga.
• Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques : Encourage students to engage in mindfulness practices, such as deep breathing exercises or meditation, to alleviate stress and improve concentration. Taking short breaks to relax and clear the mind can enhance overall well-being and cognitive performance.
• Seek Support : Teachers, parents, and school counselors play an essential role in supporting students. Create an open and supportive environment where students feel comfortable expressing their concerns and seeking help when needed.
How Healium is Helping in Schools
We find it gratifying to not only explore the impact of homework on stress levels but also to take part in the solution. Our innovative mental fitness tool is playing a role in paving a brighter and more balanced future in education. Schools implementing Healium have witnessed remarkable improvements in student outcomes, from supporting dysregulated students and ADHD challenges to empowering students with body awareness and learning to self-regulate stress .
By providing students with the tools they need to manage stress and anxiety, we represent a forward-looking approach to education that prioritizes the holistic development of every student. Healium not only enhances academic success but also equips students with vital skills that will serve them well beyond the classroom.
To learn more about how Healium works, watch the video below!
About the Author
Sarah Hill , a former interactive TV news journalist at NBC, ABC, and CBS affiliates in Missouri, gained recognition for pioneering interactive news broadcasting using Google Hangouts. She is now the CEO of Healium, the world’s first biometrically powered VR/AR channel, helping those with stress, anxiety, insomnia, and other struggles through biofeedback storytelling. With patents, clinical validation, and over seven million views, she has reshaped the landscape of immersive media.
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Is Homework Necessary? Education Inequity and Its Impact on Students
Schools are getting rid of homework from Essex, Mass., to Los Angeles, Calif. Although the no-homework trend may sound alarming, especially to parents dreaming of their child’s acceptance to Harvard, Stanford or Yale, there is mounting evidence that eliminating homework in grade school may actually have great benefits , especially with regard to educational equity.
In fact, while the push to eliminate homework may come as a surprise to many adults, the debate is not new . Parents and educators have been talking about this subject for the last century, so that the educational pendulum continues to swing back and forth between the need for homework and the need to eliminate homework.
The Problem with Homework: It Highlights Inequalities
How much homework is too much homework, when does homework actually help, negative effects of homework for students, how teachers can help.
One of the most pressing talking points around homework is how it disproportionately affects students from less affluent families. The American Psychological Association (APA) explained:
“Kids from wealthier homes are more likely to have resources such as computers, internet connections, dedicated areas to do schoolwork and parents who tend to be more educated and more available to help them with tricky assignments. Kids from disadvantaged homes are more likely to work at afterschool jobs, or to be home without supervision in the evenings while their parents work multiple jobs.”
[RELATED] How to Advance Your Career: A Guide for Educators >>
While students growing up in more affluent areas are likely playing sports, participating in other recreational activities after school, or receiving additional tutoring, children in disadvantaged areas are more likely headed to work after school, taking care of siblings while their parents work or dealing with an unstable home life. Adding homework into the mix is one more thing to deal with — and if the student is struggling, the task of completing homework can be too much to consider at the end of an already long school day.
While all students may groan at the mention of homework, it may be more than just a nuisance for poor and disadvantaged children, instead becoming another burden to carry and contend with.
Beyond the logistical issues, homework can negatively impact physical health and stress — and once again this may be a more significant problem among economically disadvantaged youth who typically already have a higher stress level than peers from more financially stable families .
Yet, today, it is not just the disadvantaged who suffer from the stressors that homework inflicts. A 2014 CNN article, “Is Homework Making Your Child Sick?” , covered the issue of extreme pressure placed on children of the affluent. The article looked at the results of a study surveying more than 4,300 students from 10 high-performing public and private high schools in upper-middle-class California communities.
“Their findings were troubling: Research showed that excessive homework is associated with high stress levels, physical health problems and lack of balance in children’s lives; 56% of the students in the study cited homework as a primary stressor in their lives,” according to the CNN story. “That children growing up in poverty are at-risk for a number of ailments is both intuitive and well-supported by research. More difficult to believe is the growing consensus that children on the other end of the spectrum, children raised in affluence, may also be at risk.”
When it comes to health and stress it is clear that excessive homework, for children at both ends of the spectrum, can be damaging. Which begs the question, how much homework is too much?
The National Education Association and the National Parent Teacher Association recommend that students spend 10 minutes per grade level per night on homework . That means that first graders should spend 10 minutes on homework, second graders 20 minutes and so on. But a study published by The American Journal of Family Therapy found that students are getting much more than that.
While 10 minutes per day doesn’t sound like much, that quickly adds up to an hour per night by sixth grade. The National Center for Education Statistics found that high school students get an average of 6.8 hours of homework per week, a figure that is much too high according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It is also to be noted that this figure does not take into consideration the needs of underprivileged student populations.
In a study conducted by the OECD it was found that “after around four hours of homework per week, the additional time invested in homework has a negligible impact on performance .” That means that by asking our children to put in an hour or more per day of dedicated homework time, we are not only not helping them, but — according to the aforementioned studies — we are hurting them, both physically and emotionally.
What’s more is that homework is, as the name implies, to be completed at home, after a full day of learning that is typically six to seven hours long with breaks and lunch included. However, a study by the APA on how people develop expertise found that elite musicians, scientists and athletes do their most productive work for about only four hours per day. Similarly, companies like Tower Paddle Boards are experimenting with a five-hour workday, under the assumption that people are not able to be truly productive for much longer than that. CEO Stephan Aarstol told CNBC that he believes most Americans only get about two to three hours of work done in an eight-hour day.
In the scope of world history, homework is a fairly new construct in the U.S. Students of all ages have been receiving work to complete at home for centuries, but it was educational reformer Horace Mann who first brought the concept to America from Prussia.
Since then, homework’s popularity has ebbed and flowed in the court of public opinion. In the 1930s, it was considered child labor (as, ironically, it compromised children’s ability to do chores at home). Then, in the 1950s, implementing mandatory homework was hailed as a way to ensure America’s youth were always one step ahead of Soviet children during the Cold War. Homework was formally mandated as a tool for boosting educational quality in 1986 by the U.S. Department of Education, and has remained in common practice ever since.
School work assigned and completed outside of school hours is not without its benefits. Numerous studies have shown that regular homework has a hand in improving student performance and connecting students to their learning. When reviewing these studies, take them with a grain of salt; there are strong arguments for both sides, and only you will know which solution is best for your students or school.
Homework improves student achievement.
- Source: The High School Journal, “ When is Homework Worth the Time?: Evaluating the Association between Homework and Achievement in High School Science and Math ,” 2012.
- Source: IZA.org, “ Does High School Homework Increase Academic Achievement? ,” 2014. **Note: Study sample comprised only high school boys.
Homework helps reinforce classroom learning.
- Source: “ Debunk This: People Remember 10 Percent of What They Read ,” 2015.
Homework helps students develop good study habits and life skills.
- Sources: The Repository @ St. Cloud State, “ Types of Homework and Their Effect on Student Achievement ,” 2017; Journal of Advanced Academics, “ Developing Self-Regulation Skills: The Important Role of Homework ,” 2011.
- Source: Journal of Advanced Academics, “ Developing Self-Regulation Skills: The Important Role of Homework ,” 2011.
Homework allows parents to be involved with their children’s learning.
- Parents can see what their children are learning and working on in school every day.
- Parents can participate in their children’s learning by guiding them through homework assignments and reinforcing positive study and research habits.
- Homework observation and participation can help parents understand their children’s academic strengths and weaknesses, and even identify possible learning difficulties.
- Source: Phys.org, “ Sociologist Upends Notions about Parental Help with Homework ,” 2018.
While some amount of homework may help students connect to their learning and enhance their in-class performance, too much homework can have damaging effects.
Students with too much homework have elevated stress levels.
- Source: USA Today, “ Is It Time to Get Rid of Homework? Mental Health Experts Weigh In ,” 2021.
- Source: Stanford University, “ Stanford Research Shows Pitfalls of Homework ,” 2014.
Students with too much homework may be tempted to cheat.
- Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education, “ High-Tech Cheating Abounds, and Professors Bear Some Blame ,” 2010.
- Source: The American Journal of Family Therapy, “ Homework and Family Stress: With Consideration of Parents’ Self Confidence, Educational Level, and Cultural Background ,” 2015.
Homework highlights digital inequity.
- Sources: NEAToday.org, “ The Homework Gap: The ‘Cruelest Part of the Digital Divide’ ,” 2016; CNET.com, “ The Digital Divide Has Left Millions of School Kids Behind ,” 2021.
- Source: Investopedia, “ Digital Divide ,” 2022; International Journal of Education and Social Science, “ Getting the Homework Done: Social Class and Parents’ Relationship to Homework ,” 2015.
- Source: World Economic Forum, “ COVID-19 exposed the digital divide. Here’s how we can close it ,” 2021.
Homework does not help younger students.
- Source: Review of Educational Research, “ Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Researcher, 1987-2003 ,” 2006.
To help students find the right balance and succeed, teachers and educators must start the homework conversation, both internally at their school and with parents. But in order to successfully advocate on behalf of students, teachers must be well educated on the subject, fully understanding the research and the outcomes that can be achieved by eliminating or reducing the homework burden. There is a plethora of research and writing on the subject for those interested in self-study.
For teachers looking for a more in-depth approach or for educators with a keen interest in educational equity, formal education may be the best route. If this latter option sounds appealing, there are now many reputable schools offering online master of education degree programs to help educators balance the demands of work and family life while furthering their education in the quest to help others.
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Stress and The Dangers of Homework
The anxiety of not completing an assignment that you have been stuck on for the past hour can be overwhelming, right? What if I told you millions of people feel the same way you do and there can be consequences of it, I’m not talking grade wise, I’m talking mentally. Homework as we have experienced causes a great amount of stress which can lead you to a poor mental state, sleep deprivation, and many more bad things. Which can be prevented by decreasing the amount of homework significantly and/or being taught how to combat such stress. [A couple of such ways is by managing time, controlling emotions, and monitoring your motivation.] (https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1054844.pdf)
[Controlling Emotion] (https://www.rewireme.com/brain-insight/how-to-control-your-emotions/)
[Time Management] (https://www.liquidplanner.com/blog/7-essential-time-management-strategies/)
A school can start to teach these things so life can be easier for the students, but not just for them though but their family and their teachers too. A study made in 2017 about [the effects of homework on middle class families] (https://digitalcommons.csp.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1069&=&context=cup_commons_grad_edd&=&sei-redir=1&referer=https%253A%252F%252Fwww.google.com%252Furl%253Fq%253Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fdigitalcommons.csp.edu%252Fcgi%252Fviewcontent.cgi%253Farticle%25253D1069%252526context%25253Dcup_commons_grad_edd%2526sa%253DD%2526source%253Deditors%2526ust%253D1616434140114000%2526usg%253DAOvVaw0FRSYatcLU9NO7fYRvpdUB#search=%22https%3A%2F%2Fdigitalcommons.csp.edu%2Fcgi%2Fviewcontent.cgi%3Farticle%3D1069%26context%3Dcup_commons_grad_edd%22) shows that homework is the leading cause of stress in the household because it’s hard to have a “healthy balance of homework and family life”. This stress and less family time can lead to troubles in a family, and might even lead to divorce if it is disruptive enough.
The Parent Teacher Association (PTA), suggests there to be ten minutes of homework per grade level which is seemed to not be followed, [some kindergarteners are getting up to] (https://www.healthline.com/health-news/children-more-homework-means-more-stress-031114) 25 minutes of homework per day when they even aren’t supposed to get homework at all according to the National Education Association (NEA), and some second and third graders are even getting 28-29 minutes of homework per day taken in a survey in rhode island. It just doesn’t affect younger grades [but college students as] (https://mellowed.com/homework-stress/) well.
The stress can be overwhelming sometimes but the United States is not the only country with a homework problem, Italy, UK, France, and many more suffer the consequences. A survey taken in the UK, in March of 2020 shows that 66% of students in the age range of 8-17 said that “they felt most stressed about homework and/or exams” compared to everything else. Which is pretty alarming considering that this was a survey with almost 2,000 kids, and 66% of 2,000 is 1,320. Just imagine how many people are struggling with it as well on a global level.
Now you might be wondering how can we stop this monstrosity of stress, well looking at countries like [Finland, Japan, and South Korea] (https://www.geekycamel.com/countries-give-less-homework-theyre-successful/#:~:text=Finland,they%20are%20seven%20years%20old.) which are countries that give very little homework per week, ranging from 2.9 hours to 3.9. They mostly rely on trust in the teachers and students, more testing, and new ways to learn that is more beneficial for the students later in life. And it seems to have paid off, Finland, South Korea, and Japan seem to be at the [top in the world for Math and Science at the age of 15.] (https://www.bbc.com/news/education-37716005) So why don’t we start making the change to no homework? Well, that’s the next step, students should start to spread awareness and make petitions to the school board calling for change.
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- Stress & Anxiety
- Health & Wellness
Stress & Anxiety | Written by: Keely
The Truth About Homework Stress: What Parents & Students Need to Know
Homework is generally given out to ensure that students take time to review and remember the days lessons. It can help improve on a student’s general performance and enhance traits like self-discipline and independent problem solving.
Parents are able to see what their children are doing in school, while also helping teachers determine how well the lesson material is being learned. Homework is quite beneficial when used the right way and can improve student performance.
This well intentioned practice can turn sour if it’s not handled the right way. Studies show that if a student is inundated with too much homework, not only do they get lower scores, but they are more likely to get stressed.
The age at which homework stress is affecting students is getting lower, some even as low as kindergarten. Makes you wonder what could a five year old possibly need to review as homework?
One of the speculated reasons for this stress is that the complexity of what a student is expected to learn is increasing, while the breaks for working out excess energy are reduced. Students are getting significantly more homework than recommended by the education leaders, some even nearly three times more.
To make matters worse, teachers may give homework that is both time consuming and will keep students busy while being totally non-productive.
Remedial work like telling students to copy notes word for word from their text books will do nothing to improve their grades or help them progress. It just adds unnecessary stress.
Effects of homework stress at home
Both parents and students tend to get stressed out at the beginning of a new school year due to the impending arrival of homework.
Nightly battles centered on finishing assignments are a household routine in houses with students.
Research has found that too much homework can negatively affect children. In creating a lack of balance between play time and time spent doing homework, a child can get headaches, sleep deprivation or even ulcers.
And homework stress doesn’t just impact grade schoolers. College students are also affected, and the stress is affecting their academic performance.
Even the parent’s confidence in their abilities to help their children with homework suffers due increasing stress levels in the household.
Fights and conflict over homework are more likely in families where parents do not have at least a college degree. When the child needs assistance, they have to turn to their older siblings who might already be bombarded with their own homework.
Parents who have a college degree feel more confident in approaching the school and discussing the appropriate amount of school work.
“It seems that homework being assigned discriminates against parents who don’t have college degree, parents who have English as their second language and against parents who are poor.” Said Stephanie Donaldson Pressman, the contributing editor of the study and clinical director of the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology.
With all the stress associated with homework, it’s not surprising that some parents have opted not to let their children do homework. Parents that have instituted a no-homework policy have stated that it has taken a lot of the stress out of their evenings.
The recommended amount homework
The standard endorsed by the National Education Association is called the “10 minute rule”; 10 minutes per grade level per night. This recommendation was made after a number of studies were done on the effects of too much homework on families.
The 10 minute rule basically means 10 minutes of homework in the first grade, 20 minute for the second grade all the way up to 120 minutes for senior year in high school. Note that no homework is endorsed in classes under the first grade.
Parents reported first graders were spending around half an hour on homework each night, and kindergarteners spent 25 minutes a night on assignments according to a study carried out by Brown University.
Making a five year old sit still for half an hour is very difficult as they are at the age where they just want to move around and play.
A child who is exposed to 4-5 hours of homework after school is less likely to find the time to go out and play with their friends, which leads to accumulation of stress energy in the body.
Their social life also suffers because between the time spent at school and doing homework, a child will hardly have the time to pursue hobbies. They may also develop a negative attitude towards learning.
The research highlighted that 56% of students consider homework a primary source of stress.
And if you’re curious how the U.S stacks up against other countries in regards to how much time children spend on homework, it’s pretty high on the list .
Signs to look out for on a student that has homework stress
Since not every student is affected by homework stress in the same way, it’s important to be aware of some of the signs your child might be mentally drained from too much homework.
Here are some common signs of homework stress:
- Sleep disturbances
- Frequent stomachaches and headaches
- Decreased appetite or changed eating habits
- New or recurring fears
- Not able to relax
- Regressing to behavior they had when younger
- Bursts of anger crying or whining
- Becoming withdrawn while others may become clingy
- Drastic changes in academic performance
- Having trouble concentrating or completing homework
- Constantly complains about their ability to do homework
If you’re a parent and notice any of these signs in your child, step in to find out what’s going on and if homework is the source of their stress.
If you’re a student, pay attention if you start experiencing any of these symptoms as a result of your homework load. Don’t be afraid to ask your teacher or parents for help if the stress of homework becomes too much for you.
What parents do wrong when it comes to homework stress
Most parents push their children to do more and be more, without considering the damage being done by this kind of pressure.
Some think that homework brought home is always something the children can deal with on their own. If the child cannot handle their homework then these parents get angry and make the child feel stupid.
This may lead to more arguing and increased dislike of homework in the household. Ultimately the child develops an even worse attitude towards homework.
Another common mistake parents make is never questioning the amount of homework their children get, or how much time they spend on it. It’s easy to just assume whatever the teacher assigned is adequate, but as we mentioned earlier, that’s not always the case.
Be proactive and involved with your child’s homework. If you notice they’re spending hours every night on homework, ask them about it. Just because they don’t complain doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem.
How can parents help?
- While every parent wants their child to become successful and achieve the very best, it’s important to pull back on the mounting pressure and remember that they’re still just kids. They need time out to release their stress and connect with other children.
- Many children may be afraid to admit that they’re overwhelmed by homework because they might be misconstrued as failures. The best thing a parent can do is make home a safe place for children to express themselves freely. You can do this by lending a listening ear and not judging your kids.
- Parents can also take the initiative to let the school know that they’re unhappy with the amount of homework being given. Even if you don’t feel comfortable complaining, you can approach the school through the parent-teacher association available and request your representative to plead your case.
- It may not be all the subjects that are causing your child to get stressed. Parents should find out if there is a specific subject of homework that is causing stress. You could also consult with other parents to see what they can do to fix the situation. It may be the amount or the content that causes stress, so the first step is identifying the problem.
- Work with your child to create a schedule for getting homework done on time. You can set a specific period of time for homework, and schedule time for other activities too. Strike a balance between work and play.
- Understanding that your child is stressed about homework doesn’t mean you have to allow them not to try. Let them sit down and work on it as much as they’re able to, and recruit help from the older siblings or a neighbor if possible.
- Check out these resources to help your child with their homework .
The main idea here is to not abolish homework completely, but to review the amount and quality of homework being given out. Stress, depression and lower grades are the last things parents want for their children.
The schools and parents need to work together to find a solution to this obvious problem.
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Is it time to get rid of homework? Mental health experts weigh in
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©2021 USA Today Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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A source of stress: why homework needs to go away
Hank Perkins , Staff Writer December 17, 2021
When Owen Davis goes home after a long day of school at Loy Norrix and KAMSC, all he wants to do is relax and spend time with friends and family, but he realizes he has loads of homework to complete for the next day. Davis is in difficult classes, including Geology, AP Statistics, and Advanced Computer Science, which all give him a lot of homework.
Homework is a burden for students, as they usually have substantial amounts of homework every day after school where they do not have a sufficient amount of time to complete it due to other priorities they have, such as extracurriculars and family obligations. Homework is supposed to be beneficial for students, yet it is the complete opposite as all it does is increase student’s levels of stress dramatically and makes their life harder.
According to When Homework Causes Stress , “In 2013, research conducted by Stanford University demonstrated that students from high-achieving communities experience stress, physical health problems, an imbalance in their lives, and alienation from society as a result of spending too much time on homework. According to the survey data, 56 percent of the students considered homework a primary source of stress. The remaining students viewed tests and the pressure to get good grades as the primary stressors. Notably, less than 1 percent of the students said homework was not a stressor.”
Many students at Loy Norrix feel tremendous stress due to the large amount of homework they get every night as they would like to relax after a long day at school, yet they need to continue their diligent studies at home.
From a survey of 124 students, about 100 agreed that homework is unnecessary and students feel overwhelmed from it due to their extracurriculars outside of school.
A majority of students claim to spend 2+ hours on doing homework every night.
One third of students surveyed are in AP classes or are in KAMSC and claim these types of classes assign them a lot of homework, causing them stress.
Students in regular classes claim to have less homework than those in honors and AP classes, yet these students in regular classes still believe their homework is unnecessary.
Senior Ari’el Abbott who is taking AP classes at Loy Norrix mentioned her disapproval of homework’s effects on her mental strength.
“ Sometimes homework goes to the point where you are doing so much it’s harder to retain what you are learning compared to what is needed to know,” Abbott said. “I can be working for 4 hours in a class, and by the time I finish with the one class, I am too tired to even attempt to do another class which could cause one of two things: me working hard overdoing myself and possibly getting a bad grade on the assignments or mentally exhausting myself and then becoming behind in multiple classes. Either way the assignments are taking too long to complete which causes me to overwork myself.”
According to Kalamazoo Public Schools sets districtwide homework policy , the KPS District suggests that teachers give 10 minutes of homework per night for students in kindergarten and first grade and increase the amount by 10 minutes per night as grade levels go up. This means that seniors in high school are recommended to have roughly two hours of homework per night.
Students in high school get way too much homework every night as they also have extracurricular activities and other duties to do, and the last thing they want to do after a hard day of school is to continue learning what they have already covered in school.
Many students feel the amount of homework they receive influences their lives in a way where they cannot do the things they love. Senior Matthew Gray said how homework has affected his life during virtual learning.
“Online, I’d be getting huge projects and essays to do, so I would just be on my computer all day and miss out on other things I could be doing, such as hanging out with friends and family, since I have things to get done,” Gray said.
Another person that doesn’t see the positives of homework is AP Spanish teacher Christina Holmes.
“I try to keep homework to a minimum,” Holmes said. “I feel like homework should only continue something that has been worked on in class. I would never assign new material as homework. Homework, if given, is one of two things, an opportunity to complete an assignment that was worked on in class or an opportunity to use the language in a real life setting, such as watching a TV show in Spanish or talking to someone in Spanish,” Holmes said.
While some students and teachers do not admire and agree with homework, other students and teachers do see the necessity of homework. AP Calculus teacher Adam Hosler is a proponent in favor of homework.
“Homework is especially important for math as you have to practice the skills on your own to internalize it, to know what you’re doing,” Hosler said, “I think the amount of homework students should do is dependent on the student’s level, so AP kids would have more homework than kids in Algebra II, so I think there’s a feel on how much homework students should do. I base homework on quality over quantity: as long as you understand the topics, instead of how much homework you do. Students do need more practice based on their levels on certain topics though.”
According to Is Homework Beneficial? – Top 3 Pros and Cons , students who do homework for 30 to 90 minutes a day score 40 points higher on the SAT Math portion than students who do no homework a day.
Additionally, in relation to standardized tests and grades, students who do homework perform better than 69% of students who do not have homework.
Statistical research from the High School Journal on the impact of homework showed that 64% of students in one study and 72% of students in another study, improved academic achievement due to having homework.
Homework’s so-called purpose is to be beneficial to students, yet it appears to be the direct opposite, as homework usually causes negative effects for students.
If teachers are to give students homework, it should be homework that is relevant to the real world. It should contain skills that are realistic to the skills you would use in real life. Homework should not be worksheets that are irrelevant to the world outside of their classes.
Teachers should be more mindful of students’ lives outside of school as teachers often load students with immense amounts of homework that students are not capable of completing, which makes their lives even more difficult on top of other obligations outside of school.
A change needs to be made on the homework policy. Homework should be relevant to the real world and not just monotonous daily worksheets that don’t seem to serve a purpose to the real world.
Less amounts of homework need to be given to allow students to relax outside of school and enjoy their lives, instead of constantly being stressed due to their homework duties.
- adam hosler
- Ari'el Abbott
- Christina Holmes
- hank perkins
- Matthew Gray
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Opinion | Social-Emotional Learning
If we’re serious about student well-being, we must change the systems students learn in, here are five steps high schools can take to support students' mental health., by tim klein and belle liang oct 14, 2022.
Shutterstock / SvetaZi
Educators and parents started this school year with bated breath. Last year’s stress led to record levels of teacher burnout and mental health challenges for students.
Even before the pandemic, a mental health crisis among high schoolers loomed. According to a survey administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2019, 37 percent of high school students said they experienced persistent sadness or hopelessness and 19 percent reported suicidality. In response, more than half of all U.S. states mandated that schools have a mental health curriculum or include mental health in their standards .
As mental health professionals and co-authors of a book about the pressure and stress facing high school students, we’ve spent our entire careers supporting students’ mental health. Traditionally, mental health interventions are individualized and they focus on helping students manage and change their behaviors to cope with challenges they’re facing. But while working with schools and colleges across the globe as we conducted research for our book , we realized that most interventions don’t address systemic issues causing mental health problems in the first place.
It’s time we acknowledge that our education systems are directly contributing to the youth mental health crisis. And if we are serious about student well-being, we must change the systems they learn in.
Here are five bold steps that high schools can take to boost mental health.
Limit Homework or Make it Optional
Imagine applying for a job, and the hiring manager informs you that in addition to a full workday in the office, you’ll be assigned three more hours of work every night. Does this sound like a healthy work-life balance? Most adults would consider this expectation ridiculous and unsustainable. Yet, this is the workload most schools place on high school students.
Research shows that excessive homework leads to increased stress, physical health problems and a lack of balance in students' lives. And studies have shown that more than two hours of daily homework can be counterproductive , yet many teachers assign more.
Homework proponents argue that homework improves academic performance. Indeed, a meta-analysis of research on this issue found a correlation between homework and achievement. But correlation isn’t causation. Does homework cause achievement or do high achievers do more homework? While it’s likely that homework completion signals student engagement, which in turn leads to academic achievement, there’s little evidence to suggest that homework itself improves engagement in learning.
Another common argument is that homework helps students develop skills related to problem-solving, time-management and self-direction. But these skills can be explicitly taught during the school day rather than after school.
Limiting homework or moving to an optional homework policy not only supports student well-being, but it can also create a more equitable learning environment. According to the American Psychological Association, students from more affluent families are more likely to have access to resources such as devices, internet, dedicated work space and the support necessary to complete their work successfully—and homework can highlight those inequities .
Whether a school limits homework or makes it optional, it’s critical to remember that more important than the amount of homework assigned, is designing the type of activities that engage students in learning. When students are intrinsically motivated to do their homework, they are more engaged in the work, which in turn is associated with academic achievement.
Cap the Number of APs Students Can Take
Advanced Placement courses give students a taste of college-level work and, in theory, allow them to earn college credits early. Getting good grades on AP exams is associated with higher GPAs in high school and success in college, but the research tends to be correlational rather than causational.
In 2008, a little over 180,000 students took three or more AP exams. By 2018, that number had ballooned to almost 350,000 students .
However, this expansion has come at the expense of student well-being.
Over the years, we’ve heard many students express that they feel pressure to take as many AP classes as possible, which overloads them with work. That’s troubling because studies show that students who take AP classes and exams are twice as likely to report adverse physical and emotional health .
AP courses and exams also raise complex issues of equity. In 2019, two out of three Harvard freshmen reported taking AP Calculus in high school, according to Jeff Selingo, author of “ Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions ,” yet only half of all high schools in the country offer the course. And opportunity gaps exist for advanced coursework such as AP courses and dual enrollment, with inequitable distribution of funding and support impacting which students are enrolling and experiencing success. According to the Center for American Progress, “National data from the Civil Rights Data Collection show that students who are Black, Indigenous, and other non-Black people of color (BIPOC) are not enrolled in AP courses at rates comparable to their white and Asian peers and experience less success when they are—and the analysis for this report finds this to be true even when they attend schools with similar levels of AP course availability.”
Limiting the number of AP courses students take can protect mental health and create a more equitable experience for students.
Eliminate Class Rankings
In a study we conducted about mental health problems among high school girls, we found that a primary driver of stress was their perception of school as a hypercompetitive, zero-sum game where pervasive peer pressure to perform reigns supreme.
Class rankings fuel these cutthroat environments. They send a toxic message to young people: success requires doing better than your peers.
Ranking systems help highly selective colleges decide which students to admit or reject for admission. The purpose of high school is to develop students to their own full potential, rather than causing them to fixate on measuring up to others. Research shows that ranking systems undercut students’ learning and damage social relationships by turning peers into opponents.
Eliminating class rankings sends a powerful message to students that they are more than a number.
Become an Admission Test Objector
COVID-19 ushered in the era of test-optional admissions. De-centering standardized tests in the college application process is unequivocally a good thing. Standardized tests don’t predict student success in college , they only widen the achievement gap between privileged and underprivileged students and damage students' mental health .
Going “test optional” is an excellent first step, but it's not enough.
Even as more colleges have made tests optional, affluent students submit test scores at a higher rate than their lower-income peers and are admitted at higher rates , suggesting that testing still gives them an edge.
High schools must adhere to standardized test mandates, but they don’t have to endorse them. They can become test objectors by publicly proclaiming that these tests hold no inherent value. They can stop teaching to the test and educate parents on why they are doing so. Counseling departments can inform colleges that their school is a test objector so admission teams won’t penalize students.
Of course, students and families will still find ways to wield these tests as a competitive advantage. Over time, the more schools and educators unite to denounce these tests, the less power they will hold over students and families.
Big change starts with small steps.
Stand For What You Value
Critics may argue that such policies might hurt student outcomes. How will colleges evaluate school rigor if we limit AP courses and homework? How will students demonstrate their merits without class rankings and standardized test scores?
The truth is, the best school systems in the world succeed without homework, standardized test scores or an obsession with rigorous courses. And many U.S. schools have found creative and empowering ways to showcase student merit beyond rankings and test scores.
If we aren’t willing to change policies and practices that have been shown to harm students’ well-being, we have to ask ourselves: Do we really value mental health?
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be an either/or scenario: We can design school systems that help students thrive academically and psychologically.
Belle Liang and Tim Klein are mental health professionals and co-authors of “How To Navigate Life: The New Science of Finding Your Way in School, Career and Life.”
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Infographic: How Does Homework Actually Affect Students?
Homework is an important part of engaging students outside of the classroom. How does homework affect students?
It carries educational benefits for all age groups, including time management and organization. Homework also provides students with the ability to think beyond what is taught in class.
The not-so-good news is these benefits only occur when students are engaged and ready to learn. But, the more homework they get, the less they want to engage.
The Negative Effects on Students
Homework can affect students’ health, social life and grades. The hours logged in class, and the hours logged on schoolwork can lead to students feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated. Navigating the line between developing learning skills and feeling frustrated can be tricky.
Homework is an important part of being successful inside and outside of the classroom, but too much of it can actually have the opposite effect. Students who spend too much time on homework are not always able to meet other needs, like being physically and socially active. Ultimately, the amount of homework a student has can impact a lot more than his or her grades.
Find out how too much homework actually affects students.
How Does Homework Affect Students’ Health?
Homework can affect both students’ physical and mental health. According to a study by Stanford University, 56 per cent of students considered homework a primary source of stress. Too much homework can result in lack of sleep, headaches, exhaustion and weight loss. Excessive homework can also result in poor eating habits, with families choosing fast food as a faster alternative.
How Does Homework Affect Students’ Social Life?
Extracurricular activities and social time gives students a chance to refresh their minds and bodies. But students who have large amounts of homework have less time to spend with their families and friends. This can leave them feeling isolated and without a support system. For older students, balancing homework and part-time work makes it harder to balance school and other tasks. Without time to socialize and relax, students can become increasingly stressed, impacting life at school and at home.
How Does Homework Affect Students’ Grades?
After a full day of learning in class, students can become burnt out if they have too much homework. When this happens, the child may stop completing homework or rely on a parent to assist with homework. As a result, the benefits of homework are lost and grades can start to slip.
Too much homework can also result in less active learning, a type of learning that occurs in context and encourages participation. Active learning promotes the analysis and application of class content in real world settings. Homework does not always provide these opportunities, leading to boredom and a lack of problem-solving skills.
Take a look at how homework affects students and how to help with homework.
How Can Parents Help?
Being an active part of children’s homework routine is a major part of understanding feelings and of be able to provide the needed support. As parents, you can help your child have a stress-free homework experience. Sticking to a clear and organized homework routine helps children develop better homework habits as they get older. This routine also comes in handy when homework becomes more difficult and time-consuming.
Learn more about the current world of homework, and how you can help your child stay engaged.
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7 ways to help slow-working students, find an oxford learning ® location near you, we have over 100 centres across canada.