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Stanford research shows pitfalls of homework

A Stanford researcher found that students in high-achieving communities who spend too much time on homework experience more stress, physical health problems, a lack of balance and even alienation from society. More than two hours of homework a night may be counterproductive, according to the study.

Denise Pope

Education scholar Denise Pope has found that too much homework has negative effects on student well-being and behavioral engagement. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

A Stanford 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,” Pope said.

She 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.

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

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

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

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

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

why is too much homework bad for students

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The pandemic made the conversation around homework more crucial 

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

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

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

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

'Get organized' ahead of back-to-school

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

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

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

Breaking up assignments can also make things easier to tackle.

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

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

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

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

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

share this!

August 16, 2021

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

by Sara M Moniuszko

homework

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The pandemic made the conversation around homework more crucial

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

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

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

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

'Get organized' ahead of back-to-school

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

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

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

Breaking assignments up can also make things easier to tackle.

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

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

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

©2021 USA Today Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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How Much Homework Is Too Much for Our Teens?

Here's what educators and parents can do to help kids find the right balance between school and home.

Does Your Teen Have Too Much Homework?

Today’s teens are under a lot of pressure.

They're under pressure to succeed, to win, to be the best and to get into the top colleges. With so much pressure, is it any wonder today’s youth report being under as much stress as their parents? In fact, during the school year, teens say they experience stress levels higher than those reported by adults, according to a previous American Psychological Association "Stress in America" survey.

Odds are if you ask a teen what's got them so worked up, the subject of school will come up. School can cause a lot of stress, which can lead to other serious problems, like sleep deprivation . According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens need between eight and 10 hours of sleep each night, but only 15 percent are even getting close to that amount. During the school week, most teens only get about six hours of zzz’s a night, and some of that sleep deficit may be attributed to homework.

When it comes to school, many adults would rather not trade places with a teen. Think about it. They get up at the crack of dawn and get on the bus when it’s pitch dark outside. They put in a full day sitting in hours of classes (sometimes four to seven different classes daily), only to get more work dumped on them to do at home. To top it off, many kids have after-school obligations, such as extracurricular activities including clubs and sports , and some have to work. After a long day, they finally get home to do even more work – schoolwork.

[Read: What Parents Should Know About Teen Depression .]

Homework is not only a source of stress for students, but it can also be a hassle for parents. If you are the parent of a kid who strives to be “perfect," then you know all too well how much time your child spends making sure every bit of homework is complete, even if it means pulling an all-nighter. On the flip side, if you’re the parent of a child who decided that school ends when the last bell rings, then you know how exhausting that homework tug-of-war can be. And heaven forbid if you’re that parent who is at their wit's end because your child excels on tests and quizzes but fails to turn in assignments. The woes of academics can go well beyond the confines of the school building and right into the home.

This is the time of year when many students and parents feel the burden of the academic load. Following spring break, many schools across the nation head into the final stretch of the year. As a result, some teachers increase the amount of homework they give. The assignments aren’t punishment, although to students and parents who are having to constantly stay on top of their kids' schoolwork, they can sure seem that way.

From a teacher’s perspective, the assignments are meant to help students better understand the course content and prepare for upcoming exams. Some schools have state-mandated end of grade or final tests. In those states these tests can account for 20 percent of a student’s final grade. So teachers want to make sure that they cover the entire curriculum before that exam. Aside from state-mandated tests, some high school students are enrolled in advanced placement or international baccalaureate college-level courses that have final tests given a month or more before the end of the term. In order to cover all of the content, teachers must maintain an accelerated pace. All of this means more out of class assignments.

Given the challenges kids face, there are a few questions parents and educators should consider:

Is homework necessary?

Many teens may give a quick "no" to this question, but the verdict is still out. Research supports both sides of the argument. Personally, I would say, yes, some homework is necessary, but it must be purposeful. If it’s busy work, then it’s a waste of time. Homework should be a supplemental teaching tool. Too often, some youth go home completely lost as they haven’t grasped concepts covered in class and they may become frustrated and overwhelmed.

For a parent who has been in this situation, you know how frustrating this can be, especially if it’s a subject that you haven’t encountered in a while. Homework can serve a purpose such as improving grades, increasing test scores and instilling a good work ethic. Purposeful homework can come in the form of individualizing assignments based on students’ needs or helping students practice newly acquired skills.

Homework should not be used to extend class time to cover more material. If your child is constantly coming home having to learn the material before doing the assignments, then it’s time to contact the teacher and set up a conference. Listen when kids express their concerns (like if they say they're expected to know concepts not taught in class) as they will provide clues about what’s happening or not happening in the classroom. Plus, getting to the root of the problem can help with keeping the peace at home too, as an irritable and grumpy teen can disrupt harmonious family dynamics .

[Read: What Makes Teens 'Most Likely to Succeed?' ]

How much is too much?

According to the National PTA and the National Education Association, students should only be doing about 10 minutes of homework per night per grade level. But teens are doing a lot more than that, according to a poll of high school students by the organization Statistic Brain . In that poll teens reported spending, on average, more than three hours on homework each school night, with 11th graders spending more time on homework than any other grade level. By contrast, some polls have shown that U.S. high school students report doing about seven hours of homework per week.

Much of a student's workload boils down to the courses they take (such as advanced or college prep classes), the teaching philosophy of educators and the student’s commitment to doing the work. Regardless, research has shown that doing more than two hours of homework per night does not benefit high school students. Having lots of homework to do every day makes it difficult for teens to have any downtime , let alone family time .

How do we respond to students' needs?

As an educator and parent, I can honestly say that oftentimes there is a mismatch in what teachers perceive as only taking 15 minutes and what really takes 45 minutes to complete. If you too find this to be the case, then reach out to your child's teacher and find out why the assignments are taking longer than anticipated for your child to complete.

Also, ask the teacher about whether faculty communicate regularly with one another about large upcoming assignments. Whether it’s setting up a shared school-wide assignment calendar or collaborating across curriculums during faculty meetings, educators need to discuss upcoming tests and projects, so students don’t end up with lots of assignments all competing for their attention and time at once. Inevitably, a student is going to get slammed occasionally, but if they have good rapport with their teachers, they will feel comfortable enough to reach out and see if alternative options are available. And as a parent, you can encourage your kid to have that dialogue with the teacher.

Often teens would rather blend into the class than stand out. That’s unfortunate because research has shown time and time again that positive teacher-student relationships are strong predictors of student engagement and achievement. By and large, most teachers appreciate students advocating for themselves and will go the extra mile to help them out.

Can there be a balance between home and school?

Students can strike a balance between school and home, but parents will have to help them find it. They need your guidance to learn how to better manage their time, get organized and prioritize tasks, which are all important life skills. Equally important is developing good study habits. Some students may need tutoring or coaching to help them learn new material or how to take notes and study. Also, don’t forget the importance of parent-teacher communication. Most educators want nothing more than for their students to succeed in their courses.

Learning should be fun, not mundane and cumbersome. Homework should only be given if its purposeful and in moderation. Equally important to homework is engaging in activities, socializing with friends and spending time with the family.

[See: 10 Concerns Parents Have About Their Kids' Health .]

Most adults don’t work a full-time job and then go home and do three more hours of work, and neither should your child. It's not easy learning to balance everything, especially if you're a teen. If your child is spending several hours on homework each night, don't hesitate to reach out to teachers and, if need be, school officials. Collectively, we can all work together to help our children de-stress and find the right balance between school and home.

12 Questions You Should Ask Your Kids at Dinner

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Tags: parenting , family , family health , teens , education , high school , stress

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Do our kids have too much homework?

by: Marian Wilde | Updated: January 31, 2024

Print article

Are kids getting too much homework?

Many students and their parents are frazzled by the amount of homework being piled on in the schools. Yet many researchers say that American students have just the right amount of homework.

“Kids today are overwhelmed!” a parent recently wrote in an email to GreatSchools.org “My first-grade son was required to research a significant person from history and write a paper of at least two pages about the person, with a bibliography. How can he be expected to do that by himself? He just started to learn to read and write a couple of months ago. Schools are pushing too hard and expecting too much from kids.”

Diane Garfield, a fifth grade teacher in San Francisco, concurs. “I believe that we’re stressing children out,” she says.

But hold on, it’s not just the kids who are stressed out . “Teachers nowadays assign these almost college-level projects with requirements that make my mouth fall open with disbelief,” says another frustrated parent. “It’s not just the kids who suffer!”

“How many people take home an average of two hours or more of work that must be completed for the next day?” asks Tonya Noonan Herring, a New Mexico mother of three, an attorney and a former high school English teacher. “Most of us, even attorneys, do not do this. Bottom line: students have too much homework and most of it is not productive or necessary.”

Research about homework

How do educational researchers weigh in on the issue? According to Brian Gill, a senior social scientist at the Rand Corporation, there is no evidence that kids are doing more homework than they did before.

“If you look at high school kids in the late ’90s, they’re not doing substantially more homework than kids did in the ’80s, ’70s, ’60s or the ’40s,” he says. “In fact, the trends through most of this time period are pretty flat. And most high school students in this country don’t do a lot of homework. The median appears to be about four hours a week.”

Education researchers like Gill base their conclusions, in part, on data gathered by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests.

“It doesn’t suggest that most kids are doing a tremendous amount,” says Gill. “That’s not to say there aren’t any kids with too much homework. There surely are some. There’s enormous variation across communities. But it’s not a crisis in that it’s a very small proportion of kids who are spending an enormous amount of time on homework.”

Etta Kralovec, author of The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning , disagrees, saying NAEP data is not a reliable source of information. “Students take the NAEP test and one of the questions they have to fill out is, ‘How much homework did you do last night’ Anybody who knows schools knows that teachers by and large do not give homework the night before a national assessment. It just doesn’t happen. Teachers are very clear with kids that they need to get a good night’s sleep and they need to eat well to prepare for a test.

“So asking a kid how much homework they did the night before a national test and claiming that that data tells us anything about the general run of the mill experience of kids and homework over the school year is, I think, really dishonest.”

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

One indisputable fact

One homework fact that educators do agree upon is that the young child today is doing more homework than ever before.

“Parents are correct in saying that they didn’t get homework in the early grades and that their kids do,” says Harris Cooper, professor of psychology and director of the education program at Duke University.

Gill quantifies the change this way: “There has been some increase in homework for the kids in kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. But it’s been an increase from zero to 20 minutes a day. So that is something that’s fairly new in the last quarter century.”

The history of homework

In his research, Gill found that homework has always been controversial. “Around the turn of the 20th century, the Ladies’ Home Journal carried on a crusade against homework. They thought that kids were better off spending their time outside playing and looking at clouds. The most spectacular success this movement had was in the state of California, where in 1901 the legislature passed a law abolishing homework in grades K-8. That lasted about 15 years and then was quietly repealed. Then there was a lot of activism against homework again in the 1930s.”

The proponents of homework have remained consistent in their reasons for why homework is a beneficial practice, says Gill. “One, it extends the work in the classroom with additional time on task. Second, it develops habits of independent study. Third, it’s a form of communication between the school and the parents. It gives parents an idea of what their kids are doing in school.”

The anti-homework crowd has also been consistent in their reasons for wanting to abolish or reduce homework.

“The first one is children’s health,” says Gill. “A hundred years ago, you had medical doctors testifying that heavy loads of books were causing children’s spines to be bent.”

The more things change, the more they stay the same, it seems. There were also concerns about excessive amounts of stress .

“Although they didn’t use the term ‘stress,'” says Gill. “They worried about ‘nervous breakdowns.'”

“In the 1930s, there were lots of graduate students in education schools around the country who were doing experiments that claimed to show that homework had no academic value — that kids who got homework didn’t learn any more than kids who didn’t,” Gill continues. Also, a lot of the opposition to homework, in the first half of the 20th century, was motivated by a notion that it was a leftover from a 19th-century model of schooling, which was based on recitation, memorization and drill. Progressive educators were trying to replace that with something more creative, something more interesting to kids.”

The more-is-better movement

Garfield, the San Francisco fifth-grade teacher, says that when she started teaching 30 years ago, she didn’t give any homework. “Then parents started asking for it,” she says. “I got In junior high and high school there’s so much homework, they need to get prepared.” So I bought that one. I said, ‘OK, they need to be prepared.’ But they don’t need two hours.”

Cooper sees the trend toward more homework as symptomatic of high-achieving parents who want the best for their children. “Part of it, I think, is pressure from the parents with regard to their desire to have their kids be competitive for the best universities in the country. The communities in which homework is being piled on are generally affluent communities.”

The less-is-better campaign

Alfie Kohn, a widely-admired progressive writer on education and parenting, published a sharp rebuttal to the more-homework-is-better argument in his 2006 book The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing . Kohn criticized the pro-homework studies that Cooper referenced as “inconclusive… they only show an association, not a causal relationship” and he titled his first chapter “Missing Out on Their Childhoods.”

Vera Goodman’s 2020 book, Simply Too Much Homework: What Can We Do? , repeats Kohn’s scrutiny and urges parents to appeal to school and government leaders to revise homework policies. Goodman believes today’s homework load stresses out teachers, parents, and students, deprives children of unstructured time for play, hobbies, and individual pursuits, and inhibits the joy of learning.

Homework guidelines

What’s a parent to do, you ask? Fortunately, there are some sanity-saving homework guidelines.

Cooper points to “The 10-Minute Rule” formulated by the National PTA and the National Education Association, which suggests that kids should be doing about 10 minutes of homework per night per grade level. In other words, 10 minutes for first-graders, 20 for second-graders and so on.

Too much homework vs. the optimal amount

Cooper has found that the correlation between homework and achievement is generally supportive of these guidelines. “We found that for kids in elementary school there was hardly any relationship between how much homework young children did and how well they were doing in school, but in middle school the relationship is positive and increases until the kids were doing between an hour to two hours a night, which is right where the 10-minute rule says it’s going to be optimal.

“After that it didn’t go up anymore. Kids that reported doing more than two hours of homework a night in middle school weren’t doing any better in school than kids who were doing between an hour to two hours.”

Garfield has a very clear homework policy that she distributes to her parents at the beginning of each school year. “I give one subject a night. It’s what we were studying in class or preparation for the next day. It should be done within half an hour at most. I believe that children have many outside activities now and they also need to live fully as children. To have them work for six hours a day at school and then go home and work for hours at night does not seem right. It doesn’t allow them to have a childhood.”

International comparisons

How do American kids fare when compared to students in other countries? Professors Gerald LeTendre and David Baker of Pennsylvania State University conclude in their 2005 book, National Differences, Global Similarities: World Culture and the Future of Schooling, that American middle schoolers do more homework than their peers in Japan, Korea, or Taiwan, but less than their peers in Singapore and Hong Kong.

One of the surprising findings of their research was that more homework does not correlate with higher test scores. LeTendre notes: “That really flummoxes people because they say, ‘Doesn’t doing more homework mean getting better scores?’ The answer quite simply is no.”

Homework is a complicated thing

To be effective, homework must be used in a certain way, he says. “Let me give you an example. Most homework in the fourth grade in the U.S. is worksheets. Fill them out, turn them in, maybe the teacher will check them, maybe not. That is a very ineffective use of homework. An effective use of homework would be the teacher sitting down and thinking ‘Elizabeth has trouble with number placement, so I’m going to give her seven problems on number placement.’ Then the next day the teacher sits down with Elizabeth and she says, ‘Was this hard for you? Where did you have difficulty?’ Then she gives Elizabeth either more or less material. As you can imagine, that kind of homework rarely happens.”

Shotgun homework

“What typically happens is people give what we call ‘shotgun homework’: blanket drills, questions and problems from the book. On a national level that’s associated with less well-functioning school systems,” he says. “In a sense, you could sort of think of it as a sign of weaker teachers or less well-prepared teachers. Over time, we see that in elementary and middle schools more and more homework is being given, and that countries around the world are doing this in an attempt to increase their test scores, and that is basically a failing strategy.”

Quality not quantity?

“ The Case for (Quality) Homework: Why It Improves Learning, and How Parents Can Help ,” a 2019 paper written by Boston University psychologist Janine Bempechat, asks for homework that specifically helps children “confront ever-more-complex tasks” that enable them to gain resilience and embrace challenges.

Similar research from University of Ovideo in Spain titled “ Homework: Facts and Fiction 2021 ” says evidence shows that how homework is applied is more important than how much is required, and it asserts that a moderate amount of homework yields the most academic achievement. The most important aspect of quality homework assignment? The effort required and the emotions prompted by the task.

Robyn Jackson, author of How to Plan Rigorous Instruction and other media about rigor says the key to quality homework is not the time spent, but the rigor — or mental challenge — involved. ( Read more about how to evaluate your child’s homework for rigor here .)

Nightly reading as a homework replacement

Across the country, many elementary schools have replaced homework with a nightly reading requirement. There are many benefits to children reading every night , either out loud with a parent or independently: it increases their vocabulary, imagination, concentration, memory, empathy, academic ability, knowledge of different cultures and perspectives. Plus, it reduces stress, helps kids sleep, and bonds children to their cuddling parents or guardians. Twenty to 30 minutes of reading each day is generally recommended.

But, is this always possible, or even ideal?

No, it’s not.

Alfie Kohn criticizes this added assignment in his blog post, “ How To Create Nonreaders .” He cites an example from a parent (Julie King) who reports, “Our children are now expected to read 20 minutes a night, and record such on their homework sheet. What parents are discovering (surprise) is that those kids who used to sit down and read for pleasure — the kids who would get lost in a book and have to be told to put it down to eat/play/whatever — are now setting the timer… and stopping when the timer dings. … Reading has become a chore, like brushing your teeth.”

The take-away from Kohn? Don’t undermine reading for pleasure by turning it into another task burdening your child’s tired brain.

Additional resources

Books Simply Too Much Homework: What Can We do? by Vera Goodman, Trafford Publishing, 2020

The Case Against Homework: How Homework is Hurting Children and What Parents Can Do About It by Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish, Crown Publishers, 2007

The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing by Alfie Kohn, Hatchett Books, 2006 The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning by Etta Kralovec and John Buell, Beacon Press, 2001.

The Battle Over Homework: Common Ground for Administrators, Teachers, and Parents by Harris M. Cooper, Corwin Press, 2001.

Seven Steps to Homework Success: A Family Guide to Solving Common Homework Problems by Sydney Zentall and Sam Goldstein, Specialty Press, 1998.

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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.

Mother helping son with homework at home

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Effective homework reinforces math, reading, writing or spelling skills, but in a way that's meaningful.

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."

Study Tips for High School Students

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What’s the Right Amount of Homework?

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

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

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

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

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

Small Benefits for Elementary Students

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

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

Moderate Benefits for Middle School Students

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

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

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

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

More Benefits for High School Students, but Risks as Well

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

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

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

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

Parents Play a Key Role

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

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

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A daughter sits at a desk doing homework while her mom stands beside her helping

Credit: August de Richelieu

Does homework still have value? A Johns Hopkins education expert weighs in

Joyce epstein, co-director of the center on school, family, and community partnerships, discusses why homework is essential, how to maximize its benefit to learners, and what the 'no-homework' approach gets wrong.

By Vicky Hallett

The necessity of homework has been a subject of debate since at least as far back as the 1890s, according to Joyce L. Epstein , co-director of the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships at Johns Hopkins University. "It's always been the case that parents, kids—and sometimes teachers, too—wonder if this is just busy work," Epstein says.

But after decades of researching how to improve schools, the professor in the Johns Hopkins School of Education remains certain that homework is essential—as long as the teachers have done their homework, too. The National Network of Partnership Schools , which she founded in 1995 to advise schools and districts on ways to improve comprehensive programs of family engagement, has developed hundreds of improved homework ideas through its Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork program. For an English class, a student might interview a parent on popular hairstyles from their youth and write about the differences between then and now. Or for science class, a family could identify forms of matter over the dinner table, labeling foods as liquids or solids. These innovative and interactive assignments not only reinforce concepts from the classroom but also foster creativity, spark discussions, and boost student motivation.

"We're not trying to eliminate homework procedures, but expand and enrich them," says Epstein, who is packing this research into a forthcoming book on the purposes and designs of homework. In the meantime, the Hub couldn't wait to ask her some questions:

What kind of homework training do teachers typically get?

Future teachers and administrators really have little formal training on how to design homework before they assign it. This means that most just repeat what their teachers did, or they follow textbook suggestions at the end of units. For example, future teachers are well prepared to teach reading and literacy skills at each grade level, and they continue to learn to improve their teaching of reading in ongoing in-service education. By contrast, most receive little or no training on the purposes and designs of homework in reading or other subjects. It is really important for future teachers to receive systematic training to understand that they have the power, opportunity, and obligation to design homework with a purpose.

Why do students need more interactive homework?

If homework assignments are always the same—10 math problems, six sentences with spelling words—homework can get boring and some kids just stop doing their assignments, especially in the middle and high school years. When we've asked teachers what's the best homework you've ever had or designed, invariably we hear examples of talking with a parent or grandparent or peer to share ideas. To be clear, parents should never be asked to "teach" seventh grade science or any other subject. Rather, teachers set up the homework assignments so that the student is in charge. It's always the student's homework. But a good activity can engage parents in a fun, collaborative way. Our data show that with "good" assignments, more kids finish their work, more kids interact with a family partner, and more parents say, "I learned what's happening in the curriculum." It all works around what the youngsters are learning.

Is family engagement really that important?

At Hopkins, I am part of the Center for Social Organization of Schools , a research center that studies how to improve many aspects of education to help all students do their best in school. One thing my colleagues and I realized was that we needed to look deeply into family and community engagement. There were so few references to this topic when we started that we had to build the field of study. When children go to school, their families "attend" with them whether a teacher can "see" the parents or not. So, family engagement is ever-present in the life of a school.

My daughter's elementary school doesn't assign homework until third grade. What's your take on "no homework" policies?

There are some parents, writers, and commentators who have argued against homework, especially for very young children. They suggest that children should have time to play after school. This, of course is true, but many kindergarten kids are excited to have homework like their older siblings. If they give homework, most teachers of young children make assignments very short—often following an informal rule of 10 minutes per grade level. "No homework" does not guarantee that all students will spend their free time in productive and imaginative play.

Some researchers and critics have consistently misinterpreted research findings. They have argued that homework should be assigned only at the high school level where data point to a strong connection of doing assignments with higher student achievement . However, as we discussed, some students stop doing homework. This leads, statistically, to results showing that doing homework or spending more minutes on homework is linked to higher student achievement. If slow or struggling students are not doing their assignments, they contribute to—or cause—this "result."

Teachers need to design homework that even struggling students want to do because it is interesting. Just about all students at any age level react positively to good assignments and will tell you so.

Did COVID change how schools and parents view homework?

Within 24 hours of the day school doors closed in March 2020, just about every school and district in the country figured out that teachers had to talk to and work with students' parents. This was not the same as homeschooling—teachers were still working hard to provide daily lessons. But if a child was learning at home in the living room, parents were more aware of what they were doing in school. One of the silver linings of COVID was that teachers reported that they gained a better understanding of their students' families. We collected wonderfully creative examples of activities from members of the National Network of Partnership Schools. I'm thinking of one art activity where every child talked with a parent about something that made their family unique. Then they drew their finding on a snowflake and returned it to share in class. In math, students talked with a parent about something the family liked so much that they could represent it 100 times. Conversations about schoolwork at home was the point.

How did you create so many homework activities via the Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork program?

We had several projects with educators to help them design interactive assignments, not just "do the next three examples on page 38." Teachers worked in teams to create TIPS activities, and then we turned their work into a standard TIPS format in math, reading/language arts, and science for grades K-8. Any teacher can use or adapt our prototypes to match their curricula.

Overall, we know that if future teachers and practicing educators were prepared to design homework assignments to meet specific purposes—including but not limited to interactive activities—more students would benefit from the important experience of doing their homework. And more parents would, indeed, be partners in education.

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Is Homework Necessary? Education Inequity and Its Impact on Students

why is too much homework bad for students

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.

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.

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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Is Homework Good or Bad for Students?

It's mostly good, especially for the sciences, but it also can be bad

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Homework isn't fun for students to do or for teachers to grade, so why do it? Here are some reasons why homework is good and why it's bad.

Why Homework Is Good

Here are 10 reasons why homework is good, especially for the sciences, such as chemistry:

  • Doing homework teaches you how to learn on your own and work independently. You'll learn how to use resources such as texts, libraries, and the internet. No matter how well you thought you understood the material in class, there will be times when you'll get stuck doing homework. When you face the challenge, you learn how to get help, how to deal with frustration, and how to persevere.
  • Homework helps you learn beyond the scope of the class. Example problems from teachers and textbooks show you how to do an assignment. The acid test is seeing whether you truly understand the material and can do the work on your own. In science classes, homework problems are critically important. You see concepts in a whole new light, so you'll know how equations work in general, not just how they work for a particular example. In chemistry, physics, and math, homework is truly important and not just busywork.
  • It shows you what the teacher thinks is important to learn, so you'll have a better idea of what to expect on a quiz or test .
  • It's often a significant part of your grade . If you don't do it, it could cost you , no matter how well you do on exams.
  • Homework is a good opportunity to connect parents, classmates, and siblings with your education. The better your support network, the more likely you are to succeed in class.
  • Homework, however tedious it might be, teaches responsibility and accountability. For some classes, homework is an essential part of learning the subject matter.
  • Homework nips procrastination in the bud. One reason teachers give homework and attach a big part of your grade to it is to motivate you to keep up. If you fall behind, you could fail.
  • How will you get all your work done before class? Homework teaches you time management and how to prioritize tasks.
  • Homework reinforces the concepts taught in class. The more you work with them, the more likely you are to learn them. 
  • Homework can help boost self-esteem . Or, if it's not going well, it helps you identify problems before they get out of control.

Sometimes Homework Is Bad

So, homework is good because it can boost your grades , help you learn the material, and prepare you for tests. It's not always beneficial, however. Sometimes homework hurts more than it helps. Here are five ways homework can be bad:

  • You need a break from a subject so you don't burn out or lose interest. Taking a break helps you learn.
  • Too much homework can lead to copying and cheating.
  • Homework that is pointless busywork can lead to a negative impression of a subject (not to mention a teacher).
  • It takes time away from families, friends, jobs, and other ways to spend your time.
  • Homework can hurt your grades. It forces you to make time management decisions, sometimes putting you in a no-win situation. Do you take the time to do the homework or spend it studying concepts or doing work for another subject? If you don't have the time for the homework, you could hurt your grades even if you ace the tests and understand the subject.
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The Pros and Cons of Homework

The-Pros-and-Cons-Should-Students-Have-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.

A college student completely swamped with homework.

Photo by  energepic.com  from  Pexels

Why should students have homework, 1. 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 .

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

A female student who doesn’t want to do homework.

The Other Side: Why Homework Is Bad

1. 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.

2. 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 .

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

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Reasons Why Homework Is Bad For Students?

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  • Post author By admin
  • October 12, 2022

Homework is a word that most students don’t want to hear. Because, after many hours of sitting in the same class, the last thing students get is more schoolwork over their precious weekends. Well, it is known to be a traditional schooling system. Lets now 

Some feel that Homework is a necessary part of education. On the other hand, some believe that the time should be invested in extra activities. Many studies have found that most students are getting too much extra Homework and assignments that lead to many problems like stress, sleeping problems, and other problems related to health. 

Typically in high schools, students take six classes a day, which means they receive 24.5 hours of homework weekly. But this is not the main problem. The problem with the school nowadays is that it promotes stress at a very high level by giving students extra work that most of the students don’t want to do. 

There are plenty of reasons why Homework is bad for students, but in this Blog, we will look at the top 18 most crucial reasons.

Without wasting any time, let’s get started.

Table of Contents

18 Reasons Why Homework Is Bad For Students

There are many reasons why Homework is bad, but in this Blog, we will cover the top 18 reasons why Homework is bad for students. 

  • May lead to Stress Problems

No time for outside activities

Excessive homework cause depression, have no real impact on performance, homework control the student’s freedom.

  • May break student’s confidence

No real benefit

The school became a full-time job, irrelevant content, lack of social skills , waste of time, no time for family, destroy sleep cycle.

  • Excessive Homework encourages cheating 

Can lower your grades

Counterproductivity.

  • No time for daily exercise

Consume free time

May lead to stress problems..

Extra assignments given by high schools and universities to students may lead to unhealthy stress levels. If bombarded with countless work at the school and at home, students may feel anxiety and stress. I know students need to learn in the class, but they also get some time to explore other things outside the academic world. 

This is obvious if you get work after work and fail to complete that work. You will automatically get stressed, and that gets worse over time. 

According to the survey, 56 percent of the students think that Homework is the primary cause of stress. At the same time, the remaining students think that giving tests and getting good marks causes stress. Only 1 percent of the students think that Homework does not cause notable stress.

One of the main reasons Homework is bad is that you get no time to go outside and play something that will automatically boost your productivity and instantly kill stress. Doing outside activities will not only boost your productivity but also make you healthy physically as well as mentally. 

Excessive Homework may cause Depression, which then affects students mentally and physically too. According to the studies, more than 39% of the students have experienced Depression daily. The main reason is that most students want more grades rather than doing Homework. When students are unable to attain their goals, then it is really hard to maintain their health, so as a result, they get depressed. All of these issues can have a negative impact on someone’s life. 

Extra time spent on Homework does not have a real impact on performance. As a result, it’s more like you’re wasting time by doing the same thing repeatedly, which does not produce any result.

Childhood is meant to be enjoyed, but extra Homework makes it impossible. Instead of spending time on something else, students spend most of their time on Homework. As a result, Homework became the reason to control students’ freedom. 

May break students’ confidence

If you’re doing the same thing repeatedly, you don’t get any result from this. Then the probability is high that you will lose your confidence. So, to boost your confidence, students should take some breaks and then get back to work.

A decrease in academic performance is directly connected to spending more time on Homework. Homework can help you get better marks, but it usually has a low return. As a result, there is no real benefit from the Homework. 

This is the seventh reason why Homework is bad for the students. 

In Chile, most school days start from 8 a.m and end at 4 p.m or later. Every day, students spend approximately 9 hours in school, like you’re doing a full-time job. 

If the Homework has nothing to do with the topic or the subject, it should be prohibited. It is unfair to provide Homework that a student did not cover in the class and expect a better report. 

Heavy homework activities may have a terrible effect on student life. Everyone needs some time for daily routine activity and quality time with their friends and family. But teachers assign heavy Homework during weekends. Then there is no choice but for the students to complete the task rather than be more social. 

Most studies found that Homework is a waste of time that keeps people from doing things they want to do. Such as attending important events or sports. As a result, even if a student wants to attend or participate in such events, in such circumstances, students don’t have enough time due to workload. 

This is the twelfth reason why Homework is bad and should be banned. In most parts of the world, students doest have time to spend with their family members. Well, the most difficult thing for today’s parents is that they don’t spend enough time with their children. Students start working on their homework as soon as they get back home. As a result, students barely have time to talk with their parents.

Even on the weekend, students work on their extra assignments and Homework. That being said, students miss weekends that they are supposed to spend with their family members. However, without work, students have more time for family. 

In most cases, students don’t want to get up early in the morning. When you sleep for a longer period and wake up late in the morning, you would feel more relaxed and chill. But due to excessive amounts of Homework, students barely get 7 hours of sleep. As a result, Homework is the biggest concern that destroys the sleep cycle. 

This is the thirteenth reason why Homework should be banned. 

Excessive Homework encourages cheating

When students have an excessive amount of work to complete in a short period, it is really difficult for them to complete their Homework. As a result, to complete Homework in time, they copy from other students. Cheating is illegal in any school. If the teacher finds out that both assignments have relevant material, they get punished. That is why Homework is bad. 

One of the main reasons Homework is bad is that many teachers cannot provide all the important information in the class, and parents can not help children. If you spend most of the time doing homework, you don’t get time to study. As a result, it can lower your grades. 

Rather than improving education, a heavy homework load may affect the students’ performance. Students have too much stress to complete Homework every other night, which can affect the student’s performance in school. A homework load may counter your productivity skills. 

No Time For Daily Workout

This is the seventeenth reason why Homework is bad. Well, exercise has many benefits, like if you work out daily then it can improve your mental health, and remove stress. On the other hand, some aerobic exercise can even help you with Depression. Students don’t have time for daily workouts due to an excessive homework load. 

Everybody needs some free time to chill or relax, but what if you don’t have time to do anything? How do you feel? Well, the obvious answer is you feel very bad. That’s what students feel when they don’t have time to play or to spend some time with family, just because of frequently given Homework and assignments by the teachers. 

Reasons Why Homework Is Bad & Should be Banned

why is too much homework bad for students

Four main reasons why homework should be banned

  • It creates family stress : Some parents argue with their children about getting Homework done or being frustrated with their inability to teach children about any topic.
  • Students can do other important activities : Other activities include outdoor time, family bonding time, and other unscheduled play.
  • Doesn’t increase academic achievement : According to many studies, Homework has weak links to get better academic achievements.
  • Leads to more anxiety : It can cause more academic stress for students. 

Conclusion: Why Homework is Bad

In this blog, we have learned 18 reasons why Homework is bad. I hope you understand why Homework is bad for the student; not only do students in the same city face this problem, but it’s a worldwide cause. Students also have the freedom to do other activities and have some free time to chill and relax. 

This is the end of this Blog. I hope you like it. Also, Read: Best Homework Songs to Listen While Study

Q1. Is Homework Good or bad?

Ans. Too much of anything can harm you instead of helping you. So, if students get too much work, it can do more harm than good. Studies have shown that if a student gets less Homework, it’s good, but if it’s too much, it’s bad.

Q2. Why is too much Homework bad for mental health?

Ans. Studies conducted at Stanford University in 2013 have found that top-performing students are distracted and mostly spend more time on Homework than on improving academic skills. As a result, they experienced more stress, problems related to health, lack of social skills, and many more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The research

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Does Homework Really Help Students Learn?

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

child doing homework

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

Do your homework.

If only it were that simple.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Janine Bempechat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Senior Contributing Editor

Sara Rimer

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

She can be reached at [email protected] .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

we have the same name

so they have the same name what of it?

lol you tell her

totally agree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

homework isn’t that bad

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

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

i totally agree with you. these people are such boomers

why just why

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

why the hell?

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

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

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

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

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

not true it just causes kids to stress

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

homework does help

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

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

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

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

I disagree.

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

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

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

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

Homeowkr is god for stusenrs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

oof i feel bad good luck!

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

thx for the article guys.

Homework is good

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

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

It was published FEb 19, 2019.

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

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

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

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

What lala land do these teachers live in?

Homework gives noting to the kid

Homework is Bad

homework is bad.

why do kids even have homework?

Comments are closed.

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The ‘Homework Gap’ Is About to Get Worse. What Should Schools Do?

why is too much homework bad for students

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A program that provides discounted broadband internet service to low-income households is expected to run out of funding by the end of April, a concerning development for school districts with families that relied on the subsidy.

With the Affordable Connectivity Program , eligible families can receive a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service. For those on qualifying tribal lands, the discount is up to $75 per month. The program also provides a one-time discount to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers.

Nearly 23 million households have enrolled in the program since it launched in 2021, according to the Federal Communications Commission, which runs the program. However, the agency stopped accepting new enrollments as of Feb. 8 and said it will disenroll all households from the program at the end of April, unless Congress provides additional funding.

Schools are increasingly relying on technology for teaching and learning, from learning management systems to multimedia curriculum to internet research. In some cases, schools are turning inclement weather days into remote learning days . So it’s even more imperative that students have sufficient internet connectivity and devices to access learning materials while at home.

‘It’s a huge equity problem’

Educators and advocates say the possible sunsetting of the Affordable Connectivity Program could worsen the so-called “ homework gap ”—a phrase used to describe the inequities between students who have digital devices and reliable internet connectivity at home, and those who don’t and struggle to complete online assignments as a result.

“My fear is that, with this funding running out, we’re going to have either more families not having access to those services, or more families having to go someplace with open Wi-Fi that maybe isn’t as secure as it should be,” said Chantell Manahan, the director of technology for Steuben County schools, a 2,600-student district in rural northeast Indiana. The program’s expiration could also mean more “families away from home, sitting in parking lots like they were during the pandemic, and that’s not a good place for our students and families to be.”

In 2024, [internet access is] not a luxury anymore. This is a necessity to participate in modern society.

The expiration of the Affordable Connectivity Program doesn’t just affect students, but parents, too.

“Many schools rely on online communications platforms to communicate with parents and guardians about their student’s progress, school activities, and other important information. If families lose affordable internet access, this [communication] channel may be compromised,” said Julia Fallon, the executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association.

Sometimes, a school-issued device is the only one available to use at home, so parents also use it to look for jobs, do online coursework, or attend telehealth appointments, Manahan said.

“It’s not just a K-12 education problem. It’s a community problem. It’s a huge equity problem,” she added.

Will Congress provide more funding for ACP?

The Affordable Connectivity Program first launched as the Emergency Broadband Benefit, which was part of a pandemic relief package signed by former President Donald Trump in 2020. The next year, the program was codified as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law signed by President Joe Biden.

But the program has run through much of the initial $17.4 billion allocated by Congress, including $14.2 billion from the infrastructure law and $3.2 billion from its emergency predecessor.

Photo of African-American boy working on laptop computer at home.

In January, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill in the Senate and the House of Representatives that would provide $7 billion to keep the Affordable Connectivity Program operational.

It’s unclear how much traction the bill will receive, but several FCC commissioners and advocacy groups have applauded the bill and urged Congress to pass the measure.

Districts look for other solutions

In the meantime, district leaders are having tough conversations about how to provide adequate internet access to students and families who relied on the program.

In Steuben County, Manahan said the district might go back to solutions it used before the Affordable Connectivity Program, such as partnerships with local businesses and organizations that would let families come in and use their Wi-Fi for virtual learning.

The district has Wi-Fi hotspot devices it can lend to students, too, though Manahan is unsure how many of those devices the district can keep after funding runs out. The devices were originally funded through ESSER and the Emergency Connectivity Fund , both of which are also expiring this year.

High angle shot of a man assisting his students at computers

Fortunately, Manahan said, the FCC’s E-rate funding will now cover putting Wi-Fi on school buses .

“It’ll be much more cost-effective for the district to be able to outfit all the buses,” she said. “We know there are some places where we might be able to park those buses and have internet access available.”

Along with school bus Wi-Fi, the district could also extend the reach of the Wi-Fi on school buildings so students, families, and staff can use it in the parking lot, she said.

“I can only hope that if we do see both ACP and ECF sunsetting that they’re going to divert those funds to other programs [that would provide] internet access into all our homes,” Manahan said. “In 2024, it’s not a luxury anymore. This is a necessity to participate in modern society.”

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why is too much homework bad for students

Home » Tips for Teachers » 7 Research-Based Reasons Why Students Should Not Have Homework: Academic Insights, Opposing Perspectives & Alternatives

7 Research-Based Reasons Why Students Should Not Have Homework: Academic Insights, Opposing Perspectives & Alternatives

In recent years, the question of why students should not have homework has become a topic of intense debate among educators, parents, and students themselves. This discussion stems from a growing body of research that challenges the traditional view of homework as an essential component of academic success. The notion that homework is an integral part of learning is being reevaluated in light of new findings about its effectiveness and impact on students’ overall well-being.

Why Students Should Not Have Homework

The push against homework is not just about the hours spent on completing assignments; it’s about rethinking the role of education in fostering the well-rounded development of young individuals. Critics argue that homework, particularly in excessive amounts, can lead to negative outcomes such as stress, burnout, and a diminished love for learning. Moreover, it often disproportionately affects students from disadvantaged backgrounds, exacerbating educational inequities. The debate also highlights the importance of allowing children to have enough free time for play, exploration, and family interaction, which are crucial for their social and emotional development.

Checking 13yo’s math homework & I have just one question. I can catch mistakes & help her correct. But what do kids do when their parent isn’t an Algebra teacher? Answer: They get frustrated. Quit. Get a bad grade. Think they aren’t good at math. How is homework fair??? — Jay Wamsted (@JayWamsted) March 24, 2022

As we delve into this discussion, we explore various facets of why reducing or even eliminating homework could be beneficial. We consider the research, weigh the pros and cons, and examine alternative approaches to traditional homework that can enhance learning without overburdening students.

Once you’ve finished this article, you’ll know:

  • Insights from Teachers and Education Industry Experts →
  • 7 Reasons Why Students Should Not Have Homework →
  • Opposing Views on Homework Practices →
  • Exploring Alternatives to Homework →

Insights from Teachers and Education Industry Experts: Diverse Perspectives on Homework

In the ongoing conversation about the role and impact of homework in education, the perspectives of those directly involved in the teaching process are invaluable. Teachers and education industry experts bring a wealth of experience and insights from the front lines of learning. Their viewpoints, shaped by years of interaction with students and a deep understanding of educational methodologies, offer a critical lens through which we can evaluate the effectiveness and necessity of homework in our current educational paradigm.

Check out this video featuring Courtney White, a high school language arts teacher who gained widespread attention for her explanation of why she chooses not to assign homework.

Here are the insights and opinions from various experts in the educational field on this topic:

“I teach 1st grade. I had parents ask for homework. I explained that I don’t give homework. Home time is family time. Time to play, cook, explore and spend time together. I do send books home, but there is no requirement or checklist for reading them. Read them, enjoy them, and return them when your child is ready for more. I explained that as a parent myself, I know they are busy—and what a waste of energy it is to sit and force their kids to do work at home—when they could use that time to form relationships and build a loving home. Something kids need more than a few math problems a week.” — Colleen S. , 1st grade teacher
“The lasting educational value of homework at that age is not proven. A kid says the times tables [at school] because he studied the times tables last night. But over a long period of time, a kid who is drilled on the times tables at school, rather than as homework, will also memorize their times tables. We are worried about young children and their social emotional learning. And that has to do with physical activity, it has to do with playing with peers, it has to do with family time. All of those are very important and can be removed by too much homework.” — David Bloomfield , education professor at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York graduate center
“Homework in primary school has an effect of around zero. In high school it’s larger. (…) Which is why we need to get it right. Not why we need to get rid of it. It’s one of those lower hanging fruit that we should be looking in our primary schools to say, ‘Is it really making a difference?’” — John Hattie , professor
”Many kids are working as many hours as their overscheduled parents and it is taking a toll – psychologically and in many other ways too. We see kids getting up hours before school starts just to get their homework done from the night before… While homework may give kids one more responsibility, it ignores the fact that kids do not need to grow up and become adults at ages 10 or 12. With schools cutting recess time or eliminating playgrounds, kids absorb every single stress there is, only on an even higher level. Their brains and bodies need time to be curious, have fun, be creative and just be a kid.” — Pat Wayman, teacher and CEO of HowtoLearn.com

7 Reasons Why Students Should Not Have Homework

Let’s delve into the reasons against assigning homework to students. Examining these arguments offers important perspectives on the wider educational and developmental consequences of homework practices.

1. Elevated Stress and Health Consequences

Elevated Stress and Health Consequences

The ongoing debate about homework often focuses on its educational value, but a vital aspect that cannot be overlooked is the significant stress and health consequences it brings to students. In the context of American life, where approximately 70% of people report moderate or extreme stress due to various factors like mass shootings, healthcare affordability, discrimination, racism, sexual harassment, climate change, presidential elections, and the need to stay informed, the additional burden of homework further exacerbates this stress, particularly among students.

Key findings and statistics reveal a worrying trend:

  • Overwhelming Student Stress: A staggering 72% of students report being often or always stressed over schoolwork, with a concerning 82% experiencing physical symptoms due to this stress.
  • Serious Health Issues: Symptoms linked to homework stress include sleep deprivation, headaches, exhaustion, weight loss, and stomach problems.
  • Sleep Deprivation: Despite the National Sleep Foundation recommending 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep for healthy adolescent development, students average just 6.80 hours of sleep on school nights. About 68% of students stated that schoolwork often or always prevented them from getting enough sleep, which is critical for their physical and mental health.
  • Turning to Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms: Alarmingly, the pressure from excessive homework has led some students to turn to alcohol and drugs as a way to cope with stress.

This data paints a concerning picture. Students, already navigating a world filled with various stressors, find themselves further burdened by homework demands. The direct correlation between excessive homework and health issues indicates a need for reevaluation. The goal should be to ensure that homework if assigned, adds value to students’ learning experiences without compromising their health and well-being.

By addressing the issue of homework-related stress and health consequences, we can take a significant step toward creating a more nurturing and effective educational environment. This environment would not only prioritize academic achievement but also the overall well-being and happiness of students, preparing them for a balanced and healthy life both inside and outside the classroom.

2. Inequitable Impact and Socioeconomic Disparities

Inequitable Impact and Socioeconomic Disparities

In the discourse surrounding educational equity, homework emerges as a factor exacerbating socioeconomic disparities, particularly affecting students from lower-income families and those with less supportive home environments. While homework is often justified as a means to raise academic standards and promote equity, its real-world impact tells a different story.

The inequitable burden of homework becomes starkly evident when considering the resources required to complete it, especially in the digital age. Homework today often necessitates a computer and internet access – resources not readily available to all students. This digital divide significantly disadvantages students from lower-income backgrounds, deepening the chasm between them and their more affluent peers.

Key points highlighting the disparities:

  • Digital Inequity: Many students lack access to necessary technology for homework, with low-income families disproportionately affected.
  • Impact of COVID-19: The pandemic exacerbated these disparities as education shifted online, revealing the extent of the digital divide.
  • Educational Outcomes Tied to Income: A critical indicator of college success is linked more to family income levels than to rigorous academic preparation. Research indicates that while 77% of students from high-income families graduate from highly competitive colleges, only 9% from low-income families achieve the same . This disparity suggests that the pressure of heavy homework loads, rather than leveling the playing field, may actually hinder the chances of success for less affluent students.

Moreover, the approach to homework varies significantly across different types of schools. While some rigorous private and preparatory schools in both marginalized and affluent communities assign extreme levels of homework, many progressive schools focusing on holistic learning and self-actualization opt for no homework, yet achieve similar levels of college and career success. This contrast raises questions about the efficacy and necessity of heavy homework loads in achieving educational outcomes.

The issue of homework and its inequitable impact is not just an academic concern; it is a reflection of broader societal inequalities. By continuing practices that disproportionately burden students from less privileged backgrounds, the educational system inadvertently perpetuates the very disparities it seeks to overcome.

3. Negative Impact on Family Dynamics

Negative Impact on Family Dynamics

Homework, a staple of the educational system, is often perceived as a necessary tool for academic reinforcement. However, its impact extends beyond the realm of academics, significantly affecting family dynamics. The negative repercussions of homework on the home environment have become increasingly evident, revealing a troubling pattern that can lead to conflict, mental health issues, and domestic friction.

A study conducted in 2015 involving 1,100 parents sheds light on the strain homework places on family relationships. The findings are telling:

  • Increased Likelihood of Conflicts: Families where parents did not have a college degree were 200% more likely to experience fights over homework.
  • Misinterpretations and Misunderstandings: Parents often misinterpret their children’s difficulties with homework as a lack of attention in school, leading to feelings of frustration and mistrust on both sides.
  • Discriminatory Impact: The research concluded that the current approach to homework disproportionately affects children whose parents have lower educational backgrounds, speak English as a second language, or belong to lower-income groups.

The issue is not confined to specific demographics but is a widespread concern. Samantha Hulsman, a teacher featured in Education Week Teacher , shared her personal experience with the toll that homework can take on family time. She observed that a seemingly simple 30-minute assignment could escalate into a three-hour ordeal, causing stress and strife between parents and children. Hulsman’s insights challenge the traditional mindset about homework, highlighting a shift towards the need for skills such as collaboration and problem-solving over rote memorization of facts.

The need of the hour is to reassess the role and amount of homework assigned to students. It’s imperative to find a balance that facilitates learning and growth without compromising the well-being of the family unit. Such a reassessment would not only aid in reducing domestic conflicts but also contribute to a more supportive and nurturing environment for children’s overall development.

4. Consumption of Free Time

Consumption of Free Time

In recent years, a growing chorus of voices has raised concerns about the excessive burden of homework on students, emphasizing how it consumes their free time and impedes their overall well-being. The issue is not just the quantity of homework, but its encroachment on time that could be used for personal growth, relaxation, and family bonding.

Authors Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish , in their book “The Case Against Homework,” offer an insightful window into the lives of families grappling with the demands of excessive homework. They share stories from numerous interviews conducted in the mid-2000s, highlighting the universal struggle faced by families across different demographics. A poignant account from a parent in Menlo Park, California, describes nightly sessions extending until 11 p.m., filled with stress and frustration, leading to a soured attitude towards school in both the child and the parent. This narrative is not isolated, as about one-third of the families interviewed expressed feeling crushed by the overwhelming workload.

Key points of concern:

  • Excessive Time Commitment: Students, on average, spend over 6 hours in school each day, and homework adds significantly to this time, leaving little room for other activities.
  • Impact on Extracurricular Activities: Homework infringes upon time for sports, music, art, and other enriching experiences, which are as crucial as academic courses.
  • Stifling Creativity and Self-Discovery: The constant pressure of homework limits opportunities for students to explore their interests and learn new skills independently.

The National Education Association (NEA) and the National PTA (NPTA) recommend a “10 minutes of homework per grade level” standard, suggesting a more balanced approach. However, the reality often far exceeds this guideline, particularly for older students. The impact of this overreach is profound, affecting not just academic performance but also students’ attitudes toward school, their self-confidence, social skills, and overall quality of life.

Furthermore, the intense homework routine’s effectiveness is doubtful, as it can overwhelm students and detract from the joy of learning. Effective learning builds on prior knowledge in an engaging way, but excessive homework in a home setting may be irrelevant and uninteresting. The key challenge is balancing homework to enhance learning without overburdening students, allowing time for holistic growth and activities beyond academics. It’s crucial to reassess homework policies to support well-rounded development.

5. Challenges for Students with Learning Disabilities

Challenges for Students with Learning Disabilities

Homework, a standard educational tool, poses unique challenges for students with learning disabilities, often leading to a frustrating and disheartening experience. These challenges go beyond the typical struggles faced by most students and can significantly impede their educational progress and emotional well-being.

Child psychologist Kenneth Barish’s insights in Psychology Today shed light on the complex relationship between homework and students with learning disabilities:

  • Homework as a Painful Endeavor: For students with learning disabilities, completing homework can be likened to “running with a sprained ankle.” It’s a task that, while doable, is fraught with difficulty and discomfort.
  • Misconceptions about Laziness: Often, children who struggle with homework are perceived as lazy. However, Barish emphasizes that these students are more likely to be frustrated, discouraged, or anxious rather than unmotivated.
  • Limited Improvement in School Performance: The battles over homework rarely translate into significant improvement in school for these children, challenging the conventional notion of homework as universally beneficial.

These points highlight the need for a tailored approach to homework for students with learning disabilities. It’s crucial to recognize that the traditional homework model may not be the most effective or appropriate method for facilitating their learning. Instead, alternative strategies that accommodate their unique needs and learning styles should be considered.

In conclusion, the conventional homework paradigm needs reevaluation, particularly concerning students with learning disabilities. By understanding and addressing their unique challenges, educators can create a more inclusive and supportive educational environment. This approach not only aids in their academic growth but also nurtures their confidence and overall development, ensuring that they receive an equitable and empathetic educational experience.

6. Critique of Underlying Assumptions about Learning

Critique of Underlying Assumptions about Learning

The longstanding belief in the educational sphere that more homework automatically translates to more learning is increasingly being challenged. Critics argue that this assumption is not only flawed but also unsupported by solid evidence, questioning the efficacy of homework as an effective learning tool.

Alfie Kohn , a prominent critic of homework, aptly compares students to vending machines in this context, suggesting that the expectation of inserting an assignment and automatically getting out of learning is misguided. Kohn goes further, labeling homework as the “greatest single extinguisher of children’s curiosity.” This critique highlights a fundamental issue: the potential of homework to stifle the natural inquisitiveness and love for learning in children.

The lack of concrete evidence supporting the effectiveness of homework is evident in various studies:

  • Marginal Effectiveness of Homework: A study involving 28,051 high school seniors found that the effectiveness of homework was marginal, and in some cases, it was counterproductive, leading to more academic problems than solutions.
  • No Correlation with Academic Achievement: Research in “ National Differences, Global Similarities ” showed no correlation between homework and academic achievement in elementary students, and any positive correlation in middle or high school diminished with increasing homework loads.
  • Increased Academic Pressure: The Teachers College Record published findings that homework adds to academic pressure and societal stress, exacerbating performance gaps between students from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

These findings bring to light several critical points:

  • Quality Over Quantity: According to a recent article in Monitor on Psychology , experts concur that the quality of homework assignments, along with the quality of instruction, student motivation, and inherent ability, is more crucial for academic success than the quantity of homework.
  • Counterproductive Nature of Excessive Homework: Excessive homework can lead to more academic challenges, particularly for students already facing pressures from other aspects of their lives.
  • Societal Stress and Performance Gaps: Homework can intensify societal stress and widen the academic performance divide.

The emerging consensus from these studies suggests that the traditional approach to homework needs rethinking. Rather than focusing on the quantity of assignments, educators should consider the quality and relevance of homework, ensuring it truly contributes to learning and development. This reassessment is crucial for fostering an educational environment that nurtures curiosity and a love for learning, rather than extinguishing it.

7. Issues with Homework Enforcement, Reliability, and Temptation to Cheat

Issues with Homework Enforcement, Reliability, and Temptation to Cheat

In the academic realm, the enforcement of homework is a subject of ongoing debate, primarily due to its implications on student integrity and the true value of assignments. The challenges associated with homework enforcement often lead to unintended yet significant issues, such as cheating, copying, and a general undermining of educational values.

Key points highlighting enforcement challenges:

  • Difficulty in Enforcing Completion: Ensuring that students complete their homework can be a complex task, and not completing homework does not always correlate with poor grades.
  • Reliability of Homework Practice: The reliability of homework as a practice tool is undermined when students, either out of desperation or lack of understanding, choose shortcuts over genuine learning. This approach can lead to the opposite of the intended effect, especially when assignments are not well-aligned with the students’ learning levels or interests.
  • Temptation to Cheat: The issue of cheating is particularly troubling. According to a report by The Chronicle of Higher Education , under the pressure of at-home assignments, many students turn to copying others’ work, plagiarizing, or using creative technological “hacks.” This tendency not only questions the integrity of the learning process but also reflects the extreme stress that homework can induce.
  • Parental Involvement in Completion: As noted in The American Journal of Family Therapy , this raises concerns about the authenticity of the work submitted. When parents complete assignments for their children, it not only deprives the students of the opportunity to learn but also distorts the purpose of homework as a learning aid.

In conclusion, the challenges of homework enforcement present a complex problem that requires careful consideration. The focus should shift towards creating meaningful, manageable, and quality-driven assignments that encourage genuine learning and integrity, rather than overwhelming students and prompting counterproductive behaviors.

Addressing Opposing Views on Homework Practices

While opinions on homework policies are diverse, understanding different viewpoints is crucial. In the following sections, we will examine common arguments supporting homework assignments, along with counterarguments that offer alternative perspectives on this educational practice.

1. Improvement of Academic Performance

Improvement of Academic Performance

Homework is commonly perceived as a means to enhance academic performance, with the belief that it directly contributes to better grades and test scores. This view posits that through homework, students reinforce what they learn in class, leading to improved understanding and retention, which ultimately translates into higher academic achievement.

However, the question of why students should not have homework becomes pertinent when considering the complex relationship between homework and academic performance. Studies have indicated that excessive homework doesn’t necessarily equate to higher grades or test scores. Instead, too much homework can backfire, leading to stress and fatigue that adversely affect a student’s performance. Reuters highlights an intriguing correlation suggesting that physical activity may be more conducive to academic success than additional homework, underscoring the importance of a holistic approach to education that prioritizes both physical and mental well-being for enhanced academic outcomes.

2. Reinforcement of Learning

Reinforcement of Learning

Homework is traditionally viewed as a tool to reinforce classroom learning, enabling students to practice and retain material. However, research suggests its effectiveness is ambiguous. In instances where homework is well-aligned with students’ abilities and classroom teachings, it can indeed be beneficial. Particularly for younger students , excessive homework can cause burnout and a loss of interest in learning, counteracting its intended purpose.

Furthermore, when homework surpasses a student’s capability, it may induce frustration and confusion rather than aid in learning. This challenges the notion that more homework invariably leads to better understanding and retention of educational content.

3. Development of Time Management Skills

Development of Time Management Skills

Homework is often considered a crucial tool in helping students develop important life skills such as time management and organization. The idea is that by regularly completing assignments, students learn to allocate their time efficiently and organize their tasks effectively, skills that are invaluable in both academic and personal life.

However, the impact of homework on developing these skills is not always positive. For younger students, especially, an overwhelming amount of homework can be more of a hindrance than a help. Instead of fostering time management and organizational skills, an excessive workload often leads to stress and anxiety . These negative effects can impede the learning process and make it difficult for students to manage their time and tasks effectively, contradicting the original purpose of homework.

4. Preparation for Future Academic Challenges

Preparation for Future Academic Challenges

Homework is often touted as a preparatory tool for future academic challenges that students will encounter in higher education and their professional lives. The argument is that by tackling homework, students build a foundation of knowledge and skills necessary for success in more advanced studies and in the workforce, fostering a sense of readiness and confidence.

Contrarily, an excessive homework load, especially from a young age, can have the opposite effect . It can instill a negative attitude towards education, dampening students’ enthusiasm and willingness to embrace future academic challenges. Overburdening students with homework risks disengagement and loss of interest, thereby defeating the purpose of preparing them for future challenges. Striking a balance in the amount and complexity of homework is crucial to maintaining student engagement and fostering a positive attitude towards ongoing learning.

5. Parental Involvement in Education

Parental Involvement in Education

Homework often acts as a vital link connecting parents to their child’s educational journey, offering insights into the school’s curriculum and their child’s learning process. This involvement is key in fostering a supportive home environment and encouraging a collaborative relationship between parents and the school. When parents understand and engage with what their children are learning, it can significantly enhance the educational experience for the child.

However, the line between involvement and over-involvement is thin. When parents excessively intervene by completing their child’s homework,  it can have adverse effects . Such actions not only diminish the educational value of homework but also rob children of the opportunity to develop problem-solving skills and independence. This over-involvement, coupled with disparities in parental ability to assist due to variations in time, knowledge, or resources, may lead to unequal educational outcomes, underlining the importance of a balanced approach to parental participation in homework.

Exploring Alternatives to Homework and Finding a Middle Ground

Exploring Alternatives to Homework

In the ongoing debate about the role of homework in education, it’s essential to consider viable alternatives and strategies to minimize its burden. While completely eliminating homework may not be feasible for all educators, there are several effective methods to reduce its impact and offer more engaging, student-friendly approaches to learning.

Alternatives to Traditional Homework

  • Project-Based Learning: This method focuses on hands-on, long-term projects where students explore real-world problems. It encourages creativity, critical thinking, and collaborative skills, offering a more engaging and practical learning experience than traditional homework. For creative ideas on school projects, especially related to the solar system, be sure to explore our dedicated article on solar system projects .
  • Flipped Classrooms: Here, students are introduced to new content through videos or reading materials at home and then use class time for interactive activities. This approach allows for more personalized and active learning during school hours.
  • Reading for Pleasure: Encouraging students to read books of their choice can foster a love for reading and improve literacy skills without the pressure of traditional homework assignments. This approach is exemplified by Marion County, Florida , where public schools implemented a no-homework policy for elementary students. Instead, they are encouraged to read nightly for 20 minutes . Superintendent Heidi Maier’s decision was influenced by research showing that while homework offers minimal benefit to young students, regular reading significantly boosts their learning. For book recommendations tailored to middle school students, take a look at our specially curated article .

Ideas for Minimizing Homework

  • Limiting Homework Quantity: Adhering to guidelines like the “ 10-minute rule ” (10 minutes of homework per grade level per night) can help ensure that homework does not become overwhelming.
  • Quality Over Quantity: Focus on assigning meaningful homework that is directly relevant to what is being taught in class, ensuring it adds value to students’ learning.
  • Homework Menus: Offering students a choice of assignments can cater to diverse learning styles and interests, making homework more engaging and personalized.
  • Integrating Technology: Utilizing educational apps and online platforms can make homework more interactive and enjoyable, while also providing immediate feedback to students. To gain deeper insights into the role of technology in learning environments, explore our articles discussing the benefits of incorporating technology in classrooms and a comprehensive list of educational VR apps . These resources will provide you with valuable information on how technology can enhance the educational experience.

For teachers who are not ready to fully eliminate homework, these strategies offer a compromise, ensuring that homework supports rather than hinders student learning. By focusing on quality, relevance, and student engagement, educators can transform homework from a chore into a meaningful component of education that genuinely contributes to students’ academic growth and personal development. In this way, we can move towards a more balanced and student-centric approach to learning, both in and out of the classroom.

Useful Resources

  • Is homework a good idea or not? by BBC
  • The Great Homework Debate: What’s Getting Lost in the Hype
  • Alternative Homework Ideas

The evidence and arguments presented in the discussion of why students should not have homework call for a significant shift in homework practices. It’s time for educators and policymakers to rethink and reformulate homework strategies, focusing on enhancing the quality, relevance, and balance of assignments. By doing so, we can create a more equitable, effective, and student-friendly educational environment that fosters learning, well-being, and holistic development.

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Pulse Nigeria

Here's why homework is bad according to research

It is probably best that schools ban homework totally.

For as long as we can all remember, homework has long been a part of the education system.

It is said that homework is a great way to reinforce learning, promote independent study habits, and prepare students for academic success.

However, recent research has revealed that homework might just have some negative effects. These include;

Negative impact on mental health

One reason why homework is bad is that it can have a negative impact on students' mental health. Excessive homework has been linked to increased stress, anxiety, and even depression, particularly among high school students who are already grappling with academic pressure and social obligations.

It reduces family time

Kids and students these days spend a lot of hours in school, and homework can encroach upon valuable family time when they are at home, depriving students of opportunities to bond with their loved ones, pursue hobbies, and engage in extracurricular activities. This lack of balance can lead to feelings of isolation and resentment, ultimately undermining the quality of family relationships.

It's not that effective in reinforcing learning

Contrary to popular belief, research suggests that homework may have limited effectiveness in reinforcing learning, especially when it involves rote memorisation or busywork. Instead of deepening understanding and mastery of concepts, excessive homework can lead to surface-level learning and a focus on grades rather than genuine comprehension.

Loss of interest in learning

Homework leads to stress in some students and this can in turn affect students' intrinsic motivation to learn and explore new ideas. Instead of making them love learning, excessive homework can instil a sense of apathy and disengagement, leading students to view education as a chore rather than a source of inspiration.

Impact on physical health

Spending long hours hunched over textbooks and screens trying to complete homework can take a toll on students' physical health, contributing to issues such as eyestrain, headaches, and poor posture. Lack of sufficient sleep, often a result of late-night homework sessions, can further compound these problems and impair cognitive function.

With these few reasons explaining why homework is bad, it is probably best that schools should ban homework totally. Or maybe I'm being biased because I actually hate doing homework, what do you think?

                  Homework might just have some negative effects [Education Hub]                 ©(c) provided by Pulse Nigeria

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K-12 students learned a lot last year, but they're still missing too much school

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why is too much homework bad for students

From 2022-2023, chronic absenteeism declined in 33 of the 39 states AEI looked at. But it was still a persistent problem: In a handful of places, including Nevada, Washington, D.C., Michigan, New Mexico and Oregon, roughly 1 in 3 students – or more – were chronically absent. LA Johnson/NPR hide caption

From 2022-2023, chronic absenteeism declined in 33 of the 39 states AEI looked at. But it was still a persistent problem: In a handful of places, including Nevada, Washington, D.C., Michigan, New Mexico and Oregon, roughly 1 in 3 students – or more – were chronically absent.

It's going to take aggressive interventions to repair the pandemic's destructive impact on kids' schooling.

That's the takeaway of two big new studies that look at how America's K-12 students are doing. There's some good news in this new research, to be sure – but there's still a lot of work to do on both student achievement and absenteeism. Here's what to know:

1. Students are starting to make up for missed learning

From spring 2022 to spring 2023, students made important learning gains, making up for about one-third of the learning they had missed in math and a quarter of the learning they had missed in reading during the pandemic.

That's according to the newly updated Education Recovery Scorecard , a co-production of Harvard University's Center for Education Policy Research and The Educational Opportunity Project at Stanford University.

6 things we've learned about how the pandemic disrupted learning

6 things we've learned about how the pandemic disrupted learning

The report says, "Students learned 117 percent in math and 108 percent in reading of what they would typically have learned in a pre-pandemic school year."

In an interview with NPR's All Things Considered , Stanford professor Sean Reardon said that's surprisingly good news: "A third or a quarter might not sound like a lot, but you have to realize the losses from 2019 to 2022 were historically large."

When the same team of researchers did a similar review last year, they found that, by spring of 2022, the average third- through eighth-grader had missed half a grade level in math and a third of a grade level in reading. So, the fact that students are now making up ground is a good sign.

These results do come with a few caveats, including that the researchers were only able to review data and draw their conclusions from 30 states this year.

2. Despite that progress, very few states are back to pre-pandemic learning levels

The Harvard and Stanford study of student learning includes one sobering sentence: "Alabama is the only state where average student achievement exceeds pre-pandemic levels in math." And average achievement in reading has surpassed pre-pandemic levels in just three of the states they studied: Illinois, Louisiana and Mississippi. Every other state for which they had data has yet to reach pre-pandemic levels in math and reading.

"Many schools made strong gains last year, but most districts are still working hard just to reach pre-pandemic achievement levels," said Harvard's Thomas Kane, one of the learning study's co-authors.

3. Chronic absenteeism also improved in many places ... slightly

The rate of chronic absenteeism – the percentage of students who miss 10% or more of a school year – declined from 2022 to 2023. That's according to research by Nat Malkus at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He found chronic absenteeism declined in 33 of the 39 states he studied.

Yes, "the differences were relatively small," Malkus writes, but it's improvement nonetheless: "the average chronic absenteeism rate across these states in 2023 was 26 percent, down from 28 percent for the same 39 states in 2022."

Glass half-full: Things aren't getting worse.

4. But, again, chronic absenteeism is still high

Malkus found chronic absenteeism was at 26% in 2023. Before the pandemic, in 2019, those same states reported a rate of 15%. That adds some painful context to the "good news" two-point decline in absenteeism from 2022 to 2023. Sure, it's down, but it's still so much higher than it was and should be.

Think of it this way: In 2023, roughly 1 student out of 4 was still chronically absent across the school year.

In a handful of places, including Nevada, Washington, D.C., Michigan, New Mexico and Oregon, roughly 1 in 3 students – or more – were chronically absent. That's a crisis.

Research shows a strong connection between absenteeism and all kinds of negative consequences for students, including an increased likelihood of dropping out of school.

Chronic absenteeism also hurts the students who don't miss school. That's because, as the learning study's authors point out, when absent students return, they require extra attention and "make it hard for teachers to keep the whole class moving."

5. Poverty matters (as always)

Both the learning and the chronic absenteeism studies capture the headwinds that constantly buffet children in poverty.

"No one wants poor children to foot the bill for the pandemic," said Harvard's Kane, "but that is the path that most states are on."

On learning: Reardon told NPR "the pandemic really exacerbated inequality between students in high-poverty and low-poverty districts and students of different racial and ethnic backgrounds."

In 2023, students' academic recovery was relatively strong across groups, which is good – but it means "the inequality that was widened during the pandemic hasn't gotten smaller, and in some places it's actually gotten larger," Reardon told NPR.

In fact, the report says, "in most states, achievement gaps between rich and poor districts are even wider now than they were before the pandemic." The learning study singles out Massachusetts and Michigan as the states where those gaps in math and reading achievement widened the most between poor and non-poor students.

Similarly, Malkus, at AEI, found that, between 2019 and 2022, rates of chronic absenteeism rose much more in high-poverty districts (up from 20% to 37%) than in low-poverty districts (up from 12% to 23%).

"Chronic absenteeism has increased the most for disadvantaged students," Malkus writes, "those who also experienced the greatest learning losses during the pandemic and can least afford the harms that come with chronic absenteeism."

6. Families must play an important role in learning recovery

Both studies acknowledge that families must play an important role in helping students – and schools – find a healthy, post-pandemic normal. The problem is, surveys show parents and guardians often underestimate the pandemic's toll on their children's learning . "Parents cannot advocate effectively for their children's future if they are misinformed," says the learning study.

To combat this, the learning researchers propose that districts be required to inform parents if their child is below grade-level in math or English. Those parents could then enroll their students in summer learning, tutoring and after-school programs, all of which have benefitted from federal COVID relief dollars. That funding is set to expire this fall, and some of these learning recovery opportunities may dry up, so the clock is ticking.

7. There's a "culture problem" around chronic absenteeism

Reducing chronic absenteeism, Malkus says, will also depend on families.

"This is a culture problem," Malkus tells NPR. "And in schools and in communities, culture eats policy for breakfast every day."

By "culture problem," Malkus is talking about how families perceive the importance of daily attendance relative to other challenges in their lives. He says some parents seem more inclined now to let their students miss school for various reasons, perhaps not realizing the links between absenteeism and negative, downstream consequences.

"Look, the patterns and routines of going to school were disrupted and to some degree eroded during the pandemic," Malkus says. "And I don't think we've had a decisive turn back that we need to have, to turn this kind of behavior around, and it's going to stay with students until that culture changes."

How do you do that? Malkus points to some low-cost options — like texting or email campaigns to increase parental involvement and encourage kids to get back in school – but says these, alone, aren't "up to the scale of what we're facing now."

Higher-cost options for schools to consider could include door-knocking campaigns, sending staff on student home-visits and requiring that families of chronically absent students meet in-person with school staff.

The learning study goes one step further: "Elected officials, employers, and community leaders should launch public awareness campaigns and other initiatives to lower student absenteeism." Because, after all, students can't make up for the learning they missed during the pandemic if they don't consistently attend school now.

What both of these studies make clear is there is no one solution that will solve these problems, and success will require further investment, aggressive intervention and patience.

Malkus says, even the high-cost, high-return options will likely only drive down chronic absenteeism by about four percentage points. A big win, he says, "but four percentage points against 26% isn't going to get us where we need to go."

Edited by: Nicole Cohen Visual design and development by: LA Johnson and Aly Hurt

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Teachers Are Missing More School, and There Are Too Few Substitutes

In some districts, teachers are taking more sick days since the pandemic. A shortage of substitutes can make matters worse.

Students walk through the hallways at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines.

By Sarah Mervosh

Schools across the country have faced no shortage of challenges since the pandemic. Students are behind academically . Cases of misbehavior are up. Students are absent far more frequently than before .

But there is another problem that has left some school districts scrambling. Teachers are also missing more school.

Teachers typically receive paid sick days and a small number of personal days. Over the 2022-23 school year in New York City, nearly one in five public schoolteachers was absent 11 days or more, an increase from the previous year and from before the pandemic. In Michigan, roughly 15 percent of teachers were absent in any given week last school year, compared with about 10 percent in 2019, researchers found .

More recently, teacher absences forced a school in Ohio to close for a day, and left high school students in Massachusetts to gather in the cafeteria during class time with little supervision.

“The proof in the pudding is how many people have exhausted their leave and are asking to take days off that are unpaid,” said Jim Fry, the superintendent in College Place, a small district in southern Washington State. “That used to be a really rare occurrence. Now it is weekly.”

Making matters more difficult is a national shortage of substitute teachers, which many educators say has worsened since the pandemic. Schools serving low-income areas are the least likely to be able to find enough substitutes, research has shown .

Not all districts have experienced a rise in teacher absences, but those that have point to trends that reflect the broader American work force.

Employees in many occupations are taking more sick days since the pandemic. Women — who make up the vast majority of the teaching work force — may also be juggling more child care, as children stay home from school or from day care more frequently. (Mothers are 10 times as likely as fathers to take time off work to care for a sick child.)

Employees are also putting more focus on mental health. That is especially relevant for teachers, who have faced increased demands and political pressures over the last four years, while being paid less than similarly educated professionals and having less flexibility to work remotely.

“Exhaustion is hitting them,” said Ian Roberts, the superintendent in Des Moines, which has recorded about 300 daily teacher absences this school year, up from about 250 last year.

Teachers, who get built-in breaks throughout the year and during the summer, have at times faced scrutiny from parents for missing school. For example, parents in Newton, Mass., are seeking damages for a teachers’ strike that led to 11 days off school this winter, and teachers’ unions were criticized for their role in prolonging school closures during the pandemic. Research shows that a large number of teacher absences can have a negative impact on student learning.

Yet many teachers say they do not like to miss school, in part because it takes significant work to prepare for and catch up from any absence.

“It’s easier just to go in, push through it,” said Tracey Bolton, a second-grade teacher in the Houston area, who said she reluctantly missed school in November with an extreme case of congestion and fatigue.

When teachers do miss work, there often are not enough substitutes available to fill in. In Des Moines, officials can typically find substitutes for a little over half of the 300 daily absences.

The shortage of substitutes has grown more acute since the pandemic, experts say, because fewer people are entering the teaching profession compared with a decade ago, and there has been more teacher turnover in recent years.

As schools turn to long-term substitutes for unfilled positions, that leaves fewer substitutes available for days when teachers take off, said Tuan Nguyen, an associate professor at Kansas State University, who has studied teacher shortages nationally.

The pool of substitutes has also changed, educators say.

Some substitutes were reluctant to return after the pandemic closures; others took different jobs and never came back. The pay for substitutes, which averages around $20 an hour , is less competitive in a strong economy.

When no substitute is available, remaining teachers often have to do double duty — taking extra students in their classroom, or covering another class on their break — which can lead them to request days off in the future. Sometimes reading tutors or other specialists fill in, which means that extra support sessions — a priority to make up for pandemic learning losses — are canceled that day.

“I think this is having a huge impact on our ability to rebound” from the pandemic, said Amanda von Moos, executive director of Substantial Classrooms, a nonprofit that has sought to improve training and support for substitute teachers.

To reduce the daily scramble, the Sacramento school district recently raised its substitute teacher pay to $355 a day, or about $54 an hour, one of the highest rates in the country.

But that hasn’t solved another challenge: filling substitute spots in schools serving some of the lowest-income areas. A study out of Chicago found that paying substitutes up to 50 percent more to work at hard-to-staff schools can be an effective incentive.

The school district in Columbus, Ohio, has tried something else: assigning at least one permanent substitute to every school building.

Jacquelyn Golden, a full-time substitute at a west Columbus elementary school, has formed relationships with students, who confide in her and give her hugs in the hallway. When substituting, she wastes little time establishing order because students know her expectations.

“I’ve been in every room — there is not a kid in the building that don’t know Ms. Golden,” she said.

The district, though, will soon have to cut back the program, because it was paid for with pandemic relief funding that is expiring. Going forward, permanent substitutes will be assigned only at the buildings with the highest needs.

To Ms. Golden, the bigger question is: Which schools aren’t in need? Rarely does a day go by, she said, when her services as a substitute are not required.

Sarah Mervosh covers education for The Times, focusing on K-12 schools. More about Sarah Mervosh

IMAGES

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  2. 😊 Negative effects of too much homework. Infographic: How Does Homework

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  3. Why Homework is Bad for Students? 3 Reasons and 5 Facts!

    why is too much homework bad for students

  4. Why Homework is Bad for Students? 3 Reasons and 5 Facts!

    why is too much homework bad for students

  5. 😊 Negative effects of too much homework. Infographic: How Does Homework

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  6. Why Homework is Bad: Stress and Consequences

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  4. Should Homework be Banned?

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COMMENTS

  1. Why Homework is Bad: Stress and Consequences

    Health News Is Too Much Homework Bad for Kids' Health? Research shows that some students regularly receive higher amounts of homework than experts recommend, which may cause stress and...

  2. Stanford research shows pitfalls of homework

    A Stanford researcher found that students in high-achieving communities who spend too much time on homework experience more stress, physical health problems, a lack of balance and even alienation from society. More than two hours of homework a night may be counterproductive, according to the study. By Clifton B. Parker

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

    • 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.

  4. Students' mental health: Is it time to get rid of homework in schools?

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

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

    Mental health experts agree heavy work loads have the potential do more harm than good for students, especially when taking into account the impacts of the pandemic. But they also say the answer...

  6. How Much Homework Is Too Much for Our Teens?

    Wellness Home How Much Homework Is Too Much for Our Teens? Here's what educators and parents can do to help kids find the right balance between school and home. By Raychelle Cassada Lohmann...

  7. Do our kids have too much homework?

    Alfie Kohn, a widely-admired progressive writer on education and parenting, published a sharp rebuttal to the more-homework-is-better argument in his 2006 book The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing. Kohn criticized the pro-homework studies that Cooper referenced as "inconclusive… they only show an association, not a ...

  8. Should Kids Get Homework?

    Homework gives elementary students a way to practice concepts, but too much can be harmful, experts say. By Sarah Wood | March 11, 2022, at 9:34 a.m. Getty Images Effective homework...

  9. Should We Get Rid 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...

  10. What's the Right Amount of Homework?

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

  11. Infographic: How Does Homework Actually Affect Students?

    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?

  12. Does homework still have value? A Johns Hopkins education expert weighs

    The necessity of homework has been a subject of debate since at least as far back as the 1890s, according to Joyce L. Epstein, co-director of the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships at Johns Hopkins University. "It's always been the case that parents, kids—and sometimes teachers, too—wonder if this is just busy work ...

  13. Homework Pros and Cons

    Pro 1 Homework improves student achievement. Studies have shown that homework improved student achievement in terms of improved grades, test results, and the likelihood to attend college.

  14. Is homework a necessary evil?

    Homework can indeed produce academic benefits, such as increased understanding and retention of the material, says Duke University social psychologist Harris Cooper, PhD, one of the nation's leading homework researchers. But not all students benefit.

  15. Is Homework Necessary? Education Inequity and Its Impact on Students

    "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.

  16. Is Homework Good or Bad for Students?

    Homework is a good opportunity to connect parents, classmates, and siblings with your education. The better your support network, the more likely you are to succeed in class. Homework, however tedious it might be, teaches responsibility and accountability. For some classes, homework is an essential part of learning the subject matter.

  17. The Pros and Cons: Should Students Have Homework?

    1. 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.

  18. 18 Reasons Why Homework Is Bad For Students?

    Excessive Homework cause Depression Have no real impact on performance Homework control the Student's Freedom May break student's confidence No real benefit The school became a full-time job Irrelevant content Lack of social skills Waste of time No time for family Destroy sleep cycle Excessive Homework encourages cheating Can lower your grades

  19. Too much homework can be counterproductive

    Too much homework can be counterproductive | Penn State University Instead of improving educational achievement in countries around the world, increases in homework may actually undercut teaching effectiveness and worsen disparities in student learning, according to two Penn State researchers.

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

    Cooper acknowledged that some students really are bringing home too much homework, and their parents are right to be concerned. "A good way to think about homework is the way you think about ...

  21. Does Homework Really Help Students Learn?

    The argument that some people make—that homework "punishes the poor" because lower-income parents may not be as well-equipped as affluent parents to help their children with homework—is very troubling to me. There are no parents who don't care about their children's learning.

  22. How much homework is too much?

    Many districts follow the guideline of 10 minutes per grade level. This is a good rule of thumb and can be modified for specific students or subjects that need more or less time for assignments. This can also be helpful to gauge if you are providing too much (or too little) homework. Consider surveying your students on how much time is needed ...

  23. The 'Homework Gap' Is About to Get Worse. What Should Schools Do?

    "Many schools rely on online communications platforms to communicate with parents and guardians about their student's progress, school activities, and other important information. If families ...

  24. Why Students Should Not Have Homework

    Critics argue that homework, particularly in excessive amounts, can lead to negative outcomes such as stress, burnout, and a diminished love for learning. Moreover, it often disproportionately affects students from disadvantaged backgrounds, exacerbating educational inequities.

  25. Here's why homework is bad according to research

    Homework leads to stress in some students and this can in turn affect students' intrinsic motivation to learn and explore new ideas. Instead of making them love learning, excessive homework can ...

  26. K-12 students learned a lot last year, but they're still missing too

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  27. Teachers Are Missing More School, and There Are Too Few Substitutes

    Students are absent far more frequently than before. But there is another problem that has left some school districts scrambling. Teachers are also missing more school.