Should kids have homework? The answer depends on whom you ask!
The great debate: Should kids have homework? Adults know what the kids’ answer is to that: NO! Some parents agree because egregious amounts of homework interfere with home life.
A reasonable amount of nightly or semi-nightly assignments is probably a good thing, but when children are overloaded with volumes of nightly work, authorities (and some parents) believe this is detrimental and not beneficial to anyone. When a child never has any free time to pursue hobbies or sports or just hang out with his family or friends, this can lead to hopelessness and anxiety, which prompts a plummet in academic motivations.
The advantage of participating in extracurricular activities after school is apparent because those who do have better cognitive development and achievement than those that don’t, which night assignments doesn’t necessarily guarantee.
When a student is bombard nightly with hours’ worth of assignment, this can lead to aggravation, weariness and doesn’t allow him to take part in those things he loves doing, such as play ball.
Parents often end up being the homework-enforcer, worried their child isn’t doing enough of it or isn’t doing it right. On the other hand, the parent resents that his child has to do so much work in the evening. Quarrels break out when a child refuses to finish or do his studies and mom and dad harangue him for not doing or completing the required work.
Studies show that mountains of homework do not build character or improved study habits, so what is the point?
On the other hand, high school student perform better because of their home study, so the value of evening assignments cannot be totally discounted.
A study done at Duke University on the benefits of homework showed that students fared better on tests when assigned night studies. However, it had little bearing on the academic performance of elementary students probably because they are unable to ignore distractions at home and haven’t yet developed good study habits.
Ideally, very young children should not have more than 20 minutes of night work, while kids in grades third through sixth can handle between 60 and 90 minutes worth of work.
For middle school (junior high) students, homework arrives at the point of diminishing returns after 90 minutes and, for high school students, after 2.5 hours. The law of diminishing returns means beyond a certain point the effort fails to increase and, in fact, may start to diminish.
However, a rule of thumb is that high school students should expect 30 minutes of work for every class they are taking. If they are enrolled in six classes that equals 180 minutes of study each night of three hours.
The advantage of doing an hour of night work is believed to develop independent thinking. The student is working on his own, without the guidance of his teacher. Those opposed to evening work claim it leads to boredom with school assignments and disallows children from partaking in leisure activities from which they learn crucial life lessons.
Another issue is when parents get too involved in the child’s work, giving him instructions contrary to that of the teacher’s. When parents get too involved, this is counterproductive.
Most agree that night assignments should not be given as punishment. That’s not the point of doing work at home.
The main complaint is probably the volume assigned, which teachers and school administrators need to take into consideration. Some homework isn’t going to hurt and may teach valuable lessons but too much may have the opposite effect and burn out students.
Parents, teachers and administrators need to communicate regarding this matter. Most teachers and administrators are parents, too, or were or will be so this is a personal matter for them as well.
Children need to learn how to discipline themselves, work independently and persist in order to succeed in life but whether homework teaches these values has not been conclusively proven.