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The Pros and Cons of Homework

Updated: December 7, 2023

Published: January 23, 2020


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.

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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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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.

Posted in Voices+Opinion

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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."

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Should We Get Rid of Homework?

Some educators are pushing to get rid of homework. Would that be a good thing?

should homework be allowed in school

By Jeremy Engle and Michael Gonchar

Do you like doing homework? Do you think it has benefited you educationally?

Has homework ever helped you practice a difficult skill — in math, for example — until you mastered it? Has it helped you learn new concepts in history or science? Has it helped to teach you life skills, such as independence and responsibility? Or, have you had a more negative experience with homework? Does it stress you out, numb your brain from busywork or actually make you fall behind in your classes?

Should we get rid of homework?

In “ The Movement to End Homework Is Wrong, ” published in July, the Times Opinion writer Jay Caspian Kang argues that homework may be imperfect, but it still serves an important purpose in school. The essay begins:

Do students really need to do their homework? As a parent and a former teacher, I have been pondering this question for quite a long time. The teacher side of me can acknowledge that there were assignments I gave out to my students that probably had little to no academic value. But I also imagine that some of my students never would have done their basic reading if they hadn’t been trained to complete expected assignments, which would have made the task of teaching an English class nearly impossible. As a parent, I would rather my daughter not get stuck doing the sort of pointless homework I would occasionally assign, but I also think there’s a lot of value in saying, “Hey, a lot of work you’re going to end up doing in your life is pointless, so why not just get used to it?” I certainly am not the only person wondering about the value 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 Teachers’ Accounts of Homework Inequalities .” They argued that while there’s some evidence that homework might help students learn, it also exacerbates inequalities and reinforces what they call the “meritocratic” narrative that says kids who do well in school do so because of “individual competence, effort and responsibility.” The authors believe this meritocratic narrative is a myth and that homework — math homework in particular — further entrenches the myth in the minds of teachers and their students. Calarco, Horn and Chen write, “Research has highlighted inequalities in students’ homework production and linked those inequalities to differences in students’ home lives and in the support students’ families can provide.”

Mr. Kang argues:

But there’s a defense of homework that doesn’t really have much to do with class mobility, equality or any sense of reinforcing the notion of meritocracy. It’s one that became quite clear to me when I was a teacher: Kids need to learn how to practice things. Homework, in many cases, is the only ritualized thing they have to do every day. Even if we could perfectly equalize opportunity in school and empower all students not to be encumbered by the weight of their socioeconomic status or ethnicity, I’m not sure what good it would do if the kids didn’t know how to do something relentlessly, over and over again, until they perfected it. Most teachers know that type of progress is very difficult to achieve inside the classroom, regardless of a student’s background, which is why, I imagine, Calarco, Horn and Chen found that most teachers weren’t thinking in a structural inequalities frame. Holistic ideas of education, in which learning is emphasized and students can explore concepts and ideas, are largely for the types of kids who don’t need to worry about class mobility. A defense of rote practice through homework might seem revanchist at this moment, but if we truly believe that schools should teach children lessons that fall outside the meritocracy, I can’t think of one that matters more than the simple satisfaction of mastering something that you were once bad at. That takes homework and the acknowledgment that sometimes a student can get a question wrong and, with proper instruction, eventually get it right.

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

Should we get rid of homework? Why, or why not?

Is homework an outdated, ineffective or counterproductive tool for learning? Do you agree with the authors of the paper that homework is harmful and worsens inequalities that exist between students’ home circumstances?

Or do you agree with Mr. Kang that homework still has real educational value?

When you get home after school, how much homework will you do? Do you think the amount is appropriate, too much or too little? Is homework, including the projects and writing assignments you do at home, an important part of your learning experience? Or, in your opinion, is it not a good use of time? Explain.

In these letters to the editor , one reader makes a distinction between elementary school and high school:

Homework’s value is unclear for younger students. But by high school and college, homework is absolutely essential for any student who wishes to excel. There simply isn’t time to digest Dostoyevsky if you only ever read him in class.

What do you think? How much does grade level matter when discussing the value of homework?

Is there a way to make homework more effective?

If you were a teacher, would you assign homework? What kind of assignments would you give and why?

Want more writing prompts? You can find all of our questions in our Student Opinion column . Teachers, check out this guide to learn how you can incorporate them into your classroom.

Students 13 and older in the United States and Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.

Jeremy Engle joined The Learning Network as a staff editor in 2018 after spending more than 20 years as a classroom humanities and documentary-making teacher, professional developer and curriculum designer working with students and teachers across the country. More about Jeremy Engle

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Should We Ban Homework?

The cons of homework are starting to outweigh the pros.

Should Schools Ban Homework

Recent research shows that teenagers have doubled the amount of time they spend on homework since the 1990s. This is in spite of other, well-documented research that calls the efficacy of homework into question, albeit in the younger grades. Why are students spending so much time on homework if the impact is zero (for younger kids) or moderate (for older ones)? Should we ban homework? These are the questions teachers, parents, and lawmakers are asking.

Bans proposed and implemented in the U.S. and abroad

The struggle of whether or not to assign homework is not a new one. In 2017, a Florida superintendent banned homework for elementary schools in the entire district, with one very important exception: reading at home. The United States isn’t the only country to question the benefits of homework. Last August, the Philippines proposed a bill  to ban homework completely, citing the need for rest, relaxation, and time with family. Another bill there proposed no weekend homework, with teachers running the risk of fines or two years in prison. (Yikes!) While a prison sentence may seem extreme, there are real reasons to reconsider homework.

Refocus on mental health and educate the “whole child”

Prioritizing mental health is at the forefront of the homework ban movement. Leaders say they want to give students time to develop other hobbies, relationships, and balance in their lives.

This month two Utah elementary schools gained national recognition for officially banning homework. The results are significant, with psychologist referrals for anxiety decreasing by 50 percent. Many schools are looking for ways to refocus on wellness, and homework can be a real cause of stress.


Research supports a ban for elementary schools

Supporters of a homework ban often cite research from John Hattie, who concluded that elementary school homework has no effect on academic progress. In a podcast he said, “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?'”

In the upper grades, Hattie’s research shows that homework has to be purposeful, not busy work. And the reality is, most teachers don’t receive training on how to assign homework that is meaningful and relevant to students.

Parents push back, too

In October this Washington Post article made waves in parenting and education communities when it introduced the idea that, even if homework is assigned, it doesn’t have to be completed for the student to pass the class. The writer explains how her family doesn’t believe in homework, and doesn’t participate. In response, other parents started “opting out” of homework, citing research that homework in elementary school doesn’t further intelligence or academic success. 

Of course, homework has its defenders, especially in the upper grades

“I think some homework is a good idea,” says Darla E. in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook. “Ideally, it forces the parents to take some responsibility for their child’s education. It also reinforces what students learn and instills good study habits for later in life.”

Jennifer M. agrees. “If we are trying to make students college-ready, they need the skill of doing homework.”

And the research does support some homework in middle and high school, as long as it is clearly tied to learning and not overwhelming.

We’d love to hear your thoughts—do you think schools should ban homework? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, why you should stop assigning reading homework.

Should We Ban Homework?

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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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Adolescent girl doing homework.

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.


Should homework for schoolkids be a thing of the past.

Laura Yuen

On the first day of school, teacher Maya Kruger announced to her sixth-graders at St. Anthony Middle School that her policy is to give them time to work on their assignments in class. Anything that students don't complete in school, they'll need to take home to finish.

But beyond that, there will be no homework, she explained. Most of the kids were shocked.

Kruger arrived at her no-homework approach after more than a decade of trial and error, starting her teaching career sending home thick study guide packets, then only assigning work that she didn't have time to cover in class. She eased up on homework entirely after reading research articles suggesting it was virtually pointless.

"It's when a lot of those education blogs caught on and drew huge conclusions with clickbait-y headlines about homework, like, 'It's bad!' 'It's damaging!' or 'Here's one thing you can do,' " she recalled. "Young me was like, 'All right!' "

Kruger was dipping her toe into a homework abolition movement that has gained popularity in schools, particularly among lower grades. Several books have been written decrying the "myth" of homework , saying it often amounts to busywork, robs kids of sacred family time, overburdens overscheduled kids, and widens inequities already in the home.

Oh, yeah, and there's basically no evidence that homework in elementary school boosts academic achievement.

A vastly different childhood

My fifth-grader typically brings home no work at all. For years, his main assignment has been to spend 20 to 30 minutes a day reading a book of his choice. While we occasionally have studied state capitals or spelling words for an upcoming test, he usually finishes all of his worksheets at school, so his nights are free from any ounce of academic pressure. He is advancing through his elementary school years without having the consistent drumbeat of homework that I remember from my childhood.

As a parent, I am not complaining. Daily homework would be a nightly battle between my kids and me, and it would be ugly. My home-schooling attempts during the pandemic proved I am not capable of coaxing, commanding or inspiring headstrong souls to finish the simplest of written assignments. But I do wonder what is lost in a world without homework.

When will my child learn to buckle down and learn to study? Will a lack of independent problem-solving come back to bite him as he gets older? And isn't it irrefutable that repeated practice can lead to mastery of a new skill?

Michael Rodriguez excelled in school and now serves as the dean of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota, so I expected him to be on Team Homework. But even he advocates for a middle ground. Too much homework, especially if it's rote and meaningless, can be harmful, he said.

"When we continually ask kids to do busywork, we're continually demonstrating to them that perhaps school isn't for them," he told me. "We're diminishing their own internal joy of learning. That's my biggest fear."

My earliest recollection of homework goes all the way back to second grade. Foreshadowing what would become an extreme life flaw, I had put off a coloring assignment until the last minute. It was well beyond my bedtime, and I had enlisted my mother to join me at our kitchen table with a set of crayons to help me color a stack of photocopied worksheets. (She didn't appreciate it when I, already a procrastinating perfectionist at 7, critiqued her for scribbling outside the lines.)

We can probably agree that coloring was a frivolous exercise. Now imagine a teacher sending home busywork to a kid whose parents work multiple jobs, can't speak English or aren't able to teach their kid the concept at hand.

Homework should be relevant to students' lives and extend their learning opportunities, Rodriguez added. The amount should be low in early grades, and "a bit more" in higher grades. (He also thinks homework should be forbidden on Fridays, which I'm sure would delight high school students everywhere.)

When Rodriguez studied the impact of homework years ago, he found that students who performed the weakest on a standardized math test were receiving more homework — typically from workbooks. Those students whose teachers assigned them creative math activities that were embedded in real-world problems earned much higher test scores.

"Ideally, we would want to give the meaningful, enriching kinds of activities to all students, not just the highest-performing," he said. "Instead, we give the very rote, meaningless worksheets to the students that really need the additional supports. And one thing we know is that if something's not working in the classroom, it's not going to work after school."

We all want our kids to catch up after learning losses during the pandemic. The latest test scores show that Minnesota students are way behind in literacy and math proficiency, performing lower than even before COVID-19. Perhaps the right kind of homework, at least in the higher grades, can help narrow these gaps. Rodriguez said students can grow when there are opportunities for them to do their homework after school, with the help of tutors, peers or teachers.

"A zero-homework policy is not the right answer and not the right message," Rodriguez said.

Some kids want homework

I was surprised by one development Kruger shared with me: Though she stopped assigning homework, some kids invariably ask for the extra work to take home. She's happy to help them explore options. For others, she said it's important to meet students where they're at and help them develop their interests. "Not every kid wants to be a CEO," she said.

As she's matured as a teacher, she said she's confident she's giving her students enough opportunities to learn and practice a new skill — in her classroom, with her support and surrounded by their peers. If they goof off at their desks, they will still need to complete the assignment at home. So it ends up being an exercise in time management.

Like me, Kruger grew up with homework, but she's not sold on the belief that it helped her learn. Will she ever go back to assigning it?

"I'm always open to new information," she said. "If somehow it comes out that this is the ticket to student success and happiness, I'm all in."

Laura Yuen , a Star Tribune features columnist, writes opinion as well as reported pieces exploring parenting, gender, family and relationships, with special attention on women and underrepresented communities. With an eye for the human tales, she looks for the deeper resonance of a story, to humanize it, and make it universal.

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should homework be allowed in school

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15 Should Homework Be Banned Pros and Cons

Homework was a staple of the public and private schooling experience for many of us growing up. There were long nights spent on book reports, science projects, and all of those repetitive math sheets. In many ways, it felt like an inevitable part of the educational experience. Unless you could power through all of your assignments during your free time in class, then there was going to be time spent at home working on specific subjects.

More schools are looking at the idea of banning homework from the modern educational experience. Instead of sending work home with students each night, they are finding alternative ways to ensure that each student can understand the curriculum without involving the uncertainty of parental involvement.

Although banning homework might seem like an unorthodox process, there are legitimate advantages to consider with this effort. There are some disadvantages which some families may encounter as well.

These are the updated lists of the pros and cons of banning homework to review.

List of the Pros of Banning Homework

1. Giving homework to students does not always improve their academic outcomes. The reality of homework for the modern student is that we do not know if it is helpful to have extra work assigned to them outside of the classroom. Every study that has looked at the subject has had design flaws which causes the data collected to be questionable at best. Although there is some information to suggest that students in seventh grade and higher can benefit from limited homework, banning it for students younger than that seems to be beneficial for their learning experience.

2. Banning homework can reduce burnout issues with students. Teachers are seeing homework stress occur in the classroom more frequently today than ever before. Almost half of all high school teachers in North America have seen this issue with their students at some point during the year. About 25% of grade school teachers say that they have seen the same thing.

When students are dealing with the impact of homework on their lives, it can have a tremendously adverse impact. One of the most cited reasons for students dropping out of school is that they cannot complete their homework on time.

3. Banning homework would increase the amount of family time available to students. Homework creates a significant disruption to family relationships. Over half of all parents in North America say that they have had a significant argument with their children over homework in the past month. 1/3 of families say that homework is their primary source of struggle in the home. Not only does it reduce the amount of time that everyone has to spend together, it reduces the chances that parents have to teach their own skills and belief systems to their kids.

4. It reduces the negative impact of homework on the health of a student. Many students suffer academically when they cannot finish a homework assignment on time. Although assumptions are often made about the time management skills of the individual when this outcome occurs, the reasons why it happens is usually more complex. It may be too difficult, too boring, or there may not be enough time in the day to complete the work.

When students experience failure in this area, it can lead to severe mental health issues. Some perceive themselves as a scholarly failure, which translates to an inability to live life successfully. It can disrupt a desire to learn. There is even an increased risk of suicide for some youth because of this issue. Banning it would reduce these risks immediately.

5. Eliminating homework would allow for an established sleep cycle. The average high school student requires between 8-10 hours of sleep to function at their best the next day. Grade-school students may require an extra hour or two beyond that figure. When teachers assign homework, then it increases the risk for each individual that they will not receive the amount that they require each night.

When children do not get enough sleep, a significant rest deficit occurs which can impact their ability to pay attention in school. It can cause unintended weight gain. There may even be issues with emotional control. Banning homework would help to reduce these risks as well.

6. It increases the amount of socialization time that students receive. People who are only spending time in school and then going home to do more work are at a higher risk of experiencing loneliness and isolation. When these emotions are present, then a student is more likely to feel “down and out” mentally and physically. They lack meaningful connections with other people. These feelings are the health equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes per day. If students are spending time on homework, then they are not spending time connecting with their family and friends.

7. It reduces the repetition that students face in the modern learning process. Most of the tasks that homework requires of students is repetitive and uninteresting. Kids love to resolve challenges on tasks that they are passionate about at that moment in their lives. Forcing them to complete the same problems repetitively as a way to “learn” core concepts can create issues with knowledge retention later in life. When you add in the fact that most lessons sent for homework must be done by themselves, banning homework will reduce the repetition that students face, allowing for a better overall outcome.

8. Home environments can be chaotic. Although some students can do homework in a quiet room without distractions, that is not the case for most kids. There are numerous events that happen at home which can pull a child’s attention away from the work that their teacher wants them to do. It isn’t just the Internet, video games, and television which are problematic either. Household chores, family issues, employment, and athletic requirements can make it a challenge to get the assigned work finished on time.

List of the Cons of Banning Homework

1. Homework allows parents to be involved with the educational process. Parents need to know what their children are learning in school. Even if they ask their children about what they are learning, the answers tend to be in generalities instead of specifics. By sending home work from the classroom, it allows parents to see and experience the work that their kids are doing when they are in school during the day. Then moms and dads can get involved with the learning process to reinforce the core concepts that were discovered by their children each day.

2. It can help parents and teachers identify learning disabilities. Many children develop a self-defense mechanism which allows them to appear like any other kid that is in their classroom. This process allows them to hide learning disabilities which may be hindering their educational progress. The presence of homework makes it possible for parents and teachers to identify this issue because kids can’t hide their struggles when they must work 1-on-1 with their parents on specific subjects. Banning homework would eliminate 50% of the opportunities to identify potential issues immediately.

3. Homework allows teachers to observe how their students understand the material. Teachers often use homework as a way to gauge how well a student is understanding the materials they are learning. Although some might point out that assignments and exams in the classroom can do the same thing, testing often requires preparation at home. It creates more anxiety and stress sometimes then even homework does. That is why banning it can be problematic for some students. Some students experience more pressure than they would during this assessment process when quizzes and tests are the only measurement of their success.

4. It teaches students how to manage their time wisely. As people grow older, they realize that time is a finite commodity. We must manage it wisely to maximize our productivity. Homework assignments are a way to encourage the development of this skill at an early age. The trick is to keep the amount of time required for the work down to a manageable level. As a general rule, students should spend about 10 minutes each school day doing homework, organizing their schedule around this need. If there are scheduling conflicts, then this process offers families a chance to create priorities.

5. Homework encourages students to be accountable for their role. Teachers are present in the classroom to offer access to information and skill-building opportunities that can improve the quality of life for each student. Administrators work to find a curriculum that will benefit the most people in an efficient way. Parents work hard to ensure their kids make it to school on time, follow healthy routines, and communicate with their school district to ensure the most effective learning opportunities possible. None of that matters if the student is not invested in the work in the first place. Homework assignments not only teach children how to work independently, but they also show them how to take responsibility for their part of the overall educational process.

6. It helps to teach important life lessons. Homework is an essential tool in the development of life lessons, such as communicating with others or comprehending something they have just read. It teaches kids how to think, solve problems, and even build an understanding for the issues that occur in our society right now. Many of the issues that lead to the idea to ban homework occur because someone in the life of a student communicated to them that this work was a waste of time. There are times in life when people need to do things that they don’t like or want to do. Homework helps a student begin to find the coping skills needed to be successful in that situation.

7. Homework allows for further research into class materials. Most classrooms offer less than 1 hour of instruction per subject during the day. For many students, that is not enough time to obtain a firm grasp on the materials being taught. Having homework assignments allows a student to perform more research, using their at-home tools to take a deeper look into the materials that would otherwise be impossible if homework was banned. That process can lead to a more significant understanding of the concepts involved, reducing anxiety levels because they have a complete grasp on the materials.

The pros and cons of banning homework is a decision that ultimately lies with each school district. Parents always have the option to pursue homeschooling or online learning if they disagree with the decisions that are made in this area. Whether you’re for more homework or want to see less of it, we can all agree on the fact that the absence of any reliable data about its usefulness makes it a challenge to know for certain which option is the best one to choose in this debate.

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should homework be allowed in school

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Should Students Have Homework?

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should homework be allowed in school

By Suzanne Capek Tingley, Veteran Educator, M.A. Degree

It used to be that students were the only ones complaining about the practice of assigning homework. For years, teachers and parents thought that homework was a necessary tool when educating children. But studies about the effectiveness of homework have been conflicting and inconclusive, leading some adults to argue that homework should become a thing of the past.

What Research Says about Homework

According to Duke professor Harris Cooper, it's important that students have homework. His meta-analysis of homework studies showed a correlation between completing homework and academic success, at least in older grades. He recommends following a  "10 minute rule" : students should receive 10 minutes of homework per day in first grade, and 10 additional minutes each subsequent year, so that by twelfth grade they are completing 120 minutes of homework daily.

But his analysis didn't prove that students did better because they did homework; it simply  showed a correlation . This could simply mean that kids who do homework are more committed to doing well in school. Cooper also found that some research showed that homework caused physical and emotional stress, and created negative attitudes about learning. He suggested that more research needed to be done on homework's effect on kids.

Some researchers say that the question isn't whether kids should have homework. It's more about what kind of homework students have and how much. To be effective, homework has to meet students' needs. For example, some  middle school teachers have found success with online math homework  that's adapted to each student's level of understanding. But when middle school students were assigned more than an hour and a half of homework, their  math and science test scores went down .

Researchers at Indiana University discovered that math and science homework may improve standardized test grades, but they  found no difference in course grades  between students who did homework and those who didn't. These researchers theorize that homework doesn't result in more content mastery, but in greater familiarity with the kinds of questions that appear on standardized tests. According to Professor Adam Maltese, one of the study's authors, "Our results hint that maybe homework is not being used as well as it could be."

So while many teachers and parents support daily homework, it's hard to find strong evidence that the long-held practice produces positive results.

Problems with Homework

In an article in  Education Week Teacher , teacher Samantha Hulsman said she's frequently heard parents complain that a 30-minute homework assignment turns into a three-hour battle with their kids. Now, she's facing the same problem with her own kids, which has her rethinking her former beliefs about homework. "I think parents expect their children to have homework nightly, and teachers assign daily homework because it's what we've always done," she explained. Today, Hulsman said, it's more important to know how to collaborate and solve problems than it is to know specific facts.

Child psychologist Kenneth Barish wrote in  Psychology Today  that  battles over homework rarely result in a child's improvement in school . Children who don't do their homework are not lazy, he said, but they may be frustrated, discouraged, or anxious. And for kids with learning disabilities, homework is like "running with a sprained ankle. It's doable, but painful."

Barish suggests that parents and kids have a "homework plan" that limits the time spent on homework. The plan should include turning off all devices—not just the student's, but those belonging to all family members.

One of the  best-known critics of homework, Alfie Kohn , says that some people wrongly believe "kids are like vending machines—put in an assignment, get out learning." Kohn points to the lack of evidence that homework is an effective learning tool; in fact, he calls it "the greatest single extinguisher of children's curiosity that we have yet invented."

Homework Bans

Last year, the public schools in Marion County, Florida,  decided on a no-homework policy for all of their elementary students . Instead,  kids read nightly  for 20 minutes. Superintendent Heidi Maier said the decision was based on Cooper's research showing that elementary students gain little from homework, but a lot from reading.

Orchard Elementary School in South Burlington, Vermont, followed the same path, substituting reading for homework. The  homework policy has four parts : read nightly, go outside and play, have dinner with your family, and get a good night's sleep. Principal Mark Trifilio says that his staff and parents support the idea.

But while many elementary schools are considering no-homework policies, middle schools and high schools have been reluctant to abandon homework. Schools say parents support homework and teachers know it can be helpful when it is specific and follows certain guidelines. For example, practicing solving word problems can be helpful, but there's no reason to assign 50 problems when 10 will do. Recognizing that not all kids have the time, space, and home support to do homework is important, so it shouldn't be counted as part of a student's grade.

So Should Students Have Homework?

Should you ban homework in your classroom? If you teach lower grades, it's possible. If you teach middle or high school, probably not. But all teachers should think carefully about their homework policies. By limiting the amount of homework and improving the quality of assignments, you can improve learning outcomes for your students.

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clock This article was published more than  2 years ago

Should we ease grading and homework rules? Dangers lurk.

Experienced teachers say that could cripple all-important learning in class..

should homework be allowed in school

Along the bumpy return to normalcy in our pandemic -battered schools, I see an interesting movement to ease grading and homework requirements. Many educators have been promoting such changes for years, but more education writers like me are beginning to notice.

That’s often not a good sign. We journalists like to portray new stuff as exciting in part because that increases our chances of getting prominent play and attracting readers. There is a long list of movements we once publicized — such as New Math, open classrooms, Whole Language, No Child Left Behind — that did not live up to expectations.

A recent Los Angeles Times editorial sums up the latest movement well. “Schools have stuck to an outdated system that relies heavily on students’ compliance — completing homework, behaving in class, meeting deadlines and correctly answering questions on a one-time test — as a proxy for learning, rather than measuring the learning itself.”

The big handicap for journalists as well as everyone else in the discussion is a lack of useful data on how many teachers use these allegedly worn-out methods and what are the measurable results. I asked four experienced public school teachers in southern California, northern California, Texas and Virginia how they handled grading and homework and what they thought of the notion that the old ways were wrong.

In some aspects, the four teachers are in sync with the suggested reforms. None of them assign much homework, except as a way to complete work begun in class. They don’t emphasize one-time tests.

How to recover from our school disaster: Top curriculums, training and resolve

But when making sure everyone is behaving in class, they are firm traditionalists. Class time to them is vital because, in their minds, the give-and-take between students and teachers during those precious hours is the essence of what they do.

Mark Ingerson, a social studies teacher at Salem (Va.) High School, said, “You are kidding yourself if you think you have any control over what happens once that child leaves your class. … So my sole focus has been maximizing every single second of class so it results in student mastery of skills and knowledge.”

The best teachers I know do their best to make sure everyone contributes every day, even if they have to insist that the most reluctant students answer questions and keep up with the discussion.

D’Essence Grant, an eighth-grade English and language arts teacher at the KIPP Academy Middle school in Houston, said, “My content requires meaningful conversations about the text to help support text comprehension and character development. Grading these conversations and pushing students to articulate their thoughts helps prepare students for college and beyond. Making claims, supporting claims with evidence, and listening, building and challenging other student claims verbally is just as important as writing them on paper.”

Mary Stevens is the English and language arts department chair at Marshall Fundamental Secondary School in Pasadena, Calif. Enrollment at that school is by lottery. Seventy percent of the students are from low-income families. “I mostly only assign the work and/or reading we didn’t complete in class as homework,” she said. She doesn’t like the phrase “behaving in class.” She said “it has negative connotations for students. I center responsibility, hence productivity, and try not to frame my expectations around outdated ideas such as behavior.”

Greg Jouriles, a social studies teacher at Hillsdale High School in San Mateo, Calif., noted reformers’ argument that homework “discriminates socioeconomically and racially” and might be “unfair to students with household obligations and no quiet place to work.” He said that “while all of these factors carry weight, I don’t see a problem with some homework or why practicing academics isn’t as worthwhile as practicing extracurriculars, to which students will devote hours and hours. Most of what I grade is based on what happens in class.”

He said: “I disagree with the people who say time and practice and repetition don’t matter, that once a student exhibits a skill, they’ve achieved a standard. If that were the case, a basketball coach would end practice after each player made one free throw. Teachers face the ongoing challenge of making the homework they assign as engaging as extracurriculars.”

His argument suggests a weakness in the push for mastery learning, which is part of the new thinking on school work and grading. Each child, reformers say, should get a grade of completion once they have mastered a skill or subject. That leaves open the possibility that schools could dumb down the definition of mastery to make sure everyone graduates on time.

Author of teacher bestsellers warns against flawed social justice concepts

The traditional approach to grading — assessing every paper and assignment, giving zeros for work not turned in — has been abandoned by many teachers and their districts in the past two decades. Ingerson said he dropped the tough approach in 2004 because he found “many students just got destroyed” by his grading sledgehammer.

“I had students scoring advanced on the Virginia Standards of Learning tests, but had a D in the class … because of missing notebook checks or homework assignments,” he said. His intense class discussions make sure that all his students know the material, or realize he is going to be hovering over them until they do.

Many teachers I know don’t see any difference between the mastery learning embraced by the new movement and what they do with traditional grading. They use zeros to motivate students but erase those horrible marks when they see improvement. They have assignments and class discussions every week. They repeatedly let students know how they are doing. The emphasis on mastery is obvious in the way they teach. They don’t see the point of disposing of the grading tools they have.

We will be hearing more about this new movement to promote learning. If changes are made, we will need as usual some reliable measure of how much students know and understand.

I don’t see how we can do that without challenging and independently graded tests, such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate, to ensure assessments are accurate. SAT and ACT exams appear to be fading away. I never liked them because they were not tied to classes where our teachers could make sure every student was engaged every day.

We need some measure of learning we can trust. The latest educational buzz words may suggest otherwise, but we have learned enough during the pandemic to know that if productive class work is not happening for everyone, we have to do something about that.

should homework be allowed in school

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Should homework be banned?

Social media has sparked into life about whether children should be given homework - should students be freed from this daily chore? Dr Gerald Letendre, a professor of education at Pennsylvania State University, investigates.

We’ve all done it: pretended to leave an essay at home, or stayed up until 2am to finish a piece of coursework we’ve been ignoring for weeks. Homework, for some people, is seen as a chore that’s ‘wrecking kids’ or ‘killing parents’, while others think it is an essential part of a well-rounded education. The problem is far from new: public debates about homework have been raging since at least the early-1900s, and recently spilled over into a Twitter feud between Gary Lineker and Piers Morgan.

Ironically, the conversation surrounding homework often ignores the scientific ‘homework’ that researchers have carried out. Many detailed studies have been conducted, and can guide parents, teachers and administrators to make sensible decisions about how much work should be completed by students outside of the classroom.

So why does homework stir up such strong emotions? One reason is that, by its very nature, it is an intrusion of schoolwork into family life. I carried out a study in 2005, and found that the amount of time that children and adolescents spend in school, from nursery right up to the end of compulsory education, has greatly increased over the last century . This means that more of a child’s time is taken up with education, so family time is reduced. This increases pressure on the boundary between the family and the school.

Plus, the amount of homework that students receive appears to be increasing, especially in the early years when parents are keen for their children to play with friends and spend time with the family.

Finally, success in school has become increasingly important to success in life. Parents can use homework to promote, or exercise control over, their child’s academic trajectory, and hopefully ensure their future educational success. But this often leaves parents conflicted – they want their children to be successful in school, but they don’t want them to be stressed or upset because of an unmanageable workload.

François Hollande says homework is unfair, as it penalises children who have a difficult home environment © Getty Images

However, the issue isn’t simply down to the opinions of parents, children and their teachers – governments also like to get involved. In the autumn of 2012, French president François Hollande hit world headlines after making a comment about banning homework, ostensibly because it promoted inequality. The Chinese government has also toyed with a ban, because of concerns about excessive academic pressure being put on children.

The problem is, some politicians and national administrators regard regulatory policy in education as a solution for a wide array of social, economic and political issues, perhaps without considering the consequences for students and parents.

Does homework work?

Homework seems to generally have a positive effect for high school students, according to an extensive range of empirical literature. For example, Duke University’s Prof Harris Cooper carried out a meta-analysis using data from US schools, covering a period from 1987 to 2003. He found that homework offered a general beneficial impact on test scores and improvements in attitude, with a greater effect seen in older students. But dig deeper into the issue and a complex set of factors quickly emerges, related to how much homework students do, and exactly how they feel about it.

In 2009, Prof Ulrich Trautwein and his team at the University of Tübingen found that in order to establish whether homework is having any effect, researchers must take into account the differences both between and within classes . For example, a teacher may assign a good deal of homework to a lower-level class, producing an association between more homework and lower levels of achievement. Yet, within the same class, individual students may vary significantly in how much homework improves their baseline performance. Plus, there is the fact that some students are simply more efficient at completing their homework than others, and it becomes quite difficult to pinpoint just what type of homework, and how much of it, will affect overall academic performance.

Over the last century, the amount of time that children and adolescents spend in school has greatly increased

Gender is also a major factor. For example, a study of US high school students carried out by Prof Gary Natriello in the 1980s revealed that girls devote more time to homework than boys, while a follow-up study found that US girls tend to spend more time on mathematics homework than boys. Another study, this time of African-American students in the US, found that eighth grade (ages 13-14) girls were more likely to successfully manage both their tasks and emotions around schoolwork, and were more likely to finish homework.

So why do girls seem to respond more positively to homework? One possible answer proposed by Eunsook Hong of the University of Nevada in 2011 is that teachers tend to rate girls’ habits and attitudes towards work more favourably than boys’. This perception could potentially set up a positive feedback loop between teacher expectations and the children’s capacity for academic work based on gender, resulting in girls outperforming boys. All of this makes it particularly difficult to determine the extent to which homework is helping, though it is clear that simply increasing the time spent on assignments does not directly correspond to a universal increase in learning.

Can homework cause damage?

The lack of empirical data supporting homework in the early years of education, along with an emerging trend to assign more work to this age range, appears to be fuelling parental concerns about potential negative effects. But, aside from anecdotes of increased tension in the household, is there any evidence of this? Can doing too much homework actually damage children?

Evidence suggests extreme amounts of homework can indeed have serious effects on students’ health and well-being. A Chinese study carried out in 2010 found a link between excessive homework and sleep disruption: children who had less homework had better routines and more stable sleep schedules. A Canadian study carried out in 2015 by Isabelle Michaud found that high levels of homework were associated with a greater risk of obesity among boys, if they were already feeling stressed about school in general.

For useful revision guides and video clips to assist with learning, visit BBC Bitesize . This is a free online study resource for UK students from early years up to GCSEs and Scottish Highers.

It is also worth noting that too much homework can create negative effects that may undermine any positives. These negative consequences may not only affect the child, but also could also pile on the stress for the whole family, according to a recent study by Robert Pressman of the New England Centre for Pediatric Psychology. Parents were particularly affected when their perception of their own capacity to assist their children decreased.

What then, is the tipping point, and when does homework simply become too much for parents and children? Guidelines typically suggest that children in the first grade (six years old) should have no more that 10 minutes per night, and that this amount should increase by 10 minutes per school year. However, cultural norms may greatly affect what constitutes too much.

A study of children aged between 8 and 10 in Quebec defined high levels of homework as more than 30 minutes a night, but a study in China of children aged 5 to 11 deemed that two or more hours per night was excessive. It is therefore difficult to create a clear standard for what constitutes as too much homework, because cultural differences, school-related stress, and negative emotions within the family all appear to interact with how homework affects children.

Should we stop setting homework?

In my opinion, even though there are potential risks of negative effects, homework should not be banned. Small amounts, assigned with specific learning goals in mind and with proper parental support, can help to improve students’ performance. While some studies have generally found little evidence that homework has a positive effect on young children overall, a 2008 study by Norwegian researcher Marte Rønning found that even some very young children do receive some benefit. So simply banning homework would mean that any particularly gifted or motivated pupils would not be able to benefit from increased study. However, at the earliest ages, very little homework should be assigned. The decisions about how much and what type are best left to teachers and parents.

As a parent, it is important to clarify what goals your child’s teacher has for homework assignments. Teachers can assign work for different reasons – as an academic drill to foster better study habits, and unfortunately, as a punishment. The goals for each assignment should be made clear, and should encourage positive engagement with academic routines.

Parents who play an active role in homework routines can help give their kids a more positive experience of learning © Getty Images

Parents should inform the teachers of how long the homework is taking, as teachers often incorrectly estimate the amount of time needed to complete an assignment, and how it is affecting household routines. For young children, positive teacher support and feedback is critical in establishing a student’s positive perception of homework and other academic routines. Teachers and parents need to be vigilant and ensure that homework routines do not start to generate patterns of negative interaction that erode students’ motivation.

Likewise, any positive effects of homework are dependent on several complex interactive factors, including the child’s personal motivation, the type of assignment, parental support and teacher goals. Creating an overarching policy to address every single situation is not realistic, and so homework policies tend to be fixated on the time the homework takes to complete. But rather than focusing on this, everyone would be better off if schools worked on fostering stronger communication between parents, teachers and students, allowing them to respond more sensitively to the child’s emotional and academic needs.

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Should Homework be Banned in Schools?

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Should Homework be Banned in Schools

Most of us were brought up in a community were homework is considered a necessary part of school-based education. However after listening to many different points of view one gets to wonder, “But is homework actually useful? Does it help students in any way?”

For such a simple question, there is no clear cut answer. That question is part of a hot debate that has been raging for decades. Part of the problem is that educators themselves disagree on how much (if any) homework is too much for students. Moreover, parents are active on both sides of the debate, some wishing their children would get less or no homework, while others worry their children aren’t getting enough homework.

Some parents and educators argue that homework can cause students to feel stressed or anxious and can cut into family time at home. On the other hand some educators and parents believe homework plays a vital role in reinforcing classroom learning.

There might be no clear cut answer yet to this debate but lets try to formulate an answer by delving into what we know about homework. As common sense suggests, the benefits of homework should obviously depend on how old the student is, what kind of homework is given, and how much. So let us start by looking at how much homework is being given to students these days as compared to the previous decades.

Are students getting more homework than they used to?

Absolutely yes. Studies show that the average teenage student now spends about twice as much time on homework as did teenagers in the 1990s.

Back in the 1900s, the anti-homework movement gained so much traction that California outlawed homework for all grades below high school. The movement based its arguments on the fact that homework could actually be harmful to a child’s health as it creates too much unnecessary stress. However, in the 1950s, the Soviet Union beat the Americans in the space race by launching Sputnik as the first ever artificial space satellite. That, coupled to a lot other scientific discoveries of that time convinced American educators that the lack of homework was causing American students to lag behind other nations. The solution seemed all too simple, “give them more homework.”

Though the increased amount of homework sparked hot debates among educators, the 21st century showed a marked trend toward more homework. So as the amount of homework increase one wonders, “does homework lead to improved achievement?’

Does homework lead to improved achievement?

In my own experience as a teacher I can say the answer to that question is not a simple yes or no, it depends on a lot of factors. For example, I realised that the impact of homework on a student is somewhat proportional to the age of the student. High school students tend to do well with more homework, whilst for primary school students the benefits are unnoticeable.

Infact, some studies show that in primary school, there is no clear link between homework and academic achievement. This might come as a shock to most parents who assume that doing homework at that age helps their children get better grades. However, it is still difficult to judge because different types of homework have different effects depending on their goals.

Does the effect of homework depend on its type?

Most parents don’t care on what kind of homework their children are getting, as long as they look busy at home. This also extends to educators, as most of them seem to have different ideas about what the goal of homework should be. This leads to different teachers giving different kinds of homework for different goals instead of having a standardized approach.

For example, some educators feel that the purpose of homework is to reinforce concepts a child learns that day at school whilst others feel that homework is a good study habits designed to make a student love education. As a result, one teacher will give students homework based on the areas covered in class whilst the other will give homework that is irrespective of what has been covered in class.

There is limited research into the effects of the quality of homework, most experts agree that homework should be used a way of reinforcing what students learnt at school.

Is homework really effective these days?

Researchers at Rutgers University published a study that answers this question. They measured student performance on homework and in exams over the course of eleven years.

The most interesting part about the results of this study it seems to show that as smartphones became more ubiquitous, homework became less effective.

Homework and smartphones might seem unrelated but here is the link. Most students now use smartphones to help them complete homework, in the name of research, and get good grades in their assignments. However, smartphones are not allowed in exam halls and hence the big dip in performance when it came to exams. As a result their good grades in homework assignments didn’t correlate to their poor performance in exams.

Another interesting trend the study showed is that students who didn’t have internet access to help them with their homework actually performed better on exams.

What this study showed is not the problem with homework but a problem with the way we learn. Homework is supposed to exercise the brain and it’s important for the brain to generate an answer. It doesn’t matter if that answer is incorrect. The process of being corrected later helps the brain to retain the information.

Now come the problem with smartphones and internet. If you look up the answer to your homework online and simply write it down, there is a great chance are you won’t actually remember the answer because the brain didn’t take part in formulating the answer. You won’t be able to reproduce it under exam conditions.

The results of this study might mislead people into thinking that homework has become less effective when yet we have actually homework could become useless if students use their smartphones to help them complete it. Its not only about homework but how we are doing it.

Can homework help with lost learning time?

Some educators believe that if homework is carefully designed, it can be very effective in reinforcing and advancing what students are learning in class. This is especially important now that students are spending less time in the class and more time at home because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The lockdowns created a lot of pressure for students to catch up, and assigning additional work to be completed at home could be one way to relieve the pressure.

Benefits of homework

Educators and parents who feel homework is important argue that homework:

  • Creates good study habits because it teaches students to work hard to achieve their goals.
  • Helps students understand topics better when used to reinforce the concepts that students learned in the classroom.
  • Leads to long-term higher academic achievement.
  • Allows parents to be involved in a child’s academic life when they help their children with homework.

Drawbacks of homework

People who are against homework argue that it:

  • Creates family stress as parents end up arguing with their children about getting homework done and about how it should be done.
  • Takes away time for other important activities such as family bonding, and spontaneous unscheduled play.
  • Leads to more academic stress and anxiety.
  • Doesn’t lead to a marked increased academic achievement.

The debate surrounding homework has been raging for decades and will likely continue for decades to come. There is need for more research that yields empirical results needed to determine what types and amounts of homework are most effective in helping students learn.

The academic benefits of homework are more obvious in high school than in primary school, and therefore the amount of homework given at respective level should reflect that. As a result, homework reform is certainly long overdue.

Homework should be clearly related to what students are learning in class so that it works as a way of reinforced learning which is proven to be effective.

Parents should play a part in monitoring their children so that they shouldn’t be able to look up the answers online on their smartphones.

The amount of homework given to students should be balanced and regulated with grade to prevent academic stress. There should also be healthy balance of exercise, family time and fun time. Stressed out students do not learn effectively, and overloading them with homework will do more harm than good.

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No More Homework: 12 Reasons We Should Get Rid of It Completely

Last Updated: February 16, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Finn Kobler . Finn Kobler graduated from USC in 2022 with a BFA in Writing for Screen/Television. He is a two-time California State Champion and record holder in Original Prose/Poetry, a 2018 finalist for the Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate, and he's written micro-budget films that have been screened in over 150 theaters nationwide. Growing up, Finn spent every summer helping his family's nonprofit arts program, Showdown Stage Company, empower people through accessible media. He hopes to continue that mission with his writing at wikiHow. There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 124,232 times. Learn more...

The amount of homework students are given has increased dramatically in the 21st century, which has sparked countless debates over homework’s overall value. While some have been adamant that homework is an essential part of a good education, it’s been proven that too much homework negatively affects students’ mood, classroom performance, and overall well-being. In addition, a heavy homework load can stress families and teachers. Here are 12 reasons why homework should be banned (or at least heavily reduced).

School is already a full-time job.

Students already spend approximately seven hours a day at school.

  • For years, teachers have followed the “10-minute rule” giving students roughly 10 minutes of homework per grade level. However, recent studies have shown students are completing 3+ hours of homework a night well before their senior years even begin. [2] X Trustworthy Source American Psychological Association Leading scientific and professional organization of licensed psychologists Go to source

Homework negatively affects students’ health.

Homework takes a toll physically.

Homework interferes with student’s opportunities to socialize.

Childhood and adolescence are extraordinary times for making friends.

Homework hinders students’ chances to learn new things.

Students need time to self-actualize.

Homework lowers students’ enthusiasm for school.

Homework makes the school feel like a chore.

Homework can lower academic performance.

Homework is unnecessary and counterproductive for high-performing students.

Homework cuts into family time.

Too much homework can cause family structures to collapse.

Homework is stressful for teachers.

Homework can also lead to burnout for teachers.

Homework is often irrelevant and punitive.

Students who don’t understand the lesson get no value from homework.

  • There are even studies that have shown homework in primary school has no correlation with classroom performance whatsoever. [9] X Research source

Homework encourages cheating.

Mandatory homework makes cheating feel like students’ only option.

Homework is inequitable.

Homework highlights the achievement gap between rich and poor students.

Other countries have banned homework with great results.

Countries like Finland have minimal homework and perform well academically.

  • There are even some U.S. schools that have adopted this approach with success. [13] X Research source

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  • ↑ https://www.edutopia.org/no-proven-benefits
  • ↑ https://www.apa.org/monitor/2016/03/homework
  • ↑ https://healthier.stanfordchildrens.org/en/health-hazards-homework/
  • ↑ https://teensneedsleep.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/galloway-nonacademic-effects-of-homework-in-privileged-high-performing-high-schools.pdf
  • ↑ https://time.com/4466390/homework-debate-research/
  • ↑ https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00220485.2022.2075506?role=tab&scroll=top&needAccess=true&journalCode=vece20
  • ↑ https://kappanonline.org/teacher-stress-balancing-demands-resources-mccarthy/
  • ↑ https://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/ct-life-homework-pros-cons-20180807-story.html
  • ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6294446/
  • ↑ https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/06/homework-inequality-parents-schedules-grades/485174/
  • ↑ https://www.bbc.com/news/education-37716005
  • ↑ https://www.wsj.com/articles/no-homework-its-the-new-thing-in-u-s-schools-11544610600

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Should homework be assigned in elementary school?

  • should homework be assigned in elementary school?

*Updated 2021

In 2015, one new york public elementary school  made headlines  when it decided to abolish homework, saying that it didn’t benefit the children. many parents were outraged and threatened to take their children out if the school didn’t resume assigning homework. however, since then, a  growing number of  additional  elementary schools  across the us  are following the trend. who is correct, we examine three reasons why homework should be assigned to elementary school pupils and three reasons why it shouldn’t., three reasons why homework should not be assigned in elementary school.

It increases stress

Way before the coronavirus hit, elementary school kids were already  more stressed-out  than any generation before them. While there are numerous causes for such stress, the burden of homework plays a large part. More than a decade ago a  2007 study by Metlife  already reported that 28% of students in grades 3-6 were “often” or “very often” stressed out by homework and, since then, stress among children has  only grown . More recently, more recently,  65% of parents  said that homework-related stress negatively impacted their families. Homework stress may affect students’ health by causing headaches and stomach problems. Some children experience sleep deprivation by staying up too late to finish their homework. This is harmful to both kids’ health and their learning abilities, as sleep has been shown to help with  memory consolidation . Plus, since parents usually have to remind elementary school students to do their homework, it often turns into a  source  of even more stress, thanks to the arguments that inevitably arise between parent and child.

It prevents them from spending time on other things

Elementary school children don’t have a lot of time between coming home from school and going to sleep. Once they have to do homework, their time is even more restricted. Children today don’t get enough exercise or time outdoors, giving rise to the malady of “ nature deficit disorder,”  which can take its toll on their mental and physical well-being. Homework also may  prevent  children from being able to spend more time bonding with their family, forming friendships, developing hobbies or just deal with boredom. The latter is important, as  unstructured playtime  is vital for child development in the elementary years.

It’s counter-productive

Elementary school students are just beginning their school careers. However, being burdened by  homework , which stops them from doing fun activities, may make them feel  negative emotions  towards schoolwork. This negative attitude can then continue into the middle and high school years when homework becomes a more integral part of the education process. Many elementary students also feel that their homework is just “busy work” or that the teacher “has” to assign it, so they  don’t take it seriously . Even worse is when homework is beyond a child’s ability and becomes work for  the parents . This can lead to resentment in some parents who feel forced to complete their child’s projects – not to mention frustration on the part of the child, who feels he or she can’t do the homework without help.

Three reasons why homework should be assigned in elementary school

It gives kids a chance to process what they’ve learned                                          

Material is absorbed and remembered far better when it’s studied at  spaced-out intervals , as per the Spaced Repetition learning theory. Students can process what they’re studying better when they return to it as homework after a few hours have passed, giving them a chance to learn at intervals. Homework also gives the child a chance to find out if they are confused by the topic so that they can seek assistance. Homework assignments also help the teacher to assess each individual child’s progress.

It teaches kids responsibility

When children reach high school, they’ll be expected to independently work on homework assignments, which are important for their final grades. Doing small amounts of homework from a young age therefore helps  prepare students  to meet their school responsibilities when they get older. It also instills self-discipline and trains them to meet deadlines in the real world when they’ll be expected to put in effort on their own.  During coronavirus lockdowns, sheltering in place and remote learning, homework may have actually, ironically, provided kids with a  reprieve from the boredom of quarantine .

It encourages parental involvement

Homework assignments give parents a window into what their child is studying. Parental involvement has  been shown  to be significant for scholastic success. Therefore, homework assignments serve as a positive and productive way to bring parents and children together. Homework gives them  an opportunity  to be supportive about what their kids are learning. Plus, even if parents aren’t directly involved in a particular homework assignment, sitting next to their child and doing their own “homework,” in the form of paying bills, working or planning the week’s meals, can also serve as a model of support and quality bonding for the child. It also shows that doing homework is an early start to meeting lifelong responsibilities.

The Bottom Line: Perhaps we need to be asking how to make homework in our children’s elementary school more effective , rather than discussing whether or not to eliminate it completely. Do you prefer that your kids spend time on homework after school?


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Do phones belong in schools.

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Bans may help protect classroom focus, but districts need to stay mindful of students’ sense of connection, experts say

Students around the world are being separated from their phones.

In 2020, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that 77 percent of U.S. schools had moved to prohibit cellphones for nonacademic purposes. In September 2018, French lawmakers outlawed cellphone use for schoolchildren under the age of 15. In China, phones were banned country-wide for schoolchildren last year.

Supporters of these initiatives have cited links between smartphone use and bullying and social isolation and the need to keep students focused on schoolwork.

77% Of U.S. schools moved to ban cellphones for nonacademic purposes as of 2020, according to the National Center for Education Statistics

But some Harvard experts say instructors and administrators should consider learning how to teach with tech instead of against it, in part because so many students are still coping with academic and social disruptions caused by the pandemic. At home, many young people were free to choose how and when to use their phones during learning hours. Now, they face a school environment seeking to take away their main source of connection.

“Returning back to in-person, I think it was hard to break the habit,” said Victor Pereira, a lecturer on education and co-chair of the Teaching and Teaching Leadership Program at the Graduate School of Education.

Through their students, he and others with experience both in the classroom and in clinical settings have seen interactions with technology blossom into important social connections that defy a one-size-fits-all mindset. “Schools have been coming back, trying to figure out, how do we readjust our expectations?” Pereira added.

It’s a hard question, especially in the face of research suggesting that the mere presence of a smartphone can undercut learning .

Michael Rich , an associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and an associate professor of social and behavioral sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, says that phones and school don’t mix: Students can’t meaningfully absorb information while also texting, scrolling, or watching YouTube videos.

“The human brain is incapable of thinking more than one thing at a time,” he said. “And so what we think of as multitasking is actually rapid-switch-tasking. And the problem with that is that switch-tasking may cover a lot of ground in terms of different subjects, but it doesn’t go deeply into any of them.”

Pereira’s approach is to step back — and to ask whether a student who can’t resist the phone is a signal that the teacher needs to work harder on making a connection. “Two things I try to share with my new teachers are, one, why is that student on the phone? What’s triggering getting on your cell phone versus jumping into our class discussion, or whatever it may be? And then that leads to the second part, which is essentially classroom management.

“Design better learning activities, design learning activities where you consider how all of your students might want to engage and what their interests are,” he said. He added that allowing phones to be accessible can enrich lessons and provide opportunities to use technology for school-related purposes.

Mesfin Awoke Bekalu, a research scientist in the Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness at the Chan School, argues that more flexible classroom policies can create opportunities for teaching tech-literacy and self-regulation.

“There is a huge, growing body of literature showing that social media platforms are particularly helpful for people who need resources or who need support of some kind, beyond their proximate environment,” he said. A study he co-authored by Rachel McCloud and Vish Viswanath for the Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness shows that this is especially true for marginalized groups such as students of color and LGBTQ students. But the findings do not support a free-rein policy, Bekalu stressed.

In the end, Rich, who noted the particular challenges faced by his patients with attention-deficit disorders and other neurological conditions, favors a classroom-by-classroom strategy. “It can be managed in a very local way,” he said, adding: “It’s important for parents, teachers, and the kids to remember what they are doing at any point in time and focus on that. It’s really only in mono-tasking that we do very well at things.”

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Should schools ban or integrate generative AI in the classroom?

Subscribe to the center for technology innovation newsletter, regina ta and regina ta research intern - the brookings institution darrell m. west darrell m. west senior fellow - center for technology innovation , douglas dillon chair in governmental studies.

August 7, 2023

  • The advent of generative AI tools creates both opportunities and risks for students and teachers.
  • So far, public schools have followed one of three strategies, either banning generative AI, integrating it into curricula, or placing it under further review.
  • Moving forward, schools should develop guiding principles for the use of AI tools, provide training resources for educators, and empower educators to implement those principles.
  • 10 min read

The start of a new school year is soon approaching, but there is a major question left unresolved: What are schools going to do about generative AI? Since ChatGPT’s release on November 30, 2022, educators have been slow to address questions regarding whether to allow its use in the classroom and how the tool affects pedagogy, student learning, and creativity. Debates have been intense among stakeholders—including teachers, parents, students, and edtech developers—about the opportunities for personalized learning, enhanced evaluations, and augmenting human performance against the possible risks of increased plagiarism and cheating , disinformation and discriminatory bias , and weakened critical thinking .

In this post, we review current responses to generative AI across K-12 public school districts and explore what remains to be done. Right now, public schools have varied between banning or integrating generative AI and reviews are ongoing without any definitive guidelines. After sharing how public schools are addressing these options, we suggest a path forward in which schools establish guiding principles, provide training resources, empower educators to implement those principles, and help over-burdened districts that already are struggling with instructional, infrastructure, and financial challenges.

Three paths of action from public schools

Colleges and universities are largely deferring to faculty to determine policies on generative AI, so a lot of higher education is moving on an ad-hoc basis that varies by classroom, course, and professor. There is neither a common approach across universities, nor agreed-upon policies on how to move forward.

In the case of K-12 public school districts, most administrators generally are taking institutional action and implementing decisions for entire school districts. They are not delegating the decisions to teachers but are enacting across-the-board decisions that affect every teacher and student in their jurisdiction. Their efforts fall into one of three categories: banning, integrating, or reviewing generative AI.

Banning generative AI

By the end of May 2023, ChatGPT joined YouTube, Netflix, and Roblox on lists of websites either banned for school staff and students among various large U.S. school districts, where access would require special approval. The controversial movement to widely ban ChatGPT began when the two largest school districts in the nation—New York City Public Schools and Los Angeles Unified— blocked access to ChatGPT from school Wi-Fi networks and devices. Other districts soon followed suit.

Citing the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia restricted access to ChatGPT, since the chatbot may not be appropriate for minors. Texas’s Austin Independent School District cited similar concerns about academic integrity and child safety in its decision. Seattle Public Schools banned access to not only ChatGPT, but also six additional websites that provide AI-powered writing assistance, including Rytr , Jasper , and WordAI . While these were not full bans, student use restrictions affected teacher adoption and use.

However, one problem with the approach to ban or restrict ChatGPT is that students can always find ways to circumvent school-issued bans outside the classroom. ChatGPT and other such chatbot tools are accessible from home or non-school networks and devices. Students could also use other third-party writing tools, since it would be impractical to ban the growing number of websites and applications driven by generative AI. Besides, bans may only be band-aid solutions, distracting from the root causes of inefficacy in our school systems—for instance, concerns about ChatGPT-enabled cheating might instead point to a need for changing how teachers assess students.

But the biggest problem, by far, is that this approach could cause more harm than good, especially if the benefits as well as the opportunities are not weighed. For example, ChatGPT can enrich learning and teaching in K-12 classrooms, and a full ban might deny students and teachers potential opportunities to leverage the technology for instruction, or lesson development. Instead of universally banning ChatGPT, school districts should recognize that needs in adoption and use may vary by teacher, classroom, and student. Imagine using ChatGPT for a history vs. an art class, for students whose first language is not English, and for students with learning disabilities. Different issues can pop up in various use cases, so across-the-board bans, and even restrictions for that matter, could limit the ability of students and instructors to take advantage of relevant learning benefits, and in turn, have effects on adoption and use during postsecondary opportunities, or in the workplace.

Integrating generative AI

New York City Public Schools—the first school system to block access to ChatGPT—was also the first to reverse its ban. Within four months of the initial ban, the reversal came after convenings of tech industry representatives and educators to evaluate emerging risks and understand how to leverage ChatGPT’s capabilities for the better. To support teachers, NYC school district leaders have promised to provide resources developed by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), along with real-life examples of successful AI implementation from classrooms in the district that have been early adopters of technology. The district also plans to create a shared repository to track each school’s progress and share findings across schools.

Schools like Peninsula School District in Washington had already been working to integrate AI into their curricula, so when ChatGPT arrived, they were prepared: digital learning teams visited classrooms across different grade levels to share how language models work, as well as how to identify and leverage AI-generated content. Alliance City School District in Ohio is also embracing ChatGPT’s potential, resolving to proactively set boundaries on its usage to prevent misuse. In Lower Merion School District, students from Pennsylvania will hone their critical thinking skills by analyzing and editing AI-generated writing. In all the above cases, responsibly integrating generative AI as a teaching tool will require school districts to invest in proper oversight procedures and professional development for educators.

As such, Garden City Public Schools in New York has held training sessions for educators to demonstrate the capabilities of different generative AI tools, along with how to incorporate them effectively and tailor materials to students’ needs. Schools like Norway-Vulcan Area Schools in Michigan also plan to provide professional development opportunities for teachers, as well as strengthen the school community’s understanding of its honor code and plagiarism policies. The district has encouraged teachers to use Turnitin’s AI detector to check for cases of plagiarism, as they prepare to teach with generative AI in the fall.

There are some schools that are being more cautious as they integrate generative AI. In Texas, Mineral Wells Independent School District has adopted a more cautious approach, testing generative AI use in an experimental set of classrooms, and sending those instructors for general training in AI. Elsewhere in Texas, Eanes Independent School District is similarly focused on helping teachers make the most of generative AI, as they first try ChatGPT for administrative use cases, like scheduling or lesson planning.

Placing generative AI under review

While districts like Prince George’s County (MD), Jefferson County (KY), and Chicago (IL) have not banned ChatGPT, they have placed the chatbot under review . School districts that haven’t acted yet are watching and waiting, and most fall into this category. A recent survey by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) found that less than 10% of schools have implemented guidance on generative AI, and of the schools with policies in place, 40% reported that the guidance was only communicated verbally—not in writing.

Just as we demand transparency from developers on how AI is built , we need to provide transparency for students and teachers on how AI can be used . Not enough schools have issued formal guidance on generative AI. A nationwide survey of K-12 teachers revealed that 72% have not received guidance on generative AI use. Generally, the longer schools delay their deliberation of bans or integrated use of new generative AI technologies, the higher the stakes—especially with a new school year on the horizon. As one of many generative AI tools being used for education, ChatGPT is increasingly accessed by students and teachers, and the absence of institutional policies may enable counterproductive use cases. Without an educational sandbox for generative AI usage, schools run the risk of having students deploy these rapidly developing technologies in unplanned ways with unintended outcomes affecting safety, equity, and learning.

School districts also have a critical opportunity to govern the use and misuse of generative AI tools before the academic year begins. Districts can shape its use and role in the future of education, instead of letting generative AI write it for them. In California, education policy researchers have made a similar call to action. More important, national concerns around the digital divide in education can make technology more useful in bridging learning gaps created by the lack of home internet. But that also means that schools must support the equitable distribution of generative AI’s benefits. Being proactive about the adoption and use generative AI now will prepare school districts to set precedents about using future technologies in the classroom.

Recommendations for moving forward

Many classroom policies thus far are too narrowly focused on one tool: ChatGPT. Right now, there are thousands of generative AI products that are on the market, and more are being developed every week. School districts need to consider the use not just of ChatGPT, but other generative AI applications, like Llama 2 or BARD , as well as the widespread educational tools, like PowerSchool , Kahoot! , or Khan Academy .

In closing, we recommend strategies below for how school districts can approach generative AI governance, regardless of the product.

Establish guiding principles

In collaboration with edtech specialists, teachers, and students, school districts should develop a set of common, guiding principles for students and teachers around generative AI use. These guidelines should define the purpose and scope of generative AI in the classroom, along with acceptable use cases. These may also serve to establish privacy protections for students and formalize procedures for how teachers can supervise student usage, give feedback, and handle misuse.

Provide training resources for teacher professional development

Whether administrators and/or teachers fear generative AI may disrupt their classrooms or instead welcome its potential, school districts can offer accessible training that will equip all teachers to meet the present moment. These training opportunities may not have to be developed from scratch – districts can adapt online resources, like the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN)’s resource library and TeachAI , who also offer some guiding principles. When educators gain a robust understanding of generative AI, they can apply it productively in their classrooms, as well as support responsible use and understanding among their students.

Empower educators to implement principles

Recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all policy on generative AI, districts should empower educators to implement institutional recommendations and enforce academic integrity within their classrooms – while applying the technologies in ways that serve their students. This approach models that taken by Department of Education’s recent AI Report , which provides general guidance for learning and teaching with AI—without commenting on specific generative AI tools, due to their rapid progress. Teachers can reference district-level principles as a guiding framework, upon which they can design transparent, well-defined expectations for their students.

Help overburdened districts

Finally, we need to help overburdened and under-resourced districts that already are struggling with instructional, infrastructure, and financial challenges. There remain sharp inequities in public school resources, and modern technologies often accentuate those disparities. Some schools have good digital infrastructures, while others do not. The same also applies to the equitably available financial means to integrate new teaching tools in the classroom.

As schools consider how to utilize generative AI, we should be cognizant of these disparities and provide help to make sure marginalized districts are not left behind. Federal and state officials could earmark money to public school districts who receive minimal assistance on using generative AI to help teachers, students, and administrators deal with its utilization. In the end, for districts to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion in the deployment of these tools, school leaders ought to level the playing field for their use, especially before its unyielding adoption and use.

The proposed strategies are not required of school districts in any order. Rather, they are the beginning of both immediate and future conversations for how to understand how to leverage generative AI tools in educational settings.

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    Research shows homework offers little to no academic benefit for elementary school students. September 21, 2023 — 7:15am. Michael Wyke, Associated Press. Aggie Gambino, right, helped her 10-year ...

  12. 15 Should Homework Be Banned Pros and Cons

    One of the most cited reasons for students dropping out of school is that they cannot complete their homework on time. 3. Banning homework would increase the amount of family time available to students. Homework creates a significant disruption to family relationships.

  13. Should we really be grading homework?

    A deep dive into whether -- and how -- homework should be graded. Homework has been a source of contention since it was first assigned in U.S. public schools in the 1800s. By 1900, it had become ...

  14. Should Students Have Homework?

    According to Duke professor Harris Cooper, it's important that students have homework. His meta-analysis of homework studies showed a correlation between completing homework and academic success, at least in older grades. He recommends following a "10 minute rule": students should receive 10 minutes of homework per day in first grade, and 10 ...

  15. Should Homework Really Be Banned? It's Complicated

    Homework should have a purpose: The goal of homework should be to reinforce the lessons learned in class. It should be meaningful. Students should have the chance to put their knowledge to use and gain a deeper understanding of the situation. The workload should be reasonable: Students shouldn't be given so much homework that it becomes ...

  16. Should we ease grading and homework rules? Dangers lurk

    November 28, 2021 at 6:00 a.m. EST. (iStock) 6 min. Along the bumpy return to normalcy in our pandemic -battered schools, I see an interesting movement to ease grading and homework requirements ...

  17. Should homework be banned?

    Should homework be banned? - BBC Science Focus Magazine

  18. The Pros and Cons of Homework

    Pro 1: Homework Helps to Improve Student Achievement. Homework teaches students various beneficial skills that they will carry with them throughout their academic and professional life, from time management and organization to self-motivation and autonomous learning. Homework helps students of all ages build critical study abilities that help ...

  19. Should Homework be Banned in Schools?

    The academic benefits of homework are more obvious in high school than in primary school, and therefore the amount of homework given at respective level should reflect that. As a result, homework reform is certainly long overdue. Homework should be clearly related to what students are learning in class so that it works as a way of reinforced ...

  20. 12 Reasons Why Homework Should Be Banned

    Homework negatively affects students' health. Download Article. Homework takes a toll physically. Recent studies have demonstrated that too much homework can disrupt a student's sleep cycle, and cause stress headaches, stomach problems, and depression. [3] 3.

  21. Should homework be assigned in elementary school?

    Three reasons why homework should be assigned in elementary school. It gives kids a chance to process what they've learned . Material is absorbed and remembered far better when it's studied at spaced-out intervals, as per the Spaced Repetition learning theory. Students can process what they're studying better when they return to it as ...

  22. Experts see pros and cons to allowing cellphones in class

    Bans may help protect classroom focus, but districts need to stay mindful of students' sense of connection, experts say. Students around the world are being separated from their phones. In 2020, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that 77 percent of U.S. schools had moved to prohibit cellphones for nonacademic purposes.

  23. Should schools ban or integrate generative AI in the classroom?

    August 7, 2023. The advent of generative AI tools creates both opportunities and risks for students and teachers. So far, public schools have followed one of three strategies, either banning ...

  24. Get involved: Should homework be banned?

    The government in Poland has banned homework for primary school children. Do you think homework should be banned in the UK too? We want to hear your thoughts.

  25. Children in Poland rejoice over new limits on homework

    The Polish government has introduced strict limits on the amount of homework pupils must do in a bid to modernise the education system. But some parents and teachers aren't convinced by the changes.

  26. China primary school bans homework after 9.30pm with no penalty for

    A primary school in China has banned homework after 9.30pm and decided not to punish students who do not finish assignments, sparking fierce debate on mainland social media. The Nanning Guiya ...