School-aged kids are being overloaded with homework

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Researchers suggest that this negatively impacts students and their families

The back-to-school season is already well underway, with some children already back in the classroom and others counting down the final days until they have to return.

Parents may be relieved that their kids are going back to school, but they might be surprised by the amount of work that is being brought home when classes actually begin. A new study suggests that school-aged children across the U.S. are being overloaded with homework.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Brown University School of Medicine, the Children’s National Health System, Brandeis University, Rhode Island College, and the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology. They collected data from 1,173 English and Spanish speaking parents with children in grades K-12 and found that students are getting over three times the workload that is recommended by the National Education Association (NEA). Their findings have been published in The American Journal for Family Therapy

Younger students affected most

The current standard for homework is that it should take students a total of 10 minutes, multiplied by their grade level. This means that a 9th grader should expect 90 minutes, or an hour and half, of total homework every night. This formula has been proven to produce the best academic results, according to the NEA.

Unfortunately, this is simply not the case in U.S. schools, especially with younger students. First graders across the nation are currently three times above their recommended homework time. Even the average kindergartener, who the NEA says should have no homework, is spending approximately 25 minutes on homework every night. The researchers believe that this is putting a large amount of pressure and stress on families, which can be harmful to the well-being of the children.  

“The levels of family stress and tension found in this study fall into ranges that could lead to detrimental physical and mental health. The Kindergarten homework load was identical to that of first and second graders. In that period when children are focused on early stages of socialization and finessing motor skills, an overload of homework will likely interfere with a Kindergartener’s ability to play and participate in extra-curricular activities,” said lead author Robert Pressman.

Family limitations

If that wasn’t bad enough, researchers have also found that many families are at a disadvantage with this current system because of educational or language limitations. Many parents who are not native speakers of English, or did not have a full education themselves, have trouble helping their children with their homework because they simply do not have the skills to do so. This factor greatly affects the amount of stress that families feel, and puts more pressure on the student.

Another lead author of the study, Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman, has written a book on this matter. It explores the daily habits and routines that can help a student achieve academic success. It incorporates comprehensive research from over 50,000 parents from more than 4,600 cities across the nation.

Doing your own research and implementing healthy habits is a good start, but in an ever-changing education system, there is no easy answer to solving this problem. It is recommended that parents talk to their child’s teacher and be very open about any limitations they have with helping their child achieve academic success. Being proactive and developing an individualized plan to help a student succeed has, and always will be, the best course of action. 

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