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The Impact of Homework on Young Students

11 August 2021

Most parents dream of a better future for their children. In fact, they work hard every day so that they could send their children to school and support them to have a better if not the best scholastic achievement. It is always possible for school children to be academic achievers if the parents, teachers, school officials, and the community will work hand in hand to achieve a child’s goal of academic success.

Homework has always been one of the factors to gauge for teachers and parents to see if the children are learning and progressing in their academic studies. Teachers assigned students some exercises to do at home for every subject to reinforce their learning on a particular subject lesson discussed for the day. Students in turn do the assigned exercises by themselves or they are helped by their parents especially when the homework becomes a little difficult for the students.

Parents think that by helping their children with their homework, they will be able to make them academic achievers. Yet, based on studies, what is happening is the opposite of what they are thinking and trying to achieve. A study about homework and academic achievement proved that it is not always the case that students excel in a class by doing their homework every day which sometimes is too much to be handled by the student. 

"International comparison studies of achievement show that national achievement is higher in countries that assign less homework (Baines and Slutsky 2009; Güven and Akçay 2019). In fact, in a recent international study conducted by Güven and Akçay (2019), there was no relationship found between math homework frequency and student achievement for fourth-grade students in the majority of the countries studied, including the United States. (https://doi.org/10.1007/s10566-021-09602-8).

Similarly, additional homework in science, English, and history was found to have little to no impact on respective test scores in later grades (Eren and Henderson 2011). In the 2015 “Programme of International Student Assessment” results, Korea and Finland are ranked among the top countries in reading, mathematics, and writing, yet these countries are among those that assign the least amount of homework (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD] 2016).”

Parents help son with homework

Sharing these study results does not mean that teachers should not assign book exercises or other activities related to the lessons presented in class during the day. This is just presenting some factual information that giving students more take-home activities is not perfectly helping the student achieve academically. Homework still helps a lot to recall the lessons for the day and reinforces their knowledge on the lessons for the day through doing their homework. So, homework is still vital in the academic life of the students. The study also reveals other information which I surmise is important for parents and teachers as well to know and to ponder.

"Academic stress has been found to play a role in the mental well-being of children. In a study conducted by Conner et al. (2009), students reported feeling overwhelmed and burdened by their exceeding homework loads, even when they viewed homework as meaningful."

"Academic stress, specifically the amount of homework assigned, has been identified as a common risk factor for children’s increased anxiety levels (APA 2009; Galloway et al. 2013; Leung et al. 2010), in addition to somatic complaints and sleep disturbance (Galloway et al. 2013)"

“Stress also negatively impacts cognition, including memory, executive functioning, motor skills, and immune response (Westheimer et al. 2011). Consequently, excessive stress impacts one’s ability to think critically, recall information, and make decisions (Carrion and Wong 2012).”

In other words, homework can also put a strain on students mentally through academic stress brought about by homework “overload.” Furthermore, this particular study has revealed more on the amount of sleep that students have is also affected by academic stress as they work on their homework for different subjects.

"Sleep, including quantity and quality, is one life domain commonly impacted by homework and stress. Zhou et al. (2015) analyzed the prevalence of unhealthy sleep behaviors in school-aged children, with findings suggesting that staying up late to study was one of the leading risk factors most associated with severe tiredness and depression."

"According to the National Sleep Foundation (2017), the recommended amount of sleep for elementary school-aged children is 9–11 h per night; however, approximately 70% of youth do not get these recommended hours. According to the MetLife American Teacher Survey (2008), elementary-aged children also acknowledge lack of sleep."

"Perfect et al. (2014) found that sleep problems predict lower grades and negative student attitudes toward teachers and school. Therefore, sleep is not only impacted by academic stress and homework, but lack of sleep can also impact academic functioning." 

The results of the study imply that there should be “communication between teachers and” caregivers,” however, "research suggests parents and teachers often have limited communication regarding homework assignments. Markow et al. (2007) found that most parents (73%) report communicating with their child’s teacher regarding homework assignments less than once a month. However, until parents and teachers have better communication around homework, including timely completion and learning styles for individual learners, these misperceptions and disparities will likely persist."

Now that students are preparing to go back to school amidst the pandemic, the “new normal” may possibly bring more improvements and changes in the academic life of the students notwithstanding the risks of the pandemic which they will be exposed to when they return to school. We can still be thinking positively about everything about our children’s academic life with the help of everybody in the community.

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